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September 03, 2021 4 min read

Getting back into the office means packing lunches. Some people dread the idea – PB&J again? Ugh! – but we know that a good packed lunch can brighten the work (or school) day!

Here’s our guide on how to pack vegan lunches for work or school.

What a Good Vegan Lunch Looks Like

Vegan lunches don’t have to be bland! Here’s how to keep your lunches bright, simple, and easy to eat.

Keep the Flavors Balanced

Your brain is easily bored by food; that’s why it’s important to include a variety of things in your lunch bag. Try to balance out heavier protein-rich foods with lighter fruits and veggies. Make sure your acidic salad dressing is balanced out by a nice sweet side treat.

You’ll also want to balance out textures. Have something crunchy pair off with something creamy, or something chewy and thick paired off with something light and juicy.  Keeping the flavor and texture profiles of the foods in your bag in mind means your brain (and your tongue) is happier!

Nutrition is Key

Of course, your lunch needs to be nutritionally balanced as well! A meal with key nutrients in it from a variety of food groups can help you stay more alert and focused through the rest of the day. Try to pack at least one protein, a fruit, a veggie, and a small snack you can eat in the mid afternoon to boost your energy back up and power through the end of the day.

Make It Fun!

Having the same salad every single day? You’re going to start hating it. Work in a variety of meals to your week, and make sure to include something that’s fun for you! Whether it’s a sweet treat or a favorite entrée, your meal should be something you look forward to, not something you push through.

A set of three glass containers with a varity of vegetables packed in them.

Easy Vegan Lunches for Work and School

Not sure where to start for a good vegan lunch? We’ve scoured the internet for a few good ideas to get you going.

Classic Veggie Buddha Bowl

Grain-based Buddha bowls are an amazing lunchtime staple because they’re so versatile – there are hundreds of recipes on the internet for different delicious combinations you can try. And the best part? Almost all of them can be prepped ahead of time! We particularly like this one from Eating Well, which is chock-full of yummy quinoa, avocado, and sweet potato chunks.

Veggie Philly Cheesesteak

Yes, you can still enjoy this classic sandwich as a vegan! In this recipe from The Edgy Veg, the steak is subbed for well-sauteed mushrooms and a mix of flavorful veggies, and topped with your choice of vegan cheese sauce. Pair it off with a package of your favorite kettle chips and a sweet snack, and you’ve got a ballgame favorite right at your desk.

Chickpea and Avocado Salad

This is a super-simple one-container meal with all kinds of delicious elements you can look forward to! The recipe, from The Kitchen Girl, includes a kale base topped with cooked chickpeas (canned or scratch) and avocado, as well as a dressing made from lemon juice, garlic, maple syrup, mustard, and seasonings.

It’s refreshing, it’s light, and it’s perfect for a quick summer meal. Our advice? Prep the dressing in a smaller container and nestle it inside the larger one so that your salad stays fresher longer.

Vegan Miso Soup

The Simple Vegan Blog is a wealth of amazing recipes you can use to spice up your lunch routine, but our favorite is the vegan miso soup! It’s a quick, 15-minute meal made with wakame seaweed and soft tofu for a delicious texture and flavor combo. Make a bigger batch of it in advance for convenient extra servings at home or later in the week!

Veggie and Hummus Sandwiches

These yummy sandwiches from Eating Well have the added benefit of being heart healthy! Stacked high with high-quality hummus, fresh mashed avocado, crisp salad greens, and your choice of crunchy veggies, it’s a great staple entre that takes minutes to prep. This is a great option for a grab-and-go lunch; it’s everything you need in one handheld package!

Vegan Chili

Working through dreary winter days, or even just a particularly cold office? A hearty bowl of chili might be the perfect way to warm yourself up at lunch time. Thick and rich, it’s a great one-pot meal that keeps you full for a long time to come. We recommend subbing the usual meats for black beans, and adding sweet potatoes to balance out the richness of the rest of the brew.

Tips for Keeping Your Vegan Lunch Fresh All Day

Here are a few more ways you can make your lunchtime more enjoyable.

Keep It Simple

We love a five-course meal as much as the next veggie, but there are better ways to spend your time than slaving over a complicated recipe for tomorrow’s lunch. Keeping your lunches simple and quick to make will help keep you from getting fatigued early in the week, and can help you eat healthier over time.

Prepping is Important

Meal prep is all the rage nowadays, and for good reason! Prepping your food well ahead of time can make deciding what you’re having for lunch as simple as grab it and go. How to prep?

  • Make big batches of food on the weekends, when you’ve got plenty of time.
  • Separate them out into one-serving containers, putting as much of the meal in one place as you can.
  • Keep anything you can’t prep ahead of time within easy reach and accessible, so it doesn’t slow you down in the mornings.
  • Vary what you make, and make a few recipes at a time, so that you don’t get sick of one meal by Friday.

Manage Your Expectations

Look, we all want a fancy, perfectly healthy lunch to be our everyday reality, but the truth is that sometimes, you’re just going to opt for fast-food favorites or a quick bite between big meetings. And that’s okay! Set a goal for yourself to have mostly healthy meals throughout the week, but leave wiggle room for when you just can’t be bothered. Your mental health is just as important as your digestive health.


Sources Referenced

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