Healthier Alternatives: Vegetarian Toddler Lunch Ideas

Let me start off by saying I am appalled about the states “standards” for food in childcare and schools. Brody goes to an excellent daycare, however, they really slack in the nutrition aspect. I’m not quite positive how the regulations work but I feel like most daycares I’ve seen in our area follow the minimum and cheapest standards allowed. When you consider a frozen tater tot a vegetable, we have a problem. I’m disturbed that meat flavored spaghetti sauce is considered meat. Tuna casserole is Tuna Helper. Canned fruits and vegetables are a 3/5 day a week occurrence. Juice is a powdered mix mixed with water. Don’t even get me started on breakfast…..

Needless to say I pack Brody’s lunch most days. It’s actually a pain in the ass sometimes. As most working moms know, it’s a struggle to get yourself and children ready and out the door on time. There’s normally one, MAYBE two days a week Brody can eat daycare lunch. Since he’s a dairy free vegetarian it adds a challenge. His teachers said around 18 months he started to notice his lunch was different than the other kids. I really don’t want to give my kid a complex when he gets older. I don’t want him picked on and made fun of because his mom sends him with different lunches. If I know it’s spaghetti day at school I will pack him some spaghetti noodles with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and italian seasoning. On the days where they have broccoli and cauliflower dipped in ranch I bring him some vegan ranch.

Here are a few of our go-to lunches I pack on the days he cannot have daycare lunch. Since I don’t believe in using microwaves his lunches are usually cold.

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1. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Bro eats PB&J at least a few times a week. I try to mix it up with different nut butters and jams.

2. Hummus. I either put this on a sandwich, pita or crackers. I swear he eats a tub of hummus a week. This is also a great dip for veggies.

3. Pasta Salad. I will mix cooked pasta with a little oil, vinegar or tomato sauce and seasonings. This is good cold.

4. Rice, Beans and Tortillas. This is one of Bro’s fav lunches. I cut up some avocado and put some salsa on the side for him.

5. Quinoa and Veggies. Bro loves quinoa cooked in vegetable broth with some mixed vegetables.

6. gopicnic Lunchables. These are AWESOME! I keep a few on hand for the days I’m running late and don’t have time to make a lunch for him. They have many vegan options. Check out their website HERE

Some sides I serve with this lunches are rice cakes, granola, apples, tangerines, grapes, berries, carrot sticks with hummus, peas, edamame, fruit snacks (the healthier ones), apple sauce, raisins, and dried fruit.

I’m absolutely not saying I pack the most healthy lunches ever. Or that my picky 2 year old actually eats everything I put in front of him. But, we try. And in the end that’s all you can really do 🙂

Do you have any good toddler lunch ideas? Let us know!

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amanda

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