5 Minutes for Books — Vegan Lunch Box

I’m not a vegan. Nor are my children, but I do pack lunches, so the thought of getting some creative ideas for my two kiddos thrills me. With this in mind, I was eager to check out Vegan Lunch Box.

My biggest challenge is the three peanut-free (by school rules) lunches I have to send with Kyle to preschool. He will eat peanut butter crackers and peanut butter sandwiches with pretty good regularity, but the rest is a toss-up: rolled deli slices, yogurt etc. I hate sending things that don’t get eaten — that’s good food and good money down the drain!

While some of these recipes are a bit ambitious for a four-year-old’s palate, they would be just the ticket for an older child wanting to take some creative and nutritious lunches, or for yourself. Why get stuck in the same rut day after day?

Jennifer McCann was determined to offer her vegan son lunches that would not pale in comparison to the lunches that his classmates bought at school. Sure enough, soon her son’s lunches were the envy of his entire class, with fresh colorful ingredients presented in an appealing way. She started a blog chronicling her lunch mission. This book contains the best of the blog — those tried and endorsed by others.

With my fifth-grade daughter Amanda, I think that this is more my issue: coming up with lunches from home that compete with the cool new intermediate school cafeteria (with a more nutritious and less costly result).

Even if you aren’t a vegetarian, if you use the regular ingredients, instead of the soy-based substitutes, you will have a full complement of veggie-rich meals. For example, she features soy dogs and soy slices and soy cheese as ingredients — things that are common staples of the preschooler’s and young elementary school child’s diet (the meat and dairy versions, at least).

Another great feature of this book is the “allergen-free index.” It lists recipes in separate lists that are nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and wheat-free.

Kudos to Jennifer McCann for breaking out beyond PB&J and encouraging the rest of us moms to do the same!

We have two copies to give away (U.S. shipping addresses only). Just leave a comment, and we’ll announce the winners next week.

Add to the topic by sharing an interesting lunch box favorite in your household.

The winners of Wife in the North are
#89 Susan S.
#17 Roseann Kies
#98 Anita Yancey
#106 Valerie Mitchell

In addition to writing regularly here, Jennifer Donovan blogs at Snapshot and is managing editor of our sister site 5 Minutes for Books.


  1. Jill Knecht says

    I would love to win this book as my 14 year old daughter just decided to go veggie on me. I am clueless, but trying hard to learn!

  2. says

    This book looks great!! My kiddos always enjoy roll-ups in their lunchboxes. Anything I can find to roll in a whole wheat tortilla makes their day!!


  3. says

    This sounds great. I have a son in pre-k and lunch gets borig for him. Anything new would be great to excite him about eating his lunch and it wouldnt hurt to be a little more healthy why i am at it.

  4. says

    Oh my word! I’ve seen this book but never actually picked it up. We do eat a bit on the vegan/vegetarian side – and then my son’s preschool class has two (TWO!) peanut allergies and so no pb&j’s, for anyone. (Shoot me now.)

    So, we’ve had to send a little turkey n’ cheese or whatever because without pb&j? What the heck else am I supposed to send?! :)

  5. says

    We love our meat and dairy over here in this house, but I also love veggie sandwiches and vegetarian meals so I’d love to see this book for some new ideas for my hubby’s lunch.

    His favorite lunchbox item – homemade cookies!

  6. says

    I have been eying this book since I first seen it.
    Our lunches are poor as my girls are very picky.

    The one thing that works for a few of them is almonds. They eat about 12 which helps for the protein issue (3gms or so).

  7. says

    I have a three yr old that lives on pb&j. I never even considered what I’m going to do once preschool starts and pb&j is banned! I know she will eat other foods, I’m just stumped! This would be a HUGE help!!
    Thanks SO much,
    ~Lana B~

  8. says

    Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the chance to enter. Hubby’s favorite lunch box addition are snack type items, his favorite being string cheese or black grapes.

  9. says

    This book sounds great! I loved it when my mom put frozen grapes in my lunchbox, because they were still a tiny bit crunchy by lunchtime. Oh, and I also loved it when she included a note that said, “I love you and I am thinking of you.” I still remember those notes.

  10. Demetra says

    I love trying out new foods, and alternatives to the same old lunch would be great! Regulars include, PB&J, tuna salad, Nutella, pasta salad, bagels, grapes, bananas, etc… Thank you!

  11. Elizabeth M. says

    This would completely help me out. My daughter is vegan and when she comes home from college I struggle to come up with recipes that she can eat. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I would love to have this book!

  12. says

    Though we aren’t true vegans (we are “flexitarians,” if that is a real term), this book would be so interesting and helpful – -thanks!

    A lunchbox favorite around here — blueberries! (Fresh in-season, frozen out-of-season.)

  13. Chelsea Berry says

    I’m a vegan, and always looking for new recipes. The lunchbox favorite in my house is seitan stew. It’s hearty and keeps the kids going throughout the day and stays nice and warm in the thermos!

  14. says

    I’d love to win this! I have a terrible time with my 6 yr old son’s lunches … he is allergic to the following:

    tree nuts

    So yeah, any new tips would be lovely!

  15. Sandy says

    would love to win for ideas too- there is always a handul of nuts and some type of fruit in everylunch..
    a favorite is granola and yogurt- they stir it together

  16. says

    No lunchboxes around here yet for the kiddo, but DH always enjoys it when I try to make his lunch pretty (even if it’s just making a face in his rice with some sauce).

  17. Lori Williams says

    School lunchbox days are over in my house, but I still make my grown son’s lunch for work. Yeah, pathetic I know. :) Anything on Italian or French bread is ok with him…cold cuts, leftover meatloaf, cheese and tomatoes. Fruit is good, too.

