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.


Lentils are a well-known source of protein, especially when their amino acid portfolio is joined by nuts, grains, seeds or grated cheese.  Better yet, lentils are reasonably priced making them an easy addition to the pantry. Beth at Eat Within Your Means has this pressure cooker vegan chili made with a rainbow of lentils that can be adapted for the stovetop. The mix of lentils makes it both thick and textured. Pop it in a thermos for the kids with some tortillas on the side.

Photo: Eat Within Your Means

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


— Emily Myers