5 Minutes for Books — Vegan Lunch Box

by Jennifer Donovan

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.



Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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{ 117 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Smellyann September 29, 2008 at 1:36 am

I’d LOVE to win this book, as a vegetarian. Grapes are always a favorite in my kids’ lunchboxes!

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2 Nora SP September 29, 2008 at 5:11 am

My boys love apples and when watermelon is in season they love that.

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3 Jill Knecht September 29, 2008 at 6:44 am

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!

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4 Wendy September 29, 2008 at 7:08 am

Would LOVE to win this book for my vegan friends!!

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5 Jenn W September 29, 2008 at 7:29 am

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!!

Blessings!!

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6 Beth/Mom2TwoVikings September 29, 2008 at 8:02 am

Oooo…count me in – I’ve been visiting her blog regularly and have this book on my paperbackswap.com wish list!

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7 Courtney September 29, 2008 at 8:55 am

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.

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8 Christy September 29, 2008 at 9:06 am

this book sounds great! I’m always searching for creative meals for the lunchbox.

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9 Moriah September 29, 2008 at 9:15 am

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?! :)

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10 Blessed September 29, 2008 at 9:27 am

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!

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11 Deanna September 29, 2008 at 9:32 am

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).

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12 steven lewis September 29, 2008 at 9:32 am

my son is the vegan,,,,just wanted to help him with recipes

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13 Sarah at themommylogues September 29, 2008 at 9:40 am

Count me in! I’d share an interesting lunchbox favorite, but it seems nothing in our lunchbox is interesting! PB & J, raisins or applesauce, fruit snacks and some graham sticks.

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14 James Jenkins September 29, 2008 at 9:41 am

cashews

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15 shannon Baas September 29, 2008 at 9:43 am

ham and cheese is the big hit around here but would like some nonmeat around here.

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16 ~Lana B~ September 29, 2008 at 10:10 am

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~

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17 Michele September 29, 2008 at 10:16 am

Would love to read this…I sure that I could apply some of the tips to my picky-eater toddler.

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18 charline s September 29, 2008 at 10:23 am

I have been wanting some new lunchbox suggestions, this would be wonderful.

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19 Angie September 29, 2008 at 10:38 am

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.

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20 Erin September 29, 2008 at 11:16 am

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.

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21 Michelle September 29, 2008 at 11:48 am

I would love this! We eat a lot of vegan and vegetarian meals around here. That looks great!

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22 Candy Cook September 29, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Wow. That sounds like a great book. I’m always looking for interesting lunches.

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23 Demetra September 29, 2008 at 12:45 pm

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!

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24 Jennifer Reda September 29, 2008 at 1:01 pm

i’m always at a loss for what to have for lunch! thanks

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25 Elizabeth M. September 29, 2008 at 1:04 pm

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!

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26 Gina Stratos September 29, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Frozen grapes.
gkstratos@yahoo.com

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27 Megret September 29, 2008 at 1:24 pm

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.)
Megret

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28 Pat September 29, 2008 at 1:26 pm

Our lunchbox favorite is string cheese and grapes.

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29 lweaver September 29, 2008 at 1:37 pm

My little nephew is a vegan and I’d love to give his mom this book. She never knows what to pack him for lunch.

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30 Denise September 29, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Count me in!

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31 Chelsea Berry September 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm

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!

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32 Rebecca C September 29, 2008 at 2:19 pm

I would love to win this, I always never know what to put in lunches.

legacyofbrutalitysa{AT}gmail.com

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33 Heather J. September 29, 2008 at 2:36 pm

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:

milk
eggs
wheat
soy
fish
shellfish
peanut
tree nuts
beef
pork

So yeah, any new tips would be lovely!

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34 Sandy September 29, 2008 at 2:49 pm

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

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35 kadusey September 29, 2008 at 3:01 pm

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).

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36 Lori Williams September 29, 2008 at 3:06 pm

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.

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37 Heather Reynolds September 29, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Yum! As a vegetarian, I’m always looking for new and interesting choices for lunches!

Thanks!

