School Daze: Easy Lunch Ideas & Shopping List (Kid-approved Vegan Food)

School lunches. There are four ways parents generally approach the irksome task: 1) prepare carefully sliced and arranged food figurines into pristine Bento boxes, 2) toss a Lunchable at the kid on his way out the door, 3) opt for cafeteria fare, 4) stick to the same worn-out lunch options out of ease and self-preservation. None are wrong, right, better, or worse. All get the kid fed.

My approach lies somewhere in the middle. I aim for easy-to-make, relatively healthy, filling, fast-to-eat, and kid-approved.

As noted School Daze: Morning Prep post, I pack the week’s lunches on Sunday. I have more delicate lunches lined up to go first with sturdier fare waiting in the back for Thursday and Friday packing. I don’t like to invest a lot of time into the prepping, so I opt for quick to make dishes that use ingredients I already have on hand.

This is an example of a week’s worth of pre-packed vegan school lunches my first grader polishes off.

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LUNCH #1; “Just Ranch” Salad with Pita Add handful of chopped salad greens, 1/3 of the cucumber (chopped), 1/3 of the carrot (chopped), 1/3 of the bell pepper (diced), a sprinkle of Follow Your Heart Shredded Cheese Alternative, and 2 mini pita pockets to a lunch container. Poor 2 Tbl of Just Ranch into a small container for dressing.

LUNCH #2: “Just Caesar” Salad with Pita Add 2 handfuls of salad greens, 2 mini pita pockets, and a liberal sprinkle of Follow Your Heart Shredded Cheese Alternative to a lunch container. Pour 2 Tbl of Just Caesar into a small container for dressing.

LUNCH #3: Veggies & Pita with Hummus Add 1/3 of the bell pepper (sliced), 1/3 of the cucumber (sliced into sticks or discs, whichever is preferred), 1/3 of the carrot (cut into sticks), and 2 mini pitas to a lunch container. Scoop a few Tbl of hummus into a small container for dipping.

LUNCH #4: Hummus Pasta Salad Add a cup of cooked pasta to a lunch container. Add 1/3 of the cucumber  (diced), 1/3 of the bell pepper (diced), and 1/3 of the carrot (diced), then stir in a couple scoops of hummus.

LUNCH #5: Lentil Marinara Pasta Add 1/4 cup of prepared lentils and 1 cup of prepared pasta to a lunch container. Stir in the desired amount of spaghetti sauce. Optional: top with Follow Your Heart Shredded Cheese Alternative.


SHOPPING LIST:

1 package of salad greens (or 1 head of lettuce)

1 large carrot

1 English cucumber

1 large bell pepper (whichever color is preferred)

1 package of mini whole grain pitas (you’ll need 6 mini pitas)

1 container of hummus (or homemade; you’ll need just a few tablespoons)

1 package of dried pasta (I used Banza for extra protein)

1 jar of spaghetti sauce (you’ll need just a serving’s worth)

1 bag of lentils (or prepared lentils if preferred, you’ll need just 1/4 cup)

1 container of Follow Your Heart Shredded Cheese Alternative

1 container of Just Ranch (you’ll need roughly 2 Tbl)

1 container of Just Caesar (you’ll need roughly 2 Tbl)


Comment here or tag me on Instagram (@thedairydiaries) if you make any of these lunches. I’d love to see your creations and variations.

Happy packing!

Fast and Easy Vegan Recipe: Beans-and-Greens Rice Bowl

Looking for something plant-based that’s quick, healthy, and easy to make? Hoping to fill your tummy, a lunch box, or your family’s plates? Need a dorm-friendly meal option or a simple dish your tween can heat up solo? Hunting for a 15-minute meal? This packable dish is good warm or cool. Give it a try.

Change out the beans and veggies to switch things up. Maybe black beans with peppers and corn, or cannelini beans with spinach and artichoke. Try switching up brown rice for farro or quinoa. Make this suit you.

BEANS-AND-GREENS RICE BOWL

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BEANS-AND-GREENS RICE BOWL

Ingredients:

2 cans pinto beans

3 cups frozen broccoli florets

2 cups frozen peas

2 bags of frozen microwave-in-pouch brown rice

2 Tbl Soy-free Earth Balance Spread

1 Tbl dried Italian seasoning

2 Tbl garlic powder

* 2 tsp fennel seeds (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Microwave the rice according to package instructions.

Drain and rinse the beans.

Pour frozen veggies into a big microwaveable bowl and top with Earth Balance before microwaving for 8 minutes, or until warmed through.

Add the rice and beans to the cooked veggies then stir in the seasonings.

Refrigerate for later, portion it out for meal prep, scoop into containers for lunch box filling, or serve immediately.

Enjoy!

 

Vegan Veggie Zoodles with Cashew Herb Pesto

Looking for a vegan, veggie-filled, peanut-free dish to bring to a potluck, use as work week meal prep, or to just eat at home? Itching to break out your Spiralizer? This zucchini noodle dish can be served warm or cold, and easily feeds a crowd as a side or main dish.

VEGAN VEGGIE ZOODLES WITH HERB CASHEW PESTO

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Ingredients:

3 large zucchini (spiralized)

1 handful dry thin spaghetti

1 pint grape tomatoes

1 Vidalia onion (chopped)

6 garlic cloves (minced)

1 fennel bulb (chopped)

2 cups shredded red cabbage

1/4 cup (more for greasing pan) Extra virgin olive oil

1 handful fresh parsley

3 sprigs fresh mint

3 handfuls fresh basil  (+1 chopped for garnish)

1 handful raw unsalted cashews

4Tbl nutritional yeast

1 handful roasted pine nuts

Salt, pepper, onion owder, and garlic powder to taste

Directions:

– In a large pan: grease with olive oil, cook onion, grape tomatoes, shredded red cabbage, fennel, and garlic cloves on medium-low heat.
– In a pot: boil spaghetti, adding the spiralized zucchini for the last few minutes.
– In a food processor: blend 1/4 cup olive oil, parsley, mint, basil, cashews, and nutritional yeast. Add salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste. Stop the food processor often to carefully scrape the sides. (Add more olive oil if the mixture is too thick.)

– Pour the cooked veggies from the pan into a mesh strainer then return to the pan over medium heat.
– Use tongs to transfer the cooked noodles and zoodles to the veggie pan. Fold in the herb pesto.

-Transfer the mixture to a large serving bowl and top with roasted pine nuts and chopped fresh basil