In the quest to find healthy, satisfying, and delicious meals, vegetarian lunch ideas often top the list. Forget plain old boring salads; we’re talking about hearty salads, grain bowls, and so much more. We’ve curated a list of 10 vegetarian lunch ideas we can’t wait to try. These recipes are packed with simple ingredients that provide a complete meal, boasting both rich, savory flavors and vital nutrients.
You can listen to us talk about these 10 lunch ideas here. Links to recipes are below!
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Setting yourself up for success
Before we jump into these lunch ideas, just a couple of notes to help you set yourself up for sticking with your eating goals.
Why It’s a Game-Changer Batch cooking is all about efficiency. When you cook in large quantities, you’re making the most out of your time in the kitchen. You only have to set up and clean up once, but you get multiple meals out of it.
Vegetarian Staples for Batch Cooking
- Beans Cook up a big pot of black beans, pinto beans, or white beans, which you can use in everything from salads to black bean quesadillas.
- Grains Quinoa, brown rice, and farro are excellent grains to cook in bulk. They serve as a great base for grain bowls or as a side to a complete meal.
- Roasted Veggies Roast an assortment of veggies like sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and cauliflower. Toss them in olive oil and your choice of spices for added savory flavor.
Mix and Match The beauty of batch cooking is that you can cook these staples and mix them in different combinations when it’s time to eat. Today it might be a grain bowl with quinoa, roasted veggies, and a lemon juice drizzle. Tomorrow it could be a hearty salad with beans, fresh veggies, and a side of roasted tomatoes.
Why It’s Practical Freezing meals is perfect for those days when you don’t have time to cook. It’s also a good way to avoid food waste, as you can freeze leftovers or items that are about to expire.
Freezer-Friendly Vegetarian Recipes
- Veggie Burgers Make your own using simple ingredients like black beans, oats, and spices. Store them individually wrapped so you can pull one out and cook it whenever you want.
- Grain Bowls These usually freeze well. Just make sure to separate the wet and dry ingredients.
- Black Bean Quesadillas Fill tortillas with a black bean and cheese mixture, and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal that’s easy to reheat.
Thawing and Reheating
Thawing and reheating your prepped meals doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Here’s the rundown on doing it safely and effectively.
Thawing: The Fridge Is Your Friend
The safest way to thaw frozen meals is in the refrigerator. Place your frozen meal container in the fridge and let it thaw overnight. This slow process allows the meal to thaw at a controlled, safe temperature, minimizing the risk of bacteria growth.
Alternate Thawing Methods: Time vs. Safety
If you’re short on time, you can use the defrost function on your microwave, but be sure to cook the food immediately after to reduce the risk of bacterial growth. Another quick method is the cold water thawing technique: place your sealed meal container in a bowl of cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. Again, cook immediately once thawed.
Reheating: Oven or Microwave?
For meals that have a mix of textures—say, a grain bowl with roasted veggies and some kind of protein—the oven is often your best bet. Preheat to 350°F and cook until the meal reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
Microwaves are convenient and quick but can sometimes make your meal a bit soggy. If you’re using a microwave, sprinkle some water over the food to keep it from drying out and cover it loosely to trap steam. Heat on high in 1-2 minute intervals, stirring in between for even heating.
Check The Temperature
Regardless of your reheating method, always check that the food’s internal temperature reaches 165°F. A food thermometer is a useful tool for this.
Why It’s Helpful Portioning helps you control your food intake and makes grabbing a lunch in the morning as easy as taking a container out of the fridge. It also helps you keep track of what you’re eating throughout the week.
Tools for Portion Control:
- Bento Boxes These are great for lunches that have multiple components. You can put your main course in the largest compartment and sides like fresh fruit or crunchy veggies in the smaller ones.
- Portion Control Containers These come marked with measurements, helping you know exactly how much you’re eating.
10 Vegetarian Lunch Ideas (That We’re Actually Going to Eat!)
Just a quick note that, while both Larissa and I are lacto-ovo vegetarians (meaning we do consume dairy and eggs), you can easily alter these recipes by substituting vegan dairy products or egg substitutes (such as tofu or Just Egg) for many of these recipes.
Let’s get to those recipes!
