Just because you don’t have lots of time to make lunch does not mean that you should be doomed to eating takeout or unhealthy meals. Here are some quick vegetarian lunches that you can make ahead of time. When lunchtime comes, just grab your container and go!
1. Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is the best of both worlds. Enjoy the filling carby goodness of a pasta meal while still packing your lunch with healthy vegetables and delicious flavors that make up a salad. A pasta salad also offers you plenty of room to play with ingredients and flavor combinations.
For example, make a caprese pasta salad by cooking pasta, draining it, and letting it cool. Meanwhile, lightly cook cherry tomatoes in olive oil, then add them to the pasta along with mozzarella balls and basil. Finally, top the pasta salad with balsamic vinegar. You can also add olives, peppers, and any other vegetables you have lying around the house.
2. Veggie Quesadilla
Quesadillas store well and are portable, which are two qualities that you want from your lunch. Preparing them usually takes no more than a few minutes and you can do it the night before or in the morning. Plus, you can pack as many vegetables as you like into the filling for the perfect vegetarian lunch.
For example, this quesadilla packs spinach and mushroom into a flavorful and healthy filling. Just cook the veggies, add them to a tortilla, cover them with cheese, then pan-fry the tortilla. You can even add eggs or beans for extra protein.
3. Bean Soup
Soup is hearty and filling, perfect for giving anyone an energetic boost in the middle of the day, but you can easily make it in advance and portion it into individual servings. Bean soups are packed with protein and flavor, making them a healthy and delicious choice that is still vegetarian.
This black bean soup recipe relies on an Instant Pot to do all of the work for you. Saute the vegetables ahead of time, then add them to an Instant Pot with beans, broth, and seasoning and set it to the pressure cooker for about an hour. You can make black bean soup in a regular pot as well; it will just take you longer.
4. Vegetable Curry
Just as with soup, curries are easy to make ahead in large batches and then divide into individual portions. It’s easy to make a good curry in half an hour, sometimes even less time. They also reheat well.
You can put any vegetables that you want in a curry, depending on what you like and what you have in your pantry or freezer. For example, this recipe uses sweet potatoes and chickpeas. Roast the potatoes, then toss all the vegetables in a pan along with seasonings, coconut milk, and tomatoes. You can also adjust the seasonings to your taste.
5. Veggie Sandwiches
Who says that sandwiches need to have cold cuts? You can make delicious, filling sandwiches using legumes and vegetables. Prep them ahead of time or put them together a few minutes before lunch. For example, this chickpea salad sandwich uses mashed chickpeas that you can make several days in advance, onion, seasonings, and kale to build a delicious lunch.
Even if you don’t have that much time, you should still be able to have a delicious, filling lunch. These recipes are easy to prep ahead and eat on the go, or throw together in a few minutes before lunchtime. You’re also not limited to the salad if you want to have a vegetarian lunch.