There is good news for both young vegetarians and their parents who eat lunch away from home. More and more schools are offering vegetarian fare, including salad bars and other healthy vegetarian choices. Some schools publish lists of upcoming lunch menus; be sure to scan them to see if your child will have a vegetarian choice. If not, pack their lunch! We understand how challenging it might be for busy working mothers to pack children’s lunches day after day! However, it is a chance to steer your children toward good, simple, healthful nutrition! Your children can even help. They will be more inclined to eat what is packed if they have helped to prepare it themselves. Here are ideas for some fun and easy lunchbox options!
- Seasoned browned tofu slices, baby greens, cucumber, tomato, tofu mayonnaise (try Vegenaise brand)
- Sliced avocado, soy or nut cheese, onion, spinach (you may add veggie burger if desired)
- Make a hearty sandwich with baked eggplant, ripe tomato, sweet onion slices, alfalfa sprouts, and avocado slices or tofu mayonnaise
There are so many options for wrap fillings. No doubt you will create your own favorites but here are some ideas to start with:
- Seasoned tofu, sliced olives, shredded zucchini, carrots, and spinach
- Hummus, thinly-slice onion, cucumber, tomatoes, and sprouts
- Seasoned brown rice with beans, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce
Mashed beans, tofu mayonnaise or dressing of choice, chopped olives, red pepper, and spinach or fresh salad leaves
Wraps can be prepared the night before and stored in the refrigerator overnight in plastic wrap. They will become moister if wrapped several hours before eating. You could also use leftover vegetarian casseroles, meatloaf, or cooked veggies combined with a bit of salad dressing, or spread, as a filling.
Whole-Wheat Pita Sandwich
- tofu egg salad, lettuce, tomato, cucumber
- scrambled tofu, spinach, tomato, olives, cucumber, tofu mayonnaise
- guacamole, steamed brown rice, chopped green onions, and shredded carrots/chopped bell pepper
You can make your own crunchy pita chips by cutting a pita bread into eight triangles. Place pieces on an oiled cookie sheet. In a small bowl, mix some olive oil, one teaspoon garlic salt, a half teaspoon basil, and one teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes. Brush each triangle with oil mixture.
Bake in a preheated oven at 400° for about 7 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy. Be sure to watch them carefully, as they tend to burn easily! Cool on a wire rack. Now they are ready for dipping in a creamy dip or hummus. Perfect for sharing with others! Note: Keep a pack of wraps or pitas in the freezer for ready use. Defrost in a toaster or microwave.
English Muffins or Buns
Veggie burger (or oat burger), tomato, lettuce (or alfalfa sprouts), onion, tofu mayonnaise
Tiny pizzas!! Cut English muffins in half, spread with tomato sauce, chopped pepper, tomato, mushrooms, onion, olives, and a little nondairy cheese on top! Sprinkle with some oregano or other herbs if desired! Bake the night before.
- Pack tomato and lettuce on the side for sandwiches so the bread won’t get soggy.
- Toast bread and let it cool before making sandwiches.
Pack in some delicious oatmeal cookies or other healthful dessert for an occasional treat. Including a few extras will give your child a welcome opportunity to share with friends!
Don’t forget to pack in some extra fresh vegetables such as carrot sticks, radishes, bell pepper slices, or crunchy celery. Or you may select some easy-to-take along fruits such as apples, bananas, pears, plums, or oranges.
Add a little note for your child or other loving little surprise to make his or her day special. Packing healthful lunches for your children (as well as husband, yourself, or others) can be enjoyable and more than worth your effort!