6 Vegetarian School Lunches You Can Make From Family Dinner Leftovers

by , 09/26/12

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1. Panini

Paninis are obviously members of the sandwich family, but they have an especially important feature that keeps them interesting and, more importantly, intact until lunch: their crunch factor. Paninis are kind of like a little magic trick at our house. In addition to being less squishable on the outside, paninis make my kids seem to tolerate random ingredients getting all squished up and melted on the inside. I often will tuck some leftover roasted zucchini or other veggies inside for super veg factor! You can keep paninis simple with a grilled cheese and tomato option or any other taste treat: baked tofu and pesto, cream cheese and olive, hummus and veggies, etc.

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2. Soup

Especially as the weather gets colder, opening up a thermos of yummy soup can be so comforting and energizing at lunch. And the possibilities are endless: noodle, veggie, miso, etc. There are several BPA-options for thermoses; we like this insulated, leakproof version. Pack along some yummy crackers or bread for dipping, and your child will be the envy of all at her lunch table.

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3. Grain salad

A lot of packed lunches are refined-carb heavy, but making a grain salad is a simple and nutritious way to mix up your child’s main dish. Start with a favorite grain (or a mix of grains), whether it be rice or barley, then add nuts, various proteins, chopped fruit or raisins. Pour on a little vinaigrette or even toss with a favorite sauce. I’m all for letting kids come up with their own concoctions: rice and chickpeas with barbecue sauce? Why not? Grain salads are also good time savers because they can be made and packed the night or day before.

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