Whether your work day is back at the office or never stopped being at the office, you can always use a few delicious vegetarian brown bag lunch ideas! healthy work from home lunch ideas. And for the 40 million people who have lost their jobs, you have been hard at it finding and creating your next new opportunity so I have healthy work from home work from lunch ideas for you and the many others who are still working from home. Many parents are working from home and taking care of their children and these lunch ideas will be delicious for both grown-ups and kids!
So, for our final week of Meatless May, we are discussing about quick vegetarian lunch ideas for work along with some vegetarian lunch meal prep solutions!
Food to Include for Healthy Packed Lunch Ideas for Work
When planning what to pack/prepare, think of all the food groups when planning lunch ideas for adults or children. Once you have your basic things to include, the sky is the limit to what combinations that you can put together and what you can create! When we pack well for lunch and have a satisfying meal, it makes the rest of our day go smoother and we can get more work done. We feel better and by the end of the day, we are less ravenous and can unwind in a relaxed way.
Here is my list of the things to include:
- Colorful vegetables
- Fresh fruits (dried and canned may also work
- Variety of Whole grains
- Healthy fats
- Plant-based protein
- Dairy or plant-based milk
Here are Some Plant-Based Lunch Menu Ideas for Work
Here are some easy vegetarian lunch ideas that I hope that you love!
- High Protein Healthy Grain Vegetarian Bowls
- Full Meal Vegetarian Salads
- Cool Summer Soup Ideas
- Easy Vegetarian Sandwich Ideas and Wraps
- Leftovers (or what I like to call “planned overs”
High Protein Healthy Grain Vegetarian Bowl Ideas
Vegetarian lunch bowls are easy to pack, offer a wide variety of foods in one bowl and also include a great way to utilize leftovers. Here is a pasta salad bowl idea that you can also substitute quinoa, rice or other whole grain with delicious results. I love to serve mine in a canning jar.
Spring Pasta Salad
Makes 4 servings
2 1/2 cups of cooked pasta, cooked according to directions
3/4 cup steamed asparagus, cut in half
3/4 cup steamed snow peas
3/4 cup sliced raw carrots
1/2 cup chopped onions
Juice from one lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Mix ingredients for salad dressing together.
Steam asparagus and snow peas in the microwave or in a steamer basket. Allow to cool. Add to cooked pasta. Add raw onions and carrots, include the protein of your choice (chicken or tofu). Lightly coat the pasta salad with dressing and sprinkle with cheese.
Full Meal Vegetarian Salads
A salad can contain everything you need for lunch including lean protein, fruit, vegetables, health fats and whole grains. This salad recipe below adds all the groups besides whole grains but you could throw some in or serve with crackers for a delicious lunch!
Here is a Blueberry Hempeh Kale Salad that I created a few years ago using Smiling Hara Hempeh https://www.smilingharatempeh.com/
Blueberry Hempeh Kale Salad
This recipe uses a blueberry barbeque sauce to enhance the nutty, delicious flavor of hempeh which becomes part of this summer salad with a delicious new twist. Use it as a side dish or main dish for your favorite summer meal. Switch it up to use seasonal, local produce where you live and meet your specific nutritional needs. You can alternate your protein choice also.
Makes 2-4 servings
1 package of hempeh
1 bunch kale, massaged and sliced thin (use spinach for a low fodmap diet but you do not need to massage or slice)
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup red onions, sliced
Add massaged, thinly sliced kale to a large salad bowl, add blueberries, shredded carrots and onions. Toss lightly. Make salad dressing and blueberry sauce recipe and glaze hempeh or other protein with blueberry sauce below.
Salad Dressing Recipe
This salad dressing is great on everything!
Juice from one lemon
1 teaspoon garlic
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper
( 1 teaspoon maple syrup if desired)
Blueberry Sauce Recipe
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ green onions
1 teaspoon garlic infused oil
2 cups fresh blueberries
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon seedy mustard
Salt and pepper
In a sauce pan saute onion, jalapenos and garlic until soft. Add blueberries and the rest of the ingredients. Heat blueberries until they begin to pop. You can leave chunky for a nice texture but if you like the sauce smooth, put in the food processor. (This sauce would also be good on grilled local fish, tempeh, pork or beef.)
How to Add Blueberry Barbeque Glaze to Your Protein
You can alter your cooked protein and add the blueberry glaze to it! It is good on everything!
Cut hempeh down the middle and then cut into triangles. Brown it in a little bit of olive oil on both sides and drain on paper towels. In a clean skillet, add blue berry barbeque sauce and glaze the hempeh.
Check on this video on how I glazed it. You can try this with other proteins like chicken, beef, pork, tempeh and No Evil Foods Plant Meat.
Cool Summer Soup Ideas
Use the best of the summer produce to make a cool, tasty soup. Here is a Creamy Cucumber Soup which also includes avocados from Eating Well and a beautiful yellow gazpacho!
For those of you who aren’t info cold soups and would like a homemade tomato soup recipe. Check out this one with a yummy grilled cheese. If you don’t do dairy, try it with one of the plant-based cheeses.
Homemade Tomato Soup
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene which is good for cancer prevention. In is phytochemical that increases when it is heated. The spices and coconut milk add a new dimension to an old favorite. It is subtle and is kid friendly, my grandchildren loved it!
Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
1 tablespoon olive oil (infused with garlic if desired)
1 can light coconut milk
16 ounces of canned tomatoes or 2 cups fresh tomatoes from a variety like Roma’s that skin breaks down when cooking
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Heat oil in a medium sauce pan on medium and brown green onions and add spices and let them brown slightly. Add tomatoes and let simmer in the spices. Add coconut milk and blend well. Allow the flavors to mix and simmer soup about 10-15 minutes
Grown-Up Grilled Cheese
Makes 4 servings (adjust ingredients to make less servings)
Homemade Basil Pesto https://vineripenutrition.com/the-power-of-pesto/
Thinly Sliced Avocado
1 ounce of your choice of cheese (I love cheddar!)
