Sustainable School Lunch – Late September

September 25th, 2015 - filed under: The Food » Food and Health

Hello friends, and welcome to another round-up of healthy, vegan, eco-friendly school lunches! But before we jump in — on the last post I got quite a few questions about the quantity of food I was sending. Mostly along the lines of, “Does he really eat all that??” And the answer is yes, but not all for lunch.

Waits eats almost everything I send, but it’s all throughout the day. These “lunches” cover his morning snack (during recess) at school, as well as his actual sit-down lunch at school. I pick him up in the early afternoon, and we usually go through his lunch and see what he ate. After that I drop him off at his afternoon child care provider, and I usually send him with an additional snack to share with the other children. So he eats the rest of his un-eaten lunch in the afternoon, plus an additional little something, which he’s sharing with the other kiddos.

So yes, mostly it all gets eaten, but not all at one big meal. And now — onto the lunches!

vegan school lunch

  • Organic strawberries and organic heirloom melon, both from our weekly CSA box. Sent in the trusty LunchBots Duo stainless steel container that we’ve been using for almost 5 years.
  • Oven-baked french fries (leftover from the night before) in our super-cute “Aqua Elephant” Lunch Skins snack bag.
  • Sandwich! Tofurkey and Follow Your Heart cheddar-style slices on whole wheat sourdough. Packed in our “Green Pear” Lunch Skins full-size sandwich bag. I’m really loving these reusable bags — they are durable, practical, and super easy to clean. I’m a big fan of stainless steel, but man these bags are awesome!
  • Oat milk in his Klean Kanteen 12-ounce stainless steel sport top.


how to pack a vegan lunch box

  • Oat milk! I’ve said before that I feel bad using these little single-serving cartons, but man they come in handy for days like this one, when the dishes had piled up and the Klean Kanteen wasn’t so, ahem . . . Klean.
  • Local organic CSA strawberries in the ECOlunchbox Eco Dipper.
  • Magic Beans (recipe here) in the Steeltainer compact container. I love this bento even though I’m a bit torn on it. I prefer to be 100% plastic-free, but the snap down lid is so convenient!
  • “Pizza bread” is one of Waits’s absolute favorite lunches. This one is topped with kalamata olives, cut to look like the Millennium Falcon, and sent in the Lunch Skins “Green Pear” sandwich bag.
  • A Mama Chia chia squeeze pouch – another big favorite around here.


vegan school lunch ideas

  • Baguette mini sammies, with Tofurkey slices and Follow Your Heart cheddar. Held together with a toothpick, with a black olive on top. Served in our Steeltainer compact container.
  • Snapea Crisps in the ECOlunchbox Eco Dipper. I love this little steel container – it’s the perfect lunch box size. And y’all know how much we loooove our Snapea Crisps around here!
  • Kite Hill yogurt! This is a new product and I was so excited to try it. Vegan yogurts can be pretty hit-or-miss, but this new almond-based offering is rich and creamy, high in protein, and relatively low in gums/starches/thickeners. Waits loved it and I did too. It’s a bit pricier, which is a downside, but other than that I’d say this is my new favorite vegan yogurt.
  • Organic strawberries and organic red bell peppers from our CSA box, in the LunchBots Duo stainless steel container.
  • Oat milk in his Klean Kanteen 12-ounce stainless steel sport top.


vegan lunch box ideas

  • Oat milk in the ever-present Klean Kanteen 12-ounce stainless steel sport top.
  • Two Tofurkey roll-ups and a handful of kalamata olives, in some old plastic tupperware of Jeremy’s. This day made me realize I needed a few much smaller steel containers.
  • Herbed popcorn in the extra-large ECOlunchbox oval.
  • Two slices of leftover pizza from a local vegan-friendly pizza parlor. This was a simple pie with vegan cheese and marinated tofu cubes. The two pieces were a tight fit, but they worked out quite nicely in the “Tangerine Orange” “Lunch Skins full-size sandwich bag
  • Chia pudding made the night before with oat milk, maple syrup, and frozen blueberries, left to gel up in the fridge over night, and sent in the ECOlunchbox Eco Dipper.


