You want to give your child every advantage for a healthy future by providing a plant-based diet that lowers the risk of obesity, cancer and heart disease in adulthood.
However, raising vegetarian kids in a processed-food society overrun with dangerous fats and artificial ingredients along with high doses of sodium can seem a daunting task.
However, the greater obstacle is whether he will eat the not-so-cool food or be ridiculed for it by his peers. Even though your child may actually enjoy his tempeh burger at home, it won’t add any nutrition to his diet at the bottom of the cafeteria trash bin.
Despite the influence of peer pressure, you can increase the chances that your child actually eats what you send to school by having him help prepare and pack his lunch. Also, mimicking commercial foods with similar vegetarian ones will help your child to not feel like a total Tofurky with the lunch crowd.
There are tasty meat substitutes available for deli meat, burgers or hot dogs in the grocery store. With a little preparation and planning, you need not sacrifice your child’s healthy eating habits. That’s because we at Dealspotr have compiled tips from ladle to table.
Start the school year with an assortment of containers you will need and keep them stored in one location in your kitchen. You can get them at places like Bed, Bath & Beyond, CVS or Target.
This will eliminate hassle and misplaced items when you’ve rolled that veggie wrap and can’t find a plastic zip bag large enough to contain it. Include a mix of small lidded containers for fruit and square-shaped ones for sandwiches, along with sturdy plastic freezer bags.
Don’t spend a lot of money on containers that will probably end up lost or left at school, recommends 7DayVegan.com. Be sure you have Thermos bottles for packing a variety of cold and hot dishes. And don’t forget to buy a few dry-ice containers for cooler storage.
As any parent knows, kids are picky eaters. It adds even more of a challenge when the neon sandwich your child’s tablemate eats appears much better than your tofu slices. Trying for variety and making his lunch look appealing might be the key.
Whether you opt for making homemade bread or buying it in the store, try changing it up for his sandwiches every couple of days. PETA suggests making sandwiches into eye-catching shapes by using cookie cutters. Better yet, surprise your student with breakfast for lunch using cereal and a Thermos of non-dairy milk or pancakes with syrup.
Pasta salad made with fun little shapes in tri-colors with egg-less mayonnaise or homemade salad dressing is another great alternative. You can add grated vegetables to the mix so he can’t pick them out from the macaroni and toss them away. If he is a veggie lover, then by all means incorporate his favorites whether they are carrots, broccoli or bok choy.
The more creatively you think “out of the lunch box,” then the higher success rate you are likely to have. VegKitchen.com advises making small bits of fruit more attractive by stacking them on a skewer such as a long cocktail toothpick. Of course, there are always the stand-by granola bars and trail mixes that will usually satisfy even the fussiest of eaters.
LEFTOVERS FOR LUNCH
It doesn’t have to be complicated to ensure your child packs a healthy school lunch. Another strategy is to make extra portions of meals you normally prepare and use the leftovers for the lunchbox. For instance, weekend breakfast French toast or dinner stew can be stored in the freezer for daily lunches.
Make extra portions of pasta and veggie “meatballs.” Cook more tomato sauce or brown rice than what is needed. Add some vegetables and faux meat for tacos or a healthy wrap.
Prevent wasting smaller leftover portions by using them as nibble food in your child’s lunch. Those few extra roasted potatoes or pieces of tofu are great to pack. Remember, most kids do enjoy finger foods, so include pumpkin seeds, pretzel sticks, crackers and mini rice cakes as the perfect complements.
WHAT A DIP
What is better for finger foods than to have a sauce for dipping? Tomato sauce, homemade or store-bought organic salad dressings like those from Whole Foods, and hummus turn the ordinary celery stick into a delicious and fun treat. Nut butters and jelly in lidded containers packed with pita squares are a delightful twist on the PBJ sandwich.
WASH IT DOWN
There are plenty of individual-sized and portable nondairy drinks available for purchase. Choose from soy or almond milks, coconut water, and kid-favorite juices. Good quality H2O is always the best bet because as parents know, kids never drink enough of it.
This fall, don’t be concerned about not being able to carry out your family’s nutritional values past the front door. With careful planning, it is possible to send your child off to school with a lunch he will enjoy—even if initially his friends’ foods seem more intriguing. What’s more important is ensuring your child’s future well-being.