This article on Getting More Vegetables into Your Kids Lunchboxes is a collaboration between Little Peeps Eats and Adventure Snacks. Lunchbox images are of the Go Green Snack Box, which can be purchased here.
One challenge that a lot of parents face is finding new and fun ways to get more vegetables into their kids’ lunchboxes. Packing sandwiches, fruit, yogurt, and baked goodies can sometimes be a little more straightforward, but beyond a few carrot and cucumber sticks, it gets tricky (and a bit monotonous!)…particularly if you’ve got a picky kid. So, we’ve done some experimenting in the Little Peeps Eats kitchen to come up with some simple and interesting ways to get more veggies into lunchboxes for your kids.
How to Get More Vegetables Into Your Kids’ Lunchboxes
We created this list of ideas to get more veggies into your kids’ lunchboxes because we know ourselves how hard it can be coming up with new options every single day of the school year. We also know that you’re time poor like us, so there’s no way we’d be recommending that you stay up all night making veggie-laden creations.
The ideas here are super easy and achievable. It’s the little things that can encourage kids to eat their lunches, such as the way we chop up veggies, or add a dip…and, we promise we’re not going to make you cut out unicorns or make the veggies into funny faces – unless you really want to!
Please let us know if you have any ideas that we can add to the list, and equally, we’d love to hear from you if you give any of these ideas a go. Now, go and try to get a rainbow into your kiddos! 🙂
Veggie Fritters or Pancakes
Veggie fritters or savoury pancakes are so quick and easy to whip up. Once the kids are in bed for the night, grab any veggie leftovers from dinner, add a couple of extra ingredients, and fry up a batch for lunchboxes. They store in the fridge for a few days, and freeze really well. Just pop them in lunchboxes straight from the freezer, and they’ll be thawed by lunch.
Some great fritter or pancake ingredient combinations are:
- cheese and corn
- spinach and feta
- carrot and coriander
- pea and haloumi
- cauliflower and parmesan
- zucchini and ham
Cooked Veggie Leftovers
Kids can often be more reluctant to eat or try new veggies at dinner time after a long day. They’re either too tired, ‘hangry’, or if they haven’t seen you all day, they might just want to have some time with you first to play and reconnect.
All of these things can lead to stressful dinner times. Deep breaths, take the pressure off yourself (and the kids) and keep those untouched veggies for lunch the next day. Either heat them up and put them in a thermos, or add them to lunchboxes cold.
Do your kids like frozen peas like mine do? This tells me that sometimes they like to experience foods at different textures. Just because we think roasted potato or steamed corn on the cob should be warm, they don’t have these preconceptions. Think about how some kids (mine) like uncooked spaghetti!
Cooked leftover ideas you could serve cold:
- Pasta with peas, corn, tuna and grated cheese for a tasty pasta salad
- Roasted slices of pumpkin, zucchini, potato, sweet potato, eggplant, capsicum
- Rice with grated veggies – add a drizzle of olive oil to make it a rice salad
- Steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot – add a little mustard dressing for something different
Veggie Sandwiches or Wraps
If you find you’re making the same sandwiches all the time, week in week out, it’s time to get creative and have some fun with them. It’s always a great idea when you’re offering new foods at any meal to pair it with some familiar or favourite foods. That even goes with sandwich fillings (that way they can always pick out something and still eat the sandwich). For example, if they like ham and cheese, try adding in some sweetcorn. Or, if they like cream cheese, try adding some grated carrot.
Here are some ideas for combinations you should try:
- Cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato
- Ham, cheese, sliced apple and sweet pickles
- Ham, cheese, tomato and sweetcorn
- Chicken, avocado, baby spinach and mango chutney
- Cheese, pear, lettuce, celery and cranberry spread
- Cheese, avocado and vegemite
- Tuna, sweetcorn, mayonnaise and fruit chutney
- Smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese
- Sliced apple, grated carrot, sultanas and cream cheese
- Haloumi, grilled capsicum and hummus
- Cucumber and vegemite
- Curried egg with celery and lettuce
- Chicken schnitzel with coleslaw
- Corned beef with swiss cheese and sweet pickles
If you’re looking for more tips and ideas, check out our Essential List of Kids’ Sandwich and Wrap Fillings.