school lunch for vegan kids

  • Peanut butter filled pretzels in our Steeltainer compact container. These pretzels are the Trader Joe’s brand, not the healthiest thing, but they’re filling and he loves them. Plus peanut butter = protein which is so important for growing kiddos!
  • Almond butter and sugar-free raspberry jam sandwich pocket on multigrain “power seed” bread. I used a cookie cutter to create the flower shape. Packed in the Lunch Skins “Green Pear” sandwich bag.
  • Organic persian cucumber slices and organic CSA strawberries packed in the LunchBots Duo steel bento.
  • Oat milk in his Klean Kanteen 12-ounce stainless steel sport top.


And that, my friends, is that! Another week of healthy, vegan, eco-friendly lunches. I have to say, I’m excited to see how the foods I’ll be packing will evolve through early fall, late fall, and into winter . . . then into spring, and summer again. So much of my lunch inspiration comes directly from our weekly CSA box, which means of course that the lunches will change with the seasons. A fun challenge for me, and one that I really look forward to sharing!

Until next time. ♥


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  • Rachel in Veganland

    I love seeing Waits’s lunches! They’re adorable and I’m so glad to see your containers. Love those bags especially! I re use plastic bags, but when I’m through the ones I have I might look into those!

  • Sara MM

    These posts are such an inspiration for those days I’m just torn on what to pack up for my gal. I remember ages ago reading in the Vegan Lunch Box book that the author had received numerous blog comments from “isn’t that too much food to pack” to “that doesn’t seem like enough to pack”. Her response, which I agree with, is that each kid is different.

    I have a seriously picky eater that somehow survives on the tiniest portions each day.

    I pack her with more than I know she will eat in the off chance she’s having an “eating day” due to extra activity or a growth spurt (which works out here and there). Really it is about knowing what is realistic for your own child and the amount you are comfortable packing each day.

    Thank you for starting this series up!

  • Jennifer

    WOW! What a lunch! What a post! What a blog! I hopped over from Vegan Peace/Vegan Power’s place! Glad I did!

  • Lindsey

    Hi! Do you use an icepack? LOVE these posts!

  • katta

    Love these lunches and the great ideas within – thank you for sharing amid all you do!!!! My two really love freeze dried fruit and toasted nori sheets as part of their lunches for school – if you’re ever stuck for ideas!!!

    I wondered if you’d ever seen this article (academic sighted is from and australian university) which made me rethink my own love of stainless steel (I now only buy when I see it secondhand to prolong use of life!) would love your thoughts as someone in academia too (article link: )

  • Sarah C.

    Hey, I said it much nicer than that! ;) But seriously, it makes sense that these are also his snacks – my girl gets snack provided (so some days, when someone brings meat something, she goes without – I had to warn the teachers that she didn’t even know what meat looked like so they’d have to warn her; they’re good about that!).

  • Sarah C.

    Also look at the brand snack taxi – they’re super cute, with fun patterns like dinosaurs and owls and space and stuff.

  • Jennifer

    You always mention how you don’t like using the single serving of the oat milk, but not of the Mama Chia drinks. Is one more eco friendly than the other? Or is it that you don’t want to be redundant?

  • Tara

    Can you move to Memphis and be my next-door neighbor? Seriously, though, I’ve been reading your blog since like, 2010, and you’re just getting better and better. (That’s meant to be a compliment; I see where it could be misinterpreted, lol) I bought two reusable zipper bags from Etsy this summer to carry school lunches in (I’m a teacher), but I haven’t used them yet. I always do veggies, rice, pasta, or something else that goes in pyrex. I don’t like the fake meats too often, but I got the idea for a spinach wrap while looking at these pics. Also, have you considered writing a ‘raising vegan kids’ book to follow up the pregnancy one? I’m finally pregnant and getting use from that book, but I need all the wisdom of your blog condensed into a book on babies and toddlers and kids! Kickstarter? Indiegogo? I’d definitely buy in up front.

