A little over a year ago, my 12-year-old told the family she was thinking of becoming a vegetarian. Oh, how we laughed.
She hates at least 75% of vegetables.
Well, she showed us.
Flea’s now been vegetarian for a whole year and it’s been a steep learning curve. Honestly, it’s a worry when you have a fussy eater who decides to adopt a restrictive diet like being vegan or vegetarian.
The challenge for us is keeping lunch time fun when Im worrying about getting enough nutrients into my child and meeting her desire for veggie-friendly foods.
Although Flea has school lunches, she often skips the school lunch if it’s something she doesn’t like, or if she has a sports practice and is short of time. So this year when she went Back to School, I’ve had to seriously think about lunch box items for the first time.
So here are Six of the Best (see what I did there?) things to pop in your little one’s lunch box this autumn.
Hartley’s No Added Sugar Jelly Pots
No added sugar jelly is a fab dessert option for kids. It’s healthy, but they’ll think it’s a treat. If your child is vegetarian, the good news is that all of the Hartley’s No Added Sugar pots are suitable for vegetarians.
Quesedillas have been a bit of a life-saver over this past year. They take about 2 minutes to make, and we can vary the filling according to what I’ve got in the fridge.
Typically, we’ll pop a mini tortilla wrap into a dry, non-stick pan and top with a handful of grated cheese and some finely chopped cucumber and spring onion. Top with another tortilla and then dry fry on each side for about 45 seconds. Chop into quarters, and pop into a lunch box.
You could obviously mix this up with some of the hundreds of things my child won’t eat – tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, peppers…
I love doing pasta salad lunches because they’re so easy to do while we’re making dinner the night before.
I just set aside a portion of pasta, and allow it to cool. Then stir in a spoonful of pasta and some peas, or sweetcorn. Just remember to pack a fork in the lunch box so your child can eat it!
This is ideal if you have one of those lunch boxes that splits into mini compartments. You just need one section of Greek yoghurt, then another with some fresh fruit. Into the third compartment add some low-sugar granola.
At lunchtime Flea can mix it all up into a parfait. She thinks it’s a bit like one of those corner yoghurts, but this option is a lot healthier. If we have one, I’ll sometimes add in a single portion sachet of honey.
Carrot Sticks and Hummus
There are some vegetables that Flea really likes, and will eat cooked or raw. Among those are broccoli and carrots.
I can send her to school with some chopped carrot batons and broccoli florets with a pot of hummus, and she’ll be very happy. Most supermarkets now sell mini pots of hummus, so we use those as a quick serving option.
Cheese and Spinach Empanadas
We probably don’t make officially-sanctioned empanadas but our lunch box version of these Spanish-style pastries are delicious.
To make them, divide pre-made shortcrust pastry into golf ball pieces. Flatten each golf ball into a thin circle. Pop 2tsp of a mixed cheese and spinach mixture into each circle. Then fold in half, seal the edges with egg white and crimp with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes, and you’re all set.
Top tip – salt your spinach then squeeze it in between kitchen towel sheets to remove water before making this mixture.
This post includes paid promotion for Hartley’s No Added Sugar jelly. All views my own.