Stuck in a lunch box rut? Need a new idea for lunch at home with your toddler? This pasta salad for kids is easy, healthy and colourful. It can be easily adapted to suit your tastes and what you have in the fridge. Plus it can be prepared ahead. Perfect.
Making a lunch box every day can get seriously wearing. I start out with good intentions but before I know it I find myself putting in the same things week after week.
Recently I decided that it was time to do two things:
- use lunch boxes as a chance to offer the kids some new foods
- include more vegetables in their lunch boxes.
My kids aren't keen on chopped up raw veg. So I needed a different approach.
Pasta is always popular here - for example I often mix pasta with a sneaky veg sauce for dinner to get the veggies in. However, I saw an opportunity to offer the kids some uncooked and unhidden veggies by making a pasta salad.
How to get kids to eat pasta salad
The kids were a bit unsure about eating cold pasta. If yours are the same then here are a few tricks you can try.
- Be sure to include some vegetables that they like. For example one of my kids likes olives and peas, while another likes sweetcorn, peppers and cherry tomatoes.
- Get them to make their own pasta salad. Offer a selection of veggies and see what they choose.
- Warm it up! Some veggies eg cucumber won’t work well warm but many will eg tomatoes, peas, corn, peppers.
- Offer a small portion. A huge portion of something new in a lunchbox can be overwhelming. Start small with some foods they like on the side.
What else could you add to your pasta salad?
Feel free to add anything that your kids love to your pasta salad. I’ve stuck to veggies and herbs here but you could also add:
- cubes of cheese, dairy free if vegan
- cooled chopped up veggie sausages
- shredded Quorn slices
- pulses eg lentils or chickpeas
- nuts (depending on your school’s nuts policy) or seeds.
Need more lunch box ideas?
If you're still looking for lunch box ideas try these posts:
How to make healthy and colourful vegan pasta salad for kids
Please do not reproduce this recipe without permission.
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Healthy and colourful vegan pasta salad for kids
For the pasta salad
- 150 g small pasta shapes eg macaroni cooked and cooled
- Handful frozen peas cooked and cooled
- Handful sweetcorn tinned, fresh or frozen, cooked and cooled
- ½ red pepper chopped
- 1 small carrot peeled and chopped
- Small handful olives chopped, optional
- Small handful fresh herbs eg basil chopped
- 8 cherry tomatoes quartered
- ¼ cucumber diced
For the dressing
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- First cook 150g small pasta shapes according to the packet instructions. Drain and cool. You may wish to stir a little olive oil through the pasta to stop it sticking together.
- Place in a mixing bowl with your choice of vegetables. I used a handful of peas, a handful of sweetcorn, ½ chopped red pepper, a chopped carrot, a few chopped olives, a handful of torn basil leaves, ¼ cucumber diced and 8 quartered cherry tomatoes. Mix well.
To make the dressing
- Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and ½ teaspoon dried oregano. Pour over the pasta salad and mix well. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
For a more grown-up salad why not try my grilled aubergine and chickpea salad?
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