Parents, can you believe the kids have been back in school for a few months now? After five months of homeschooling, at-home lunches and extra family time, it’s been a bit of an adjustment for all of us to return to some kind of normal.
At Children’s Dental Specialty, some of us are still getting used to having our kiddos back in the classroom, while others are keeping their children home and tapping into virtual schooling options. But however your kids are learning this year, one thing remains a constant (and totally normal) challenge for parents: coming up with healthy school lunch ideas for kids.
As you settle into your family’s new normal, your Scottsdale and Phoenix pediatric dentists are taking the question of “what’s for lunch” off your plate. Here are some of our favorite healthy kid lunches, full of foods that are good for teeth. And as an added bonus? They’re all plant-based, just like Dr. V!
Tips for Packing School Lunches
Before we dive into delicious plant-based recipes for kids, let’s start with the basics of how to pack school lunches. Because let’s face it, it seems easy in theory but it’s actually a lot more work than it looks! Most of us start off strong at the beginning of the school year, only to run out of ideas after a few months (or even weeks). We all could use a little help simplifying the process to ensure our kids continue to get the very best foods for strong teeth. Here’s how.
- Follow a Lunch Formula. School lunches don’t need to be Pinterest-perfect, but they do need to meet the criteria for a well-balanced meal. Take the pressure off by following this simple formula for school lunches: protein + veggie + fruit + carb. Those four simple items will always add up to a delicious, kid-friendly meal that’s full of tooth-strengthening foods.
- Meal Prep Really Does Work. Yeah, we know you don’t need another big task on your to-do list, but meal planning really does save you time in the long run. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Just have a set theme or category for each day of the week, such as Pasta Mondays, Jackfruit Tuesdays, and so on. Once you have your weekly meal plan, shop for all your ingredients and prep lunches ahead of time. We promise, you’ll thank yourself for the prep work when it comes time to rush your kids out the door (or to their homeschool station) in the morning.
- Use the Right Lunch Containers. Having the right tools on hand can make your life a lot easier when it comes to packing lunches. Bento-style lunch boxes are especially handy because you can portion out each part of your child’s meal: one section is for protein, one is for fruit and so on. With the right type of lunch box, packing school lunches will become so much easier.
Healthy Vegan ideas for Kids’ School Lunch
Okay, let’s get to the good stuff! Now that you’re a pro at how to pack school lunches, it’s time to tackle the what. As pediatric dentists in Scottsdale and Phoenix, our priority for lunches is to include foods that will support your child’s tooth development. Fortunately, foods that are good for your teeth are good for your health overall, so you can’t go wrong. Here are some of the best plant-based school lunch ideas for kids that even the pickiest eaters will love.
This simple salad comes together in minutes and provides all the necessities for a balanced lunch. Black beans and quinoa are chock-full of protein and healthy carbs, while the tomatoes, corn, onion and cilantro fill in the veggie requirement. Include a serving of fruit, such as apple slices or berries, as a tooth-healthy dessert and you’re golden!
These plant-based sandwiches are a little more labor-intensive to prepare up front, but once you’ve made the filling, you’ll be set for lunches all week. Simply pulse all ingredients in a food processor and serve on sandwich bread. It’s a protein- and veggie-dense lunch your kids will love.
Is there a child (or adult, for that matter) who doesn’t love quesadillas? For parents, quesadillas are one of the quickest, easiest school lunch ideas that you can whip up in no time. For a plant-based option, choose fillings like hummus, avocado, beans, raw or grilled veggies, and vegan cheese. You really can’t go wrong with quesadillas, so switch it up each week and try our new flavor combinations.
Pasta salads are another one of our favorite healthy school lunch ideas because it’s so versatile. You can change up the veggies each time so your children never get bored. Not to mention, pasta can give your kids an energy boost during long days of learning. Choose whole wheat or gluten free pasta for a healthier alternative to white pasta.
Pizza is an easy way to sneak healthy veggies into your child’s lunch without them really noticing. No need to make your own crust when a store-bought version will do just as well. Just make sure you read the ingredients label to avoid any non-vegan ingredients.
Healthy eating habits are just as important in your child’s oral health development as brushing and flossing. Set your child up for a lifetime of strong teeth by packing and learning of school lunch ideas for kids and staying up to date on visits with your pediatric dentist. Need to book your child’s next appointment? Contact Children’s Dental Specialty today.