Some other ideas for packed lunches:
dates or single serve boxes of raisins or other dried fruits; raisins are fairly inexpensive and sometimes dates are depending on where you look in the store. You can find them in the baking section or sometimes in produce.
any fresh fruit such as apples, pears, peaches, banana, apricots, plums, mango, pineapple, melon, etc You could even bring some peanut butter to put on them. Celery with raisins and peanut butter on it is good too.
garden salad with canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas) added, cut up vegetables, maybe some sesame or other seeds if desired. For a dressing, if you can get hold of peanut butter, mix 1/4 cup of peanut butter in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of soy sauce, a little garlic powder, a pinch of any kind of sweetener, and 1/4 cup or more of water. Heat and stir until creamy, adding more water if needed. Pour over salad. You could make enough salad for three or four servings and portion them into some tupperware for three or four days worth of lunches. Another salad dressing would be to take some orange juice or a few oranges (squeeze the juice out of them), about 1/3 cup or so, and add it to a pot. Add a tablespoon of cornstarch or flour and your favorite spices and then heat it all up on the stove until it thickens. Pour over salad once it is cooled. Make sure to incorporate the flour or cornstarch into the juice before heating the juice or it will clump. Another great homemade salad dressing involves using tahini but since I saw in another post you live with family and don't have the money for it I left it out.
peanut butter sandwich with banana smashed into it or fresh berries smashed into it. If you can't find vegan bread, don't worry too much right now with your situation. There are some breads made with only a few obscure ingredients that do not have dairy or honey or eggs in them but might have something weird like L Cysteine. Sometimes you can find bread in the bakery section of stores that is naturally vegan such as ciabetta or french bread with no animal ingredients. If nothing else, you could just smash the peanut butter and banana together in a small container and eat it that way without the bread.
Spaghetti with tomato sauce and seasonings. You could even throw in a can of kidney beans/red beans, or lentils with the sauce on top of the spaghetti. Pack in tupperware container for lunch.
If you have a thermos or your family has one, you can bring homemade soups. They are very easy to make and hard to mess up. One simple soup I like to make is to chop up and add carrots and onion to a pot. Add a can or dried cooked white beans or navy beans to the pot. Add some garlic powder or minced garlic cloves if desired. Maybe some ginger powder or minced fresh ginger. Add some chopped onion. You could even add a chopped apple if you want. Then add about three or four cups of water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and let it simmer until the carrots are soft. You can eat it this way or add it to a blender after it is cooked...any blender will do, and blend until creamy and smooth. Cooked soups will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. Sometimes I just throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand and some beans into a pot with seasonings or spices I have on hand and some water, maybe vegetable broth if I happen to have it but not necessary. Then I add water to cover and heat everything until it is tender. Some good soup vegetables are celery, onion, mushroom, zuchini, yellow squash, peppers, leafy greens, green beans, peas, lima beans, tomatoes.
Another is to mix some cooked sweet potato and black beans together with spices like garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, whatever you want. Ways to cook sweet potato: scrub the sweet potatoes, poke some holes in them with a fork, and bake in oven for an hour at a medium temperature. Or peel the skin off the sweet potatoes, add to a pot of water, and boil until tender. Or peel the skin off them, chop them up, and add to a steamer basket and steam until soft (takes about ten minutes). Add the canned or cooked black beans with them and the spices. Portion into tupperware containers and bring to school for lunch. This can be eaten cold or hot.
You could even just bring some plain oats with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on them. Bring them in a tupperware bowl with a lid. If you have access to hot water at school, add some hot water to them there and let them soak for a minute or so until soft. Only add enough hot water to cover. If you added one cup of dried oats to the bowl for example, add one cup of hot water. Then you have a nice bowl of hot oatmeal. You could even add raisins or nuts or seeds to them ahead of time, or bring a banana to throw in your oatmeal. Seeds tend to be less expensive than nuts in the grocery store but not always. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds without shell, and sesame seeds are relatively inexpensive.
All these foods are easy to find and low cost. They do involve a little preparation ahead but nothing too much. Hope this helps!
In the end, only kindness matters. - Jewel
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