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Back to School Vegan & Vegetarian Lunchbox Ideas

A back to school lunchbox meal plan for vegetarian and vegan children. Tips, meal planning and recipes that kids will love.

vegan kids lunchbox including hummus and carrot sandwiches, blueberries, breadsticks and cucumber and cherry tomatoes


How do you build up a veggie lunchbox for kids that they will enjoy, but has enough of the good stuff like fruit and vegetables in it?

Planning. That's the key.

Trying to scramble something together the night before or in the morning before you leave will just lead to stress and a lunchbox that comes home barely touched

Follow my lunchbox plan for a stress-free term and scroll down for a list of ideas and recipes.


The Two-Week Plan

  1. Plan ahead! Grab a sheet of paper or open Word to make a grid. Use this guide to plan a two week rota you can use during term. That will give kids enough variety to keep them interested and cut down on your stress levels. Next term you can change it up again or even at half-term.
  2. Have the right tools. Their lunch bag is a good start, but you also want some lunchboxes, tubs and cutlery. You want different size tubs for sandwiches, salad, dips and nibbles. I like Yumboxes, which have different compartments that don't leak, but bigger tubs for sandwiches and pasta are good too.
  3. Add some fun. Include animal picks, colourful cutlery and patterned paper napkins.
  4. Jazz up sandwiches by using a sandwich press or a large cookie cutter to make them into fun shapes
  5. Instead of serving whole fruit, cut it into chunks and serve them on little plastic skewers or with food picks.
  6. Serve a dip with crunchy vegetable sticks. They will be more inclined to eat their veg if they have a tasty dip to dunk it in. You could also a sweet dip for their fruit.
  7. Make sure your vary the fruit and vegetables you include. Think about what's in season.
  8. Make extra for dinner and keep some leftovers for lunchboxes. 
  9. Add a note to their lunchbox. Print these out at the beginning of term. It can be a little personal note, a joke, something inspirational or a quiz question. There are lots of free printable lunch notes available online.
  10. Once you have your two week guide, type it up, print it out and keep it on the fridge where you can see it. Remember to let your children help pick the options.

Putting together your two-week plan

Simple lunchbox weekly plan

Make out a grid for the two week plan (you can add a table to a word document or just rule up a grid on a piece of A4 paper), make a column for each day of the week and a row for the main event, vegetables, fruit, dip (which is optional), snack and drink. 

Once you have your grid, scroll down and choose a main event for each day, using the suggestions or your own ideas, then add a vegetable, fruit, dip (optional), a snack and a drink.

When it's done, stick it on your fridge and add the ingredients to your weekly shopping list. It will take the stress out of shopping and packed lunches.


You want one main ingredient to build your lunch box around. Start with this then add fruit, veg and snacks. It could be a sandwich or wrap, something made with pastry, falafel, veggie sausages or a pasta salad.

Cheese and sweetcorn pinwheel sandwiches from Living on the Veg by Jacqueline Meldrum


Vary your sandwiches with different breads, brown bread, toast, bagels, wraps, pitta bread, bread rolls, croissants or even lettuce wraps. You can also make pinwheel sandwiches by rolling fillings in bread or wraps and cutting into slices. 

For vegan lunchboxes  use dairy-free cream cheese and cheddar in the below fillings. We like Violife.

Veggie Sandwich Fillings

    1. Peanut butter and jam
    2. Peanut butter and slices of banana
    3. Apricot jam and banana
    4. Cream cheese, slices of tomato and fresh spinach
    5. Cream cheese and strawberry jam
    6. Cream cheese and grated rainbow vegetables - carrot, beetroot (vac pack, not pickled), courgette (zucchini)
    7. Cream cheese, thinly sliced apple and honey (or maple syrup)
    8. Cream cheese, refried beans and grated rainbow vegetables - carrot, beetroot (vac pack, not pickled), courgette (zucchini)
    9. Cream cheese, flavoured tofu and roasted red pepper
    10. Refried Beans and grated Cheddar
    11. Grated cheddar and pickle
    12. Egg mayonnaise and cress
    13. Spiced chickpea and carrot sandwich filler
    14. Black bean pate with slices of tomato
    15. Mushroom pate with grated carrot
    16. Hummus and grated carrot
    17. Hummus, falafel (halved) and mango chutney
    18. Hummus and and grated rainbow vegetables - carrot, beetroot (vac pack, not pickled), courgette (zucchini)
    19. Mashed baked beans mixed with grated cheddar (add a pinch of spice if they would like it)
    20. Hummus, roasted red pepper and fresh spinach
    21. Hummus, cooked and sliced veggie sausages and fresh spinach or roasted red pepper
    22. Sliced cooked veggie sausages and ketchup 
    23. Mayo (or cream cheese), sliced tomato, salt and pepper
    24. Mashed avocado, fresh spinach and tomato
    25. Cold Baguette Pizza - lightly toast a piece of baguette cut lengthwise, then top with tomato puree, mozzarella (dairy or vegan) and slices of tomato. Pop under the grill again and toast until the cheese has melted. 



