Lunch is a sticking point for many of us.
It’s in the middle of the day, so we’re either busy, out of the house or just not in the mindset to be prepping and cooking. We need something easy and portable! That’s why we often resort to lack-lustre sandwiches or soggy salads… if we even have a proper meal at all that is.
So many of us in the Learner Vegan community have to eat at our workspace, on the train, or in a work van. This means no heating facilities either, of course. I’ve been there plenty of times. When studying for my BSc at university, I spent a lot of time doing field research, or stuck in the lab all day. I’ve also had jobs where I worked long days at open air events, or driving from venue to venue. None of these are the best circumstances for an appealing lunch, and I’ve had my experience with soggy lettuce and cold tea. I don’t want to be in that situation again!
So what can we all eat for lunch that’s healthy, filling and doesn’t require a microwave? I got you! Here are my favourite vegan lunch ideas for on the go.
PS. If you do fancy hot food on the go, I have solutions for that right at the bottom of this post.
Sandwiches – The Most Common Vegan Lunch On The Go
Hang on, I just called sandwiches boring, right? Yes, but let’s go back to basics. They really don’t need to be droopy and unappetising! Here are some ways we can jazz them up:
- Consider the carbohydrate, first of all. We all love bread, but it doesn’t hurt to mix it up once in a while. Buy some wraps, bagels, pittas, and sandwich thins. They all freeze well and you can pull one out at a time to defrost. Or, get some crackers and have the below fillings with them as a salad combination. I also recommend whole grain or whole wheat versions of all of the above, to keep your health and fibre up.
- Filling ideas – peanut butter, almond butter, houmous, cream cheese, cheese, sandwich meat, scrambled tofu, soked tofu, burrito (beans), chickpea tuna, jackfruit, tempeh bacon, veggie sausage, shop-bought tunah, jam, falafel, pakoras, , kebab strips, pate.
- Extras – try combining the above fillings with other things! Different types of cheese such as cheddar, feta or Violife ‘halloumi’ is a great place to start. You’ll also want some salad, but it doesn’t just need to be lettuce and cucumber! Try out some olives, sundried tomatoes, sauerkraut, sweetcorn, beetroot, shredded carrot, coleslaw, roasted cauli or jalapenos. Finally, get a matching dressing or finish with mayonnaise or sriracha.
Note: if you’re making a salad bowl using the above, consider bulking it out with pasta, couscous, rice or quinoa.
If you mix and match the above, you can find some new and interesting combinations to keep your sandwich game on point! It’s also a useful list to refer back to when you’re feeling less creative, or just don’t have time to cook or prep something more sophisticated.
Other Vegan Lunch Ideas – On The Go
- Cold Pesto Pasta – you can also buy vegan pesto in the supermarket (try Tesco free-from section), making it even easier!
- Tofu and Vegetable Quiche – we love it and have it almost every week! Pair it with salad, new potatoes or couscous for a delicious vegan lunch on the go.
- Chickpea and Veg Hand Pies – another one you can make in bulk. Pastry is so comforting, and I recommend these for those cold winter days on the move.
- Healthy Pasta Salad – Who wants to make a beautiful, nutritious and filling lunch? This is quick to make, delicious warm or cold, and you can even add leftovers to it.
- Tenderstem and Peanut Noodles – this lunch is delicious cold, packed full of protein and filling too.
- Chunky Chickpea Quinoa Tabbouleh – a lovely Mediterranean dish where you just throw everything in a bowl.
- Loaded Sweet Potato – easy, delicious and healthy! Try different fillings to mix it up.
- Naked Green Spring Rolls – colourful and fun to assemble. I have to admit, it’s a little more time-intensive, but one of my favourite vegan lunch ideas on the go.
- Gazpacho Soup – just 20 minutes to prepare and gives you three servings. Simple!
- Olive and Artichoke Tart – a lovely egg-less quiche full of veggies.
- Easy Buddha Bowl – filling, colourful and full of nutrition – salads can be amazing if you do them right!
Which of these takes your fancy?
Preparing Lunch Items In Bulk
The following are things you can prepare in bulk, on your day off, and keep in the fridge for at least 3 days. Doing this saves on prep time every single day, and they’re easy to add to salads, sandwiches and other dishes.
- Roasted chilli chickpeas
- Sweet or regular potato roasties
- Cooking off a pot of quinoa or couscous (keeps for 3 days)
- Slicing lettuce, cucumber, spring onion and grating carrot for salads (keeps for 2 days)
- Baked tofu
- Chopping, cooking and freezing veg for any roast dinners
- A pot of soup
- Overnight oats in a jar
- Cooking off pasta
Snacks On The Go
The little things that keep us going throughout the day! I always recommend taking a snack or two out with you for an 8 hour day, in addition to your lunch. Here are some ideas that will last:
- Fruit – those with inedible skins, or harder fruit such as apples, tend to last better
- Nuts or trail mix
- Raisins, dried apricots or cranberries
- Chopped veggies
- Roasted chickpeas
- Baked tofu
- Healthy snack bars such as Nakd or Deliciously Ella
- Homemade protein balls
- Savoury muffins
- Rice cakes, crackers, or pretzels
- Dark chocolate
- Vegetable crisps
- Vegetable samosas
- Cheese scones
Electric Heating Lunch Box – This heated box plugs into your car jack, so it’s really useful for long days out when a flask just won’t keep your food hot enough. It also means you can take out a wider range of meals to eat, such as dinner leftovers, stews, soups and anything else you prefer to keep hot. Perfect for cold winter days, and bringing your vegan lunch ideas on the go, into fruition!
Thermos Food Flask – if you can’t use the heated lunch box above, try a Thermos for food! This keeps food hot for 9 hours, so perfect for the average work shift. I’ve used it for soups, stews and casseroles. It also keeps food cold for 14 hours, so you can pop in chopped fruit, avocado, smoothies, or anything at risk of going brown.
Bento Box – pretty much a lunch box with sealed compartments! You can keep different lunch items separate, and this particular box comes with a spoon and chopsticks.
Extra Tips For Vegan Lunch Ideas On The Go
- Try out a smoothie! They’re perfect as a snack and you can make them more filling using my smoothie guide.
- Make extra if possible. You can then freeze in portions, and pull it out to defrost when you’re busy or feeling lazy. That way you have your very own homemade ready meal!
- Be creative in re-purposing leftovers. That chilli and rice you made last night? Pop it in tacos with salad and mayo. You have a whole new meal. What else could you reuse? Think sandwich fillings and salad ingredients.
Now you’re armed to make the best vegan lunch on the go – do let me know what you make! What kind of lunches do you take to work?
PS. My FREE ‘Easy Being Vegan’ pack includes a shopping list and an easy meal plan, giving you even more fantastic meal ideas. There’s also a personal action points for staying vegan, and my BONUS favourite egg and dairy substitutes. Grab it now!
And if you need a little extra ongoing support, join our free community! We have a private Facebook group designed to help the vegan-curious, transitioning and new vegan on their journey. It’s a positive, non-judgmental safe space where all questions are welcome. We have plenty of meal ideas and brainstorming, too!