Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Shaking Up The School Lunch Box!

VeegMama's back-to-school lunch ideas for the vegan lunch box
Photo courtesy of

Back-to-school is a great opportunity for me to reinforce old habits and introduce new habits that are in line with healthy, good living.  My husband and I already have new plans for chore charts, weekly family meetings, and allowance saving/spending to share with our kids.

Next on my list is having my family eat vegan at home.  This is no easy task, even with one child who often chooses vegetarian meals, and a husband who happily eats every vegan meal I put in front of him (thanks, honey).  I know I have my work cut out for me trying to shift them to a meat and dairy free lunch.  My husband suggested a one-week family vegan challenge at home.  I think this is a great idea and we plan to go for it in the near future (stay tuned for a post on that).

In the meantime, I thought I would start with lunch.  I realize I may need to use some faux meats and cheeses to persuade them, but I will use processed foods sparingly and non-gmo products.  I also recognize that I will need to prep and reheat some of my lunches in the morning, meaning more work for me, but if it helps me get them going vegan for one more meal, it is worth it!

My strategy is simple: Make lunch fun and surprise them with new things.  I am hoping that the "newness" of some of these recipes will provide some novelty that gets my kids more excited about their meatless lunch boxes.

To get this done, I have a few tools up my sleeve to make this transition smooth and easy:

  • Track their favorites - My spreadsheet skills are really going to come in handy with this one.  I have created an Excel sheet with several of the menus I plan to introduce first.  I will track their likes and dislikes so I can adjust for the future.
  • Create a menu - Just like the hot lunch menu from school, I will post a menu for the family to see each week.  I will do this about two weeks into the new lunch menus so that they are familiar with the choices.    
  • Let them choose - With the menu above, I will let each child choose the menu one day each week, leaving one day open for me to choose, and another day open for school lunch (ordering school lunch once a week is a tradition that we have had previously and will let them keep).
  • Prep as much as I can during dinner the night before - I usually pack lunches as I make dinner the night before, while I am surrounded by food and mess already!  I will keep up this routine, even though I may need to reheat or assemble items the next morning.

Now for the menus!  I love to pour through blogs and cookbooks for ideas.  One of my favorites is Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann.  In addition, I have been brainstorming on my own.  Below are a few things I plan to introduce first.

Nachos with Teese cheese, black beans and guacamole

Grilled Cheese with Daiya cheese slices

Vegan "hot dogs" in "blankets"

Pita pockets with hummus, veggies, and olives

Millet bowl with black beans, veggies and ume plum vinegar

Mini pizzas on english muffins with vegan cheese and olives

Breaded tofu sticks and shapes with dipping sauces 

Veggie sushi

Bean and cheese rolls with salsa and guacamole

Hummus and veggie sandwich rolls 

So, that's the plan.  Wish me luck.  It's a new try at the school lunch box.  No time like back-to-school to shake things up!