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Preparing and taking your own lunches to work can benefit your health, your wallet and helps you stay in control of your day. While this may seem daunting at first, you can easily do it with some healthy vegetarian lunch ideas!
As it stands, any takeaway foods (or fast foods) contain high amounts of unhealthy fats (both saturated and trans fats), added sugars, salt and preservatives. They often lack the vegetables, whole grains and other plant foods that our brains need to function for a busy day at work. Also, they can end up being expensive too, especially if you buy extras like coffee, soft drinks or sweets. In fact, finding lunches to suit your dietary preferences can be pretty difficult, especially if you follow a vegetarian diet.
But if you want to improve your health, save some money, boost your vegetable intake and take control of your day, then it’s time to start taking your lunches to work. Fortunately, some simple vegetarian lunch ideas can help you do all these things!
To help you along your way, we’ve included four vegetarian lunch ideas for work, including some recipes for you to try. These vegetarian lunches are all quick to make at home and are cheap, nutritious and delicious. And if you’re concerned about where your protein will be coming from when you’re not eating meat or chicken at lunch, then check out this article about plant-based protein. It explains what you need to know about plant protein, including how easily you can get enough protein without eating meat.
But onto some simple ideas!
Vegetarian Lunch Idea for Work #1: Wraps & Sandwiches
Wraps and sandwiches are a great option for work as they are quick, cheap and easy. In addition, they can be made to give you the ideal mix of low glycemic index carbohydrates, protein, veggies and healthy fats. Together, these provide you with vital nutrients and sustained energy to power through your work day by preventing drops in afternoon energy levels that many people experience.
In order to make a healthy vegetarian lunch wrap or sandwich for work, first start with a high fiber, wholegrain wrap or bread. This acts as your source of low glycemic index carbohydrates to fuel your brain but also keeps your blood sugar levels steady throughout the afternoon so you feel full and energized.
Then add your vegetarian protein. Some options include falafels, lentil patties, tempeh, vegan meatballs (recipe below) or mashed beans. Then add your vegetables or salad. Listed below is a variety you can choose from. A good goal is to include at least three different colored vegetables in your wrap or sandwich.
- salad leaves – e.g. rocket, baby spinach, lettuce, shredded cabbage
- onion – e.g. Spanish onion, onion sprouts, shallots
- tomato – e.g. cherry, sun-dried
- sprouts – e.g. alfalfa, mung bean, radish
- stir-fried or steamed cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin
- grilled veggies e.g. eggplant, zucchini, pumpkin
Next, add a healthy fat to help with brain function and also keep you full and satisfied. Some options include avocado, tahini or a plant-based spread.
Finally, finish off your sandwich or wrap by adding some healthy flavor. Fresh herbs like parsley, coriander, basil, dill or mint are perfect for this. A sprinkle of spices or some chili, ginger, garlic, avocado, hummus, chutney, mustard are great too!
Here is the recipe for a delicious Vegetarian “Meatball” Wrap perfect for a work lunch:
Recipe: Vegetarian “Meatball” Wrap
Makes 1 wrap + extra “meatballs” which can be refrigerated or frozen for more work lunches.
- 1 medium wholegrain wrap
- 1 handful of mixed green salad leaves
- ¼ avocado, mashed
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 1/3 cucumber, sliced
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 4 High Protein Vegan “Meat”balls – using the recipe found here
- First, spread avocado over wrap
- Then slice meatballs in half and line on one side of wrap.
- Finally, add all salad veggies and parsley.
- Wrap and enjoy!
Vegetarian Lunch Idea for Work #2: Soups
Vegetarian soups are a great option for a healthy, tasty work lunch, especially if you’re on a budget. They are cheap to make and very filling if you bulk them up with healthy, cost-effective proteins and carbohydrates like beans, rice and lentils. Soups are also great if you’re short on time. You can make a big batch and freeze them ready for and an easy work lunch.
Here is a scrumptious Cheesy Vegetarian Broccoli Soup recipe you can try for your next work lunch.
Recipe: Cheesy Vegetarian Broccoli Soup
Makes 4 servings
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 large heads of broccoli, chopped
- 1 potato, peeled and diced
- 1.5 cups soy milk
- 2 cups butter beans
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- ¼ cup grated cheese of choice
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- In a pot, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic and sauté until translucent.
- Then add potato and broccoli and cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Next, add milk and stock and simmer for 20 minutes or until potato is cooked.
- Finally, add beans, stir in cheese and nutritional yeast.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Place in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Divide into four portions and enjoy!
Want even more Vegetarian Soup recipes perfect for work lunches? Check these out.
Vegetarian Lunch Idea for Work #3: Stir-Fries
Vegetarian stir-fries are a great option for an easy, nutritious work lunch. They can be bulked up with a variety of satisfying grains like brown rice, quinoa and barley kernels. After that, there is a nearly endless array of flavor combinations you can make.
Here is the recipe for a tasty Tofu Ginger Stir-Fry that you can whip up for tomorrow’s work lunch.
Recipe: Tofu Ginger Stir-Fry
Makes 4 servings
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 500g (18 oz.) firm tofu, cubed
- 1 red onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1/2 tsp chopped fresh chili
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 2 cups quinoa
- 1 capsicum, sliced
- 2 bunches of bok choy
- 2 cups of chopped broccoli florets
- 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (salt-reduced)
- 4 tbsp cashews
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- Prepare quinoa according to packet instructions. Set aside.
- Then heat olive oil on a wok and add onion, garlic, ginger and chili until softened.
- Next, add veggies to wok and stir-fry for 10 minutes. Add tofu and soy and heat for further 3-5 minutes.
- Finally, add cashews and sesame seeds and fry for 1 minute.
- Divide into 4 portions and enjoy!
Vegetarian Lunch Idea for Work #4: DIY Loaded Veggie Bowls
DIY Loaded Veggie Bowls are ideal for a vegetarian work lunch. They are packed with plant protein and fibre/fiber and will help you reach your daily vegetable requirement. Plus, they are cheap, quick and easy and can be made using ingredients you have left-over in your pantry like tins/cans of beans and lentils. Here is a Loaded Veggie Bean Bowl recipe for you to try. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something lighter, here is a great Israeli side salad recipe.
Recipe: Loaded Veggie Bean Bowl
Makes 2 bowls
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 x 425g (15 oz.) can black beans
- ½ cup corn kernels
- 1 large lemon – zest and juice
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 1 cup brown rice
- 2 cups baby spinach
- ½ cup green beans
- ½ avocado
- First, cook rice according to packet instructions.
- Then steam green beans.
- Next, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, paprika, olive oil in a small dish.
- Finally, divide rice and black beans between two containers. Split green beans and remaining salad veggies between the two containers and drizzle with lemon spices.
Especially if you’re not in the habit of taking your lunch to work, I’d highly encourage you to try some of these easy-to-make vegetarian lunch ideas for work. Maybe try setting aside some time on the weekend to prep some of these lunch recipes ahead of time. Or spend a few minutes the night before making your lunch for the next day.
Either way, it will not only help you eat healthier, but you can also save more of the money you’re working so hard to earn! Think about it this way: these vegetarian lunch ideas could allow you to spend more money on things that matter a lot to you, which can help you lead a happier and more fulfilled lifestyle. That’s a win-win!
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