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41 Vegetarian Lunchbox Ideas

A huge collection of inspiring vegetarian lunchbox ideas, that will help you avoid getting into a rut with your vegetarian packed lunches!

A collage showing vegetarian lunchbox ideas.

For a lot of us, September marks the kids going back to school, and the return of the dreaded packed lunch. A daily chore that can bring so many headaches!

And even if you don’t have kids in school, this time of year is often a chance to refocus after a busy summer, and get back into the swing of packing a healthy lunchbox every day – not always an easy feat.

Luckily, vegetarian packed lunches don’t need to rely on the exact same unimaginative cheese sandwich every single day – there are heaps of other things you can pack in your vegetarian lunchbox to ensure lunchtime is something you and your kids can look forward to all morning.

What to pack in a vegetarian lunchbox

I personally like there to be one ‘main’ element in the lunches I pack, plus a few smaller bits on the side. The main could be a sandwich or wrap, or something a bit different, like a pastry, or even a few spoonfuls of pasta salad.

This post contains heaps of different vegetarian lunchbox ideas that you can use as the main part of your packed lunch.

Then, in addition to the main event, I usually add a few of these extras (not all of them every day!):

  • fresh fruit
  • salad veggies (cucumber, tomatoes, raw pepper, carrot sticks, etc)
  • a dollop of some sort of dip or spread
  • a few potato crisps or veggie straws
  • a small block of cheese (unless the main event was cheese-based)
  • dried fruit, like raisins or dried apricots
  • a sweet treat

Some of the vegetarian packed lunch ideas in this list are super kid-friendly, whereas others might be a little more grown up – so just choose whatever you feel your intended consumer will enjoy!

Can you prepare a vegetarian lunchbox in advance?

If you don’t have time to pack a lunchbox from scratch every day, batch cooking is your friend!

As well as simple sandwiches that can be whipped up quickly in the morning, this post also contains a few cold salads that can be cooked in big batches to enjoy throughout the week. There are also some pastries and other savouries that can be batch cooked in advance, so they’re ready to pop into lunchboxes through the week.

Food safety advice usually recommends eating pre-cooked food within 3-4 days of cooking (source: USDA) – so for example, if you cooked a batch of something on Sunday afternoon, you could eat it on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and probably even on Thursday, as long as it still looks, smells and tastes okay.

You should probably try to make something fresh, like a quick sandwich, for your lunch on Friday.

Can you pack nuts in a lunchbox?

In the UK, a lot of schools have a blanket ban on anything containing nuts in lunchboxes. This is because nut allergies can be so serious, and it’s easier for them to just ban nuts altogether, than to chop and change the rules depending on which particular allergies the children in each class have.

Adult workplaces may not have the same ban on nuts, but it would be considerate to avoid nuts in your lunchbox anyway, unless you’re certain that you won’t be eating nearby somebody with a severe nut allergy.

Some of the recipes below (clearly marked) do contain nuts. If necessary, omit the nuts, or swap them for something else.

As well as obvious sources of nuts, like whole nuts or peanut butter, watch out for sneaky nuts hiding in things like pesto, which is usually made with pine nuts. It’s easy to swap the pesto for an alternative nut-free spread, or use a nut-free version.

Vegetarian packed lunch ideas

Here’s what’s included in this collection, in case you’d like to skip to a certain section:

Otherwise, just scroll down to browse! Enjoy!

Vegetarian sandwiches, wraps, etc.

Creamy chickpea salad sandwiches [vegan]

Easy homemade flatbreads [vegan]
– stuff these with whatever fillings you like!

Ultimate halloumi sandwich
– pesto contains nuts

Vegetarian pastries and other savouries

Mini mushroom picnic pies

Very veggie oat bars
– pesto contains nuts

Vegetarian mezze [vegan, depending on what you choose]
– just choose a few elements to pack in the lunchbox for a fun themed lunch

Black bean and lentil vegetarian koftas [vegan]
– best served with a tasty dipping sauce, like salsa or tzatziki

Fried gnocchi [vegan]
– these would be really fun served with a tub of tomato sauce for dipping!

Cajun spiced savoury trail mix [vegan]
– contains nuts

Parmesan baked fava bean chips
– a brilliant nut-free snack for schools that don’t allow nuts

Vegetarian dips and spreads

Quick black bean dip [vegan]

Sun-dried tomato hummus [vegan]
– topped with nuts

Easy garlic mushroom pâté
– contains nuts

Vegetarian salads

15 minute creamy pasta primavera
– this one was initially designed to be eaten warm, but works well as a cold pasta salad too

Nutty tofu lettuce wraps [vegan]
– contains nuts

Mint and pistachio pesto potato salad [vegan]
– contains nuts

Lunchbox-friendly sweet treats

Raspberry and blueberry oaty breakfast bars

Traditional British pancakes
– a pancake folded up in a lunchbox with some fruit and chocolate spread would be a really fun change!

Have I inspired you to pack something a bit different in your vegetarian lunchbox this week? What will you cook first?

Easy Cheesy Chickpea Burgers
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