Sharing healthy eating habits with your kids early on will help them establish wholesome eating patterns later in life. If you’re looking for a healthy way to add variety to your family’s menu, try incorporating some kid-friendly vegetarian meals!
According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarian diets are related to lower risk for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Don’t worry - eliminating meat completely isn’t necessary. Simply serving a couple of vegetarian meals per week can improve your family’s health. If serving vegetarian meals for kids sounds a little intimidating, we’re here to help you get started.
Many parents worry that vegetarian kids lunches and dinners won’t have enough protein. However, it’s easy for healthy kids to get plenty of protein, even without meat. The Recom-mended Daily Allowance (RDA) of protein for 4-8 year-olds is around 20 grams per day.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of protein for 4-8 year-olds is around 20 grams per day. For 9-13 year-olds, the RDA is around 35 grams of protein.
Protein adds up more quickly than you might think!
In addition to protein, it’s important to serve kid-friendly vegetarian meals that contain plenty of other nutrients. To make sure your family is getting the most out of the vegetarian meals you serve (and not relying on chips and bread), build meals that include a variety of whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
Having a variety of these foods will ensure your family is getting the essentials – and more! Whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables are all packed with fiber, which is a nutrient many of us are lacking. These foods are also excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which are vital to growing bodies.
Calcium and vitamin D are essential for growing bodies, too. It’s perfectly fine to continue serving dairy as part of vegetarian kids lunches and dinners. Foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese are excellent sources of both calcium and vitamin D. If you prefer to eliminate dairy, opt for alternatives such as soy or almond milk. Including a couple servings of these foods each day in your kid-friendly vegetarian meals will give kids what they need.
When eliminating meat, it’s also important to find ways to get enough iron. Many grains and cereals are fortified with iron, which is helpful. Increase iron in your vegetarian dinners for kids by including plenty of iron-rich foods such as leafy greens and beans. Including a handful of raisins in vegetarian kids lunches can be a great source of iron, too. Combine these foods with sources of vitamin C like citrus fruits, as these help your body absorb the iron.
Serving kid-friendly vegetarian meals is easier than you might think, even if you have a picky eater on your hands. Packing a vegetarian kids lunch doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple nut butter and jelly sandwich with yogurt, a fruit, and veggie (like carrot sticks!) is a great place to start. If your child is picky about vegetables, try serving them with a side of low-fat ranch or hummus. If your child isn’t a bean lover, try mashing them up with a bit of cheese in a whole-wheat quesadilla.
For dinner, start with your family’s favorite non-vegetarian meals. Then, simply eliminate or replace the meat. For example, chili is a versatile meal that makes a great vegetarian dinner for kids. Simply replace the meat with plenty of beans and veggies and serve over brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. For a delicious vegetarian chili without the work, try Yumble Chili Chili Bang Bang! This chili is so flavorful and hearty, your kids won’t even miss the meat in this version that makes a wholesome and tasty kid-friendly vegetarian meal.
To get your kids excited about trying new vegetarian meals, involve them as much as possible. Let them help brainstorm meals or help out with grocery shopping or cooking as appropriate. As mentioned before, start by slowing adding vegetarian meals you already know your kids will love into your family’s menu. This will eliminate stress that may come with planning and cooking new dishes. Then, gather ideas for more vegetarian meals for kids from family, friends, or the internet.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment! It’s easy to find a few vegetarian dinners that your kids love and serve them week after week, but this can get boring. Keep switching it up every now and then, and remember the importance of variety. If certain new foods don’t go over so well, don’t sweat it. You can always serve them in a new way later on.
To make serving kid-friendly vegetarian meals even easier, Yumble is here to help! With over ten healthy vegetarian options to choose from, your child is sure to find something they love. Our vegetarian meals for kids are always made with healthy, real food that is delivered to your door and ready to heat and serve to your little ones.
Cutting down on meat can seem intimidating – especially when you have a picky eater. But, these tricks will help you make kid-friendly vegetarian meals that the whole family will love