The kids are back in school, and we want to give them the best possible nutrition to support their learning and growth, not to mention encouraging them to think about the importance of the environment and the animals. Many schools now offer at least one vegetarian option for school lunch, but kids can be picky eaters at the best of times, so if you want to ensure that your child has nutritious and healthy vegan food to eat, it is probably worth taking the time to pack something for them. As they get older, you can put a selection of items out for them to choose from, so that they can make their own lunch to take.
Here are some ideas that are quick and easy, while still being nutritious:
Sandwiches, pita pockets or wraps: These are easy to eat, and could include a selection of the following: hummus, mashed avocado, chickpea “tuna” salad, baked tofu slices, meat-alternative deli slices, cheese spread substitutes, lettuce, cucumber, red pepper slices, grated carrot. Wraps can be spread with hummus, the veggie ingredients lain in a line, then rolled up to make pin-wheel sandwiches, which are fun. See recipes
Veggies and dips: Using several small containers, or a container with compartments, you can offer a selection of separate veggies – baby carrots, celery sticks, red pepper sticks, crackers – along with a dip such as hummus, tahini sauce, peanut butter (if allowed in your kids school, use sunflower butter otherwise), or a black bean dip.
Salad bowl: In a plastic bowl with a lid, place lettuce and a selection of veggies along with cooked beans and grains (eg. rice, quinoa) with a tasty dressing to pour over it, such as tahini sauce or another yummy dressing.
Soup or chili – use a wide-necked thermos to provide a hot soup or chili, with bread or crackers alongside. Soups can be made in a large batch and frozen in kid-sized portions, then heated up in the morning before leaving for school. There are also many brands of vegan soups available canned or in cartons.
Leftovers from the night before – when you finish dinner the night before, transfer some leftovers into a plastic container with a lid, so that it’s ready to grab from the fridge, and take to school. Don’t forget to send a reusable spoon or fork if needed.
Don’t forget the fruit – the healthiest packable dessert is any kind of fruit. Bananas and apples are easily consumed whole or pre-sliced. Grapes and clementine segments are easy finger food. Small bowls of precut fruit of any kind, with a small spoon, will be popular.
General tips – Avoid using any glass containers which may break in the hurly burly of school. Use an insulated lunchbag with an ice pack to keep foods vulnerable to spoilage fresh. But if the trendy thing is currently a brown paper bag, choose foods that are low-risk, and let your kid enjoy fitting in, even if the contents may be very different from the next kid!