Top 8 Easy Vegetarian Packed Lunch Ideas
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Vegetarian lunches provide myriad benefits for lazy cooks and food snobs alike. They’re often colorful and nutrient-dense, with just as much variety as lunches that include meat. Whether you’re a lacto-ovo vegetarian or flexitarian, every meal is malleable to your dietary needs and restrictions. Here are the most effortless lunches for vegetarians, so there’s robust variety and flavor daily.
Tips for Easy Preparation
There are a few ways to make assembly simpler, regardless of what you choose to create or how many ingredients you include. Despite eliminating meat and fish — and eggs if you decide to — vegetarian lunches offer versatility and diversity regarding ingredients and cooking styles.
Use the First In, First Out (FIFO) Mentality
Vegetarian meals often include a lot of perishable ingredients like fresh produce. Prepping becomes less frustrating when there’s less food waste in the fridge. Analyze older or closer-to-expiring foods and make it a priority to include them in your packed lunches. It also reduces decision fatigue when creating recipes because instead of creating a lunch idea out of thin air, you already have the required ingredients to work around.
Packed lunches must be secure and easy to transport. Nobody wants spilled sauce or an inappropriate temperature environment for their delicious creation. Consider eco-friendly container options like glass containers or stainless steel, temperature-controlled containers. It makes packing easier if you have a designated area for all of the parts of your lunch experience.
Most of these lunch ideas will contain some cooking but mostly preparation. To make the process seamless and quick, hone and sharpen your knives, peelers, and other helpful kitchen gadgets to you don’t receive resistance from your nutritious ingredients.
Make a List of Trusted Recipes and Sources
Most cooks nowadays refer to the internet for recipe ideas. Whether it’s Pinterest or the Food Network, you don’t want to scramble for innovative ideas every week. As time goes by, you’ll discover your favorite go-to recipes. Save those and perfect their preparation over time to minimize time spent on meal prepping and decision-making. Creating a smart grocery list has never been easier, especially as it supplements more eco-friendly food habits.
Incorporate Ingredients in Multiple Recipes
People want to eat different meals every day. But, it’s easier for planning — and on the wallet — if you purchase similar ingredients that can apply to multiple lunches throughout the week. Look at each necessary lunch component, including proteins and vegetables, and choose a couple to become the lunch stars for the week. Not only will it reduce the grocery bill, but it will also teach you how to be more creative with the same ingredients.
Know How to Substitute
You don’t have to search exclusively on websites that include vegetarian recipes — every website and book recipe is up for grabs if you know what to substitute. If you’re ovo-vegetarian, find cheese substitutes to create delicious pasta. If you find a chicken recipe that looks out of this world, know veggie protein alternatives like tempeh or brands that make imitation chicken so the recipe is still usable by you.
The best thing about soups is almost every vegetarian ingredient can be incorporated into one. Add some rice, beans, or lentils for some body alongside some homemade or store-bought favorite vegetable stock, and you have an easy-to-scoop, pleasurable lunch. Plus, it fits beautifully in most containers, ready to microwave.
Some recipes to try: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili, Pho, and Chickpea Noodle Soup.
Look no further than the trusty salad for a refreshing crunch full of vitamins and fiber. They contain more than just leafy greens — to become genuinely hunger-crushing, they have to have substance. Nobody wants to feel hungry one hour after their lunch break because the salad was 90% lettuce. Add some croutons, fruits, or nuts for additional calories and deliciousness.
Some recipes to try: Rainbow Veggie Salad, Raspberry Spinach and Feta Salad, and Meatless Taco Salad.
Don’t eliminate casseroles from the lunch equation. Though they’re primarily associated with dinners, they’re excellent meal prep ideas because they’re simple to portion. They can encompass any cuisine and do a fantastic job clearing a fridge out of disparate ingredients by combining them with a delightful, hot casserole dish.
Some recipes to try: Green Bean Casserole, Vegetarian Lasagna, and Roasted Vegetable Casserole.
4. Mexican-Inspired Cuisine
Tacos, burritos, and enchiladas are a few of the countless Mexican-inspired dishes that make great veggie lunches. If you’re an ovo-lacto vegetarian, fish and eggs will be your best friend when making scrumptious, protein-packed tacos. Several brands have created meatless ground beef alternatives if you want to recreate original dishes closely.
Some recipes to try: Veggie Breakfast Burritos, Southwestern Quesadillas, and Tofu Tostadas.
You can always go right with noodles and sauce. Whether tomato-based or cheese, classic Italian, ancient Japanese, and modern American recipes embrace pasta as the main event. It can be the sole focus of the lunch or contain accouterment to supplement the flavor and nutrient density.
Some recipes to try: Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Pasta Primavera, and Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells.
If you want spice — whether in garam masala or cayenne — curry has you covered. Delicious meals, infused with bloomed spices, cover potatoes, rice, or bread in fragrant sauces. Prepare your curry base in bulk and scoop out sauces easily transferring them into your lunch box.
Some recipes to try: Coconut Lentil Curry, Malai Kofta, and Saag Paneer.
Bowls are one of the most versatile lunch options for vegetarians. They can be savory or sweet, packed with rice or quinoa or blended yogurt and fruit. Drench granola with syrup or dress a poke bowl with sesame oil. Either way, there is a bowl for every day of the year if you want recipes that require almost no cooking and only prep and assembly.
Some recipes to try: Acai Bowl, Mediterranean Power Bowl, and Superfood Breakfast Yogurt Bowl.
8. Asian-Inspired Cuisine
Peanut sauce on rice noodles or teriyaki on udon alongside browned vegetables and tofu makes any mouth water. Feel like you’re at your favorite steakhouse by having a hand at your favorite meals that would break the bank at the restaurant. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider vegetarian sushi options like sweet potato, avocado, and cucumber to stuff a to-go container easily.
Some recipes to try: Ultimate Veggie Ramen, Pad Thai, and Malaysian Satay Tofu Noodles.
Enjoying Easy Vegetarian Lunches
Vegetarian lunches include more than carrots or tofu — they are rich in flavor and texture to agree with any palette. Veggie lunches are capable of providing balanced, nutritious diets that fill every health requirement while promoting satiety and satisfaction. Experiment and enjoy, because these easy vegetarian lunches will make every workday happy and healthy.
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About the author
Rachel serves as the Assistant Editor of Environment.co. A true foodie and activist at heart, she loves covering topics ranging from veganism to off grid living.