Getting your kids to eat more vegetables any time of the day is always a challenge, but school lunch can be even harder especially when most kids don’t pack vegetables, refuse to eat vegetables or end up throwing their vegetables in the garbage.
If you want to raise kids who love to eat vegetables, it’s important to consistently offer them at every meal.
The good news is that it’s not as hard as you think.
Here are 13 ways to add more vegetables to kids’ school lunches.
1. Wrap it up
Ditch the sandwich and make a roll up with sliced turkey, cheese and lettuce or make a lettuce wrap and put your protein inside. Or add grilled or sautéed vegetables to a tortilla, burrito or wrap.
2. Add a dip
Kids love to dip so pairing a healthy dip with raw, cut-up veggies is a great way to add more vegetables to kids’ school lunches.
Try hummus, bean dip, a vegetable dip or salsa. Consider making your own homemade dip with fresh ingredients so you know exactly what your kids are eating. If you purchase a store-bought dip, read labels carefully because many have artificial ingredients and are too high in fat.
3. Make grilled cheese with vegetables
Add spinach, diced broccoli or slices of pepper to a grilled cheese sandwich made with whole grain bread and you have a fiber-filled lunch your kids will love.
4. Add veggies to pasta, rice or another grain
Mix in last night’s leftover vegetables with whole-wheat pasta, couscous, brown rice or another whole grain like quinoa.
5. Make veggie quesadillas
Quesadillas take minutes to make and lend themselves to so many types of vegetables. Encourage your kids to have a hand in making their own lunches by putting out a “buffet” of vegetables and letting them make their own.
6. Puree vegetables and add them to sauces
I don’t believe in pureeing vegetables as a sneaky way to get your kids to eat them, but it can be a great way to get extra nutrition in their diets and add more vegetables to their lunches.
Carrots, zucchini and eggplant make a great addition to tomato sauce and roasted butternut squash can be added to homemade macaroni and cheese, for example.
7. Bake vegetable “fries”
Slice zucchini, eggplant, yucca, carrot, or jicama, spray with some olive oil and roast them in the oven on high heat. You can also dip vegetables in egg and breadcrumb for more flavor and texture.
8. Batch cook soups, stews and chili
Making a large batch of your kid’s favorite soup, stew or chili is an easy way to have several meals throughout the week and add more vegetables to school lunches.
9. Whip up an omelet, quiche or frittata
Eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids and adding vegetables to an omelet, quiche or frittata also makes for easy and healthy kids’ school lunches.
10. Bake veggies into bread
Add shredded zucchini, carrots or pureed pumpkin to your favorite bread recipe as a healthy treat for your kid’s lunch box.
11. Swap vegetables for grains
Instead of pasta or rice, swap in cauliflower “rice” and spiralized veggies and a protein for a healthy school lunch.
12. Assemble kabobs
Kids love food on sticks and kabobs can be an easy to assemble, healthy school lunch. Add sliced peppers, mushrooms, squash, onions, cherry tomatoes, and meat or tofu for a healthy portion of vegetables.
13. Add vegetables to pizza
Pizza may not be the healthiest option for kids’ school lunches but if you’re going to serve it, make the most of it by adding vegetables as a topping.