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!

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.