These Kid-Friendly Vegan Lunches are the key to a nutritious mid-day reset that has even the pickiest little eaters digging in!
I don't know what it is about the mornings that makes time fly, but it often seems like before I know it the kids are saying they're hungry and it's noon! One of my most-asked questions is how I encourage my little ones to try the vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free foods that I make for Kid-Friendly Vegan Lunches. This post is filled with our favorite recipes and some tips for encouraging even the pickiest eaters to try something new! Of course, the classic favorite is The Best Vegan Mac 'N Cheese...you can't go wrong with cheesy pasta!
Tips for Encouraging Kids to Try New Foods
Whenever I post my kids trying something new on Instagram I get a TON of messages from people who can't believe they're eating veggies. For us, I think our biggest success has come from leading by example. I find ways to prepare fresh ingredients that I truly, honestly LOVE! Roasting veggies, adding delicious sauces, and being genuinely excited about the food on the table goes a long way. I'm personally a picky eater and wouldn't want a plate of plain, steamed broccoli with no seasoning, so I wouldn't expect my kids to eat that either!
Here are a couple more tricks that have helped along the way!
- Color - If your kid has an absolute favorite color, lean into that! Plan meals with colorful ingredients, blend a smoothie in their favorite shade (I have the entire rainbow of smoothie recipes in this post!), or grab a bowl or plate in their favorite color.
- Fun presentation - This might seem like an over-the-top kind of thing, but presentation makes a difference when it comes to trying a new food! Think about the classic "Ants on a Log." Kids don't love celery...but when it's spread with nut butter and topped with raisins or chocolate chips, it's a lot more interesting! I have found the more fun I have with food and the more playful I make it the more likely they are to eat it.
- Deconstructing - If I'm making a salad, bowls, or wraps, I'll always offer a deconstructed version, too. This just means the ingredients are separated out on a plate with sauce for dipping! Then they can choose what they want to make their own plate. It helps little ones feel in control of their meal (and kids seriously LOVE to dip).
- Kitchen helper - Invite your kids into the kitchen! I know how hectic meal prep can feel but if you're introducing a new food, see if having them help changes the way they see the dish! You can identify colors in the ingredients you're adding, talk about why you're using certain spices, let them set a timer on your phone and count down time in the oven, scoop ingredients into a measuring cup...there are so many possibilities! Time in the kitchen with my kids has become a bonding opportunity, a learning experience for them, and it totally encourages them to try new foods.
- Try, try, try again - Find what your kid likes! If they don't like a vegetable raw with dip, try roasting them with oil and salt. Maybe they would like it in soup form! Jade didn't like the first few ways I prepared broccoli. She didn't like it roasted, but she LOVES it steamed, not overcooked, and dipped in olive oil with a sprinkle of salt. Do it your way, girl!
Toast, Sandwiches and Wraps
These are some of the quickest, easiest ways to prepare Kid-Friendly Vegan Lunches! Ingredients like chopped veggies or Chickpea Salad can be prepared ahead of time, then simply scooped onto a wrap or slice of bread for a go-to lunch. I sprinkle hemp hearts on pretty much everything for added protein and they don't ever seem to mind. These recipes would be awesome for a packed lunch!
- Best Vegan Raw Rainbow Veggie Hummus Wraps with Dipping Sauce
- Vegan Chickpea Avocado "Egg" Salad Sandwich
- Easy Vegan Apple Ring Sandwiches
- Protein-Packed Avocado Toast
- Best Vegan Chickpea Salad
- I make Vegan Grilled Cheese Star of David Hanukkah Sandwiches for Hanukkah, but you can skip the star shapes and just make a regular grilled cheese with this recipe!
Mexican food is such a hit with kids. They can assemble their own tostadas, bowls or taquitos, so they're more likely to eat everything on their plate, and a scoop of Salsa Fresca and Chipotle-Copycat Guacamole or drizzle of Easy Homemade Sour Cream makes any meal extra delicious.
I love doing soups for Kid-Friendly Vegan Lunches. They can be easily prepped ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or freezer, then heated as soon as someone is hungry. For a hearty, filling meal, top soups with Easy Savory Pecan Crumble, Sweet & Spiced Roasted Chickpeas or Crispy Chickpea Croutons. We also like Easy Homemade Seed Crackers or Easy Almond Flour Crackers for dipping!
- Toddler- and Kid-Approved Creamy Vegan Carrot Soup
- Cream of Asparagus Soup
- Creamy Vegan Rainbow Veggie Orzo Soup
- Best Chickpea Soup for the Soul (vegan + grain-free)
- Speedy Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup (paleo + Whole30)
- Easy Vegan Black Bean Soup
- Easy Vegan Blender Pumpkin Soup
- Quick & Easy Creamy Hummus...because kids love dipping, but it's also awesome for stirring into soups for added thickness, protein, and flavor!
Burgers, Tots & Bites
We usually save burgers and fries for a dinner, but every now and then I prepare the veggie patties ahead of time! This makes it really easy to heat them on a skillet and my we all love having a burger for lunch. Any of these veggie burger recipes also work if you roll them into individual tots. My kids love anything that is dippable. Both sweet potato fries and tots are awesome for pairing with veggie burgers, and we love snacking on them, too!
Fun with Food
I absolutely LOVE themed snacks and meals! Having fun with the food I make for my kids is a creative challenge for me and they get so excited when they see shapes and characters they recognize. Here are some of the
- Healthy Halloween Toast (No Waste + Vegan)
- Fun with Food: Christmas Edition 2020 and Fun with Food: Christmas Edition 2021
- Strawberry Heart Vegan Yogurt Parfait for Valentine's Day (vegan + gluten-free + refined sugar-free)
- Fun with Food: Hanukkah Snacks Edition (vegan + gluten-free)
- Halloween Fun with Food (vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free)
- Vegan Grilled Cheese Star of David Hanukkah Sandwiches
- Ultimate Vegan & Gluten-Free Birthday Recipe Roundup