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.

Beans

Kidney or pinto, black or navy, the bean family is high in protein, just like the garbanzo, and when combined with rice or grains, offers the full range of essential amino acids our bodies need. This three-bean salad with rice can be made ahead and tastes great at room temperature, so it's perfect for picnics and pack lunches. It comes to us via Erin Clarke at Well Plated who also has a genius recipe for protein-packed baked beans.

Photo: Erin Clarke of Well Plated

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