This Vegetarian Lunch Box Guide is filled with lunch ideas for vegetarian and non-vegetarian kids alike! Plus it includes a free printable!
Whether you are a vegetarian eating family, your child has decided to embark on a vegetarian path solo, or you are simply trying to get more veggies into your family, this lunch box guide is for you.
This lunch box guide includes a chart to show how you can mix and match the lunch box contents in seemingly endless ways and still end up with a pretty balanced lunch. Just pick one item (or more) from each category and you are all set! Note that some foods–such as veggie lasagna–are combo foods and offer more than one category of nutrients.
Vegetarian Nutrition for Kids
There are many benefits to eating a vegetarian diet, but when it comes to growing kids, you want to be extra sure that they are getting all the nutrients that they need. And while I recommend looking at the total diet over the course of a week–not just one day, it still makes sense to aim for balanced meals every day.
Some of the nutrient groups that often fall short for vegetarian eating kids include protein and iron. If your child is vegan there are additional nutrient concerns, including vitamin B12, zinc, iodine, riboflavin, vitamin D, and calcium. Both diets can also come up short on calories, especially a vegan diet. If your child is on a vegan diet I recommend meeting with a Registered Dietitian to make sure they are getting all the nutrients they need.
5-Day Vegetarian Lunch Plan
I encourage you to sit down with your child and use this guide to come up with your own list of lunch box ideas. But if you want some more detailed guidance, here is a sample 5-day vegetarian lunch plan.
Day 1 – Smashed Chickpeas on whole grain tortilla wrap. Sides: fresh figs and carrot sticks.
To make smashed chickpea wrap: open a can or tetra pack of chickpeas, rinse, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, and season with salt & pepper to taste. Smash some of the chickpeas with a fork. Add about 1/2 cup to sandwich along with lettuce (and avocado if desired). Or make chickpea salad — just like you would chicken salad with mayo and all, but sub chickpeas for the chicken.
Day 2 – Veggie Soup – with added leftover chickpeas! Sides: mixed crackers and apple slices.
Use your favorite vegetable soup recipe, or make your own. Stir in the leftover chickpeas (about 1/2 cup per serving) towards the end of cooking. (Recipe for this veggie & potato soup coming to the blog soon!)
Day 3 – Cheese sandwich on Oatmeal Raisin Bread from a local bakery. Sides: kiwi (slice in half & scoop out with a spoon!), beet chips, and homemade coconut cashew bliss balls.
Day 4 – Veggie meatballs (from the freezer–I prefer to make my own, but life happens; the ones pictured are from IKEA!). Sides: tortilla chips, mini bell peppers, guacamole, and blackberries.
Day 5 – Breakfast for lunch! (High protein Skyr yogurt + granola + berries + celery sticks).
These mostly bento-style lunches are great for kids. But if your child is more a more adventurous vegetarian eater, I recommend making more salads, soups, casseroles, and grain bowls, with more complex flavors. Make extra at dinner and then serve up leftovers.