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38 Karen Gonyea September 29, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Always looking for new ideas for lunch :)

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39 Lisa L. September 29, 2008 at 5:36 pm

My homemade spagetti is always a hit.

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40 jennefer sweitzer September 29, 2008 at 5:48 pm

carrot and celery are favs here!

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41 susan varney September 29, 2008 at 6:03 pm

we all like tuna or left overs

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42 Sherry Ann Abrams September 29, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Avocado wraps with cabbage shreds and mango.

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43 Rosanne Morrison September 29, 2008 at 6:54 pm

tuna tacos

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44 Adrienne Gordon September 29, 2008 at 7:13 pm

my kids love carrots in their lunch box

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45 Mia J. September 29, 2008 at 8:10 pm

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

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46 Lauren L September 29, 2008 at 8:39 pm

I’m in a PB&J rut. I use strawberry jam to make it more interesting.

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47 Bailey's Leaf September 29, 2008 at 10:16 pm

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!

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48 Tabitha September 30, 2008 at 12:41 am

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.

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49 Naomi September 30, 2008 at 1:01 am

Sadly we haven’t branched out much in the first month of school lunch making. I’d love to learn some new tricks!

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50 kelle September 30, 2008 at 1:44 am

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.

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51 Susan C September 30, 2008 at 9:19 am

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.

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52 cathy b September 30, 2008 at 10:46 am

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

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53 Melanie September 30, 2008 at 1:20 pm

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!

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54 Anne a September 30, 2008 at 1:47 pm

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.

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55 Diana G September 30, 2008 at 2:18 pm

our lunch box favorite is raw cauliflower with ranch dressing. we love the crunch.

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56 mama k September 30, 2008 at 2:56 pm

I love Jen’s blog and have been jonesin for a copy of this book!

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57 Octopusmom September 30, 2008 at 3:47 pm

I would love to win a copy of this boook..I think it would be good for all of us to learn how to eat more veggies at lunchtime!!

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58 Marlena U. September 30, 2008 at 4:19 pm

I’d love a copy of this! m_huston(at)hotmail(dot)com

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59 Sharon Jones September 30, 2008 at 6:18 pm

sounds GREAT…would love to win. Thanks for entry!

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60 Charlsie Swadley September 30, 2008 at 8:23 pm

I would love this book!

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61 Jenn S. September 30, 2008 at 10:07 pm

My daughter loves cucumber and tomato sandwiches in her lunch box.

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62 Tari Lawson October 1, 2008 at 6:38 am

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

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63 alison October 1, 2008 at 8:04 am

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!

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64 Hallie October 1, 2008 at 9:12 am

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!

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65 GreenJello October 1, 2008 at 9:23 am

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.

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66 sandra kao October 1, 2008 at 10:22 am

any helpful lunch ideas are great

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67 Clifton Wade October 1, 2008 at 3:55 pm

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!

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68 Christine October 1, 2008 at 5:58 pm

I would love to win this for help with my son’s lunches. Right now his favorite thing is strawberries. Thanks for the chance, justicecw@hotmail.com

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69 Dawn October 1, 2008 at 7:01 pm

What a cool book-
I can’t wait to try some of the ideas!
Fingers crossed I win!
:)

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70 tle October 2, 2008 at 12:34 am

I am a vegetarian trying to go vegan…would so love this book!!

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71 Girl Behind the Camera October 2, 2008 at 3:42 pm

I am always looking for new fresh, healthy ideas for my 9 year old and 9 month old. Would love to have this!

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72 Sarah October 3, 2008 at 9:35 am

Bananas! Always good for some energy!

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73 Julie Donahue October 3, 2008 at 8:01 pm

Hmmm…..I’d be willing to try them. (Even if I don’t want to give up my meat!)

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74 Gaye McGill October 3, 2008 at 9:48 pm

I don’t know if it’s “interesting”, but cottage cheese and diced fruit is a favorite.

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75 Carrie Baird October 4, 2008 at 12:45 am

Maybe not too original, but I like celery stuffed with peanut butter w/raisins on top.

