How to Make the Perfect Vegan Packed Lunch

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Lunchbox So the summer holidays are over and it’s time to go back to school. But there’s one thing you don’t need to stress about – finding delicious vegan items to put in your child’s lunchbox!

Here’s our rundown of easy packed lunch ideas, which are sure to provoke envious looks in the playground or canteen. These cruelty-free lunchbox fillers are all great for grown-ups, too.

The Sandwich

Kirsty's Sandwich

Go for a classic with vegan cheese slices, tomato and salad, or get creative with hummus, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, falafel, smoked tofu, etc. There are so many delicious vegan sandwich fillings to try! Here are some more ideas.

Super Salads

A salad can be anything you want it to be, but here are a few easy, healthy and portable ideas that make great lunchbox fodder.  

  • Couscous salad: The beauty of a couscous salad is that it’s super-quick to prepare, and you can add pretty much anything you have handy. This Sicilian-inspired version includes olives, raisins, pine nuts and capers.

Couscous Salad  

  • Pasta with vegan pesto and cherry tomatoes: Throwing this salad together is simplicity itself, but that doesn’t stop it from being a brilliant lunch option. Some widely available dairy-free pesto brands include Suma, Zest and Sacla’s Free-From range.  
  • Easy potato salad: All you really need to make this salad is some cooked potatoes, a spoonful or two of vegan mayo and perhaps some spring onions as garnish. Or you could customise it with extras such as petits pois, cornichons or cucumber.

Potato Salad  


The Healthy Snack

  • Hummus and dippers: Use carrot batons, celery sticks, tortilla chips, toasted pita or anything else at hand to scoop up the hummus for a lovely light snack.  
  • Dried fruit and nuts: A little handful of mixed fruit and nuts, such as dried apricots, cranberries, papaya, walnuts, raisins, almonds and cashews, can be satisfying to nibble on and an excellent way to fuel up on healthy proteins and omega-3s. Create your own mixture, or pick up a ready-made selection from the supermarket.

Fruit & Nuts  

  • Nākd bar: These little bars, which come in a dizzying range of flavours, are surprisingly dense – they are 100 per cent vegan, are made from unprocessed ingredients such as raw dates and cashew nuts and count as one of your five-a-day.

Nakd Bar  

  • Dairy-free yoghurt: COYO, Alpro, Provamel and Sojade all offer convenient lunchbox-sized fruity yoghurt pots that don’t contain a drop of icky animal lactate.


The Treat

Don’t get us started – there are so many delicious but mildly naughty vegan treats to balance out all those healthy snacks and salads. (Though, obviously, for the sake of your and your child’s waistline, indulge in moderation!)

  • Crisps: No other vegan snack is quite as easy to find as a packet of crisps. Opt for the humble potato variety (salt and vinegar all the way), or go upmarket with vegetable crisps made from beetroot and parsnips. You might also be surprised by how many bacon-flavoured crisps are “accidentally vegan”.  
  • Goody Good Stuff sweets: If you’re going to eat sweets, Goody Good Stuff is the way to do it – all the company’s gummy candies are vegan (they contain no animal-derived gelatine) and use only natural fruit and vegetable extracts for colours and flavours.


  •  Oreos: We’re not claiming these are nutritionally virtuous. But they are really, really tasty, and sometimes that’s all that matters.  
  • Flapjacks: Many flapjacks, such as those made by Ma Baker or Doves Farm, are vegan. They’re also chewy, filling and moreish. Or go for homemade – they’re extremely easy to master and great for kids to have a go at making.  
  • Dark chocolate: Research suggests that eating a few squares of dark chocolate every day can actually be good for you – so, you know, go for it!

The Beverage

Top off your packed lunch with a carton of soya milkshake, refreshing coconut water or perhaps a fruit-packed smoothie.


With childhood obesity on the rise in Britain, it’s more important than ever to make sure that our kids are eating right – and most vegan foods are considerably healthier than their cholesterol-laden meat and dairy equivalents. Of course, they’re infinitely kinder to animals, too.

For more animal-friendly resources for kids, check out And let us know if you have any other fun vegan lunchbox ideas by leaving a comment below!


  • CK commented on September 5, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Oreo’s are not vegan according to the Oreo website unfortunately:

    Is Oreo suitable for vegans?
    Oreo is not suitable for Vegans as they have the cross contact of Milk.

    • Dan commented on September 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      They contain no milk ingredients any more. If cross contact is a concern to you, avoid them. But the product is animal free!

  • KMW commented on September 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Whilst I do agree that nutritionally the vegan diet is better, this article also highlights how much more expensive and complicated making basic things like just a packed lunch can be, than say a vegetarian diet. Working, underpaid parents may struggle to create something like this with their wage and time.

