It’s that time of year again – kids are heading back to school! What’s in your child’s lunch box this season? Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when you’re thinking about your kids’ lunches – and most of these come from my sister, who has 3 vegan boys – 9, 11 and 13.
1) Kids like simple. Fresh fruit and veggies are perfect! Slice up apples, and peel oranges and separate them into pieces, then wrap the apple/orange pieces together, alternating them; this will stop the apple from going brown. Other easy fruit and veggie suggestions: carrot sticks, pea pods, celery sticks, chopped mango, grapes, cherry tomatoes…you get the idea! Including some hummus or another favorite vegan dip is a great idea too. This vegan “ranch” dip recipe might be just the ticket!
2) Wraps make great lunches for kids of all ages! In fact, they are one of my all-time favorite lunches! Easy and quick to make, they can contain all kinds of ingredients – ie. Whatever you happen to have in your fridge! Spread your vegan tortilla with hummus/mashed avocado/another favorite spread, and pile on the fresh, chopped veggies, leftover baked tofu cubes, various beans, spinach, kale, corn nibblets, etc – and for a special treat add a few raisins and/or walnuts (if nuts are allowed at your school). The secret to making a truly great wrap is…how to wrap it! This video gives a good demonstration of how to make sure your child’s wrap won’t fall apart on the way to school.
3) Healthy mini muffins are a great thing to include in your child’s lunch. They’re fun, not too filling, and will be a healthy treat that will make your child feel like they have something really special. Best of all, a batch makes 24, which will last you and your family through the week! Here are a couple of mini-muffin recipes you might want to try out: Vegan Banana Muffins or Choco-Choco Muffins for something sweeter!
4) Handfuls of little things. Have you noticed kids like finger foods – especially little foods? Raisins, chickpeas, popcorn, nuts (again, if your school is ok with them) are all good examples of healthy little handful foods that will treat your kids – in a healthy way! For something extra special, check out this recipe for Tamari Roasted Chickpeas from Dreena Burton (who, by the way, has tonnes of great recipes for kids in her numerous cookbooks)!
5) Applesauce is a great thing to include in your child’s lunch. If you’re buying it, make sure it’s the unsweetened kind – but it’s very easy (and much more economical) to make your own. Here’s a great raw applesauce recipe, with no added sugar.
It’s great to include a few different things in every lunch. This site has a great selection of compartmentalized waste-free lunch kits. One thing to keep in mind, if you’re not doing this already: involve your children in this process. Preparing lunches together with your kids is a great way to get them thinking about simple, healthy meal planning – and even teaching them how to cook for themselves. Happy Back to School!