Mini Puff Pizza Pies

Veggie Pastry Ideas

Make your own with ready rolled pastry or buy something ready made. 
Decide how much time you have.

  1. Slice of quiche 
  2. Quorn sausage rolls
  3. Cheese & onion sausage rolls
  4. Vegan sausage rolls
  5. Homemade beany sausage rolls - ready rolled puff pastry topped with a line of baked beans and grated cheddar (dairy or vegan), then rolled lengthwise, chopped into 1 inch/2.5cm pieces and baked until golden.
  6. Vegetarian sausage rolls - veggie
  7. Spicy 3 bean sausage rolls  - vegan
  8. Pizza pies - veggie or vegan
  9. Spicy tattie puffs -  vegan
  10. Baby egg pies - veggie
  11. Chickpea and vegetable hand pies - vegan
  12. Veggie haggis tattie and baked bean patties - vegan
  13. Mini spinach and cream cheese puff parcels - veggie or vegan
  14. Savoury puff pies - veggie
  15. Spinach and onion puff tarts - veggie



Summer pasta salad with cherry tomatoes and sweetcorn

And the rest

  1. Summer pasta salad
  2. Greek pasta salad
  3. Pizza pasta salad - cook pasta until al dente, then run cold water over it until the pasta is cold and glossy, mix through a little tomato pasta sauce, some chopped cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls (chopped vegan mozzarella or balls of vegan cream cheese).
  4. Cooked veggie sausages
  5. Falafel
  6. Green falafel
  7. Red falafel
  8. Picnic Eggs
  9. Spiced tofu fingers
  10. Vegetable Pakora


a close up of cherry tomatoes


There are many more vegetables and salad items you could include, but these tend to be the most popular with children.

  1. Carrot sticks
  2. Cucumber slices or sticks
  3. Cherry tomatoes
  4. Red and yellow bell pepper strips
  5. Olives
  6. Sweetcorn (add a small spoon)
  7. Peas in the pod
  8. Lightly cooked mangetout
  9. Lightly cooked fine beans
  10. Lightly cooked baby corn
  11. Lightly cooked broccoli sprigs
  12. Fresh spinach


Remember to chop fruit so it is easier to eat and you can also use tinned fruit (in fruit juice or water not syrup) if the fruit is out of season.

  1. Strawberries
  2. Raspberries
  3. Blueberries
  4. Cubes of melon
  5. Sticks of watermelon
  6. Banana
  7. Apple
  8. Pear
  9. Peach
  10. Easy peeler, clementine, satsuma or tangerine
  11. Segmented orange
  12. Cubes of pineapple
  13. Cubes of mango
  14. Grapes
  15. Slices of kiwi
  16. Cherries (remove the stones)
  17. Dried apricots
  18. Dried banana slices
  19. Dried mango
  20. Raisins

a vegetarian kids lunchbox including baby egg pies, oatcakes, carrots and cherry tomatoes


Add a sweet or savoury dip to encourage your children to eat
more of the fruit and vegetables you pack for their lunch.

  1. Nutella
  2. Peanut butter
  3. Almond butter
  4. Cream cheese
  5. Hummus
  6. Salsa
  7. Guacamole
  8. Mayonnaise
  9. Sweet Chilli Sauce
  10. Pizza sauce

A jar of red pepper and sweet chilli sauce

Homemade Dips


Snacks are a tough one, kids want them, but they also tend to eat this first or eat the snack and leave the stuff you want them to eat. I would limit how many snacks you put in. See what they are eating and decide if you need to add a snack every day.

