If you are raising a vegan or vegetarian child and they go to public school you will likely need to forget about anything being served in the cafeteria. The school cafeteria at most schools in the country are not vegetarian or vegan friendly. At all. The good news is that there are lots of good vegetarian and vegan school lunch ideas that you can use to pack your child's lunch each day.
Invest in a good lunch box, hot food container, reusable cold pack, reusable drink container (preferable stainless steel that is not lined with plastic), and make a list each week of what you will make. Try to avoid single use plastics, as they are a waste of resources, and have the kids bring home their recyclables whenever possible (i.e., foil, yogurt cups, etc.). Also, send them with real forks and spoons, as opposed to plastic ones. If you fear them losing them, then pick up a few cheap ones at the thrift store that they can use over and over, thus saving on plastic usage.
Every lunch we make is a chance to be environmentally friendly (or friendlier) and kinder to the animals. Here are some vegetarian and vegan school lunch ideas that you can pack for your child:
Prepare the hot foods and put liquids/wet foods (such as soups and pasta) in the hot food container. Wrap the non-liquid/wet foods in aluminum foil (such as grilled cheese or veggie nuggets).
In addition to these main ideas, every lunch should include fresh fruit and veggies (and maybe a vegan cookie)! Some kids like to have dips for their foods, including things like veggie corn dogs, nuggets, or veggies. Consider adding a small condiment size reusable container to your collection, and add in things like ketchup, mustard, vegan ranch dressing, or hummus, where appropriate.
VEGAN SCHOOL LUNCHBOX IDEAS:
Soup (preferably homemade)
Homemade hot pockets (dough baked with veggie ham/cheese inside or other combinations)
Tofurky or veggie deli slice sandwich (on bread or sub rolls)
Vegan grilled cheese and soup
Vegan yogurt and graham crackers
Gardein “chickun” sliders or veggie burger sliders (with tater tots)
Rice and beans
Quinoa cooked in broth with sauteed veggies
Pasta (with marinara, buttered, with nutrition yeast, homemade vegan spaghetti o’s, cold pasta salad, etc.)
Quesadilla (with beans and vegan cheese, or using pizza ingredients)
Pizza / pizza pockets / crescent rolls with pizza ingredients / English muffin pizzas
Homemade muffins, fruit, trail mix
PBJ sandwich or roll up
Vegan cream cheese and jelly roll up (spread vegan cream cheese and jelly on a tortilla and roll it up)
Crescent dogs (crescent rolls with veggie dog and vegan cheese cooked inside)
Tofu salad (on bread or with crackers)
Veggie wheatball sub (vegetarian meatballs, marinara, vegan cheese on a sub roll)
Salad (with kidney beans or chickpeas in it)
Homemade corn dogs (vegan corn muffins made with pieces of veggie dog in them)