Cold vegan lunch ideas needed!
January 23, 2013 5:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for ideas for vegan lunches and snacks that can be eaten cold or at room temperature.

The only microwave I can use on campus is far away from where I'll be spending most of my day, so I'm looking for things that would be good at room temperature or cold. I'm having trouble coming up with meals other than the usual salads and pb&j. I've seen this post, but most answers involved a microwave and there has been a lot of developments in vegan food in the past 6 years.

I'm generally not a fan of raw food or food specifically made to be eaten cold, like the grain/cold noodle salads at Whole Foods. I'm also not crazy about things that are missing a fat/creamy component. However, I'm open to all suggestions even if they don't follow these "criteria".

My meal ideas so far: mock chicken salad made with chickpeas, falafel pita sandwich, salads with beans, pasta salad, breaded tofu or eggplant.

My snack ideas so far: hummus and veggies, peanuts, roasted chickpeas, soy nuts, fruit.

Thanks for any ideas and recipes!
posted by Hey Judas! to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
I assume you have access to a stove the night before?

I just made a variation of this recipe for farro and beet salad (minus the feta) and accidentally ate it at room temp because I left it out and walked away for awhile. It was delicious. If you don't feel like making the vinaigrette just sprinkle on some olive oil and ume plum vinegar. sprinkle with pepitas and chopped walnuts. also, beans.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 5:47 PM on January 23, 2013

Get a thermos! That's almost always my advice when this question comes up. It opens you up to a whole world of soups and stews and pasta and really anything else that can be kept hot without getting yucky. I have this one in the 16 oz size, and I love it, and it's the perfect size for a nice, filling meal.
posted by decathecting at 5:58 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

Echoing Jason and Laszio, I make all my meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) on a regular basis. My lunches are often leftovers or precooked foods that I keep for lunch in small containers in the fridge. Many do not require reheating. 101 Cookbooks has a lot of great recipes.
posted by anya32 at 5:59 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

All manner of vegan bento, even though it is made to be eaten at room temperature/cold.

Flatbreads like this are generally served warm, but still totally delicious at room temperature. A pita topped with an awesome savory ingredient (olive tapanade, tofu ricotta, etc.) with fresh veggies sprinkled over the top would be good.

Avocado potato salad (or anything with avocado, really).

Any kind of soup, sandwich, or wrap too -- you could do baked BBQ tofu/tempeh/Soy Curls with some chopped kale or arugula, maybe some red bell pepper, lemon, salt, pepper, rolled up in a tortilla or Collard wrap.

This thread might be of assistance, too!
posted by divined by radio at 6:00 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

I liked the book "Vegan Lunch Box" by Jennifer McCann. Great recipes in there. I like to make myself homemade "Lunchables," or, crackers with stuff on top.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:01 PM on January 23, 2013

Invest in some different sizes of tupperware, especially smaller ones for sauces or sliced vegetables.

Toast (or a roll-- it's better slightly crunchy, but good bread works either way) with smashed avocado, hot sauce, and salt.

Rice paper rolls/wraps of whatever kind you want-- smash tofu with chili garlic sauce or another spicy item. Place in wrap with lettuce, sliced cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, etc. Eat happily.

Lentil salad! Dijon mustard, olive oil, herbs, etc.

Wild rice salad with cranberries (or other dried tart fruits,) shallots, celery.

BBQ lentils are actually pretty good cold, maybe with cornbread?

Marinated and roasted portobello mushrooms with good whole wheat bread.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:01 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Mexican" salad: black beans with corn, avocado,and pico de gallo. I think it's best at room temp, myself.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:09 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you have access to a blender or stab mixer, a good gazpacho can be a nice substitute for hummus and veggies once in a while. Scandifoodie (a great source for vegan and vegetarian snacks and meals) has a fantastic recipe, although you may not want to invest in celery seed and paprika if you won't use those in anything else. Luckily you'd do fine without them. Now's not really the gazpacho time of year if you're in a seasonal part of the northern hemisphere, but it's a good side dish or snack to add to the rotation if you're going to be refrigerating your food anyway.
posted by mcoo at 6:51 PM on January 23, 2013

Peanut Sesame Noodles? This keeps decently (I definitely have gotten lunches out of it) and is super-tasty (I also am indifferent to most cold noodle/grain things but I love this - there is a lot of richness because peanut butter). The recipe I linked is sweetened with honey but I don't think the honey is a very important flavour, you could use whatever liquid vegan sweetener you like.
posted by SoftRain at 7:23 PM on January 23, 2013

Kale Avocado Chickpea salad is delicious and I've been eating heaps of it lately.
posted by Lou Stuells at 7:35 PM on January 23, 2013

I like Israeli couscous (aka pearl couscous, it's the large kind) salads. They're simple--you cook the couscous in broth, add some olive oil and chopped vegetables, season to taste. Delicious and, I think, better at room temperature than actually cold. You can also throw in some protein like lentils, chick peas, quinoa, split peas.

This is what I had for lunch four days in a row last week. And I am not sick of it yet!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:39 PM on January 23, 2013

Vegan forum
posted by michellenoel at 8:32 PM on January 23, 2013

If you have access to a blender, smoothies! For a vegan, I would make one that is frozen berries, soy yogurt, cranberry juice and a bunch of goodies like chia seeds/oatmeal/flax seeds.

Vegan sushi/bowl with avocado, rice, rice vinegar, toasted sesame seeds and seaweed.

BLT with tempeh bacon (yum!) and veganaise

Tofu scramble with lots of veggies

Thai peanut tofu wrap a la Follow Your Heart
posted by dottiechang at 8:56 PM on January 23, 2013

posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:59 PM on January 23, 2013

Most of these recommendations are more snack-based since that's how I tend to eat during the day.

Olives can be good, if you pit them first. But on that note, olive tapenades can be great in fulfilling a savory & fatty element on bread or crackers.

I also like dried fruit/fruit leather in general (Trader Joe's Ends and Pieces are great if you can find them). Various flavored/spiced nuts can be a good option too.

Also think about soups that can be eaten "cold" -- like gazpacho/etc.

Avocado is good for everything. Guacamole is good on more than just corn chips -- pretzels, crackers, whatever. (Even just spread on bread works, too.)

There are many variations on Edamame & Corn salad, but I like the one in Veganomicon (it's soy sauce, sesame oil & rice wine vinegar, if I'm remembering it). That's filling without being too starchy.

Veggie jerky is often great -- it can get pricey, yeah, but some Asian stores may have it for a good price. You can also make your own tofu jerky if you feel inclined -- I've lived on that at conventions & it was a life-saver.

Speaking of Asian stores, while they're kind of low-calorie, but Japanese rice crackers are great.
posted by darksong at 9:02 PM on January 23, 2013

Rice cakes with hummus and avocado! Yum. Also leftover brown rice with a can of chick peas, squeeze of lemon, olive oil, sesame seeds and you can add sunflower seeds as well- this is a delicious healthy satisfying lunch or dinner.
Pastas leftover are great with any thing added really such as chopped veggies, olives, beans, herbs,
Everything cold should be served room temperature so you can actually taste it.
posted by privatechef at 5:44 AM on January 24, 2013

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