  1. Oatcakes
  2. Crackers
  3. Flapjacks (oat bars)
  4. Breadsticks
  5. A slice of raisin bread
  6. A slice of banana bread
  7. Cubes of cheese or vegan cheese
  8. Pot of yoghurt
  9. A small muffin
  10. A square of dark chocolate

A stack of blueberry and lemon oaty bars with a few scattered blueberries

Homemade Snacks


It's more important for them to drink water than anything else and plenty of it, but it's sometimes nice to give them something different. If it's not water look for low sugar options.

  1. Water
  2. Milks
  3. Fruit juice
  4. Milkshakes
  5. Dairy-free shakes

pin it for later

A back to school lunchbox meal plan for vegetarian and vegan children. Tips, meal planning and recipes that kids will love.


Don't Stress

It's important not to get too stressed about lunches. If they don't eat much some days, try not to stress, make sure they have a good breakfast and dinner and you know they will be fine. Sometimes we give them too much, forgetting how small their stomachs actually are, sometimes they just aren't hungry and sometimes they just want to get out into the playground and play.

Let them choose

The best thing you can do is let them get involved in choosing some of their packed lunch choices, give them plenty of variety and don't stress about it.

Share your ideas

If you have any ideas or stories to share then do leave a comment below.

Get to know me better

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Check out these cookbooks, including my latest book Living on the Veg, which includes 12 easy recipes.

Click on the cookbook cover for the link

Living on the Veg cookbook and guide to being vegetarian

My Fussy Eater cookbook

In the French Kitchen with Kids cookbook


  1. There are lots of great ideas but at the moment it is just vegemite and cheese sandwiches everyday for school lunches here. My favourites when I was a kid were baked beans and I loved walnuts with vegemite. I wish I had had such variety as in this list and wonder what I would have made of it as our choices were so much more limited when I was at school.

    1. I try to vary Cooper's packed lunches in a bid to tempt him to eat more. He really does like a yumbox with lots of nibbles like falafel, cucumber, hummus, carrot sticks, olives and strawberries, but sometimes he just asks for a roll with butter and jam. I never really got into vegemite or marmite. When I was at school I wasn't veggie so it was mostly school dinners, but the veggie and vegan options are very limited at Cooper's school. He likes something they have about 3 times a month, that's it.

  2. This is a brilliant idea, love these lunches so creative.
    Everything in these I love now I wish I was in school!

    1. Thanks Claudia, I know what you mean I didn't have this variety at school.

  3. With back to school right around the corner, this is so perect to have options and switch things up to keep lunches interesting.

    1. I hope it has inspired you and will make it all easier for you Jennifer.

  4. Oh my gosh, what a glorious post! I am always struggling with ideas to pack for lunches.

  5. These are such great ideas! I definitely can't wait to try several of these!

  6. This is such a great resource! Pinning for when my kids go back to school.

    1. Thanks Annemarie and yes it will come around soon enough.

  7. Thanks Kim, I am glad you are leaving with inspiration for your lunches.

  8. You are such a well-prepared person and caring mother! Great list!

    1. Thanks, I do try, although I am not always very organised, that does tend to slip somewhat as term goes on, but I start with good intentions.

  9. What an amazing selection of ideas, I particularly love that the main savoury item is not always a sandwich, that variety of formats (wraps, pastries etc) really makes it more enjoyable I think!

    1. Yes I think it saves everyone from getting board. It's a good list for adults too.

  10. Some fab tips there! Wondering if this will also help when making lunches for my OH hahaha

    1. Thanks and yes definitely, this is a great list for adults too and they often get just as bored with their lunches.

  11. Great tips, these! My daughter is so very close to turning vegetarian (she loves your book!) and so I am going to bookmark this post for when the schools start back up again. She gets packed lunches so I'll be needing inspiration!

    1. Oh that's so nice to hear, thanks for supporting me. I hope she enjoys her new lunches this new term.

  12. Love all the ideas. Great for making some in childcare too. Thank you .

    1. Oh just just as important for children taking to nursery or for childminders who meed a bit of inspiration.

  13. This is such a handy guide! I'm pinning it! My son is nearly 15 but he still prefers to take a home-packed lunch to school every day, so I'm always on the lookout for new ideas to keep the boxes fresh and interesting. He often takes leftovers from the night before - burritos, pizza slices, pastas, couscous... even cold sweet potato curry! Lately I've been making big batches of chickpea smash sandwich fillings, which all the family dip into. Since we've been vegan, lunchboxes have definitely got a lot more creative! :O)


I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x