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76 Kathy D October 4, 2008 at 8:01 am

Loves like a great book would love to dress up the Lunches of the 3 little boys I watch

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77 Marion B October 4, 2008 at 11:08 am

Carrots and dip are a favorite here!

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78 Ed Nemmers October 4, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Peanut butter and potato chip sandwich

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79 Dddiva October 4, 2008 at 5:01 pm

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.

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80 Kate October 4, 2008 at 5:20 pm

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.

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81 Candis Hansen October 4, 2008 at 5:39 pm

We love fruit!!!

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82 christopher h October 4, 2008 at 7:11 pm

pb&j, not terribly interesting but a staple around here

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83 Emmy T October 4, 2008 at 7:19 pm

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.

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84 laura October 4, 2008 at 7:30 pm

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.

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85 judy brittle October 4, 2008 at 7:46 pm

This would be wonderful to have for some healthy ideas. Thank you!

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86 Pamela White October 4, 2008 at 11:45 pm

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

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87 Alison October 5, 2008 at 12:05 am

I make my kids chips (from tortillas) and they love those in their lunch boxes (I have twin boys). :) Thank you!

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88 danielle October 5, 2008 at 12:41 am

Our staple is peanut butter and applesause sandwiches.

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89 Bev Iyoha October 5, 2008 at 1:14 am

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)

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90 Samantha Pruitt October 5, 2008 at 1:39 am

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.

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91 Veronica Garrett October 5, 2008 at 1:47 am

When they are in season-peaches.

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92 Lara Aleff October 5, 2008 at 2:10 am

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

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93 kathy pease October 5, 2008 at 11:54 am

rice krispie treats :)~~~~

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94 Carey October 5, 2008 at 12:17 pm

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.

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95 MaryBeth Isaac October 5, 2008 at 12:41 pm

would love some non meat ideas outside of PB and J

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96 Denise October 5, 2008 at 12:59 pm

I would like some non-meat ideas for the holidays.

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97 Catherine KingChuparkoff October 5, 2008 at 2:18 pm

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.

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98 Dan October 5, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Spaghetti O’s.

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99 Elizabeth Ray October 5, 2008 at 2:31 pm

have to have raisins

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100 Donna Kozar October 5, 2008 at 2:49 pm

PB&J are favorites here.

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101 Regina October 5, 2008 at 3:00 pm

peanut butter and banana.

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102 Jennifer D October 5, 2008 at 4:28 pm

How about ants on a log? (Celery sticks with nut butter and raisins, sprinkled with kosher salt)

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103 Felicia October 5, 2008 at 4:34 pm

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.

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104 Helen October 5, 2008 at 5:24 pm

I’d love to win this! We’ve been thinking of new ways to package lunch!

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105 Angelia McDonald October 5, 2008 at 5:43 pm

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.

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106 Tricia Andrews October 5, 2008 at 7:29 pm

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!

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107 Beverly Clark October 5, 2008 at 8:19 pm

My daughter loves grapes, pineapple and cheese cubes in her lunch. And…a rice krispy treat!

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108 Timothy Sternberg October 5, 2008 at 9:05 pm

I’d LOVE to win this book.

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109 dean October 5, 2008 at 9:42 pm

my little one loves cheese and fruit. would love more ideas

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110 Lauren October 5, 2008 at 9:57 pm

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.

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111 Ramon LaTaille October 5, 2008 at 10:12 pm

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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112 Angie P. October 5, 2008 at 10:35 pm

A simple batch of baby carrots with ranch dressing as a dip is among my kids’ favorite lunchtime snacks.

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113 Janet October 5, 2008 at 11:30 pm

Wow. That sounds like a great book.

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114 Lily Kwan October 5, 2008 at 11:33 pm

I love soup in a thermos can!

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115 Heather C October 5, 2008 at 11:46 pm

Cuke slices and hummus. Maybe some raisins…

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116 Tamara Bennington October 6, 2008 at 7:34 pm

Bananas, or hummas with baby carrots.
tamben7996(at) aol(dot) com

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117 carla March 9, 2012 at 11:57 am

i have to agree nutella and fruits are always a big hit. just mix it up same old is still same old

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