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I know a lot of us parents struggle with how to include veggies in our kid’s lunch box without defaulting to baby carrots and dip each day. While that is a fine option, older kids may get burnt out of that offering and younger kids likely can't (safely) crunch their way through it.
That's why I have created this list.
With 25 ideas for how to include a variety of vegetables in each lunch box, you could literally offer a different option each school day of the month! I know this list will help to spur on some new ideas, get you out of a "what to offer" rut, and help your family shop for some fun new offerings this school year.
If you haven’t already, be sure to also grab my FREE Lunch Packing Cheat Sheet. I share 30 options for veggies at lunch!
25 Easy Ways to Include Veggies in Your Kid's Lunch
10 Effortless Ways to Include Veggies in Your Kids Lunches
Frozen Peas: any kind will do; no need to buy organic (based on EWG clean 15 here)
Grated Carrot Straws: You can grate your own, or buy them premade like these
Freeze-Dried Veggies: We love these ones by Karen’s Naturals
Kale Chips: Make your own or buy premade ones like these for a less perishable option
Bell Peppers: Buy the large ones and cut into shapes or with cute punch out cookie cutters. Or, buy the mini bell peppers!
Sugar Snap Peas "Peek a Boo Babies": As shown here.
Canned Corn: Buy an organic, no salt added option like these ones.
Grape Tomatoes: Skewer with grapes or cheese on a small kabob stick or mix with pre-made mini mozzarella balls for a simple kids caprese salad.
Cucumber: An easy option you can cut in sticks or circles!
Celery: Include thin sticks of celery with peanut or nut-free butter and raisins!
5 Ways to Include Veggies in Your Kids Lunches with Baked Goods
Based on feedback from Muffin Club, I know MANY families said they enjoy muffins mainly at breakfast or as snacks. However, tucking a veggie-packed baked good is an easy-to-eat way for veggies to be offered in lunches as well. I like to include these options in addition to a more obvious form of veggies when we have them baked and ready!
Zucchini Muffins: This recipe offers a subtle yet sweet way to add in a little added veggies.
Pumpkin Donuts: These can be enjoyed year round as a tasty, veggie-packed treat to add in any lunchbox.
Sweet Potato Muffins: These Sweet Potato Muffins with Crunchy Flax topping are a tasty way to tuck some added veggies into a muffin form! Plus with ways to reduce the amount of sugar or omit the gluten (if needed), I found these ones my family as a whole could really enjoy.
Hulk Muffins: Don’t knock these til you try them. Such a simple way to add in some spinach to a lunch!
5 Ways to Include Veggies in Your Kids Lunches with Leftover Veggies
Have veggies that might otherwise go to waste but don’t necessarily look (or smell!) good in a lunchbox on their own? Try these ideas to repurpose!
Fried Rice: Sick of sandwiches? Add those straggling peas and carrots to your child’s favorite fried rice, or mix in some riced cauliflower and send it warm in a thermos.
Frittata Cups: Have veggies that went untouched on your child's plate the night before? Add them to a egg frittata recipe or serve them up as mini egg muffin cups. These broccoli egg quiche cups are great!
Soup: Have veggies that come back untouched from the day’s lunchbox? Consider storing them in a mason jar in the fridge (assuming they are still edible). Then, toss them into a soup like minestrone or many others like these!
Smoothies: Do you have a little extra veggie smoothie from today’s afterschool snack? Include in a pouch or leak-proof squeeze container. These are two great squeeze containers for leftover smoothies by Squeasy Gear and WeeSprouts. Click here for more smoothie ideas.
5 Ways to Include Veggies in Your Kids Lunches with Cooked Favorites
I know a lot of parents and kids wish they could have warm, comforting favorites sent for lunch -- especially as the school year progresses and weather starts to cool down. We love using our OmieBox for this, but you can also use a simple, small thermos that you already have separate from your child’s usual lunchbox (like those shared here).
Hidden Veggie Mac n Cheese: Get that go-to orange color of mac and cheese with the perks of packing in REAL veggies! This is a good recipe to try!
Spaghetti: I love spaghetti sauce as a flavorful, family-friendly staple for getting veggies in like this recipe. Add to whole grain or bean-based noodles, or put on top of zoodles for even more veggies.
Tomato Soup: this is perfect to serve with a side of grilled cheese.
Tater Tots: These options tend to be a toddler favorite for their soft texture and starchy taste. Consider baking up some of the more natural, nutrient dense "tots" or buying pre-made ones like Alexia sweet potato puffs here, Dr. Praeger’s Kale Puffs here, and Don Lee’s Veggie Bites here. You can serve as a side to a leftover slider, natural hot dog/sausage, or other preferred foods!
Pizza Sauce: There are so many great variations to make a more nutrient-dense pizza option at lunch. Make ahead a veggie-loaded sauce like this one to freeze in an ice cube tray so you can pop out one mini pizza’s worth when needed! Serve on a cauliflower for extra veggies!
So there you have it!
Plenty of fun ways to get different veggies in your kids lunch this school year! Maybe you rotate through different combinations each week based off of what you have on hand fresh or have time to prepare. Then, rotate to include other options in upcoming weeks so your child continues to get exposed to veggies in all their many forms!
If you are stuck on what to send in your kid’s lunch, don’t miss the effortless options and yet endless variety of Combination Cards - on sale now.
In the lunch deck of Combination Cards, you get 30 ideas for each food group, as shown in the image here plus examples for veggies to include in each of the lunch Combinations.