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Let’s face it. Our kids can be picky and that plays right into the everyday ritual of what to pack in their school lunches. We are all looking for vegan school lunch box ideas and ways to pack their lunches easier on us, tastier for them, and overall more nutritious for all involved, but how do we make the time for that?
You can find great vegan recipes and packed lunch ideas all over the internet. That’s the easy part, but what about tips and advice to make your lunches great, your meal prep simplified, and everyone satisfied with their daily vegan packed school meals?
Mornings around our house are busy. Everyone is rushing to get ready, stuff some food in their bellies, and rush out the door to school and work. This early morning hustle and bustle doesn’t leave much time for making and packing healthy vegan lunches for the crew.
I’m sure parents and kids alike would agree, there’s nothing worse than opening that lunchbox after a long morning only to be greeted by food that kids don’t like and won’t eat; a waste of time for all involved.
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So what’s a parent to do when packing a Vegan School Lunch Box?
Sure, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is always a quick, healthy, and great go-to sandwich for the start of a nutritious lunch, but a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day can get old quick. Variety, taste, and nutrition is always the recipe for great vegan packed school lunches. With a little planning and preparation ahead of time, making successful take along vegan lunches is simple and satisfying for both kids and parents.
The following tips are sure to keep all of your kids happy and healthy when it comes to their packed lunches and satisfied parents too.
#1 MEAL PREPARATION
Mornings before school and work can be chaotic. No one wants to add the additional chore of chopping vegetables and finding stuff to throw together for a lunchtime meal first thing in the morning. Make lunches ahead of time the night before and meal prep over the weekend before the school week begins.
Prepare all the tedious foods. Wash and cut produce and pre-portion them into containers and baggies. This is a huge time saver when putting all of the lunches together during the week. Cook large batches of rice, pasta, and legumes for fill-ins and sides all week. Having your main staples and vegetables ready to go will save you an enormous amount of time every day.
Meal preparation is much more than just making and assembling the foods you are going to eat all week. Meal prep includes the right tools, your containers, and getting the whole family on the same page.
Have the right tools at hand for making your weekly meal preparation easier. Sharpen your knives, have the right reusable containers on hand and set yourself up for an entire week of packed lunches. Throughout the week, you will be happy you took the time.
#2 PACK FOODS THEY LIKE
This piece of advice sounds simple enough, but how many times have you “hoped” your child would like something or you really didn’t have any other choice because you weren’t prepared? Don’t pack kids food they won’t eat whether by looks or taste. No matter how good it is for them, if they won’t eat it you’re wasting everyone’s time. Start out with new recipes and new foods at home first.
Have a taste testing night.
Talk to your kids about the foods they do and don’t like. All of your vegan packed school lunches should work for everyone. Just because a garbanzo bean vegan tuna salad sandwich is nutritious and looks good if your child won’t eat it, what’s the point? Don’t be afraid of a little junk food and listen to all of your children’s inputs. Eating should be a fun social aspect at school, not a dreaded mealtime chore. Pack the food they want within reason.
We all have our favorite foods and the way they are presented is important. Nobody is going to eat food that looks bad. Runny is out. Piles of tired-looking veggies are out. Cluttered food in one jumbled up lump is out. Fresh, vibrant, and colorful are in.
If your food looks appealing, kids will eat it. If it doesn’t, they won’t. It’s really that straight forward. Fun shapes, segregated fruits and veggies, and clear dividers are a positive move. Making their vegan packed school lunches look appealing and appetizing is a win-win for everyone and encourages your kids to dig in.
#4 STOCK YOUR PANTRY
If you don’t have what you need, packing vegan lunches for school will be a nightmare every single day. You will struggle to find and prepare even the most basic vegan lunches. Meal prep will become a stressful nightmare as will packing the lunches and hoping your kids actually eat what’s inside. Make sure you are well stocked in all the basics. These staples will go a long way with amazing versatility even when you’re in a pinch.
- Fresh vegetables
- Nuts and nut butters
- Beans and other legumes
- Dips and spreads
This is just a shorter version of the long list of great staples to keep stocked in your pantry to help you to make easy nutritious vegan packed lunches that everyone feels good about; that everyone eats. Lots of chopped veggies, fresh fruits, dips, and spreads make this section vegan school lunches 101. Incorporate any other ideas of great staples that your family enjoys. Don’t forget to keep snacks on hand like popcorn, chips, and some other prepackaged foods for simple treats to keep the lunches fun and interesting.
