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Healthy School Lunch Recipes and Tips (Vegetarian, Vegan, and Everyone Else!)
Posted By Nava On October 2, 2009 @ 8:42 am In Healthy Vegan and Vegetarian School Lunch: Recipes and Ideas,Veg Kids and Teens | 51 Comments
The key to successful school lunches is variety. Finding healthy school lunch recipes and ideas for vegan and vegetarian kids adds to the challenge. Here you’ll find lots, along with links to other VegKitchen posts on creating easy, tasty school lunches. Many of the recipes and tips in this article have been adapted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook. 
If you like the idea of having your school lunch info in one neat package, you might enjoy VegKitchen’s affordable, 47-page pdf e-book, Healthy School Lunches: Recipes and Ideas. This little e-book’s recipes and ideas (more than 50 in total) will make the task of making school lunch for kids who are vegetarian or vegan a bit easier and even more fun. The recipes here will also be useful for those following dairy-free diets due to allergy or intolerance. For more information,
go to Healthy School Lunches: Recipes and Ideas. 
Though my kids are now well past the school lunch phase (whew!), it did last me all through their school days, as they never wanted to buy lunch at school. Be sure to scroll all the way down this post past the tips, as there are a few recipes you wont want to miss: Lunch Box Pasta Salad, Soy Deli Hero, Pita Salad Sandwiches, and Zucchini-Raisin Muffins. Aside from these recipes, other articles you can explore on VegKitchen for school lunch ideas include:
Here are some of the tips that kept me sane for all those mornings of lunch-making:
1. Keep your lunch-making supplies together in one place to make the process more efficient during morning “rush hour.” In one cabinet, you can store the lunch boxes, sandwich bags, thermoses, plastic spoons and forks, toothpicks, and small plastic storage containers.
2. Put flat dry ice containers in your child’s lunch box during warm weather, or any time you are sending perishable foods such as dairy products or egg dishes. These are available wherever lunch boxes or camping supplies are sold.
3. Vary the types of bread used for sandwiches. Bagels, rolls, pita pockets, English muffins, raisin bread, and even fresh flour tortillas or “wraps” can add interest to standard sandwich fare.
4. Dishes that taste just as good at room temperature are more successful thermos dishes than those that need to stay hot (but usually don’t). If your child’s school has a microwave available, your thermos offerings can include macaroni and cheese, soups, and leftover casseroles. Make sure to explore the entire Veg Kids and Teens page  on VegKitchen for easy, appealing ideas.
4. I always pack fruit into lunch boxes, but it often came home uneaten until I resorted to some simple tricks. Small chunks of fruit, such as strawberries, grapes, melon, tiny seedless orange sections, and such, served on a skewer (long cocktail toothpicks are perfect), are always eaten; similarly, apple slices are more likely to be eaten if I supply a tiny container of peanut butter to dip them into.
5. Similarly, raw vegetables become more of a draw when you supply a dip; When sending carrot stocks (or baby carrots), celery, or bell pepper strips, add a tiny container of the kind of dip your child likes.
6. For very young children—preschoolers, especially—a sandwich becomes more appealing when cut into shapes with a cookie cutter.
7. Cereal for breakfast is standard fare, but is an unexpected treat when served for lunch. Pack some nutritious cereal in a lidded bowl-shaped container, and your child can add his or her favorite nondairy milk to it (vanilla almond milk is particularly good with cereal) when it’s time to eat. Teamed with a banana, this makes a filling meal.
8. Wholesome homemade muffins (see recipe for Zucchini-Raisin Muffins, following or others in Muffin Mania )—made in the evening can be a welcome change-of-pace from sandwiches. Pack a wedge of vegan cheese or a container of coconut yogurt, plus fresh fruit to go along.
9. Salads in pita bread appeal to kids with more adventurous palates. Augment these salads with chickpeas, chunks of baked marinated tofu, or grated nondairy cheese (see recipe for Salad Pitas, following) Keep pita sandwiches fresh by wrapping first in foil, then in sandwich bags.
10. Expand your PBJ horizons by exploring other nut butters (such as cashew or almond) and no-sugar added fruit spreads or apple butter.
11. A warmed veggie burger (either homemade or one of the excellent prepared varieties) on a whole grain roll or English muffin, with favorite condiments, makes an easy and hearty option.
12. Soy-based faux meats can be a boon for expanding lunch box variety. Soy deli slices might especially appeal to teens (see recipe for Soy Deli Hero, following). “Chicken” or “turkey”-style slices on soft whole grain bread appeal to tastes of any age. Baked marinated tofu can be served sliced on bread or mashed, “tuna”-style and served in a pita (see recipe for “Tofuna” Salad Sandwich Spread ).
13. Pasta salad is an appealing lunch option. Use fun shapes such as wagon wheels, small shells, or tiny tubes. Small shapes pack best into containers. Add your child’s favorite veggies—mine like steamed broccoli, black olives, and carrots (see recipe for Lunch Box Pasta Salad, following).
