Vegan School Lunches Your Kids Will Love

Try these back-to-school tips to make your kid’s lunch the envy of the cafeteria.

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Chances are, children are moaning and groaning about the end of summer and the dreaded trek back to school. Give them a little incentive to get into the learning groove with tasty vegan lunches that are both wholesome and delicious.

Balancing Act
With a little planning and some creativity, you can easily prepare fun lunches that you might even have a hard time parting with. While health-savvy parents want little ones to eat only the most nutritious foods, if you pack a bag of dulse, celery sticks, and Kombucha, chances are they’ll be a little reluctant to show off the contents of their BPA-free lunch boxes.

A good rule of thumb for lunches is including mostly vegetables, one or more pieces of fruit, some protein, healthy fats, and energizing carbohydrates. This formula can manifest in a dreary collection of plain ingredients, or it can be a tempting whole-grain tortilla stuffed with Almost-Cuban Black Beans, avocado, plantains, tomatoes, and a zippy Mango Salsa. Fruit becomes a decadent dessert when dipped in a Creamy Cashew Dip or in the form of Goji Fruit Leathers. Transform vegetables into Kale Chips, Potato Salad, or Caesar Salad With Blackened Tempeh. Get in some protein with Tofu Fingers, warming Chickpea and Lentil Soup, or Dreena Burton’s yummy Spicoli Burgers stuffed in a fluffy whole-wheat pita.

Let them eat cupcakes
Whether at the mall, a friend’s house, the movies or the corner store, children are exposed to plenty of junk food. Prohibiting kids from eating anything sweet or salty could make them crave it more, so tame your own nutritional militancy and let them indulge in the occasional vegan treat. Even if you’re the proud parent of a rare, chard-munching mini-hippie, chances are children are going to want something sugary when it comes to snacks. Easy Pleasin’ Oat Bars, Jelly Doughnut Cupcakes, and Berry Hand Pies are sure to be hits. Store-bought snacks such as Pirate Brands Veggie Booty and Annie’s Fruit Bunnies are healthier alternatives and great in a snack-attack pinch.

Allergen Alert
As more schools ban the old PB&J standby, it’s best to keep the peanut butter for after-school snacks. Never fear, children can still indulge on a version of the classic sandwich, thanks to products such as pea butter and soy butter standing in for peanut butter. Peanut Free Planet offers a vegan listing, featuring tons of great products free of common allergens.

Get Inspired
There are a ton of kid-friendly recipes to peruse on VegWeb, so head there for ideas before you hit the grocery store. Look no further than the mother of all vegan mothers, Jennifer McCann, for adorable creative ideas in her books Vegan Lunchbox and Vegan Lunchbox Around the World.