#5 INCLUDE THE ENTIRE FAMILY
Look, it’s not easy if the burden of packing lunches is put on one person (usually mom). Include everyone in the family, even the kids no matter how young they are. Take them grocery shopping with you and let them pick out foods they like, even if that means the occasional vegan junk food. Encourage them to try new fruits and vegetables that they might not have tried before. Meals are a great way to make living and eating together more understandable, more helpful, and more educated.
Make it fun.
Put different family members in charge of different projects. Someone can clean and dice. Someone else can pack it all up in individual packages. Someone else can cook the rice (pasta) and someone else can wrap it all up. Change jobs from week to week for each person in the family.
Make it a fun family night and not a huge downer of chores that everyone dreads. Order out a vegan pizza, throw on a frozen meal; just make it easy and no pressure, turn on the radio, and get to prepping. Talk, laugh, and have fun while doing it all. It will turn into an afternoon (or evening or whenever you designate the best time) that the family looks forward to.
We are all so busy.
This gives us an excuse to get together and help each other, all while eating great and staying healthy. A family that cooks and eats together, stays together. Your kids will appreciate and understand all that goes into creating and eating great meals, even on the go.
#6 BE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY
Ditch the disposable plastic baggies. Reuse plastic and glass containers. The alternative choices out there are endless. Reusable plastic lunch bags are a thing. Containers can be washed out and used again and again. Save old spice containers for dips and spreads. Small reused sauce and pickle jars come in handy and don’t cost any additional money. Reuse bread bags a few times.
Certain products made specifically for packing lunches are new and improved, like bento boxes and meal prep containers. Meal prep containers are simply that…..a place to prep and put meals for future use. Bento boxes are single-portion takeout or home-packed meal boxes common in Asian cultures where rice is the main staple food.
A traditional bento box holds rice or noodles and vegetables. A fun lunchbox is always a good investment to reuse again and again. Don’t purchase those overpriced, throw away, pollution-causing plastic water bottles. Buy a stainless steel bottle or thermos for hot or cold drinks.
#7 SHOP SMART
Checking out different grocery and superstores for the best prices and a huge variety of what you need and are looking for is a must.
Make your job easier, not harder. Check sales, clearance, store delivery fees, and weekly ads. Many stores run similar sales each week, but still, a lot of items are totally different in price just down the road. Stock up on canned goods, staples, spices, and bread when they are on sale and store or freeze for future use at great savings.
Encourage your family to try new fruits and vegetables that they might not have tried before. Browse the vegan meat and dairy alternative aisles. Pick up some different flavored breads and wraps. Talk to them about where their food comes from. This should become second nature. Buy some prepackaged snacks (and don’t beat yourself up about it) to help make your job just a bit easier and more convenient.
#8 TRY NEW
Don’t get me wrong here. Do not try new foods blindly in their lunchboxes without notification. Round the family up to get new ideas, so your lunchtime food never gets boring.
Find some new recipes, do some trial runs, and get a little taste testing in. There will be hits and misses, but those are better off at home than when they open their lunch boxes in the middle of a school day. Buy a new cookbook and/or share ideas with other vegan parents. Check out different ingredients and foods in the grocery stores.
Try different nut butters, dips, spices, breads, pasta, rice, and all sorts of new flavors. Mix it up to keep their lunch boxes fun, nutritious, and edible. There are tons of ideas and recipes online for all kinds of packed vegan school lunches.
The tools are out there. The products, the information, and all of the helpful hints you need are just a few clicks away. The internet is a great resource and tool for all of your vegan lunchbox ideas. There are literally thousands of vegan packed school (and work) lunch recipes and ideas out there, all at the touch of your fingertips. Google is your friend. Local health food stores are also great places to get new ideas and meet other vegans with the same issues and concerns as you. Reach out. Even grocery stores and superstores are getting much more vegan friendly with food products and recipes.
#10 STAY FOCUSED BUT DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF
We all make mistakes. We all get busy. Stuff happens. As many lists as we make, the time we carve out, shopping we do, and prepping ideas we do, life sometimes gets in the way. There will be days when you are scrambling for help and ideas. Just do the best you can. Staying ahead of the game is priceless. Enlist everyone in the family to help so you aren’t feeling overwhelmed. We are in this together. Stay focused on the task at hand and remember that you took this positive vegan leap to for the animals. They will thank you every day.
There is nothing better for your body than packing a healthy vegan lunch, whether it’s for you or your children’s school lunches. Brown bagging everyone’s lunchtime meal is a great way to help the animals, your health, and our environment. These tips will give parents and kids peace of mind when it comes to where everyone is satisfied and fulfilled.
Bring on school and bring on school lunches. We are ready, vegan style.