14. If you like to bake, put some extra love in the lunch box with homemade Vegan Cookies and Bars. 
Snacks packed for school, whether for snack time or as an extra treat for the lunch box, should be simple and neat. Explore natural foods stores for other simple snack ideas. Their cookies, cereals, fruit bars, and such, are often naturally sweetened and low in fat. Similarly, natural chips, rice puffs or crisps, and other crunchy snacks have less salt and fat than their supermarket counterparts. Prices can sometimes (but not always) be a little higher, but you’re getting more value for your money. Here are some suggestions for school snacks:
LUNCH BOX PASTA SALAD
Using small pasta shapes makes this pasta salad easy to pack into small containers or shallow thermoses. Feel free to substitute other vegetables that your kids might enjoy—such as green peas instead of broccoli. I like to make this the evening before I plan to send it for lunch. We serve some with dinner, then save enough to pack for lunch the next day.
Cook the pasta in plenty of rapidly simmering water, according to package directions. Just as the pasta becomes al dente, add the broccoli and carrot to the simmering water and allow to cook for another minute or two, just until the broccoli turns bright green.
Drain and rinse under cold running water until the mixture cools. Drain well and combine in a mixing bowl with the olives, corn, and dressing. Season to taste with salt.
If you make this the night before, taste and add more dressing if needed before packing into containers.
SOY DELI HERO
Makes one sandwich
This is a good sandwich idea for hungry teens. The array of choices in the soy “deli” have helped expand vegetarian lunch options. This recipe is for one sandwich; increase the quantities as needed if you are making more than one.
Split the hero roll lengthwise. Spread one half with vegan mayonnaise, and the other with mustard. Line one half with the deli slices and the other with the cheese if it is being used (if not, line both halves with deli slices. Top one half with the lettuce and the other with the tomato slices. Put the halves together and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Wrap up a pickle to go along with the sandwich if desired.
PITA SALAD SANDWICHES
Makes one to two sandwiches
Kids who have learned to like salad will enjoy this fresh-tasting sandwich. Use your child’s favorite salad dressing for extra appeal. Increase quantities as needed for more sandwiches. Use the amounts given here as a guideline—there is no need to measure or to be exact.
Combine the first two ingredients in a salad bowl. Add lettuce as desired and toss. Add enough dressing to moisten and toss again. Spread the inside of the pita with hummus, then fill with salad. Wrap first in foil, then in plastic bags.
Makes one dozen
This is one of our favorite instead-of-a-sandwich muffins. If you won’t be using the whole batch within a couple of days, pop some in the freezer for later use. make these simple muffins in the evening, and what a pleasure it is to know that you need only put them in the lunchbox in the morning, instead of making sandwiches!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the first 6 (dry) ingredients in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the applesauce and oil. Stir together until smoothly combined. Stir in the zucchini, raisins, and optional walnuts.
Divide the batter between 12 muffin tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a small knife inserted in the center of a muffin tests clean. Cool on a rack. Wrap well in plastic wrap to send in a lunch box.
Article printed from Vegan & Vegetarian Recipes: VegKitchen.com: http://www.vegkitchen.com
URL to article: http://www.vegkitchen.com/kid-friendly-recipes/school-lunch-recipes/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/fruitful-flavors/apple-clafouti/attachment/eating-apples-extended-lifespan-test-animals-10-per-cent_183/
 The Vegetarian Family Cookbook.: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0767913965/vegetariankit-20
 Image: http://www.vegkitchen.com/kid-friendly-recipes/attachment/healthy-school-lunches-cover-new/
 Healthy School Lunches: Recipes and Ideas.: http://www.vegkitchen.com/vegkitchen-pdf-e-books/healthy-school-lunches-recipes-and-ideas-pdf-e-book/
 Sandwiches and Wraps—Easy Ideas : http://www.vegkitchen.com/kid-friendly-recipes/vegan-sandwiches-and-wraps-no-recipe-required/
 Making Lunch? Make it Nutritious! : http://www.vegkitchen.com/front-page/nutritious-lunch/
 Leftover Heaven: Ideas for School and Brown Bag Lunches: http://www.vegkitchen.com/tips/leftover-heaven-ideas-for-school-and-brown-bag-lunches/
 School Lunch in a Bento Box: Fun, Colorful, and Earth-Friendly: http://www.vegkitchen.com/kid-friendly-recipes/healthy-school-lunch/school-lunch-in-a-bento-box-fun-colorful-and-earth-friendly/
 Veg Kids and Teens page: http://www.vegkitchen.com/kid-friendly-recipes/
 Muffin Mania: http://www.vegkitchen.com/category/recipes/vegan-baking-and-sweets/muffin-mania/
 “Tofuna” Salad Sandwich Spread: http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/tofu-tempeh-and-seitan/versatile-tofu/“tofuna”-salad-sandwich-spread/
 Image: http://www.vegkitchen.com/kid-friendly-recipes/school-lunch-recipes/attachment/blondies-su-659350-l-2/
 Vegan Cookies and Bars.: http://www.vegkitchen.com/category/recipes/vegan-baking-and-sweets/cookies-and-bars/
 Image: http://www.laptoplunches.com/?affid=62
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