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The Complete Vegan Lunch Guide: Your Introduction to Mindful Eating, Meal Prep, and 30 Tasty Recipes!

The clock strikes noon. 

You take a look at your neverending to-do list and decide to skip today’s lunch hour. 

You’re not alone—

In a survey completed by an HR consulting firm, only 35% of employees in the US are taking their lunch breaks. 

That means 65% of us are cramming food at our desks, steadily snacking throughout the day, or not eating lunch at all! 

Resist the devil on your shoulder telling you to skip your meal. Now is the time to reclaim that midday meal for your health!

In this article, we’ll be covering how to do just that with the following topics:

  • The Midday Meal: What You Need to Know
  • Mindful Eating: Improve Your Life
  • Meal Prep: Simplify Your Schedule
  • 30 Delicious Vegan Lunchbox Recipes 

healthy vegan lunch

The Midday Meal: What You Need to Know

There is a reason we eat three meals a day!

Eating throughout the day helps satiate our hunger. This helps with appetite control and reduces the chance of overeating. 

It also creates space to incorporate healthy, nutrient foods into our diet instead of mindlessly eating.

These factors are important things to keep in mind when trying to maintain a healthy weight. 

When you skip lunch, it can lead to feeling hungry throughout the day and increase the likelihood that you’ll over-indulge later on. 

However—

It’s not just about when you eat.

It’s about what you eat! 

Here is one lesson that is important to remember: A healthy diet is a varied diet. 

Macronutrients: Getting Started

Start by looking at your macronutrients.

What are those again?

They are the three sources that we receive energy from: 

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Fat

The National Academy of Sciences has stated that healthy ranges for macronutrients are:

  • 10-35% of calories from protein
  • 20-35% of calories from fat
  • 45-65% of calories from carbohydrates

When you’re building your lunches, try incorporating all three of these macronutrients into your meal. This will give you sustained energy throughout the day. 

Need some help getting started?

Here are some healthy vegan sources of each macronutrient you can try incorporating into your lunch!

Protein:

  • Tofu
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Tempeh

Fat:

  • Oil: Coconut, olive, avocado, take your pick!
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Nuts: Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews
  • Coconuts
  • Avocados

Carbohydrates:

  • Whole grain pasta or bread
  • Brown Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Fruits

Keep in mind that each food provides more than one type of macronutrient.

For example, in one cup of lentils you have 9 grams of protein, 20 grams of carbohydrates, and .38 grams of fat. Since both the protein and carbohydrate content are so high, incorporating these into your diet is killing two birds with one stone! 

Need help keeping track? 

The MyFitnessPal app will help you track your macros for free. 

All you have to do is input the food you eat each day and see the range of macronutrients you fall into each day. Once you have an idea of your regular patterns, you can start to examine what macronutrients you need more or less of. After that, you can adjust your diet!

woman being mindful

Mindful Eating: How Improve Your Life

You may have heard of some of the benefits of practicing mindfulness:

But have you heard of mindful eating?

The definition of eating mindfully is simple—

Eating with awareness. 

This encompasses all aspects of eating. When practiced, it can help with the following:

  • Choosing foods that your body loves
  • Noticing what foods you especially like, dislike, or feel neutral towards
  • Tuning in to your bodies hunger and satiety cues

Our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for. They already know what foods are nourishing and when we listen, they can tell us what we need. 

The Spoon Guru offers a great introduction into mindful eating. This method of eating can help you find more satisfaction from your meals and improve your quality of life. 

The approach to mindful eating involves these steps:

  • Learning that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to eat
  • Directing your attention to eating on a moment-by-moment basis
  • Recognizing how you make choices about food and health
  • Understanding the relationship between your dietary choices and the wider world
  • And many more! 

If you’re already vegan, you are probably already aware of healthy eating and mindful choices. Mindful eating can be an extension of what you already know for a greater quality of life.

This practice will help you notice what foods you are craving around lunchtime.

Beyond that, focusing on each bite you take is a mini-meditation that will renew your energy and give you the focus you need to tackle the rest of your day! 

meal prep lunch jars

Meal Prep: Simplify Your Schedule

One sure-fire way to make sure you are eating a delicious and nutritious lunch every day is by doing a bit of meal prep.

Meal preparation is when you make the bulk of your meals all at one time and store them to eat throughout the week. 

You can get your meals organized by taking 3-5 hours on the weekend and cooking your lunches (and maybe even breakfast and dinner) for the week. 

While it does take a bit of a time investment upfront, this will save you time throughout the week. 

Who is meal prepping for? 

  • Busy moms
  • Working professionals
  • People trying to create healthy eating habits
  • People who want to save money on groceries
  • Anyone who wants to save time and energy during the week

If this sounds like you, let’s get started. 