Raw and Interesting Veggies
We often think veggie sticks for lunchboxes, but try preparing them in different ways, and mixing different veggies together to make it colourful and fun.
Here is a bonus tip: Our kids are actually more likely to eat their lunches if they have been involved in making them. So, you could get them helping to chop up cucumber into coins, or grating zucchini.
Here are some different ways to prepare raw veggies:
- Grate vegetables like raw zucchini, carrot, and beetroot
- Spriralise some sweet potato or zucchini and either serve raw or lightly pan-fried first
- Use a crinkle cut knife, cube them, slice them on an angle, or circles
- Use cookie cutters to make them into fun shapes like hearts or stars
- Put them on skewers or Stix with some cheese or meat
- As a colourful salad or coleslaw
Dip the Veggies
In case you missed the memo, a lot of kids love to dip! Dips are a great way to get more veggies into their lunches in a fun and enticing way. A yummy dip like our Healthy Vegetable Dip Your Kids Will Love would be a fantastic way to get some extra veg in alongside some vegetable dippers, like raw broccoli, sugar snap peas, green beans, cauliflower, and cucumber. Add in some rice crackers, meatballs, or fritters, and the dip becomes the star of the show!
More kid-approved dip ideas that are unbelievably quick to make in your food processor:
- Olive tapenade
- Roast pumpkin and feta
- Eggplant dip
- Roasted curried carrot
Veggie-Packed Baked Goodies
If you like to bake – or better yet, your kids enjoy baking – you can whip up some delicious, simple, and nutritious veggie-packed lunchbox fillers. If your kids make them with you, they’ll know exactly what’s going in them, making them hopefully more open to trying them.
While I’m not a fan of hiding veggies (and my kids get suspicious when they don’t know what’s in their food, and look at it like it’s going to bite them!), I totally get that some parents reach that point where they’ll do anything to get some additional nutrients into their picky kids.
You do whatever works for you and your kids, there are so many awesome recipes for sweet cakes and cookies that contain hidden veg. Come and join our support group for inspiration and recipes for fussy eaters!
Ideas for veggie-packed baked lunchbox fillers:
- Cheesy vegetable muffins
- Two ingredient scrolls (like these from The Organised Housewife)
- Mini pizzas
- Mini wholemeal pizzas
- Here’s a great list of veggie-packed cakes, bakes, and breads from Kidspot
Drink the Veggies
Finally, we come to smoothies in our list of ways to get more vegetables into your kids’ lunchboxes. Check out our list of Healthy Smoothies For Kids. We’ve got lots of winning combinations and tips for packing them in school lunches. You can quickly prep the fruit and vegetables the night before so that they just need to be thrown in the blender in the morning while the kids are eating breakfast. Blitz, pour, and go!
Go Green Snack Box
We’ve been loving getting around with our Go Green Snack Box (featured in this article), kindly sent to us from Adventure Snacks. The different bento compartments makes it a breeze to pack a variety of colourful food to keep your kiddos interested. It’s the perfect size for younger children needing to take food to pre-school or in the early years of primary school. It has five sealed compartments and lightweight, making it a great choice for little ones!
You can purchase your own from Adventure Snacks, and remember to use code LITTLEPEEPS to save 10%!
We are also hosting a giveaway where you can win your very own Go Green Snack Box and and 7 Pack of Stix. head on over to our Group for your chance to win! Competition closes midnight AEST Sunday 29 September 2019.
Good luck! x
Rachel Cassidy is the founder of Little Peeps Eats. She is a passionate food blogger and brand ambassador, but her most important job is being a mum! Little Peeps Eats helps families take the stress out of mealtimes by providing healthy, kid approved recipes, as well as fussy eating tips and tricks. Their website hosts a directory of nutritionists, resources and mealtime products to ensure that you have everything you need at your fingertips when it comes to feeding your family.