It’s back to school time and the busy schedules are starting all over. Depending on the schools and their food offerings, you may opt to make lunches and snacks for your little ones to bring with them. After all, homemade food is almost always better.
Preparing brown bag lunches for kids can be challenging, however. Many schools may have rules about what foods are allowed. You certainly have strong ideas about what you want your children to eat and kids can be the harshest food critics, trading their unwanted lunch for baseball cards or sugar-filled snacks. The goal is to find the balance between the healthy foods we want our kids to eat and the fun, yummy foods our kids want to eat.
The good news is that healthy food can be fun and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Kids can learn to love and choose healthy foods by simply involving them in the decision-making and preparation. See How to Get Your Kids to Love Real, Fresh Food and How to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruits and Veggies for fun, creative ideas.
We can offer lots of recipes, tips and tricks for making your child’s lunch fun and delicious. Check out Tasty, Protein-Rich Meatless Lunch Ideas for the Kids and The Best Foods to Pack in You or Your Kids’ Lunch Boxes (and Why). Don’t forget snacks! When hunger strikes, you want your kid to have something healthy to reach for rather than chips or candy. Take a look at Healthy and Budget-Friendly Vegan Snacks for Kids and 8 Vegan and Allergy-Free Snacks for Kids. Then get ready to go back to school with these 21 lunches and snacks your kids (and you) will love!
1. UnTuna Wraps
These UnTuna Wraps are amazingly easy and kid-approved. Say “Sorry, Charlie” to classic tuna salad and make this walnut and olive based recipe instead. It’s amazing how much this dish indeed tastes like tuna … and that’s a promise.
2. Cheezy Tomato Soup
The only thing kids love more than tomato soup is Cheezy Tomato Soup. It’s quick and easy to make from scratch. Fill a thermos to keep your child warm and happy at lunchtime.
3. Almond Joy Oat Bran Granola Bars
Vegan granola bars with a twist! Oats are replaced with oat bran, and coconut and almonds are a welcome addition to these Almond Joy Granola Bars. You’ll know they’re healthy but your kids will only notice how yummy they are.
4. Chickpea Salad Sliders
Sliders are always fun and they are perfectly sized for a kid’s lunch. These Chickpea Salad Sliders have creamy mayo and some maple syrup for a touch of sweetness. They’re the perfect lunchbox sandwich.
5. Crispy Tofu Nuggets
Every kid loves nuggets and these Crispy Tofu Nuggets are a vegan twist on the fast food variety. The curry ketchup is a unique dipping sauce that packs a punch. These are nuggets you can feel good about feeding your kids.
6. Chilled Peanut Noodles
Kids love anything with peanut butter and these Chilled Peanut Noodles are a great choice. They don’t need to be warmed up and you can tailor the sauce to your child’s tastes, making it a little spicy or not at all.
7. Vegan Goldfish Crackers
Plant-based kids don’t want to feel left out so having snacks that look and taste just like everyone else’s is helpful. These Vegan Goldfish Crackers fit the bill, right down to the smiles on their fishy faces.
8. Strawberry Parfait
Pick your child’s favorite yogurt and make them this yummy snack. This Strawberry Parfait is like a single serving of strawberry shortcake deconstructed into its fruity, creamy and crunchy elements and layered on top of each other into a beautiful, secretly healthy lunch or snack.
9. Low-Fat Vegan Pizza Hummus
Hummus is a healthy choice for lunch sandwiches and wraps as well as for snacks. Any kid will love this Pizza Hummus that’s incredibly delicious. Pack some with raw veggies for yummy dipping.
10. Strawberry Peach Fruit Roll Ups
Your kids will be the center of attention when they whip out these homemade Strawberry Peach Fruit Roll Ups. The flavors are perfect for little taste buds and they are so easy to make. It’s a fun and healthy snack you can feel good about.
11. Kale Caesar Pasta Salad
Want your child to eat more salad? Make this Kale Caesar Pasta Salad. Adding pasta and using kale makes this a healthy twist on the usual Caesar. Kids will love the creamy dressing and you can add croutons for crunch.
12. Vegan Cajun Breakfast Burrito
Burritos can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This Cajun Breakfast Burrito is packed with tofu, black beans, avocado and corn salsa for a lunch that will keep any kid satisfied and energized the whole day.
13. Nutty Cherry Smoothie
The beverage choices at schools aren’t always the best. Send along a thermos filled with this Nutty Cherry Smoothie. Packed with cherries, banana and almond butter, this smoothie is packed with protein and flavor everyone will love.
14. Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies (Just Like Mom Used to Make…But Better!)
Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies. These Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies are lightly sweetened with maple syrup and organic, unrefined brown sugar. They are chewy and so good. These cookies will brighten your child’s day with just one bite.
15. Crispy Lasagna Pockets
Food that you can eat with your fingers and dip into flavorful sauces is always a hit. These Crispy Lasagna Pockets take the magic that is lasagna and places it neatly inside crispy wontons for a perfectly portioned, delicious, portable lunch. Send some marinara sauce along for dipping.
16. Homemade Baked Potato Chips
Here’s a healthier take on a favorite snack. These Homemade Baked Potato Chips let you control the ingredients so there’s as little oil and as much flavor as you want. Try all different seasonings like onion and garlic, salt and vinegar or just plain salt.
17. Lentil Taco Lettuce Wraps
These Lentil Taco Lettuce Wraps are a great way to send tacos to school. Lentils are economical, nutritious and can be flavored however you like. Send them along with fun toppings like crunchy cashews and creamy avocado.
18. Super Creamy Mac and Cheese (No Nuts, No Soy, No Problem!)
Forget the blue box! This Super Creamy Mac and Cheese is super delicious and doesn’t involve soy, commercial vegan cheese products, gluten or nuts. The cheese sauce is made with cauliflower but kids just think it’s cheese-a-licious!
19. Superfood Packed Trail Mix
The crunchy almonds and walnuts in this Superfood Packed Trail Mix are complemented by chewy goji berries, mulberries golden berries. Kids will love the raw cacao nibs that make this feel like an indulgent snack. This trail mix contains a highly nourishing combo of nuts and superfoods that provide kids with lots of energy for the whole day.
20. Refined Sugar-Free Chocolate Muffins
Muffins are the perfect lunchtime dessert or mid-day snack. These Chocolate Muffins are chocolatey with just a dash of banana and peanut butter flavor. They might taste like cupcakes but they are packed with healthy ingredients and no refined sugar.
21. Banana-Strawberry ‘Dillas
These Banana-Strawberry ‘Dillas are a delicious, healthy snack or lunch that will satisfy any sugar cravings with the natural sweetness of fruit. With almond butter and cinnamon in whole wheat tortillas, these will provide long-lasting energy and satisfaction in a fun way.
Brown bag lunches and homemade snacks don’t have to be boring. Get kids involved in helping make creative meals that are healthy, delicious and fun.
Lead image source: Banana-Strawberry ‘Dillas