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Opinion 60+ plant-based lunch box recipes and ideas

Kitchen Tips
Liv's author bio image

Author: Liv Published: January 23, 2024

Say goodbye to the ‘same-old sandwich’ method: Lunchtime just got a whole lot more exciting! These easy, nourishing recipes are all 100% plant-based and pack a seriously delicious punch.

Whether you’re making lunch for little ones or putting a bit of extra love into your own, we’ve got you covered. 

There are plenty of vegan products at the supermarket that are great for effortlessly bulking out a midday meal, but doing some light meal prep at home can be fun sometimes too.

And with a few easy tips and some mixing and matching, packing a wholesome, homemade plant-based lunch box can be a breeze. A good rule of thumb is to go for: 

  • 1 main
  • 2 fruit, veggie, or salad-based sides
  • 1-2 snacks

Think of this as your ‘recipe’ as you scroll through the following ideas, and be sure to bookmark your favourites from each section for later! 

Note: Most of these recipes are nut-free – check with your school or workplace for any other dietary requirements.

Mains (pick 1)

🥪 Sandwiches / Wraps / Rolls

 

There are countless plant-based filling options for these versatile lunchtime classics. 

Plus, anything you can put in a sandwich, you could also swap into a wrap, bagel or pita pocket for variety – and vice versa. Choose whole-grain breads for extra protein and fibre.

🌯 Mexican-Inspired

Low-key Mexican cuisine is quick to whip up and can turn any lunch box into a fiesta of flavour.

Pop any pre-cooked fillings and garnishes for tacos and fajitas into separate containers – they’re best (and easily) assembled fresh at lunchtime. 

🍝 Pasta

If there’s any meal base that’s sure to be consistently kid-approved, it’s pasta! There are plenty of satisfying, energy-sustaining options that are just as good chilled as they are served hot. 

We’d recommend sticking to shorter pasta shapes like penne, bow-ties or spirals – they’re oodles less messy than noodles 😉

🍲 Dinner Leftovers

Zero-waste and the easiest ever last-minute lunch option? We call that a win-win.

Hearty, comforting leftovers are great for keeping kids fuelled throughout the day, especially if you’re catering to picky eaters who prefer foods they’re already familiar with.

Sides (pick 2)

🍉 Fruit

 

Sweet, refreshing, and packed with vitamins, fresh fruit is a must-have sidekick for every packed lunch. Not only will it give your kids an energy boost, it’ll also brighten up their day!

    • Whole fresh fruit – e.g. apples, apricots, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, mandarin, cherries, grapes, plums, bananas
    • Cut fresh fruit – e.g. oranges, kiwifruit, peaches, mango, pineapple, watermelon, rockmelon

🥦 Veggies

Make your lunch box even more colourful by incorporating one or more veggie sides – these ideas are super easy to prepare but have a huge nutritional payoff.

🥗 Salads

Salads can be lunchbox-friendly too! We’ve shortlisted some of our most flavourful favourites that have all been tried, tested, and thoroughly kid-approved.

Snacks (pick 1-2)

🌿 Dips

A dip can be delightfully dual-purpose: It can either be paired with a savoury snack (like veggie sticks, crackers, or bread) or dolloped on top of the main meal element or veggie side for extra flavour.

🍿 Savoury Snacks

Savoury snacks more than earn their place in the everyday lunch box. Here are some tasty examples that can be made in batches ahead of time and hold up well in containers. 

🍓 Sweet Treats

End lunch on a sweet note with one of these indulgent vegan treats – the perfect pick-me-up for a long afternoon of work and play.

The possibilities are endless…

When you have the time and energy, sticking with mostly home-prepped options is ideal, but store-bought vegan products can be lifesavers on busy weeks or sleepy mornings, and there’s an incredible variety on the shelves these days. Check out our favourite store-bought lunch box additions here

And if you need some extra inspiration for how to bring all these ideas together, don’t miss our easy lunch box guide – or our school-week meal plan, which features 5 fully-packed lunch box ‘recipes’ that are all quick to prepare and bursting with plant-based goodness.

We can’t wait to hear what lunch box combinations you come up with!

Thank you to all the vegan parents who shared their tips, tricks, and wisdom with us for this article!

Liv's author bio image

Meet Liv!

Having grown up in a “meat and 3 veg” kind of household, Liv’s embarrassed to admit that she was a bit of a one-note chef until she began exploring the world of plant-based food. Vegan cooking has given her a whole new appreciation for the symphonies of flavours that simple, nourishing wholefood ingredients can create. (Even eggplant, once her greatest nemesis, is now — in a delicious, miso-glazed redemption arc — her all-time favourite veg.)

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