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.



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.


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!

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.





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


– 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

5 Dairy-free School Lunches

A new school year has begun. That means packing nutritious, filling, easy-to-eat lunches and snacks is back on the to-do list.

Here are 5 kid-approved, dairy-free school lunch and snack options that received the empty-lunchbox seal of approval from my kindergartener.

1) Turkey roll-up with fruit, veggies & flaxseed brownie, and a grape tomato snack

Turkey roll-up with fruit, veggies & flaxseed brownie

Turkey roll-up with fruit, veggies & flaxseed brownie, and grape tomato snack

Turkey roll-up: Dampen a paper towel. Wrap a flat, small corn tortilla in the dampened paper towel and microwave for 10 seconds to make the tortilla pliable. Remove the tortilla from the paper towel. Spread a thin layer of Tofutti Cream Cheese on the tortilla. Roll a single slice of deli turkey into a tube and place in a vertical line on the center of the tortilla. Wrap the tortilla around the turkey, then cut the roll-up in half.

Side produce: Add sliced nectarine and sliced rounds of cucumber to the lunch container.

Treat: Add a flaxseed brownie for a nutritious treat.

Snack: Place a handful of clean grape tomatoes into a container.

2) Bean dip dippers and fruit salad snack

Veggies and plantain chips with homemade bean dip

Bean dip dippers with fruit salad snack

Homemade bean dip: Drain and rinse 1 can of pinto beans, then pour into food processor. Drizzle in 2 Tbl of extra virgin olive oil. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lime. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder to taste. Blend until smooth, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides of the food processor. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.

Dippable sides: Chop jicama into sticks, cucumber into round slices (or sticks, if preferred), and slice bell pepper into strips. Add grape tomatoes and a few plantain chips too.

Fruit salad: Place clean red grapes, sliced strawberries, and chopped honey dew melon in a container.

3) Hummus and veggie roll-up with fruit & carrot sticks, and a bell pepper & grape tomato snack

Hummus & veggie roll-up with fruit and carrot sticks, and pepper & grape tomato snack

Hummus & veggie roll-up with fruit and carrot sticks, and pepper & grape tomato snack

Hummus and veggie roll-up: Wrap one corn tortilla in a damp paper towel and microwave for 10 seconds to make it pliable. Lay the tortilla flat and spread a thin layer of hummus on the tortilla. In a vertical line in the center of the tortilla pile diced cucumber and diced tomato. Sprinkle the veggies with salt and pepper, then roll up the tortilla from left to right and cut in half.

Side dishes: Add honeydew melon chunks and clean purple grapes to one container and carrot sticks to another.

Snack: Add a handful of clean cherry tomatoes and sliced bell pepper to a container.

4) Sunbutter Dippers, and grape snack

Sunbutter dippers, and grape snack

Sunbutter dippers, and grape snack

Sunbutter dippers: Place apple, celery sticks, and dairy-free pretzels into a container. Add 2 tablespoons of Sunbutter to the container for dipping.

Grape snack: Place a handful of clean grapes in a separate container.

5) Coconut Yogurt Dippers with carrot snack

Coconut yogurt dippers with carrot snack

Coconut yogurt dippers with carrot snack

Coconut yogurt: Scoop 2-3 spoonfuls of SoDelicious yogurt (or your preferred dairy-free yogurt) into a container.

Dippers: Place half if a sliced apple in one container and a dairy-free granola bar (we like these) in another container. Add pumpkin seeds, dried berries, and coconut flakes to the granola compartment.

Snack: Pile carrot sticks into a small container.

Dairy-free Make Ahead Kid Breakfasts

I am a planner. On Sunday evening, I set out the kids’ clothes for the week. Each evening after dinner clean-up, as the kids squabble over their last few bites, I prepare their breakfasts, my breakfast, set up the electric tea kettle, and make their lunches.

Sunny apple sandwich

Sunny apple sandwich

Here are some breakfasts I often make the kids:

Smoothies: #1 and #2’s favorite is frozen mixed berries, frozen banana, frozen spinach, a dollop of sunflower butter, and apple juice. They also like frozen berries, Almond Dream Almond Non-Dairy Unsweetend Vanilla Yogurt, frozen spinach, and cranberry juice. I throw all of the ingredients in the blender cup, pop it in the fridge, and blend it the next morning. Easy!

Sunny Apple Sandwich: I core an apple then cut it horizontally into four slices (the apple core hole should be in the center of each slice, like a bagel.) Spread sunflower butter on one side of two of the apple slices and top each smothered slice with a naked apple slice, so you have apple sunflower butter sandwiches. Cover, refrigerate, and, in the morning, serve with your favorite dairy-free cereal and dairy-free milk (we lIke cashewmilk.)

Dairy-free Parfait: SoDelicious Non-Dairy Coconut Yogurt (#1 and #2 love the strawberry flavor) topped with fresh berries and pumpkin seeds is a tasty breakfast. If I’m using the Almond Dream Almond Non-Dairy Unsweetened Vanilla Yogurt, I’ll add a drizzle of honey. I cover the small bowls and refrigerate. In the morning I top each with dry bran cereal.

Sunny-banana Sandwich: a sunflower butter and banana sandwich on dairy-free bread served with a side of orange slices or pineapple is a fun and easy make-ahead. I just prepare it all, cover it, refrigerate, and serve in the morning.