School (and Work!) Lunch Ideas

School (and Work!) Lunch Ideas


by Bonnie Barker

Tired of the same lunch day after day? Here are some fresh ideas to liven up your next midday meal. 

Lunch-Packing Tips:

  • Freeze a PBJ sandwich or a juice box, and it will serve as an ice pack while it thaws in time for lunch.
  • Let kids help pack lunch in the morning, so they pick things they’ll eat!
  • Keep a variety of small bottles of juices (apple, orange, tomato) to choose from.
  • Be creative with different breads, bagels, wraps, pockets, and crackers for sandwiches.
  • Pack a little note with their lunches to say “I love you and I’m thinking about you today!”
  • Be sure to check the Food section of VegFamily for other soups, salads, dressings and dips.


  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Peanut butter and apple or banana slices
  • Peanut butter and grated carrots
  • Nut butter sandwiches on small crackers
  • Nut butter and jelly on a whole grain bagel
  • Almond butter and bananas
  • Peanut butter with sliced bananas rolled up inside a flour tortilla
  • Hummus, shredded carrots and celery rolled up inside a flour tortilla
  • Hummus on whole wheat bread
  • Hummus or baba ghanouj instead of mayo
  • Hummus with tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce
  • Hummus with sliced grapes
  • Hummus with grated carrot
  • Hummus with sliced & sautéed mushrooms
  • Leftover pasta or grain dishes in a wrap
  • Cucumbers or tomatoes and soy cream cheese with sprouts in a wrap
  • Tofu mayonnaise mixed with nut butters, celery and peppers
  • Vegan cream cheese and jelly sandwiches, cut up into quarters or fingers
  • Avocado mashed on crackers
  • Roasted red pepper with tomato and soy cream cheese
  • Tofu egg salad in a pita pocket with lettuce
  • Mock chicken salad

Warm lunches:
Heat these up in the morning and pack in a thermos.

  • Leftovers
  • Bean and veggie soup with toast fingers to dip in it
  • Rice and beans, with shredded vegan cheese on the side to mix in
  • Pasta and marinara sauce
  • Frozen peas sautéed in a bit of olive oil and garlic powder
  • Canned chickpeas sautéed in a bit of olive oil and cumin
  • Canned chickpeas and tomatoes sautéed in olive oil and basil

Cold Meals:

  • Cubes of marinated/baked tofu
  • Ziti or multicolored finger food pasta with grated soy cheese and tomato sauce for dipping
  • Chickpeas, green beans and macaroni (mixed together, no sauce)
  • Veggie dog wrapped in biscuit dough and baked
  • Baby potatoes and carrots, cooked whole, with tofu-based dip
  • Falafel
  • Baked white or sweet potato ‘fries’ with cubed veggie burger and ketchup to dip
  • Taco salad – nachos with chopped tomatoes, guacamole, shredded vegan cheese and other toppings
  • Quesadillas – vegan cheese with refried beans and whatever veggies are handy
  • Pancake with fruit spread to dip
  • French toast cut into bars with maple syrup, jam, or applesauce for dipping
  • Cold pasta salad – use leftover vegetables, vary the shapes/colors of pasta and the salad dressings
  • Brown rice or whole wheat couscous based salad
  • Kidney or black bean salad

Snacks and Sides:

  • Fresh fruit with dip (vegan cream cheese mixed with juice concentrate or preserves)
  • Fruit salad
  • Fruit cups
  • Dried fruit
  • Fruit leather
  • Banana
  • Raisins
  • Applesauce
  • Apple slices with peanut butter to dip
  • Apples, cut in half, cored and filled with peanut butter, make raisin eyes and pretzel legs, then wrap in plastic wrap, or a container
  • Ants on a log – spread peanut butter or vegan cream cheese in celery and top with raisins
  • Carrots, celery and pita bread triangles with hummus for dipping
  • Fresh veggies and hummus
  • Celery and carrots with peanut butter to dip
  • Broccoli with dip
  • Baba ghanouj (roast eggplant purée) for dipping veggies
  • Veggie/Fruity/Pirate’s Booty
  • Baked chips
  • Peanut butter spread on whole wheat crackers
  • Nuts
  • Trail mix
  • Granola bars
  • Dry cereal
  • Soy yogurt
  • Soy cheese cut in cubes


  • Juice boxes
  • Soymilk or ricemilk boxes
  • Bottled water
  • Soy shakes
  • Warm apple cider in a thermos
  • Herb tea in a thermos
  • Cocoa in a thermos


Bonnie is a stay-at-home-mom, who also consults part-time as an environmental engineer. She enjoys experimenting with new vegan recipes and organic gardening. She lives in scenic St. Clair, Michigan with daughters, Abigail and Grace, and husband, Earl.


Author: VegFamily

VegFamily is a comprehensive resource for raising vegan children, including pregnancy, vegan recipes, expert advice, book reviews, product reviews, message board, and everyday vegan living.

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