23 vegan lunch box recipes for balanced meals at school and on-the-go

Author: Helen Greaves

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Having a good lunch to look forward to can really help to get you through the morning. Whether it’s a difficult school day or a gloomy Monday at work, these vegan lunch box recipes will be the envy of all! 

From vegan sandwiches to warming soups, there are plenty of plant-based lunch options to brighten up your day and get the new school term off to a great start.

The following vegan lunch box recipes are perfect for a back-to-school treat, so mix and match from the vegan recipes below to build a delicious and balanced plant-based lunch on-the-go.


How to build a balanced lunch box

A packed lunch should include a hearty and filling main, energy-boosting snacks, fresh fruit and veg, and, sometimes, a sweet treat. A long day at school or work requires plenty of fuel for the body and mind!

Don’t be afraid of carbs and fats. Kids (and adults) need a balance of macronutrients in their diets, so a healthy and wholesome packed lunch should involve a mix of different foods.

These should include complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, a plant-based protein source, and as much fresh fruit and veg as you can cram in.

It’s always nice to include a sweet treat, but some schools and nurseries have restrictions on which foods can be brought in, so you may need to look out for sugar levels in any shop-bought snacks, as well as nuts, in case of allergies.

A wholesome, homemade sweet snack is usually a safe bet for a school lunch, as long as the recipe is nut-free.

The following vegan lunch box recipes are great to mix-and-match for a healthy plant-based lunch.

Vegan sandwich and wrap recipes

1. Tofu Egg & Cress Sandwich

Egg and cress is a classic sandwich combo, and this tofu version means it can grace little vegan lunchboxes, too!

The flavourful egg mayo-style filling can be stored in the fridge, giving you a few day’s worth of lunches with just one recipe.


2. Vegan Pulled Jackfruit & Coleslaw Sandwich

This sandwich is a delicious way to pack plenty of fresh veggies into lunchtime – and it’s easily customised for fussy eaters.

The smoky pulled jackfruit is delicious warm or cold, so it’s just as good for a lunch at home as it is on-the go.

Prep your fillings in advance for a quick sandwich build on a weekday morning.


3. Vegan Arepas Sandwiches

For a gluten-free sandwich alternative filled with South American flavour, try making these fluffy arepas.

With a satisfying filling of mushrooms and plantains, these small but mighty sandwiches will make a welcome addition to any lunch box.

4. Vegan ‘Tuna’ Onigirazu Sushi Sandwich

These sushi-inspired sandwiches make a refreshing break from the norm, and the colourful nori-wrapped parcels are surprisingly popular with children!

A plant-based tuna alternative gives these sandwiches an authentic flavour, but they’re just as delicious when made with chickpea ‘tuna’, too.

5. Vegan Roasted Vegetable Stromboli

Pack your lunchbox with a real treat with this pizza-meets-sandwich Stromboli.

This cheese-free recipe is delicious cold, but is also tasty warmed up if you’re lunching somewhere with a kitchen.

6. Raw Vegan Red Pepper & Sundried Tomato Wraps

For a serious boost of nutrients and raw vegetables, try packing a sandwich made with this flavourful Mediterranean-style wrap.

The raw wrap is made from sweet red peppers and sundried tomatoes, with an added fibre boost from ground flaxseed.

Fill your wrap with salad, avocado, and a protein for a balanced and filling healthy lunch.

7. Easy Vegan Mediterranean Wrap

This satisfyingly tasty wrap is simple to put together and is a delicious way to eat your greens.

With olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes and plenty of roasted Mediterranean veg, this nutritious lunchtime treat is a winner.

Portable soups, salads, and more

8. Freekeh Salad

This ancient grain salad is vibrant and colourful – just perfect for cheering up a Monday lunchtime.

With fresh vegetables and a sprinkle of juicy pomegranate seeds, this flavourful salad will make a great accompaniment for a variety of lunch items.

For easy meal prep, make a big tub of this salad and add a few large spoonfuls to your lunchbox every day of the week.

9. Pesto Salad with Broccoli, Sweet Potato & Chickpea

This salad is delicious warm or cold so it makes the perfect lunch all year round.

It contains a brilliant balance of complex carbs, protein and veggies, so it works well as a standalone lunch box filler but is also great as a side with other midday treats.

10. Chickpea and Watercress Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

This refreshing salad is great for a hot day and can be made in advance for the week ahead. Just keep the dressing, chickpea mix, and watercress separate until you’re ready to fill your lunchbox.

Serve with ciabatta for a satisfying meal.

11. Italian Rice Salad

This rice salad is as satisfying as it is tasty. With tofu and chickpeas, it packs in plenty of protein to fuel an active day, and it’s studded with nutritious vegetables.

Roasted Mediterranean vegetables and a lemon and pine nut dressing fill this salad with flavour.

12. Jackfruit “Tuna” and Sweetcorn Pasta Salad

This filling pasta salad is great served as a main or a side, and makes a delicious ‘traditional’ lunch option.

Jackfruit makes a great substitute for tuna with nori and capers for added flavour. The pasta salad is coated in creamy homemade mayo for a satisfying treat.