Here is what you’ll need:

  • A killer grocery shopping list
  • 3-5 hours on the weekend to cook
  • 2 or 3 amazing recipes you want to try 
  • Containers to store your food (We like this Pyrex meal prep set!) 
  • An amazing playlist to jam to while you cook
  • An adorable lunchbox to brighten your day

It’s easy to get started.

If you are looking to dive deeper into healthy meal prep, this article by Woman’s Day will give you some ideas for how to plan your midday meal. 

Did I mention that meal prep is also a great way to save a bit of extra money? How?

It prevents you from eating out or buying expensive pre-made meals out of convenience! 

Your wallet and your belly will definitely thank you for giving meal prep a try. 

from my bowl eggplant sandwich

30 Delicious Vegan Lunchbox Recipes

Now for the best part—

The food. 

Lunch can often be overlooked because of decadent dinners or savory breakfasts. 

However—

These lunch recipes will have you second-guessing your favorite meal!

All of these recipes can be packed up in your lunchbox and enjoyed at your convenience. 

Did Somebody Say “Sandwich?”

The ultimate lunchtime classic: The sandwich. 

Nutritious, convenient, and delicious— this staple is hard to beat. 

Here are my favorite vegan sandwich recipes to try:

1-8. Watch this youtube video by Jaclyn Wood for 8 delicious vegan sandwich recipes (all under 500 calories.) This video shows you how to make an almond butter apple sandwich, the bloody mary sandwich, and caesar salad sandwich (just to name a few.) 

  1. Try out this roasted tomato sandwich with vegan lemon garlic aioli by This Savory Vegan. With arugula and avocado, this recipe deserves a place in a 5 star restaurant. 
  2. Pitas technically count as sandwiches… right? Try out this toasted chickpea pita pocket with tahini sauce! 
  3. Sticking with the pita trend, here is another great recipe with cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado hummus by Your Choice Nutrition. 
  4. The vegan eggplant reuben with Russian dressing by From My Bowl is a recipe you didn’t know you were missing. (pictured above!)
  5. No sandwich list would be complete without the classic BLT! Try this vegan take with smokey tempeh bacon by Food with Feeling. 

Salad Recipes (That Will Actually Fill You Up)

One of the most common jokes people make about vegans is that all we can eat is lettuce! 

Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

These salad recipes are made of tasty and nutrient-dense ingredients that will show the world just how much variety vegan food has!

  1. Give this easy edamame crunch salad with peanut dressing by Grateful Grazer a try. 
  2. Devour this vegan taco salad with lentil taco meat, tortilla chips, and vegan sour cream by Running on Real Food. 

16-20. Check out this youtube video from Tasty to learn how to make 5 different types of vegan, protein-packed salads. Protein sources like chickpeas and lentils will satiate your hunger until dinnertime! 

  1. Feel satisfied from this marinated tofu salad by Loving It Vegan. 

Soup for the Soul

Soup may be the most comforting and convenient food of all time. 

Just make one giant batch of your favorite soup, store it in the fridge or freezer, and put it in a thermos before you head out for the day! 

Soup is low in calorie, easily customizable, and super satisfying. 

Here are a few of our favorite soup recipes to try!

  1. This spice-filled Turkish red lentil soup by Lands and Flavors is going to become an instant staple in your kitchen. 
  2. For a nice midday pick me up, try out this refreshing lemon chickpea orzo soup by the Simple Veganista. 
  3. You can’t go wrong with this creamy vegan tomato soup by Sunkissed Kitchen. 
  4. For a light lunch full of important nutrients, whip up some of this vegan garlic miso soup by the Simple Veganista. 
  5. Enjoy some Italian flavors with this creamy vegan zuppa toscana by Veggie Society. 
  6. For a hearty afternoon meal, make sure to try this white chili with vegan cream cheese by Contentedness Cooking. 

Buddha Bowls

Making your own Buddha bowls (also called nourishment bowls) is an easy way to make a filling lunch!

One of the great things about Buddha bowls is that once you learn the staples to building your bowl, it is easy to mix up the ingredients every day! Here is a handy chart that will teach you how to build your bowl

Here are some of our favorite Buddha bowl recipes:

  1. Turn up the heat with this spicy buffalo cauliflower Buddha bowl by Nora Cooks. 
  2. Satiate your hunger with this vegan sweet potato and black bean bowl by Eat with Clarity. 
  3. Eat up this high-protein, high-fiber Thai tempeh Buddha bowl by Fit Mitten Kitchen. 

bagel sandwich for lunch

It’s Lunchtime! 

Never skimp out on lunchtime again. Now you are fully prepared to create an incredible lunchtime routine with these excellent resources:

  • Mindful eating
  • Meal prep
  • Tasty and convenient recipes

This routine will not only nourish your body, it will also reduce stress and improve your life! 

Interested in mastering vegan breakfasts? Check out our Guide to Vegan Breakfast: Shopping, Cooking, and Ordering! 

Now—

Eat up!

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