8 slices of whole grain bread
A little oil or butter
Heat skillet to medium. Spread the bread with oil or butter. Lay four slices of bread oil side on the skillet. Add cheese and avocado. On remaining bread slices, spread one side with pesto and the other with oil or butter. Place side of bread with pesto on the avocado side. When the bottom piece of bread gets brown, turn the sandwich over and brown the other side. Rotate again if needed until the sides are brown and cheese is melted.
Easy Vegetarian Sandwich Ideas and Wraps
Another wonderful meat alternative made here in Asheville is No Evil Foods Plant Meat. The meat alternative contains gluten so it is not gluten-free. Here is a link to find out more! https://www.noevilfoods.com/find-us/?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=Search&utm_campaign=Plant-Based-Meat&gclid=Cj0KCQjwn7j2BRDrARIsAHJkxmwx0BGG9XVZSSix2_teONWRbMxh3KZCA3QttMwfDHWuIdZ1YWjQdoYaAloiEALw_wcB
Plant Meat Philly Wrap
This tasty lunch recipe makes a great wrap or you can also add to your favorite roll or lettuce leaf!
Makes 4 servings
2 Plant Meat Italian Sausage (Otherwise known as the Stallion), cut into small strips or in diagonal slices
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion thinly sliced
Provolone cheese, if desired
Whole Wheat or Gluten-free/low fodmap tortillas
Saute peppers, onions and sausage in olive oil in a medium saucepan until browned. Serve cooked mixture in your choice of bun, tortilla wrap or lettuce leaf. Serve with mustard and your choice of raw veggies on top!
Here are some more lunch recipe ideas using No Evil Foods Plant Meat.
Leftovers (or what I like to call “planned overs”)
When I am cooking supper, I want to intentionally make additional servings so that they can be packed for lunch the next day. I like to think of it as “planned overs” instead of leftovers because I am planning ahead and looking forward to it.
Some of the things that I love the best for lunch the next day include pizza, pasta, stir-fry, casseroles and soups. I also love anything Mexican and usually just pack the ingredients into a bowl leftover. What do you love to make to pack for lunch the next day?
Plant-Based Low Fodmap Gluten-free Lunches
All of these vegetarian brown bag lunch ideas ideas that I have included can easily be made into low fodmap or gluten-free with a few little switches like substituting some of the fruits and vegetables for low fodmap ones and choosing gluten-free and low fodmap breads, crackers and wraps.
Vegetarian Healthy Lunch Ideas for One
Almost anything can be easily made and packed for one person. This includes high protein healthy grain bowls especially if these are leftover from the night before, salads because you can make just enough for supper and the next day, easy sandwiches and wraps and of course leftovers.
The nice thing about leftovers for one person, is that many things can be frozen and eaten in the next couple of weeks. Just be sure to label when you made it so you can eat it while the quality is still at its peak.
High-protein Plant-based Lunches
Many people are surprised how much protein people can get when eating plant-based. This blog post discusses how easy it can be to get your protein intake https://vineripenutrition.com/healthy-menu-planning-for-vegetarian-meals/
Packable Vegan Lunches
Most of the vegetarian brown bag lunch ideas that I shared are mostly vegan or can easily be made into vegan. The great things about a meal made up of entirely of plants is that there is less risk of the food becoming spoiled when it is out for a short time unlike animal choices. That means that vegan meals may not need to be refrigerated if only out for a few hours.
Do you ever wonder how to streamline packing lunches and making those lunches? Here are a few ideas:
Vegetarian Lunch Prep Solutions
When packing quick lunch ideas for work, a little planning ahead can go a long way to quickly throwing together a memorable meal that you enjoy!
- One tip for packing a healthy lunch, is to gather your packing materials which might include a reusable cloth lunch bag, little bowls with lids or bento box (or even a mason jar). instead of using plastic bags, try using cloth that has been dipped in bees wax or try making some of these cloth bags to put lunch ingredients in https://www.bhg.com/crafts/sewing/reusable-sandwich-wrap/
- After gathering all your lunch packing supplies, have them all together in a centralized place and it can become your “lunch packing central”.
- If your lunch recipes with vegetables require a lot of chopping, find a weekend day to prep and store your ingredients so meals can come together quickly on a weeknight.
- Pack your lunches the night before so they will be ready to grab and go the next morning.
- Homemade lunch ideas may take some time getting used to initially versus going out to eat but once you get into the habit of making them, getting organized and planning ahead. You will crave them. You will also save money and boost your nutrition intake!
I know that for many of us, we have been eating plant-based meals already but many of you may be new to some of these meatless meals and this has been a challenge. Whether, you want to continue to challenge yourself going for a vegetarian meal for Meatless Monday or even more, I hope that you continue to add lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and plant-based protein options throughout your week!
If you are new to the Vine Ripe Nutrition blog, check out more recipes for plant-based recipes on other Meatless May posts here on the blog! As a registered dietitian nutritionist living in Asheville, North Carolina, I love helping people make small changes that make a big difference in their health. I am so glad that you stopped by to check things out.
And if you are looking for a lunch handout that includes additional easy vegetarian brown bag lunch ideas in my free Fresh Approach Meal Planning Guide here: https://vineripenutrition.com/
For a personalized direction on your plant-based lifestyle, you may be interested in my new program https://vineripenutrition.com/a-fresh-approach-to-plant-based-eating/