Over the years my husband and I have taken turns being the Chef of Brown Bag Lunches. Depending on who has to get up and out the door first, one person puts lunches together while the other gets ready. As of late, the lunch making duties have been falling to me more often than not. At the early hours of morning, it’s nice to have some simple things to grab to make putting together noon-time meals easy. These are the most popular lunches going through our kitchen these days:
1. Baked Tofu & Salad – Whenever I’m making baked tofu for dinner, I try to make extra for lunches later in the week. Whether they’re slipped into sandwiches, diced in salads, or eaten on their own, they’re a tasty addition that fills you up. My all-time favorite is easy lemon baked tofu (which is also great with lime juice, orange juice, or a combination of any of those instead of lemon). Surprisingly, I prefer the tofu cold rather than hot, because it gets this moist and chewy texture that is unbeatable. Obviously the sides vary with the day, but here it’s paired with prepared baba ganoush that I picked up from the grocery store, pita bread, fruit, and a salad.
2. Tacos or Burritos – For something handheld and satisfying, tacos or burritos to the rescue. Since we have tacos for dinner at least one night of the week, I grab leftover spicy black beans or chickpeas and put them into containers along with green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. When I make rice or barley, I like to make extra for freezing, and they both reheat in the microwave marvelously well. (If the rice or barley is too dry, just add a couple of tablespoons of water to the container while reheating.) Daiya vegan cheese also freezes well, and so I can take out just a few pinches of cheddar or cut half of an avocado, taking the half with the pit inside. (Squeeze a little lemon or lime juice on the cut avocado to keep it from oxidizing, or put it in the container with the chopped onion.) Put it together with a flour or corn tortilla, and you’re good to go.
3. Pasta with Marinara – For something totally easy, pasta fits the bill! I either pull dried pasta from the cabinet or ravioli from the freezer. (Rising Moon Organics makes several varieties of vegan ravioli, in addition to some with animal-based cheeses.) After just eight to ten minutes in boiling water, I drain it and add it to a container with some jarred pasta sauce. If I have more time, I’ll sauté bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions to go into the sauce as well. Add an apple and a green smoothie in a repurposed jar, and lunch is ready!
4. Soup with Bread or Crackers – When the weather is cold and icy, a thermos full of hot soup really hits the spot. My go-to choice is Double Lentil Mushroom Barley or one of these other favorites from my blog, but this week I’ve also taken a shining to the Chickpea & Rice Soup from Isa Chandra Moskowitz over at Post Punk Kitchen (above). Add some bread or crackers and a banana!
5. Sandwich & Salad – Of course, it wouldn’t be a lunch post without a mention of sandwiches. There’s always PB&J and the baked tofu above works well in sandwiches, but for a completely hassle free option Field Roast deli slices are quick and delicious. They come in three flavors – lentil sage, wild mushroom, and smoked tomato. Add a pickle and a slathering of mustard, and you’re out the door in ten minutes flat. Here the sandwich is paired with a green smoothie in a small mason jar, a kale salad, berries, and dolmades from the deli counter.
6. Leftovers – Many days of the week, lunch is put together easily by way of leftovers. Stews and rice dishes like this artichoke skillet paella with chorizo tempeh crumbles from Vegan Eats World work particularly well for reheating and easy transporting. Another favorite is my Easy, Any Day Lentils and sautéed kale.
What are your favorite lunch options to take on the go?