Protein-rich foods are the building blocks for our kids’ growing bodies. While meat is the obvious provider it’s far from the only one. Dairy, grains, nuts, and beans, especially when combined, are big players when it comes to finding meat-free lunchtime alternatives that pack a punch. We’ve rounded up some of the best recipes to give kids the perfect protein pick-me-up. Flip through the slideshow to see them all.

Cheese

Cheese is the obvious stand-in for meat at mealtimes. It has all the necessary amino acids and tons of flavor. While cottage cheese is probably lowest in fat, it's parmesan and mozzarella that are the protein high scorers. Mini mozzarella balls are an easy addition to a packed lunch or go for absolute melt with these versatile quesadillas from the recipe book, Best Lunch Box Ever, featured in our archives

Photo: Jennifer Martine

What meat-free proteins do you pack in the kids’ lunch box? Let us know in the comments below. 

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— Emily Myers