Packing lunches for a teen can be pretty difficult! You never know exactly what their new favorite food is, and then there’s the issue of how much to pack. Sometimes it seems like a growing teen is hungry no matter how much you feed them! In this article, we’re focusing on this issue, but we’re giving you vegetable-based recipe options for your vegetarian teenager.
What’s a Good Vegetarian Lunch for Teenagers?
Before we get started, let’s examine the main question – what makes a good vegetarian lunch for a teen?
First, you want to focus on nutrition, without neglecting taste. Teens need to eat healthy, because they need to fuel their growth and their active lifestyles. Focus on lunches that are dense and filling, without relying on added sugars. This means protein, healthy fats, and even carbs!
Additionally, don’t be afraid of big portions. Teens have big appetites, and they need a big lunch to fuel the rest of their day. So long as they are eating healthy, you shouldn’t have to worry about your teen eating more than you. Try not to overdo it, but pack a big, hearty lunch for your teen.
And of course, don’t forget taste! A lunch is only a good one if your teen actually enjoys it!
We have kept these tips in mind with all of our vegetarian options below. Let’s check out some hearty vegetarian lunch options for teens.
Tasty Vegetarian Lunches
Hummus and Tofu Wrap
Let’s start with a classic vegetarian lunch, the hummus and tofu wrap! Tofu is a great source of protein (about 8 grams per 100 gram serving), and is so easy to throw on sandwiches and wraps as a meat substitute. Hummus also contains about 8 grams of protein per 100 gram serving. This means that this is a delicious wrap, and also quite filling! Try adding some cucumber slices, tomato, and alfalfa sprouts.
Almond Butter and Apple Wrap
Almond butter is a very versatile tool for any vegetarian diet. It is very calorically dense which means it’s very filling. It is high in protein and healthy fats. This makes it the perfect lunch to satisfy even the most active teens, not to mention it’s delicious! Almond butter and apple slices are a healthy take on the classic PB & J.
Chili is such a great lunch option, and vegetarian chili packs all the taste of a traditional chili. Chili is great because you can make a big pot and have lunches for the whole week. Try adding some vegan sour cream to really top if off!
It doesn’t get much more hearty and filling than a burrito at lunch! Burritos are full of ingredients that fill you up and keep you full. Wrap up some rice, black beans, pinto beans, cheese (if your diet allows), salsa, vegan sour cream, lettuce, and tomato. You’re left with a well-rounded lunch that has all the carbs and protein needed to satisfy a hungry teen.
Pesto pasta is super delicious, and it works just as well as leftovers the next day. The great thing about pesto pasta is that you don’t even need to heat it up! It works just fine at room temperature as a pasta salad. You can make your own pesto, or use a store-bought jar of pesto. Top it off by chopping up some high protein almonds and sprinkling them on top.
Hummus and Avocado Sandwich
A hummus and avocado sandwich is a great option, and quite filling! Avocados are a super food, they are very healthy and high in good fats. Mix some avocados, hummus, lettuce, mayo, and tomatoes and you’re left with a great lunch! If you want to make it even more filling, add some slices of tofu as a meat substitute.
Sushi is a great lunch. Depending if your teen’s vegetarian diet allows fish, this can be a pretty easy choice. You can learn to make sushi yourself, but it’s probably easier to buy it pre-made. Sushi is full of veggies, and fish contains lots of healthy fat and protein. Additionally, the rice makes it deceptively filling!
A chickpea salad is a simple lunch that is quite filling. Try using a basic olive oil and lemon dressing. Just mix the olive oil with a splash of lemon juice and some salt and pepper. In the salad itself, add chickpeas, red onion, avocado, fresh parsley, tomatoes, and bell pepper. An extremely healthy lunch, and the protein-rich chickpeas will keep your teen full for their busy afternoon.
Similar to the chickpea salad, a bean salad is another way to turn a salad into a filling lunch. All you need is a basic vinaigrette dressing that you can find at any grocery store. Use a mix of pinto beans, black beans, and kidney beans, and add red onion, parsley, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Simple to make, and it keeps well in the fridge. Beans are quite filling due to their high protein and fibre content (about 20 grams of protein per 100 gram serving!).
Burgers are typically thought of as a dinner food, but there’s no reason they can’t be eaten for lunch as well! There are so many veggie burger options in any grocery store. You can cook them ahead of time and pack them in your teen’s lunch as you would any sandwich. Many veggie burger patties are high in protein and healthy fat, which will provide adequate fuel to any hungry teen. Dress up your burger with tomato, lettuce, cheese, and mustard!
Peanut Butter and Jam!
How about the classic PB & J sandwich for lunch? A great option here is to buy all natural peanut butter that is made 100% from just peanuts. It has the benefit of no added sugar, but is also much higher in protein and healthy fats. It’s much more filling than regular peanut butter, and better for you, too! Aim for a jelly with low added sugar if you really want to turn it into a healthy lunch. Sometimes the classics are popular for a reason!
About the Author
Alissa is a resilience coach, cartoonist, and advocate for ‘connection, not perfection’. She’s dedicated to helping others find a sense of safety and belonging inside themselves so they can heal, connect, and build authentic, joyful lives.