13. Kid-Friendly Hidden Vegetable Pasta

This delicious tomato pasta will appease even the fussiest of eaters, and help to bring plenty of nutritious veggies to your kid’s lunch box.

It’s best served warm, so pack it in a flask or insulated container for best results.


14. Mediterranean Tuscan Soup

This hearty soup is packed with vegetables and beans for a filling and warming lunch.

Pack it in a flask with a chunk of crusty bread on the side for the perfect winter warmer.

Savoury snack recipes

15. Tomato & Herb Crackers with Macadamia Cream Cheese

These herby tomato crackers are a great snack to include in a lunch box, particularly when spread with homemade macadamia cream cheese.

Serve alongside a hearty salad and fresh fruit as part of a full lunch box, or enjoy separately at snack time.

16. Beetroot Jerky

These thinly sliced are seasoned with strong savoury flavours and dried in the oven for a satisfyingly chewy texture.

They’re great for adding a little extra flavour and texture to lunchtimes.

17. Easy Vegan Falafel

Falafels make a great addition to any lunch box, as they add a great mix of carbs and protein while being filling and versatile.

Serve these easy-to-make falafels as a salad topping, sandwich filling, or as a snack to dip into hummus.

18. Carrot and Cashew Pâté

This blend of creamy cashew nuts and carrots is seasoned with garlic, ginger, lemon, and tahini for a delicious dip or spread.

Serve slathered onto bread or crackers or as a thick, creamy dip for raw veggie sticks.

19. Colourful Hummus Dips

Hummus makes a great addition to a pack-up for lunch or snack time. It’s great for dipping veggies or tortillas, and works great spread onto sandwiches or spooned onto salads, too.

This colourful trio uses the same base recipe to make beetroot, roasted red pepper, or lemon and coriander hummus so you can keep your lunches varied with minimal effort.

School-friendly dessert recipes

20. Golden Flapjacks

Flapjacks are a delicious energy-boosting snack, which can be customised to suit a variety of tastes.

Avoid adding nuts to keep these school friendly, but don’t be afraid to add plenty of flavourful fruit and even a little bit of chocolate!

21. Vegan & Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are a lovely, healthier alternative to cake and contain plenty of fruit to fuel your little one’s day.

They’re gluten-free too, so make a lovely treat for the whole class for special occasions.

22. Vegan Ojas Energy Balls

These are brilliant for an energy boost, and they’re made of only flaxseed, dried fruit, and nuts with a little coconut oil, so they’re nutritionally dense, too.

They’re easy to make and can be made in advance for a quick snack throughout the week.

23. Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

For a special lunch box treat, pop in one of these chocolate chip oat cookies.

They’re delicious and chewy, just like a regular cookie, but with extra slow-release energy from the oats.

Eco-friendly lunchboxes

1. Moonmoon Stainless Steel Lunch Box | Buy now on Amazon

Moonmoon makes a range of sustainable, reusable kitchen essentials, and this compartmented stainless steel lunchbox is one of the best.

This durable lunchbox is leakproof and safe to use in the oven, freezer and dishwasher. It features two compartments so you can keep your sandwich separate from your salad.

2. Elephant Box Square Salad Box | Buy now on Amazon

This plastic-free salad box from Elephant Box makes it easy to transport your salad and dressing separately – and in style.

It can tuck neatly inside the larger Elephant Box for a bento-style lunch or works as a standalone box for a lighter meal.

3. COOKSMART Mixed Fibre Bamboo Lunch Box | Buy now on Amazon

COOKSMART’s range of kitchenware is designed to be sustainable and stylish, and this neat little lunch box is no exception.

Made from renewable bamboo fibres, it’s a great alternative to a plastic lunchbox, and it’s available in a range of attractive patterns that kids and adults alike will love.

4. Blockhuette Insulated Food Flask | Buy now on Amazon

If you need to keep soups, pasta, or even hot dogs warm for lunch, this compact stainless steel food flask is perfect.

It keeps food warm for up to 14 hours, and comes with a spoon/fork combo to help you eat your lunch.

5. OmieBox Kids Bento Lunch Box | Buy now on Amazon

If you’re on ‘mom-tok’, you’ve probably seen this viral lunchbox in countless kid’s bento videos.

It features neat little compartments to keep your carefully curated lunch items separate and even includes a removable insulated flask for hot foods.

6. Stanley Quencher Straw Cup Dupe | Buy now on Amazon

This trending 40oz cup isn’t just a status symbol – it’s also a sustainable drink-saver! This reusable cup is hard-wearing and leak-proof, making it the perfect companion to your lunch box.

It keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot, meaning you can have a refreshing drink at your fingertips all day long, or use it as an alternative to disposable coffee cups.

For even more lunches at home or away, try one of these vegan salad recipes

Featured photo © Prostock-Studio via Adobe Stock

Written by

Helen Greaves

Helen has been vegan since 2018 and has a background in vegan food marketing and social media. She's mother to a mischief of rats, and loves to spend her spare time making vegan cakes and bakes.

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