Stuck in a lunchbox rut? Need a new idea for lunch at home with your toddler? This kids pasta salad is easy, healthy and colourful. It can be easily adapted to suit your tastes and what you have in the fridge. And it can be prepared ahead.
Making a lunch box every day can get seriously wearing. I find myself putting in the same things week after week. Recently I decided that it was time to do two things:
- use the lunchbox as a chance to offer the kids some new foods
- include more vegetables in their lunchboxes.
Including pots of chopped up veggies in my eldest’s lunchbox is only guaranteed to achieve one thing. They’re sure to come up again unopened and uneaten. For him, a different approach is needed.
Pasta always goes down well here. I often mix pasta with a sneaky veg sauce 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 R, 9, that’s olives and peas. For Miss R, 8, that’s sweetcorn, peppers and cherry tomatoes (her new favourite)
- 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 very 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?
Anything that your kids love. I’ve stuck to veggies and herbs here but you could also add:
- cubes of cheese, dairy free if vegan
- cooled veggie sausages
- shredded Quorn slices
- nuts (depending on your school’s nuts policy) or seeds.
Need more lunchbox ideas?
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How to make healthy and colourful vegan pasta salad for kids
Healthy and colourful vegan pasta salad for kids
For the pasta salad
- 150 g small pasta shapes eg macaroni cooked and cooled
- Handful of frozen peas cooked and cooled
- Handful of sweetcorn tinned, fresh or frozen, cooked and cooled
- 1/2 red pepper chopped
- 1 small carrot peeled and chopped
- Small handful of black or green olives chopped, optional
- Small handful of fresh herbs eg basil chopped
- 8 cherry tomatoes quartered
- 1/4 cucumber diced
For the dressing
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp 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, 1/2 chopped red pepper, a chopped carrot, a few chopped olives, a handful of torn basil leaves, 1/4 cucumber diced and 8 quartered cherry tomatoes. Mix well.
To make the dressing
- Mix 1 tbsp olive oil with 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 tsp 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.