    As always, thanks for sharing your life and wisdom with us!

  • Emily

    Question! Any reccs for a good thermos?!

  • Molly Frisinger

    I’m loving these posts. My kid is too little for some of this, but it’s giving me great ideas. He’s little enough that we use the lunch bots quad and only fill three of the compartments usually.

  • Rebecca Carnes

    Love these ideas & the Lunch Skins! I definitely need to invest in more reusable containers. Thank you for posting these!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I’m glad I’m not the only eco-weirdo who washes and reuses plastic sandwich baggies, ha!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Ooh thanks for the rec, I’ll check them out as well!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    It’s so true, as someone who has been posting my meals online for years, I now that no matter what I eat, it’s always way too much food for some people, and not nearly enough for others. It’s not just every *kid* that’s different, it’s every *person*!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aww thanks Jennifer, so glad to have you!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Nope, never use an ice pack. He doesn’t mind the food at room temp, and it never sits long enough to worry me re: spoilage.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oh man, Waits is such a seaweed fiend! We do tons of nori as “car snacks” — not sure why it hasn’t made it’s way into any of these lunches yet.

    I haven’t seen that article, thanks for the link!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Okay I just read the article and I’m not sure how it challenges the use of stainless steel? My understanding was that they found that out of plastic, aluminum, and stainless, stainless steel production had the lowest environmental impact. They also concluded that a stainless steel water bottle used consistently over the course of a few years would provide a significant reduction in environmental impact.

    I understand that there are issues with the manufacturing of steel, just like there are issues with the manufacturing of absolutely anything. And I agree that buying secondhand is always, always superior to buying new. But all that said, not everyone has access to secondhand stainless steel lunch supplies, and I continue to feel confident recommending steel as the appropriate eco-alternative to single-use and plastic-based lunch supplies.

    Thanks for the article though! Always love the food for thought. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Haha, you weren’t the only one! I had a lot of people asking about it — it was a great question! I was happy to answer. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    It’s more that oat milk is easily bought in larger/”bulk” quantities and packed in eco-friendly packaging, but Mama chia and other store-bought snacks don’t have that option.

  • Jennifer

    Gotcha. I am sure you could make your own Mama Chia drinks by making a thin smoothie and soaking chia seeds in it, but let’s face it, I am sure the cool packaging is part of the appeal for kids.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yes! I actually have done that before, I bought a healthy(er) juice from trader joes and made a fruity chia drink/gel, then put it in the reusable squeeze pouch. It works but he much prefers the Mama Chias and man, now they’re at Costco and super cheap and in bulk . . . yeah, I know I could do better there but sometimes you just take the convenient way out. It’s something I can work towards for sure!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oh I wish, I’ve never used one so I can’t speak to it. But maybe I’ll know more after this coming winter . . .

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Bookmark for the future! It’ll be here before you know it. ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Of course, always such a pleasure Becca!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    ooh congrats on the pregnancy Tara, that’s so exciting! I have definitely considered, and even started putting together a proposal, for a follow-up book. I would really love to write one. For now, I seem to be too busy to stay on top of that — but I do hope to return to it in the not so distant future. ♥

    Good luck with everything, and congratulations again!!!

  • Krista

    Maybe a silly question- can you tell me more about this pizza bread?!

  • Tracy

    This post makes me a little sad. It is what I would love to pack my almost 6 year old, however I can count the number of foods he will eat on one hand. He will also not eat “hot” food at room temperature so I tried a thermos, the Skiphop one and he said “some was hot and some was cold, mom.” So I am at a loss for his lunches lately. He requests a bagel with the Kite Hill cream cheese every day! Thankfully my three year old is much more adventurous and I love packing her lunches. So thanks for the ideas.