My first veggie baby is now four years old and in preschool — which means we’ve entered the realm of school lunches. I was so intimidated at first when I googled what to send with my child. I was bombarded with beautiful and yummy looking toddler lunches fit for a restaurant — I started shopping online for flower/star/fairy/dinosaur cookie cutters, decorative toothpicks, sprigs of parsley, sprinkles and sparklers…..and then I began to panic.
I told myself that the only way my kid would eat her lunch would be if they were super fancy and fun-looking. I figured all the other parents must be making lunches that looked like this.
How would I have time to make these elaborate lunch for my child everyday? I asked myself. How would I be able to think up creative ways to serve a simple meal? I started psyching myself out.
And then I stopped and realized that lunch IS a simple meal. My child likes simple things. And the best lunch I can give her is one that’s loaded with fresh fruits a veggies, a grain and protein. Easy peasy.
So now what I do is fill the compartments of her lunchbox (we have a Yumbox) with 2 fresh fruits, 2 fresh vegetables, a “treat” such as raisins, a healthy homemade cookie or a school-safe packaged granola bar, and I make a sandwich or wrap separately with one veggie and a nut-free spread that I know she’ll like. I also add in a whole apple or banana in case she’s hungry again in the afternoon. Our daughter’s school is nut-free but many kids have additional allergies, so we make sure her whole lunch is free of common allergens, not just nuts.
It’s as easy as that. The fresh fruit and vegetables will help her focus, the sandwich will keep her tummy full, and the “treat” will give her a little tiny kick of sugar to boost her mood and satisfy dessert cravings. So when you’re making your preschool-aged child’s vegan lunch, just remember to keep it simple, and pack the items you know your child will eat. Try not to include too many processed foods, such as colourful cereal (Fruit Loops, I’m talking about you), fruit roll-ups, pudding, Jell-O, etc., as those products tend to be unhealthy and full of sugar, and they’re much more likely to contain animal products.
My daughter eats mostly all her lunch (with a little leftover sometimes) everyday, indicating I’ve packed enough food for her for the day. I also give her a full water bottle and an organic juice box.
The sandwich in the image below is made with whole-grain quinoa flax bread, cucumber, and vegan cream cheese (Tofutti brand). You can also try hummus, white bean spread, smashed avocado spread, vegan mayo….the choices are endless! I pieced together this lunch at 6:30am, as I generally have to do — so if I can do it, you can too!