School packed lunch ideas? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 07-06-2014, 12:13 AM
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: England, UK
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Exclamation School packed lunch ideas?

I eat vegan for my packed lunch (yay!) but I keep going back to chicken slices and dairy items because I just don't know what to eat!
Most recipes online require expensive/not easy to find/only use once ingredients which don't help.
What I pack in my lunch is:

Soya yoghurt
....and that's all I can think of in the vegan isle.
Help please?
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#2 Old 07-06-2014, 05:14 AM
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Hi IndigoHeart,

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!

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#3 Old 07-06-2014, 05:30 AM
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I can't believe I only tried this one recently, but I'm addicted:

Peanut butter and jelly!

It's so ridiculously good, I can't believe I went so many years without it!

Also try alternating with different nut spreads, like almond and hazelnut, and blackberry, strawberry, etc. Even apple sauce works well! Sliced banana with nut butter, houmous with lettuce, tahini with cocoa + sugar sprinkles or honey (perhaps agave or maple syrup). Otherwise, leftovers work as well! Just make something that can be eaten cold, like a pasta salad, or soup if you have a microwave (with bread, of course!).
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#4 Old 07-06-2014, 06:59 AM
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I usually make "fake" chicken nuggets out of tofu to pack in my lunch, it's really easy to do. Or I make a pizza on a wrap, that is really easy and portable as well. I also pack a lot of fruit and a vegan granola bar. I can't eat wheat, but if you can an easy lunch is making a sandwich using a bagel.
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#5 Old 07-06-2014, 07:07 AM
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If you like chicken slices, you might be able find vegan turkey slices. Another thing that works pretty well is pre-cooked veggie burgers. I think the non-hamburger veggie patties taste pretty good cold. Just cook them following the package instructions the night before, and put them in the fridge. In the morning, just put the patty in a bun and add your favorite toppings. If you have access to a microwave, you could bring the frozen patty instead. Other ideas for sandwiches are the old standby PB&J, or you can find lots of recipes online for chickpea "tuna" salad. If you like to cook tofu, some slices of your favorite recipe of homemade baked or pan-fried tofu would be good in a sandwich.

Vegan yogurt is pretty good and definitely convenient. Individual applesauce containers or fruit cups might be another option for a side dish. Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, or snap peas also make good sides. Roasted nuts would also be nice to round out a meal.

How about salads? Not just green salads, but pasta salad or other grain and/or bean salads. With a cooked grain, cooked/canned beans and whatever veggies you have on hand, you can come up with a lot of variations. Dressings could be bottled if you have a favorite vegan brand, or homemade like an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing, or an Asian dressing with soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar.

Leftovers from dinner are good too (if you don't have a microwave you can eat them cold). Just make sure they are fresh. Your lunch box probably won't keep food as cold as the fridge, so just make sure you refrigerate leftovers from dinner as soon as you can and eat them within a couple days to avoid food poisoning. Rice is particularly notorious for growing bad food poisoning bacteria.

Well, those are just a few ideas to start from. If you give us an idea of what you do or don't like, maybe we can get more specific.
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#6 Old 07-06-2014, 07:16 AM
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How about a hummus sandwich with sliced up lettuce, carrots, onions and throw some sesame seeds in there too!
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#7 Old 07-06-2014, 07:33 AM
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I like to wrap some of last night's dinner up in a tortilla, or stuff it in a pita, after adding some sliced tomato and some greens, chopped cucumber, whatever's around. And then I bring some sauce that I put on right before I eat it--depending on what I'm having, could be salad dressing, mustard/vegan mayo, no sauce if it was in the dinner, like if it was a stirfry, bbq sauce, etc.

I always make extra for dinner, and take some of the refried beans, or tofu, or roasted garbanzos, or stirfry, roasted eggplant, whatever I'm making, and just turn it into a sandwich or wrap for the next day's lunch. And then throw in some fruit.

There's lots of yummy vegan drinks, even almond milk, in the cafeteria at my work, so sometimes I get one. I also can get nice salads, and they have vegan offerings, just the same ones all the time, which gets old fast.
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#8 Old 07-06-2014, 07:41 AM
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Mashed chickpeas, or firm tofu crumbled, made the same way you would a tuna/egg/chicken salad

Fat free refried beans on a wrap with salsa and veggies

One thing I like is to use the marinades from things like jarred peppers, esp jalepanos, to marinate beans and tofu chunks

I love to take dips of all sorts with some veggies and some crackers and tortilla chips.

Cold whole grain pasta salads with beans

Black beans, chopped cukes, pepper, celery, some corn, and cherry tomatoes

Tempeh that's been sauteed with 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke and 2 T Braggs (or soy or teriyaki sauce) and a bit of maple syrup. With vegan mayo and lettuce and tomato.

Vegan mayo and nutritional yeast makes a very cheese-like spread

Baco's are vegan and a small sprinkle add a nice flavor and crunch. Don't use ahead of time- soggy bacos are nasty!
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#9 Old 07-06-2014, 08:43 AM
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Rice, beans and corn all mixed together with some seasoning (I prefer a Cajun style seasoning) is easy, cheap, and filling. My daughter (who isn't even vegan) takes that to school for lunch along with a piece of fruit and some carrot sticks nearly every day.

A baked potato is a good option too. Just pre bake them at home (do a bunch at one time), then just throw it in the microwave for a minute or two to reheat it at lunchtime. I like to top it with salsa, but you could do some Earth Balance and vegan sour cream if you like a more traditional baked potato.
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#10 Old 07-06-2014, 09:46 AM
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Thank you all VERY MUCH! I can now eat properly for school.
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#11 Old 07-06-2014, 11:14 AM
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Check out books by Jennifer McCann: Vegan Lunch Box and Vegan Lunch Box Around the World. The recipes and ideas are mostly aimed at kids, and some of the recipes are a tad bland (nothing a bit of salt and pepper can't fix), but you will look at lunch in a whole new way. She also has a blog (that hasn't been active in awhile, but the photos are great) and a Facebook page.
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#12 Old 07-06-2014, 12:12 PM
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I usually have a sandwich for lunch because I usually don't have that much time to eat during the day, some that I make are:

- Chickpea salad sandwich. Just mash canned chickpeas with a bit of mayo, mustard, pepper, celery and pickles.