1. Avocado Black Bean Quesadillas from Gimme Delicious
This budget-friendly recipe brings together black beans and bell peppers for a satisfying lunch that’s easy to prepare. Add avocado slices for extra yumminess (just for me…Larissa is not a fan of avocados)! Don’t forget that you can easily sub out dairy cheese for your favorite vegan cheese!
2. Grain Bowl with Roasted Veggies and Tahini from Hip Foodie Mom
Toss your favorite roasted veggies such as sweet potatoes and squash into a bowl with farro, brown rice, or quinoa. Add some
3. Vegan Cottage Cheese and Fresh Veggies
Skip the boring salads and opt for a hearty vegetarian salad made with cottage cheese, fresh veggies, and some crispy tortilla chips for added crunch. Since the lactose in cottage cheese doesn’t always agree with me, I’m subbing out the dairy for this vegan cottage cheese from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken
4. Beyond Steak Tacos
I just found these Beyond Steak Tips at my local grocer, HEB. I don’t eat faux meats on a regular basis but I thought these would be great to try for lunch in either corn or flour tortillas topped off with some fresh pico de gallo and avocado. Deliciouso!
5. Vegan Sweet Potato Burrito Bowl from Eat with Clarity
Neither Larissa nor I are big fans of sweet potatoes but I do know they offer a lot of great plant-based nutrients so I will consume them if the recipe is right. This Sweet Potato Burrito Bowl looks like one of these recipes.
6. Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
Nope, this isn’t really a new concept. In fact, this is an American lunch classic but it’s one I don’t consider enough in my weekly lunch rotation. Larissa isn’t a fan of bananas (surprise, surprise!) so adding a different fruit (she prefers strawberries) or fruit spread is her preference. Have it with a tall glass of your favorite plant-based milk and you’ll be transported back to grade school!
7. Anti-Inflammatory Veggie Bowl with Tahini sauce
This scrumptious Veggie Bowl with Lemon Tahini Sauce is an ideal candidate for both lunch and dinner, featuring anti-inflammatory benefits. The bowl comes alive with a medley of roasted vegetables, brown rice, and chickpeas, all harmoniously complemented by a tangy lemon tahini dressing. It’s both vegan and gluten-free.
The Anti-Inflammatory Veggie Bowl features several components that contribute to its anti-inflammatory properties:
- Spices The inclusion of spices like cinnamon, cumin, paprika, and especially turmeric contributes to its anti-inflammatory benefits. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is well-known for its anti-inflammatory effects.
- Vegetables The chosen vegetables such as butternut squash, cauliflower, onion, and Brussels sprouts contain various antioxidants and phytonutrients that help combat inflammation.
- Chickpeas These are rich in fiber and protein and contain various nutrients like magnesium which have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Brown Rice Though not a powerhouse of anti-inflammatory properties, brown rice does have fiber and various phytonutrients that make it better than white rice when it comes to reducing inflammation.
- Tahini and Lemon Sauce Tahini, made from sesame seeds, contains anti-inflammatory compounds like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The vitamin C in lemon juice is also an antioxidant that can reduce inflammation.
- Cooking Oil The recipe recommends avocado or olive oil, both of which contain healthy fats known for their anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Whole Food, Plant-Based The recipe is vegan and gluten-free, removing common inflammation triggers like dairy and gluten.
8. Tofu Chow Mein from Taste of Home
9. Hummus and Veggie Rollups from A Couple Cooks
We’ve gotten some great recipe ideas from A Couple Cooks. Most of their recipes are really easy and yummy. This recipe for Hummus and Veggie Rollups is one I’ll be trying soon especially with football season starting this week! I think these would make for a great gameday snack.
10. Mushroom Melts from Eating Well
Grilled cheese is a classic lunch sandwich. It’s also one of Larissa’s favorites. This Mushroom Melt recipe from Eating Well adds a little more by tossing mushrooms into the mix. Mushrooms not only add nutrients to your meal but also give it a heartier feel, helping you stay full longer.
There you have it, friends. These are 10 vegetarian lunch ideas we’ll be trying this month. If you have some lunch ideas of your own you’d like to share, be sure to join our closed Facebook group, The Peas and Carrots Society. There you’ll find a welcoming group of no-judgement peeps who love to share recipes, pet pics, and a good show of support. See you there!