Lunch time is often crunch time for many. Whether you spend your lunch break at your desk, in the car, at a restaurant, or at your kitchen table, eating lunch is the time of day that often becomes just a way to fuel your body to survive the afternoon. But lunch is important for your health. Hopefully, you ate a nice, balanced breakfast (here is one of our favorite options), but even if you didn’t or something happened and you had to grab a bar or cup of coffee and a piece of fruit in a pinch, lunch time is the best time of the day to make up for your efforts.

Going meatless at lunch time is also a great idea and simple way to improve your energy the rest of the afternoon. Meat is very hard for the body to break down (afterall, it is an animal you’re eating), so why not lighten the load and eat something that’s easy on your belly, body, and the earth too? The best part is, meatless meals are often cheaper, quicker to prepare, and so much lower in harmful fats and calories.

Meatless Monday (or any day of the week) is the perfect time for a lunch makeover. Here’s how to keep things quick and easy, seven days a week!

1. Bean and Grain Salads

Meatless Monday Meal Ideas for a Swift Lunch Everyday of the Week!

Beans and grains are full of superfood energizing properties from protein, fiber, and from healthy carbohydrates (please don’t fear healthy carbs from fiber-rich foods like beans and grains). Place 1/4 cup beans or legumes on top of a bed of greens, add some pre-chopped veggies of choice, and 1/4-1/3 cup of 100 percent whole grains. Add any seasonings or condiments you like.

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If you find them grains, beans and legumes to digest, go with some easy-to-digest options such as: wild rice, black beans, quinoa, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), adzuki beans, green peas, black rice, amaranth, millet, gluten-free oats, edamame, and lentils. Experiment with different kinds to see which ones work best for you. These are quick to prepare ahead of time in a slow cooker and can easily be portioned out the week in a pinch!

2. Nut Butter and Fruit Sammies

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For an old-school option, place some raw almond, cashew, or walnut butter on some sprouted grain bread (or a gluten-free bread if you’re a gluten-free eater). Add some fresh berries slices or even a sliced banana. Do your best to get some greens in another time of the day if lunch isn’t an option. A kid-friendly sandwich is sometimes a simple, healthy option that anyone can make without being or feeling intimidated. Here are 10 Delectable Ways to Use Nut Butter for even more ideas.

3. Hummus, Tomato, and Avo Sammies

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Or, if you’re not into fruit and nut butter for lunch, go for another option which includes hummus, a sliced tomato, and a couple slivers of avocado on some sprouted grain bread. This is a super-filling lunch packed with protein, healthy fats, B vitamins, and takes minutes to make. Try The Cracked Sandwich as a delicious option that will please even the most hardcore meat eater or even  a Raw Vegan Tomato Cucumber Sandwich on Onion and Corn Bread.

4. Soup and Whole Grain Toast

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For a cozy lunch for days to come, be sure you have a large pot of soup ready at the start of the week. They’ll last around 4 days in your fridge and make for the perfect healthy lunch option when you’re short on time, money, and creative ideas. Choose from any of our favorite vegan soup recipes. Pair your soup with some sprouted grain toast or even a whole baked potato for some filling and energizing carbohydrates.

5. Soup and a Salad

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Another cozy, healthy option that is much cheaper than what you’ll find out at restaurants, is a simple soup and salad combo. Don’t pay $6-$10 out at a restaurant when you can make your own at home and bring it with you for only a couple dollars per dish. Salads seem too time-consuming to prepare, but there’s nothing hard or time-consuming about tossing a bed of greens with some sliced carrots, grape tomatoes and a raw, chopped cucumber.

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Toss in whatever else you want, like some healthy dressing, marinated mushrooms, or even some canned artichokes (choose BPA-free lined varieties). Paired with a bowl of high-protein soup, this is a simple, light lunch that will do the trick any time of day. Here are some of The Best Ingredients to Make a Superfood Salad.

6. A Filling Green Smoothie

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For all you fellow smoothie lovers, just let your blender do all the work. Smoothies can be more than just a light breakfast. They can also be designed to be a complete meal replacement. To make a filling smoothie, learn what to put in and what not to include. A simple, filling idea is: 2 cups spinach, 1 cup non-dairy milk (vanilla works great, choose unsweetened), 1 cup ice, 1/4 cup berries of choice, 1 teaspoon your choice seeds or nut butter, 1 scoop plant-based vanilla meal replacement powder or protein powder (or you can use hemp protein), and anything extra you like such as superfoods, veggies, or even creamy foods like pumpkin, avocado, and bananas. The smoothie is the perfect Meatless Monday option for those on the road that want lunch to taste like dessert!

7. A Stuffed Sweet Potato Or Squash

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For those that want something hearty and healthy, it’s often hard to replace that meaty texture you’re looking for. The stuffed sweet potato or squash both come to the rescue here. Bake a couple sweet potatoes and a winter squash or two at the start of the week (bake them whole), let them cool whole, and place them in the fridge. Slice them in half when ready to eat and warm them (or eat them chilled).  Stuff the halves with salsa, mushrooms, spinach, kale, artichokes, and even some crumbled walnuts for a filling texture. Pre-chopped celery and carrots also go nicely in stuffed veggies and add that perfect little crunch that makes the dish complete. Also try Stuffed-Sage Carnival Squash and Baked Sweet Stuffed Potato and Sriracha Cashew Cheese.

Give your lunch plate a plant-based makeover and also see 13 Meatless Monday Meals for the Beginner Cook and Meatless Monday Meal Ideas for the Busy Bunch.

Lead Image Source: Farro Black Beans Mexican Bowl