By Erik Marcus
Since lunches are typically smaller and less involved meals than dinners, sandwiches and wraps are excellent lunch choices for vegans. They’re easy to make and can be prepared in endless varieties. If you’ve got no time at all, consider making the quickest sandwich in history: nut butter on a toasted bagel. There are all sorts of delicious ideas for sandwich fillings: baked tofu, hummus, vegan meats, and sliced vegetables. And these things are only the beginning. If you want to earn a Ph.D. in vegan sandwichology, the book to get is Tamasin Noyes’ Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!
When it comes to lunch you’re by no means limited to sandwiches and wraps. Soups and salads are also excellent lunch choices. Keep reading if you want to go beyond these basics.
Vegan Lunch Ideas for Work & School
If you want to move past eating the same old same old peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day, you could buy a cookbook devoted to vegan lunches. A terrific recent cookbook that prioritizes convenience is Ella Mills’ Quick & Easy Plant-Based Recipes.
You probably wouldn’t want to do this every day, but if you feel like making a fancy school lunch for your child, Jennifer McCann has written two wonderful books on the topic: Vegan Lunch Box and Vegan Lunch Box Around the World. She’s probably the most ambitious mom in the world, and every one of her meals involves four courses. But her whimsical ideas give you the chance to send your child to school with a meal that’s special and full of love. To reduce your meal preparation time, you can certainly substitute some wholesome vegan packaged foods or the simple ideas bulleted below in place of the side dishes she recommends.
Visit our vegan school lunches page for even more ideas.
Super-Quick Lunch Accompaniments
Salad, with the dressing kept in a different container, is a wonderful lunch accompaniment. But if you don’t have time to prepare salad, here are some other ideas take no time at all:
- Trail mix
- Quinoa or brown rice
- Grapes or sliced fruit (lemon juice prevents browning)
- Unsweetened apple sauce with cinnamon
- Orgain Organic Kids Energy Bar
- Wholegrain crackers
- Sliced carrots
- Umeboshi (Sold at many Asian groceries)
Lunch Boxes, Thermoses, Reusable Bags, and Ice Packs
For kids and adults alike, there are all sorts of cute and nicely designed lunch containers, many inspired by Japanese-style compartmentalized bento boxes. These containers are more compact, lighter weight, and less prone to leak or rattle food around than the old metal lunchboxes of yesterday.
You may also want to invest in a Thermos-style food jar, which is perfect for bringing hot soup, chili, or vegan cocoa to school or work. Since brown paper bags are fragile and wasteful, consider buying an insulated lunch bag with separate compartments for hot and cold items. That’ll enable you to bring hummus, which ought to stay cold in the hours before it’s eaten, even if you or your child lacks access to a refrigerator during morning hours. Consider using an ice pack for the cold compartment. You can reuse it for years, and put it back in the freezer every night.
Adults have many more options for lunches than do children. This is especially true if your break-room has a refrigerator, microwave, and a sink to wash dishes.
There are numerous vegan soup cups and canned soups that you can bring, that can help complete your meals. The entire line of Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods soup cups are vegan. Many of Amy’s canned soups are vegan (check the label.) If you’ve got a refrigerator and a microwave at work, consider bringing frozen burritos.
Amy’s also makes a delicious vegan organic bean and rice burrito, which Trader Joe’s apparently sells under its own brand name in two packs at a much lower price. The Trader Joe’s version is called, “Trader Jose’s Mildly Spiced Vegetable Burritos.”
Also consider Indian-style lunch pouches, which can be microwaved in just a couple minutes. Tasty Bite’s Chana Masala is especially worth trying. It’s cheap, ultra-convenient, and indistinguishable from what you’d get at most inexpensive Indian restaurants.
This is just the start of your lunch ideas. For many more possibilities, explore Maya Sozer’s Easy Vegan Breakfasts & Lunches.