- Nut butter/fruit spread sandwich. Either peanut butter or almond butter.

- Southwest black bean salad sandwich: Lightly mash black beans (but keep most whole), with cooked corn, BBQ, and a bit of mayo. Sometimes I'll add cooked peppers too.

A lot of quick, cheap and healthy things you can make so there is no need to rely on those weird/expensive fake meat things. Any combination of whole grains and legumes/nuts will end up being nutritious, ideally you'd include some vegetables as well. You can create veggie packs with some cut up celery, carrots, etc with some dip in the beginning of the week and include them with your sandwiches. Should only take you 10~15 minutes to prepare them.
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#13 Old 07-06-2014, 02:06 PM
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Over 100 Vegan Packed Lunch Ideas:
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#14 Old 07-07-2014, 08:49 PM
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I just discovered celery sticks & hummus....great lunch / snack item.

Also, the great PBJ!!!

I also have a few apples on hand.....quick & easy.

There are also some instant ramen noodles, pasta dishes, etc. that only require hot water.

Besides that, a salad with a lot of veggies on it is a great idea.


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#15 Old 07-08-2014, 09:42 AM
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I love hummus sandwiches. If you do chunky hummus, that's better. I make enough hummus to justify buying the tahini.

What about vegetable subs? I toast a roll or piece of baguette, then bring the ingredients (usually marinading) in a separate container and put the sandwich together. Onions, red peppers, olives, spinach, some avocado, a much room or two. I keep the sandwich spread separate. (Big fan of mustards here).

grain salads like Tabouli, Rice dishes. It seems to me there are lots of things one could eat for lunch. Of course, I don't distinguish between meal times. To me, breakfast, lunch or dinner you can eat what you want to eat.
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#16 Old 07-17-2014, 08:23 AM
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PBJ or hummus based sandwiches

Also depending on your ability to refrigerate Avocado based sandwiches and/or salads work well (and are excellent brainfood)

I also like to do left over stirfry with rice
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#17 Old 07-20-2014, 05:29 AM
Join Date: Jul 2014
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I usually bring leftovers from dinner! But if I didn't have a serving left, or if I've gone out for dinner..... I love a jar salad with lime juice and olive oil at the bottom, half a cup of chickpeas, some cilantro, and some baby spinach. The chickpeas sort of marinate in the jar and the spinach doesn't go all limp from the dressing since it's at the bottom. But when you pour it out onto a plate, it's a perfectly topped salad!
Also love bringing hummus and sliced veggies, or just some cooked tofu with salsa over it.

I'm trying to meal-prep today, so dinner and lunch will be mostly taken care of this week.....
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#18 Old 07-20-2014, 08:50 AM
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I'm a recent fan of tempeh!
I don't think the stuff is good out the package. It's bitter, funny texture.

rinse it, thinly slice on the diagonal (for wide thin slices) or crumble it and sautee till golden. Only a couple minutes.
While sauteeing, mix about two tablespoons braggs aminos, or soy or teriyaki sauce with a teaspoon of liquid smoke. Add a teaspoon of syrup (maple or agave-or even brown sugar) add a bit of water. Pour over temeh and continue to cook til absorbed. This all takes minutes

I've gotten to love this for both cold and hot sandwiches, or with things like German potato salad, pasta or rice dishes.
With vegan mayo, tomato and lettuce it's the best TLT!

I just tried Just Mayo-vegan and cheap. I think it's more like real mayonnaise while things like Earth Balance and Vegenaise are more like Miracle whip. It was cheaper and I liked it
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#19 Old 07-22-2014, 02:16 PM
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I like sandwiches in the warmer weather. My current favourite is Daiya cream cheese with mango jam. I also like peanut butter (we sometimes buy the fancy flavoured ones) or hummus with red peppers in a tortilla. You can buy different breads too to vary the sandwiches.

In the winter, I like to buy jarred soups and pack them with crackers. Many local restaurants here sell them in take-out jars that cost the same as buying the grocery store ones. I like potato soup, lentil soup and split pea soup.
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#20 Old 07-31-2014, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Gita View Post
I love hummus sandwiches. If you do chunky hummus, that's better. I make enough hummus to justify buying the tahini.
I just had to comment on this. i noticed at your average grocery store a thin jar of Tahini is nearly 10 bucks.. Now, that WOULD be hard to justify. However, if you go to middle eastern shops, they have 1 pound deli containers filled with freshly made tahini and they range from $3.50-4.50 a jug. You may want to check that out.
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#21 Old 07-31-2014, 07:06 PM
Not such a Beginner ;)
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Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
I like sandwiches in the warmer weather. My current favourite is Daiya cream cheese with mango jam. I also like peanut butter (we sometimes buy the fancy flavoured ones) or hummus with red peppers in a tortilla. You can buy different breads too to vary the sandwiches.

In the winter, I like to buy jarred soups and pack them with crackers. Many local restaurants here sell them in take-out jars that cost the same as buying the grocery store ones. I like potato soup, lentil soup and split pea soup.
I thought I was the only one who ate vegan cream cheese and jam sandwiches! I like apricot jam best and the tofutti creme cheeze, but I'm going to try the mango next.
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#22 Old 10-26-2014, 12:36 AM
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so many helpful replies...Thank you all!
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