With limited healthy options in school cafeterias, packing a plant-based lunch is your best option, but it may seem time-consuming and stressful. Follow some of these ideas and tips to make lunch-packing an easy part of your routine.
1.) Keep it simple. Dreena Burton’s Guide for Plant-Based Lunchboxes emphasizes the importance of sticking with things you know your kids already like, and saving weekends and dinners for experimentation with new foods. Keep a list of simple lunches your kids like, continue to add to it, and then rotate throughout the week.
2.) Prep your lunch components every few days. This way you don’t have to do it every morning or every night. For example, a sandwich made the night before may be soggy by morning, so have containers with all of your sandwich components. This way, all you have to do in the morning is throw it together. Try some of these fun plant-based sandwich and wrap ideas from Vegkitchen:
- Tofu Eggless “Egg Salad”
- Chickpea and Kale Sandwich Spread or Dip
- “Tofuna” Salad Sandwich Spread
- Chunky Bean Spread Sandwiches
*Sub the regular plant-based mayo in these recipes for a low-fat or fat-free plant-based mayo.
3.) Thinking of your lunchbox as three sections makes lunch planning simple.
- Main (sandwich, leftovers, or frozen entree)
- Snack (trail mix, pretzels, granola bar)
- You can choose to include a healthy treat, if there’s time. Here’s a good guide for plant-based lunchbox baking: http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/healthy-baking-recipes-school-nut-free/
4.) Get the right gear. An insulated thermos is nice to have for packing leftovers, if your child likes leftovers at school lunch. A lunchbox with compartments is also nice, so you don’t have to keep track of (and worry about losing) individual containers.