Easy Vegan Packed Lunch Ideas

easy vegan lunchesOver 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?


  1. says

    i’m always having a hard time packing lunch for dayv. he gets tired of things quickly and i feel like i’m always scrambling trying to find something new to make him. some things we rotate- black bean soup and brown rice, mac and cheese, shepherds pie.. i’ve been packing the same lunch for like 7 years- apple with peanut butter and almond milk or a vega shake 😉 i’m a woman of routine.

    • says

      Dayv is a lucky guy that you care so much to pack his lunches and keep them interesting! I tend to prefer leftovers for my lunches. For dinner, I want something new, but at lunch I’m happy to just finish off what we had the night before. Seven years is a long time to keep up the same lunch, but all of those things are certainly easy to keep on hand!

  2. says

    I have to bring both breakfast and lunch with me to work, so I usually go with some variation of this combination: A big bowl of grains (farro, brown rice, etc.) a protein (chickpeas, black beans, etc.) veggies and a fat (Earth Balance, Daiya, etc.) and spices. So easy, so quick, so good.

    The key is making a big batch of the grains and keeping it in the fridge for the week. :)

  3. says

    I love seeing other peoples’ lunches! I usually have leftovers because I’m the only eating the dinners I cook (so I have leftovers for days). But sometimes I wish I didn’t have leftovers so I could just have a sandwich or something like the baked tofu and salad. Looks so simple and delicious!

    • says

      Wow, if you’re the only one eating the dinners you cook, that must have been tricky when you were developing recipes for Cookin’ Crunk! Whenever I’m making a new recipe, I often end up with gobs of it as I’m tweaking ingredients. Sometimes I’ve had enough before the recipe is finalized, and that’s with another person helping me finish it off.

  4. says

    I love this post! And your pictures! :) I’m a teacher and my husband works from home, so we usually just eat leftovers from the night before! But you’ve inspired me to be a bit more creative!

  5. says

    I love the tacos/burritos idea! That sounds extra tasty. When I cook a little something vegan for myself, the dish I most often make (and bring to lunch) is brown rice with black beans, mixed with a stir-fry of fresh green beans, red peppers, peas, preserved lemon (or just lemon zest), garlic, red pepper flakes and soy sauce, and some sesame oil and green onions tossed in at the end. Yummy!

    • says

      Nice! You’re welcome to make lunch for me anytime! I still haven’t tried preserved lemon. I saw a jar of it in the Mediterranean section of the grocery store, but I couldn’t decide if I should buy it or just make it myself (with the bonus that I could use organic lemons). Do you think homemade is vastly superior?

      • says

        I have tried some store-bought preserved lemons, and what I like about them is that they tend to be small, with a high rind-to-fruit ratio. So I think it’s hard to go wrong either way. But they are easy to make at home, and homemade is always more satisfying, even if the flavor is similar.

        • says

          Excellent! Thanks for your input! I think I’ll try making my own since I have the time and inclination, and I know the option is always there for store-bought if I have a “preserved lemon emergency” at some other point. 😉

  6. says

    First, I’d just like to say, I wish I lived at your house. :) I was never good at making food early in the morning, and even though I think all your ideas are fabulous, it’s the leftovers that worked for me. Without leftovers I probably wouldn’t ever have had lunch. Yay, leftovers — and baby carrots in a bag!

  7. says

    These are great ideas! Dave’s been wanting to get back into packing lunches – I’m going to send this his way and see if he’d like me to get anything at the store to make some of your suggestions!

  8. says

    This is really timely for me since I realized today that I need to start saving more money. No more lunches out or “quick salads” at Whole Foods that turn into crazy shopping sprees.
    I just posted about my lunches recently but my favorites are always leftovers. So easy.

    • says

      Good for you! It’s so easy for those impromptu grocery store visits to take on a life of their own! When you’re there anyway, it’s easy to pick up odds and ends and spend more than you’d intended.

  9. says

    Usually it’s leftovers for me – it just seems easiest to make a couple of extra portions’ worth of whatever I’m making for dinner and stash them in the fridge or freezer for later. If I was a bit more organised, I would go for those burritos every time!

  10. says

    What a resourceful post! When I first became vegan, my lunches were so odd because I had no idea what to bring. Now, when I’m working in an office, my lunch is always a sandwich or leftovers. I used to pack lunches for Chris too, but he never remembers to bring them. 😉

  11. says

    My husband and 9 year old have a packed lunch every day. My husband usually ends up with leftovers and the 9 year old loves tofurky sandwiches and burritos! Fun post!

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