According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), smartly planned vegetarian diets are a healthy way for children to eat. In a 2009 position paper, the ADA went on to state that meatless diets that are nutritionally adequate may prevent obesity and its many complications. When planning meatless meals for kids, parents need to serve other sources of protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is loved by kids across the globe, who rarely notice that it's a meatless meal but always notice that it tastes yummy. Skip the boxed, store offerings and make your own with fresh milk and cheese, both of which provide plenty of protein for growing children. It's also easy to add other healthy vegetables like peas and carrots to mac and cheese. Serve with fresh strawberries or grapes for a completely nutritious meal.
Peanut Butter with Honey and Banana Sandwich
Kids love peanut butter, and it can be used in plenty of meatless meals that will fill them up, give them a hearty dose of protein and make their taste buds smile. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are iconic in the land of childhood, but parents can mix things up by serving peanut butter, honey and slices of banana (loaded with B12) on fresh whole wheat bread. Add some carrot sticks with ranch dressing for dipping.
Kids love a cookout and there are a number of tofu hotdogs on the market that taste just like wieners made from various parts of pig and cow, but are much healthier. Toss a few on the grill and then serve in whole wheat buns with baked beans and potato chips for a meatless meal that children of all ages will appreciate.
Black Bean Soup and Cornbread
Beans play an important role in many vegetarian meals because they are an important source of protein, fiber and vitamin D. Make a simple black bean soup with vegetable stock, black beans, onions and garlic, and then serve it to kids with a dollop of sour cream on the top and a big piece of fresh cornbread.