Lunch ideas for a nut-free meat-free preschool?
Our preschool is nut-free and meat-free for lunchtime.
Because of this, I have a really hard time thinking of what to put in our kids lunchbox. All we can do is grilled cheese or a hummus sandwich, and some fruit. Many times our son says he doesn't eat the sandwich, and just eats the fruit for lunch.
What are some other good lunch ideas?
Will eggs work -- in many forms? Hardboiled; chopped with mayo in a sandwich; a fried egg sandwich ( no mayo)
There are two books that I would suggest either borrowing from the library or just buying. One is , not all of the recipes will be nutfree, but some of them will. The other is , this book has a cornucopia of information as well as some really great recipes. There is a lot of information to get through if you are interested, or you could just take a look up protein in the index and there are lists and charts to make everything super easy.
Some entree possibilities are "make your own" sandwiches: crackers or pita pockets with an assortment of fillings, like soy "meats", cheese, veggies, raisons, fruits and maybe a sauce in their own baggies or containers. The more fun it is, the more likely they'll eat it. Vege-sushi: filled with almost anything. It is surprisingly easy to make and you can store the rolls in the frig or the freezer for awhile if he wants to vary lunch options. I loved mozzarella surprise: you get the little mozzarella balls and stuff hubs and cranberries or apple bitts or really anything in the middle; I loved trying different combinations all the time!
If you are looking for a peanut butter substitute there are sunflower butters or some people really like tahini which is sesame seed butter.
There are lots of meat substitutes on the market, some of which are extremely tastey. Falafal tastes pretty good at room temp especially if it is in a pita wrap. I always loved yogurt in my lunch, and it's pretty easy to find it gelatin free these days. There are so many options out there! Almost anything that your son likes can be made with meat and nut free alternatives. Make up a list of his general favorites and just put it into the search engine with the word vegetarian next to it, you might be surprised at the number of options.
"Here are some examples of vegetarian foods with high sources of plant protein:
PROTEIN IN LEGUMES: Garbanzo beans, Kidney beans, Lentils, Lima beans, Navy beans, Soybeans, Split peas
PROTEIN IN GRAINS: Barley, Brown rice, Buckwheat, Millet, Oatmeal, Quinoa, Rye, Wheat germ, Wheat, hard red, Wild rice
PROTEIN IN FRUITS:
Lunch foods I sometimes give my kids:
- Clif Z-bars
- carrots, red peppers, and dip (Whole Foods sells Bento Boxes, which include tiny little containers for salad dressing/dip)
- cut up fruit, or dried fruit
- corn chips
- crackers & hummus
- pita bread
- bean & vegetable salad (beans, cherry tomatos, carrots, grean beans, salad dressing)
- cherry tomatos
- graham crackers
- fruit yogurts (fruit on the bottom, lowfat, organic of course!)
- tofu cubes (which my kids love so much, they are willing to eat cold!)
Might be a stretch but does he eat tuna fish? Also, what about macaroni salad and add cut up cheddar cheese? One more - cream cheese and jelly.
Can't speak from tasting experience but I've heard that the fake chicken nuggets taste pretty good. I believe Trader Joe's sells them.
Does he ever tell you what the other kids bring?
I second Alana's cream cheese and jelly. My son loves that. Another thing you could try is making a bean and cheese sandwich using bean dip. There is a good 3bean spread we get from Whole Foods.We actually use it for quesadillas at home. I like it because it's easy to spread, it's in a tub and easy to keep using.
Finally, the thing we will vary to make things more interesting is the bread, even though it might still be PB or cream cheese. We try bagels, croissants, English muffin bread (Trader joe's), honey bread, potato bread, etc.
We're currently sending an assortment of "snack food" rather than trying to include a "main entree"...
- hummus w/ pita, crackers, carrots, etc
- raisins / yogurt raisins
- snap pea crisps
- sunflower / pumpkin seeds
- occasionally, quesadilla, leftover slice of pizza, part of a bagel, french toast
We got a lunch box that simulates the multi-pocket tray plates at Fresh Choice / Red Tomatoes because we were finding our kids were eating more healthy and diverse foods there than at home with our 2-5 food regular dinner plates.
Still, though, often the healthiest foods come home uneaten, but we're just trying to keep offering them (hiding them sometimes - like putting the seeds in with the raisins)