Gone are the days of quick ham and cheese sandwiches when you decide to go plant-based, and forget those quick fast food burgers and chicken sandwiches available at the drive-thru window. While some of you might see this as a negative thing, all plant-based eaters know how versatile meal time can be, along with easy without any processed meat and cheese, or fast foods that we all know does the body no good. In fact, if you’re trying to eat plant-based and looking for some easy grab and go eats for your lunch day, don’t worry — it’s much easier than you think.
When preparing your lunch for the workday, you want to focus on foods that not only keep you full, but also provide nutrients, balance your blood sugar, and that provide energy for the rest of your day. Proteins, fiber, and healthy fats are your best allies here, so let’s look at some options and tips to make the most of lunchtime!
Utilize Veggie Bowls
Make one of these flavor-packed bowls (or several at a time) and your lunch is at your fingertips and ready when you walk out the door. When making your veggie bowls, be sure to focus on making the base leafy greens which are great sources of protein, magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamin C. Then add your favorite protein source whether that’s hemp seeds, tofu, quinoa, beans, legumes, or a mix of a few of these. Then be sure to add a variety of your favorite veggies, some seeds and/or nuts, or perhaps some avocado that you can mash into the bowl as a natural dressing. Add a squeeze of lemon, balsamic, and whatever other favorite flavorings you like, put it all in a bowl, toss, and there’s an easy lunch that’s perfectly portable. You can also eat this at your desk and make a bunch at one time for meals all week long. Feel free to customize them as you like; here are some great recipes to start with.
Keep a List of Favorites
One way to prevent yourself from choosing foods that are unhealthy and convenient (like those fast food eats) is to keep a list of easy-to-make meals that you know you can prepare either ahead of time or quickly on-the go each morning to take with you. Every Saturday or Sunday (or whatever your day off is), prepare a few things ahead, or gather a list of favorites you can make quickly in the morning. Then make it a point to stick to your list and feel free to rotate items out each week as you find new favorites or need something different. See these Meatless Monday meal ideas for some easy, quick eats that make great rotation lunch ideas.
Choose Simple Over Elaborate When Necessary
If meal prep just isn’t your thing, that’s okay. You can still eat healthy without preparing meals ahead of time if you prefer. Here, you’ll want to choose simple ingredients that are easy to toss together. Try taking a container of pre-washed salad greens, dolloping in some hummus, grape tomatoes, a quarter of an avocado, and if you have any, veggies like celery and carrots. Toss, mix, and add some pepper, hot sauce, or mustard, and you’ve got yourself a really easy lunch that’s very healthy. Or, you take some sprouted grain bread, add some nut butter, and a banana or all-fruit jam like strawberry for a quick sandwich that’s healthier than refined bread. Another great idea is to spread hummus, avocado, and add a sliced tomato for a more savory sandwich option. Simple doesn’t mean unhealthy or “less worthy” than elaborate meals. Even 1/4 cup hummus with some hemp seeds and items like grape tomatoes, carrots, celery, and red bell pepper slices would do in a pinch!
Keep the Fridge Full of Goodies
It’s hard to eat healthy without a fridge full of ingredients to help you do so. While you can spend money out at restaurants each day, it’s much cheaper and healthier to prepare your own lunch. It’s also quite liberating as you watch the wallet become fuller and your creativity for yummy lunch ideas increase too. Be sure to visit the market or store each week and pick up greens, veggies (pre-chopped is fine if you have a busy schedule), any fruits you enjoy, your favorite plant-based protein sources, and some trusty condiments. If you eat whole grains, either choose steamable frozen grains that you can heat in minutes, or prepare a big batch of them and keep them in the fridge all week. Here’s a list of 10 items you can print off for easy shopping.
Get Yourself a Great Lunch Tote or Box
Now, while this might make you feel like a 3rd grader again, it’s important and here’s why: no one wants to pack a lunch in a plastic bag or in a container that’s going to spill everywhere. And while many of us are just fine brown-bagging it old-school style, having a nice tote that’s insulated can keep things cool or hot if you have a long commute or get stuck on the way to work. Or maybe your office isn’t super efficient in the kitchen lounge. No fridge there? Your insulated lunch tote has you covered. Another good tip to remember when purchasing a tote (or bento box) is to choose one that’s BPA-free and that has a nice, well-sealed feature so you don’t have to worry about spills. Check out these great bento boxes online that are some of the most popular amongst DIY lunchtime eaters.
Most importantly, be sure you actually eat lunch; skipping meals is a nightmare for focus, productivity, mood, and your metabolism, especially mid-day when your body needs high-quality fuel. Here are some recipes to inspire all your lunchtime creations!
Do you have a favorite tip that makes healthy, plant-based lunches easier to manage?
Lead Image Source: Vegan Panzella