  18. Mia J. says

    My friend is a vegan and I know she would like this book. One of our favorite lunchbox things are strawberries and cantaloupe.

  19. Bailey's Leaf says

    My husband’s cousin has a child that is allergic to a great many things. Having something like this helps people to understand that it is possible and easy to avoid putting peanut butter items in their children’s lunches. I know that Jason could have a deadly allergic reaction and we certainly appreciate anyone getting the word out to parents about easy alternatives to the typical lunches!

    Thank you!

  20. Tabitha says

    It might not be the most hip lunch box snack, but my husband, son and I all love celery with peanut butter. I have to make a big batch every morning for all of us to take to work and school.

  21. kelle says

    Love this book! I was just about to buy it on eBay. We are slowly headed for the vegan lifestyle and I am tring to build up the library.

  22. says

    We could use this, I am running out of ideas! I usually pack the old stand-bys-sandwich, fruit, and chips or a cookie. Sometimes I will throw in a thermos of soup.

  23. cathy b says

    such a needed book for anyone, not just parents but its also great for anyone needing to pack a lunch with healthy options! one of my favorite things for packing for the kids or any adult, is a small 2 tablespoon size container filled with tahini for dipping the carrot and celery sticks in! its a favorite with all.

    cathy b
    projecthope7 at g mail dot com

  24. says

    I try to make my son’s lunch as healthy as possible. I send him with granola bars, fruit and yogurt pretzels or raisins. I’m always looking for more ideas! Thank you!

  25. Anne a says

    I’ve been looking for a book like this. My daughter is already vegan, and we’re bringing her brother along. Fortunately, he loves salad and fruit so I load him up on those treats.

  26. Tari Lawson says

    My oldest used to love to bring peanutbutter roll-ups (peanut butter spread on a tortilla and rolled up).

  27. alison says

    I’m a vegetarian, so this would be great! My kiddos both love fresh, in season fruit. We like to buy local organic, and we have some fantastic apple farms in our area. Thanks!

  28. says

    Wow what a great book!! I know it has been a challenge packing lunches for three boys. We are very fond of “finger foods” or “dipping foods” i will pack humus and they can dip what ever, carrots, crackers, celery…etc.. or i slice up fruit for them. Kiwi it a hit in my house! We try to eat a meal a day raw. i love looking at new books to give me new ideas for feeding kids!

  29. says

    I’d love a copy of this book.

    My kids’ favorite just happened by accident, on a morning I was out of bread… make some chicken salad filling (chicken, mayo, relish) and put it in the middle of a flour tortilla. Add shredded lettuce on top. Drizzle with some ranch dressing and roll up.

  30. Clifton Wade says

    Mine used to love cimmamon toast – wrapped twice in aluminum foil and he would eat it up and lick the foil.
    Thanks for this great contest and prize!

  31. says

    Some of our faves around here are yogurt, fresh fruit and granola parfaits (packed seperately), skewered anything (vegs, fruit, cheese, whatever, if it is on a cute pick they love it) and cream cheese and jelly pinwheels.

  32. says

    Lunch here is always full of surprises. I have four girls, one is a vegetarian. Cold cooked green beans are her favorite. The others prefer red pepper strips or sometimes sliced tomatoes for their veggie. We also put all kinds of things in thermoses, including baked beans and spaghetti.

    I would love this book to continue competing with the lousy, overpriced school lunches.

  33. Emmy T says

    This book has been on my wish list for a while. Lunches have taken a pizza turn here, all pizza, everyday. Also popular here is seasonal fruit.

  34. laura says

    I am a new vegan, struggling to feed my family of 6. I get so grossed out at the store and seem to buy random items then struggle at home to make a meal. I have no popular dishes only complaints.

  35. Pamela White says

    One of our favorite is cream cheese, red onion slices on a toasted bagel. I would love to have more ideas for lunch.

  36. Bev Iyoha says

    My girls have decided to become vegetarians, so this would be perfect for them for ideas and would help them look a little more “cool” at lunchtime.

    Our very favorite thing in the lunchbox is sourdough bread spread with nutella and topped with mashed bananas. (Yummy)

  37. Samantha Pruitt says

    we love to make interesting salads, with things that you wouldn’t find in a salad, grapes, honeydew melon, peaches, it’s a lot of fun to come up with different creations.

  38. Lara Aleff says

    I’d love to find healthy alternatives to send for lunch. Raw vegetables and mangos are a favorite at my house!

  39. Carey says

    I would suggest using Light Life or Tofurky veggie “turkey” or “ham” slices instead of actual meat in your sandwiches. They are vegan and good with mustard, lettuce, tomato, etc.

  40. Catherine KingChuparkoff says

    Although I am a vegetarian my family is still omniverous….my children however love to try new recipes that I create and this book would really help me be more creative.

  41. Felicia says

    This would be awesome, about a year ago I stopped eating meat, chicken or fish and now my 15 year old is doing the same, thank you. I really enjoy baked sweet potato slices with cinaminn.

  42. Angelia McDonald says

    I like to have a different things on my desk to snack on through out the day. Candy coated pecans or a trail mix of things that I like.

  43. Tricia Andrews says

    I am a strict vegetarian and my 4 and a half year old is a semi-vegetarian. We do eat vegan meals once or twice a week. Finding some vegan lunches that I can pack for her to preschool would be awesome.
    She is partial to apple slices with a glob of peanut butter as her “main course” for lunch!

  44. Lauren says

    This book would add some fun to packing my three year old’s lunch. It’s hard keeping it well balanced and interesting some days. And we are gluten free too which really makes things hard.

  45. Ramon LaTaille says

    After reading all these comments I am simply speechless! Have a great granddaughter on the way and this might help. Keep up the good work.

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