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.

Soba Noodles

These buckwheat noodles are a great source of protein and a cinch to prepare. Soba means buckwheat in Japanese, and this pasta alternative is packed with amino acids including lysine, which is missing in wheat. In this recipe from Kate at Cookie and Kate, the soba noodles are lightened up with zoodles (yes, that's zucchini noodles). Tossed with peanut sauce and topped with colorful cucumbers, this could become a creative and nutritious lunchbox regular.

Photo: Cookie and Kate

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