5 Ways to Add Veggies to Lunchboxes

These lunch time ideas are brought to you by Half Your Plate

It's back to school time and that means packing lunches - for kids and adults!

When you're in a hurry in the morning it's really easy to reach for the pre-packaged snack items, load up the lunch box and send them on their way.  Unfortunately, some schools even require pre-packaged items to avoid allergy risks! But they're not always the best nutritional choices and they definitely aren't a great environmental choice with all that extra packaging.

1. Raw Veggies

raw veggies & dip

If your kids already love veggies, the easiest thing to do is simply cut up raw veggies and package them in reusable containers with a hummus or yogurt dip.  Kids like colour and shapes so try assorted sweet peppers in orange, red or green, cut into strips, cherry tomatoes left whole, celery sticks, carrots (carrots are the veggie of the month at HalfYourPlate.ca), or cauliflower florets.  **Nut butters can also be a great dip but many schools don't allow them - be sure to check with yours before sending any in with your child.

Timesaving Tip: Cut up veggies as soon as you get them home from the store.  You can either seal them in large containers and grab a handful each morning or, if you're really organized, you can prepackage them for daily lunches right away.

2. Salsa

Tomato Salsa, Pico De Gallo, With Cilantro Pesto Quesadilla

Salsas are easy to make in big batches and a great way to sneak in veggies for pickier eaters. Pair them up with pita triangles, crackers, wraps or quesadillas as a dip.  Using tomatoes as a base, you can add peppers, avocado, onions, cilantro, corn and more!

3. Wraps, Sandwiches & Salad Rolls

Veggie Wrap with Apple Butter
Veggie Wrap with Apple Butter and Sunflower Seeds from Making Healthy Choices

Wraps, sandwiches and salad rolls are an great way to pump up the veggie content of lunch.  Use quick fillings you know your kids love like rice noodles, tuna or salmon, leftover chicken and then add in some leafy lettuce, shredded carrots or purple cabbage and hummus or apple butter spread - this Veggie Wrap with apple butter and sunflower seeds is one to try!

Avocado Bacon Cabbage Wrap from Swirls and Spice

You can even get creative and use lettuce or cabbage as the wrap itself like with these Avocado and Bacon Cabbage Wraps.  Pack a tub of salsa for dipping

4. Leftovers

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili from Bakers Beans
Vegetarian Black Bean Chili from Bakers Beans

Leftovers are made for lunches! If your kids love a particular dish, make an extra big batch of it and pack it up.  Soups, chilis, stews and pastas can be heated and put in a thermos to keep them hot till lunch time.   And it so easy to hide extra veggies in one pot dishes!

Penne Pasta with Vegetables from Bhawish's Kitchen
Penne Pasta with Vegetables from Bhawish's Kitchen
  • root vegetables work well in stews - think parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, carrots and potatoes
  • pasta is a great way to add in tomatoes, broccoli, peas, spinach and kale
  • veggies can be easily chopped or pureed in a blender and added to vegetable barley soup - squash, carrots, other root vegetables, tomatoes, and celery are also easy to incorporate into soups.

5. Hearty Salads

Chicken Pasta Salad
Chicken Pasta Salad with Add Ons from In Search of Yummyness

Make a big batch of one of these "big" salads the night before or on the weekend and package them up into lunch containers (we have loads of tips here on how to make hearty salads that are allergy friendly and filling!).  The key is to make sure you have a hearty grain or pulse (like lentils or chickpeas) and a protein that will fill up and fuel small tummies for an afternoon of learning. A cold chicken pasta salad is a great option.

Here are three more great salad options that pack up well and are nut free!


By Food Bloggers of Canada

  • Strawberry Mint Chickpea Salad

    By Food Bloggers of Canada

    **[Strawberry Mint Chickpea Salad](http://www.healthyliferedesign.com/strawberry-mint-chickpea-salad/)** from **Healthy Life Redesign**

  • Kale Salad with Farro and Chickpeas

    By Food Bloggers of Canada

    **[Kale Salad with Farro and Chickpeas](http://amandalaird.ca/2013/09/19/kale-salad-with-farro-and-chickpeas-eating-out-of-tupperware/)** from **Amanda Laird**

  • Easy Greek Salad

    By Food Bloggers of Canada

    **[Easy Greek Salad](http://www.thebusybaker.ca/2015/07/easy-greek-salad.html)** from **The Busy Baker**

Healthy lunches don't have to be hard.  Stock up on reusable containers, think of doing weekend prep, and cook in batches to make life easier at 7:30 in the morning on Monday!

And if you want to round out lunch with a healthy snack, we have 10 nut-free, quick and easy lunch box snack ideas for you to try.  Your kids will love them!


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