After a long 18 months of lockdown limbo and remote learning, many parents and guardians are getting ready to send their school-aged children back to their classrooms this fall. This back-to-school season is like no other your children have experienced before—the pandemic, and all the revelations the world has made during this period (we’re looking at you, IPCC report), may have altered the tone you want to set for this fresh start. One way that you can support kids’ health and the planet is by packing plant-based lunches. Here are ten easy, packable, vegan school lunches to try this year.
Plenty of parents will probably remember Lunchables and their compartmentalized plastic containers packed with processed mystery meat and yellow rectangles of “cheese product.” These days, there are more nutritious options like Let’s Plate. This brand offers a non-GMO and vegan alternative to Lunchables that your child will love (likely due to the vitamin D-infused gummy bears that come with every box). You might even find yourself tossing one in your lunch box before heading to work, too.
Peanut butter and jelly packs
There’s nothing quite so sad as a squished and soggy PB&J sandwich. Instead, help your child avoid this lunchtime calamity by simply providing them with the tools to make their own sandwich. Invest in small Tupperware containers and load up two with peanut butter and jelly. Throw in a couple of slices of bread and lunch is ready to go.
Nut butter and vegetable snacks
If your kid is more of a grazer, then skip the sandwich and go with the simple snack of celery sticks, their favorite nut-butter, and some raisins.
Single-serve soy or pea milk
If you’re worried that a plant-based diet won’t provide your growing kid with enough protein, then throw in a single-serve carton of soy or pea milk into their lunch box. Both contain the same amount of protein (eight grams) as cow’s milk. Plus, most brands fortify their kid’s drinks with vitamin D and calcium.
Vegan cheese sticks
Being a vegan kid in a meat-eating culture is hard—but not as difficult as it once was because these days there are quality plant-based alternatives for most of the packaged foods that the other kids get to eat. Even cheese sticks! Miyoko’s Plant Milk Cheddar Sticks, which debuted in May of this year, will help your kid fit in, and may even make their peers consider asking their parents to switch to plant-based packed lunches, too.
Pack your kids’ allergen-friendly cookies as a sweet (but not overly sugary) treat. Make your own at home or, if you’re short on time, Partake offers tasty allergen-friendly cookies and Maxine’s Heavenly makes two packs of cookies that don’t have any refined sugar, gluten, or animal products.
Hummus is a healthy vegan snack to toss into your kid’s lunchbox along with carrot and celery sticks (or whatever their preferred dipping veggies are). Plus, making hummus from scratch is a fun activity to do with your kids, and might make it more likely that they’ll be excited to eat it at lunchtime.
Single-serve olive packs
Olives may not be every kid’s favorite, however, if you have a child that can’t get enough of them, then packing them in their school lunches will provide them with healthy, unsaturated fats that will support their cognitive abilities.
Yogurt tubes were also a staple of the modern parent’s school days, and now there are vegan options! Yoplait has a dairy-free version made with coconut milk, plus there are other fully plant-based brands out there like Kite Hill’s Dairy-Free Kids Yogurt Tubes.
Vegan deli slices
Make a classic sandwich with a vegan twist by replacing the traditional deli meats with the many vegan options available. Ones to look out for include Field Roast, Tofurky, Mia, and Simple Truth.