    • Chris B commented on August 25, 2015 at 5:48 pm

      I couldn’t agree more.
      However at this slightly more expensive diet you not only lose the guilt of a meat and dairy diet, but you in the long run will save money on taxi costs for travelling to and from the hospital, because you will (with a none-vegan diet) be more likely to suffer from illnesses.

    • zoe commented on February 1, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      I have to disagree. As a vegan who gets very little money and struggles financially I am still able to eat nutritious, full, healthy meals.

    • Leti commented on August 30, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      I disagree too. I’m 13 and the only vegan in my family. I have to pay for all my food and I manage just fine 🙂

  • cathryn parsons commented on September 9, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    so agree get ahrd with a growing 16 year old.

  • Sue Mitchell commented on November 20, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    If we all went vegan there will be many out of work, farm animals would disappear of the planet. Ok for those who choose this way of life but I would prefer pushing for ethical, non factory farming! Balance in everything!

    • chantelle cattermole commented on July 22, 2016 at 11:57 am

      farm animals would not disappear of the planet they would be able to live freely instead of being born to just have their throats cut and baby’s from cows could drink there own milk instead of us drinking something that’s not made for us, us overproducing and batchfarming are making other animals extinct by cutting there rainforests down to grow food for the farm animals to produce meat for us, watch Cowspiracy i think you will find it very interesting

  • SP commented on November 22, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Why not bake vegan cake, see online for tons of recipes, it’s sooo much cheaper than packet cake and cereal bars? You can get bahjis and veg spring rolls for £1 a pack of eight/four in supermarkets, Home bargains and Pound stores are great for dried fruit. How about fig rolls (not all brands vegan) and (home made) hummus for sarni’s, sundried tomato paste (£1 a jar in Sainsbury’s), Marmite. Bake scones.
    That list/picture is very exclusive of people on low or even average incomes, for example… the nakd bars you suggest are around 60p each. I have three kids (roughly the average for the UK), that would be £1.80 a day on Nakd bars, that’s £9 a week (more than 10% of my weekly shopping budget!) £108 per term and a whopping £324 a school year! That is more than a whole percent of an average UK PRE-TAX salary on one daily lunch box item! I feel like this article is out of touch.
    Being vegan family on an average budget is very possible but you have to do it with limited use of the fancy prepacked stuff from the “Free From” section of the supermarket and health stores.

  • E Tickle commented on April 23, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together, as the mother of a newly diagnosed lactose intolerant child, this has been great for ideas.

  • Nick commented on June 15, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Vegan lunches don’t have to be that expensive, if anything its cheaper without buying packaged ham, sandwich fillings etc…
    What ever your diet, pre-made stuff is always going to more expensive whether it contains meat or not, but I agree, speciality items like dairy/gluten free do tend to be more expensive, at the moment as its still a fairly new market, but compared to what was available even a few years ago, range is wider and prices are lower.

    Average lunchbox for my son:
    Fruit is very cheap, you can pick up a bunch of 8 bananas for a £1 and a bag of apples or oranges for around the same.

    Sandwiches with either vegan cheese (cold violife cheese toasties are amazing too), mushrooms lettuce & tomato, or good old jam!

    We make a whole tray of flapjacks at the weekend for no more than £1 week I’d say (the ingredients will last a few weeks and thats enough to give my lad a chunk each day of the week.

    Also give send him with a little pot of mixed dried fruit, again you can buy a big ol’ bag that will last you weeks for a couple of pounds.

    Finally, I give him a bag of crisps too (Pombears are his fav at the moment)

    He’s a strong lad and can usually out eat me at dinner time and has never complained about being hungry with these packed lunches

  • Mo Ray commented on January 11, 2016 at 8:51 am

    If you are at all interested in baking DO try out some vegan cake and biscuit making. The ‘science’ is different – but the outcome is great. There are some recipes that call for ingredients which are a little different, but in the main, you can get by with straightforward baking materials. There are masses of recipes on line to try out for free and if you are interested in recipe books – Ms Cupcake has a great book of treats and the American book ‘Vegan cupcakes take over the world’ and ‘Vegan cookies invade your cookie jar’ are very good. Release the baker within!

  • Joanne Nugent commented on May 25, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    I am trying to go vegetarian,though have slipped a few times (sorry). I don’t drink milk at all now,but very hard to avoid if you are eating out in a restaurant though.

    The only thing for me would be cheese.I have tried a soya sausage before from Holland and Barrett and the taste of it made me sick,though Linda McCartney’s are good.The only downside though is that they contain palm oil.

    That is another thing I have noticed.I know you can leave spread out,but can anyone tell me if there is a vegan spread out there that is soya free and doesn’t contain palm oil?

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