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Opinion School week meal plan: 5 easy vegan lunch boxes

Kitchen Tips
Liv's author bio image

Author: Liv Published: February 2, 2024

5 days of easy, nourishing school lunches, sorted! Pack your kids’ lunch boxes full of plant-based goodness with this easy-to-follow meal plan.

So let’s recap – we’ve already covered some handy tips and tricks for how to put together a nutritionally balanced plant-based lunch box, rounded up some kid-friendly recipe inspiration, and stocked up on some vegan-friendly supermarket snacks.    

Now it’s time to put it all together! 

We’ve packed everything we’ve learned into a deliciously easy meal plan for the school week – 100% plant-based, little-one-approved, and guaranteed to make lunch box prep a complete breeze. 

All of the following lunch box ideas include a variety of nutrients (i.e. a protein source, whole grains, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats), flavours, textures, and colours, as well as a mix of home-made and store-bought snacks – making each one super nourishing and exciting for kids to open up and explore.

They also all follow this easy rule of thumb:

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

Best of all, this whole week of plant-based lunches is easy to replicate! Download the handy shopping list and you’re ready to follow along. 

Prep these cookies & granola bars over the weekend

Overhead image of a plate with three rectangular granola bars. There is a plaid red, pink and orange tablecloth underneath.

And get your little ones involved! These cookies and granola bars are both incredibly simple, leaving minimal dishes to clean, and setting you up with heaps of sweet snacks to grab throughout the week. Totally worth the sticky fingers.

Day 1: Monday

Two bento boxes sit atop a wooden bench, packed with cookies, fruit, wraps, and corn. A hand is adding in a packet of rice crackers.

Happy Monday! To streamline today’s lunch prep, begin with the wrap recipe. We’re using whole grain wraps for essential carbs and long-lasting energy. 

We want to get that marinated tofu bacon into the oven first thing. While it’s baking, move on to chopping the rest of the veg for the wraps, and boiling and seasoning the corn on the cob. 

Then, once the tofu bacon is done, we’re ready to rally all our other Caesar salad ingredients and assemble the wraps.

We’re going with a super basic fruit salad today. No overly-complicated cookie-cutting here – this colourful trio of fruit is eye catching enough as it is.

For snacks, we have our pre-prepared Oat Cookies and Mini Rice Crackers. Easy as!

Make this Mac & Cheese on Monday night

Overhead image of a serving dish or Mac & Cheese on a table, with several bowls served. There is a blue tablecloth underneath, and filled glasses sit to one side.

If you’re trying to sneak more plants into your kids’ meals, this deceptively veggie-packed Mac & Cheese is a great recipe to keep in your back pocket! 

We want to make enough that there are plenty of leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, so be sure to double the recipe if needed. 

Day 2: Tuesday

Overhead shot of an open lunchbox on a wooden bench, displaying a variety of plant-based and healthy treats.

Tuesday’s lunch couldn’t be easier. The only prep we actually need to do today is chop up an orange and some strawberries – the rest is just a nifty combination of repurposed leftovers, an easy-to-grab whole grain snack, and those yummy granola bars we made over the weekend. 

(If you didn’t have time to make the granola bars, you could also swap these out for a store bought alternative like these plant protein muesli bars.)

This lunch box is the perfect example of how making just a small change – like using our pre-prepared Caesar salad wrap ingredients to make a quick and easy side salad instead – can help cut back on prep, use up leftovers, and keep things feeling fresh and interesting from day to day. 

Day 3: Wednesday

An overhead image of two bento boxes on a wooden bench filled with edamame, cookies, fruit, and a sandwich.

This plant-based twist on a tuna sandwich is super satisfying, loaded with protein-packed chickpeas, and doesn’t require any cooking, just combining all the ingredients in a bowl! 

Feel free to play around with the recipe – I added cucumber slices for extra freshness and crunch. 

The only other prep we need to do today is fry up some edamame pods with sesame oil and soy sauce, and then chop up some watermelon (or other fruit of your choice). 

These Cocobella Soy Yoghurt Pots are light, creamy, and delicious – but there are also lots of other plant-based brands and varieties to choose from, so take your pick if you think there’s a different type your little one would prefer.


Make this protein-packed dinner on Wednesday

A plastic container of pineapple tofu and broccoli sits on a bench.

This sweet-and-savoury Pineapple Tofu is so easy to whip up, and tastes fantastic. Pair it with brown rice for an added energy boost and to make the portions stretch further – we’ll be using the leftovers tomorrow!

Day 4: Thursday

Two bento boxes sit atop a wooden bench filled with pineapple tofu, fritters, fruit skewers, cookies, and a packaged fruit strap.

Aren’t leftovers the ultimate gift you can give your future self? 

Our main today, the Sticky Pineapple Tofu, is already cooked and ready to go! (In the cooler months, I’d suggest packing it hot in a thermos, but it holds up great cold too.)

That frees us up to pop these Zucchini & Carrot Fritters in the oven and assemble some cute little Rainbow Fruit Skewers while we wait. 

Pop it all in the lunch box, add those ready-to-go snacks, and we’re good to go!

Day 5: Friday

Overhead image of a full bench. Two bento boxes are open and filled with a bean salad, guacamole, tortilla chips, a sandwich, fruit, and some packaged snacks. A full bowl of pre-prepared salad is in shot, along with a bowl of guacamole. Packets of vegan cheddar slices and vegan deli slices sit to the side.

Our main today is a plant-based version of the classic ham, cheese, and tomato sandwich, using vegan deli meat and dairy-free cheddar slices – nice and low-effort for a sleepy Friday morning!

Amp up the fillings as much as you like with optional additions of leafy greens and vegan mayo.

Then we’re onto the Black Bean Salad (which is essentially just chopping up some veg and tipping cans of beans and corn into a bowl) and mashing up some avocado, lime juice, and salt for easy guacamole. 

Pack the tortilla chips in a separate compartment or ziploc bag if you can, so they stay crunchy until lunch.

Feel free to swap out the mango and blueberries for whatever fruit you have on hand – or whatever appeals most to your lunch-box-eaters.

Our last snack, these Snack Right Oaty Bites, taste just like every Aussie’s nostalgic favourite: Tiny Teddies! They’re sure to go down a treat.

School’s out! Re-use and tweak this plan to suit your needs

It goes without saying, but don’t feel pressured to follow this meal plan exactly. It’s all about what works for you, so pick and choose the bits that you like, and adjust portion sizes as needed 😊

There’s plenty of room to get more creative or to simplify things even further, by subbing in more store-bought options and/or repeating some meals.  

We’ve included a fair bit of variety within this meal plan (to demonstrate how exciting, nutritious, and delicious plant-based lunch boxes can be!) but if your kids are happy eating similar things throughout the week, of course there’s nothing wrong with packing the exact same lunch a few days in a row. If it works, it works, and it’ll make your mornings easier too! 

Hopefully this plan shows that by following these key tips and tricks, packing plant-based lunches can be simple and sustainable – and most importantly, power your little ones through whatever the school week throws at them.

Happy lunch-packing, friends! We’d love to hear what you think if you give this plan a go.

Keen to follow this school week meal plan? Download the shopping list to get started.

 

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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