I'm a lazy vegetarian.
March 1, 2018 1:30 PM   Subscribe

I'm lazy vegetarian. (I eat dairy and, rarely, eggs. I'm also OK with animal rennet cheeses.) I work from home and am alone a few afternoons a week. Since I don't feel like expending a ton of effort on myself, I could really use some suggestions for low-key vegetarian lunches that I can make in small batches.
posted by orangutan to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My favorite are chickpea "tuna" melts. I generally wing the recipe, but this looks like a good one.
posted by tofu_crouton at 2:04 PM on March 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

Do you eat Tofurkey products? If so, a quesadilla with a couple slices of that in there is easy. When I want some greens, I'll do tofurkey, cheese, and a ton of baby spinach just rolled up in a tortilla (or on bread). Add some chipotle ranch dressing for maximum yum. I will sometimes make batch frozen burritos. You can saute spinach, zucchini, mushrooms (or whatever veg you like) with some garlic salt and chili powder, add a rinsed can of black beans and you got yourself a filling. You can add quinoa or rice (seasoned, from one of those 90 second packs is easy), cheese, then roll, wrap and freeze. You can probably get 6 burritos from this and then you those are great for a 2 minute prep later in the week.

I also rely heavily on avocado toast for quick mid-day meals.
posted by LKWorking at 2:27 PM on March 1, 2018

Best answer: Lately I've been doing a lot of big rainbow salad bowls, making some ingredients and buying the others. It's perfect on days when I get to eat lunch at home since it can get kind of soggy after a while, plus it's not much effort for a lot of payout since you gather the components at the beginning of the week and then just throw things together when you're ready for lunch.

What I do is buy a big tub of mixed greens, and then grate a bunch of carrots and slice lots of radishes and keep them separately in the fridge for the week. My local grocery store has a nice salad bar with chopped tofu and marinated beets; I usually pick up containers of each of those and sometimes things like edamame, fried chickpeas, etc. When it's time for lunch, put a bunch of salad in a bowl and top with something from each container; dress with a few glugs of olive oil and a few dashes of champagne vinegar, and add an avocado and something like sunflower seeds or this Super Seed Blend (which I love). The key is adding salt and pepper to the naked lettuce and then again once you've put all your layers of veggies in! You could also add cheese if you wanted...
posted by stellaluna at 2:28 PM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

My housemate has a 3 qt. Perfect Cooker which you can throw some grains and legumes into with a little bit of sauce of choice, press go, and get reasonably serviceable one person vegetarian meals out of.

I'll do a big batch of Indian style lentils in the pressure cooker and portion it out for lunches, as they reheat well.
posted by Candleman at 2:32 PM on March 1, 2018

Best answer: Are you really really REALLY lazy? Then you could try my go-tos for when I simply cannot, which is a lot of the time. They are:
Has to be Temptee. Has to be kinda big nuts, for dipping. So cashews work, pecans work; pistachios and peanuts don't work.
Ezekiel sprouted wheat tortillas and slices of provolone.
Take a tortilla, put a slice of provolone on it, roll it up like a cigar. Eat. Repeat while reading Metafilter or watching Netflix until unconscious or out of either tortillas or cheese.
Can of beans plus sour cream plus cheese plus chopped scallions and tomatoes
This is for when I'm feeling ambitious.
Any kind of noodles plus garlic plus broccoli plus lemon plus either olive oil or butter
This is, like, superadvanced cuisine. You start to boil the pasta and then when it's nearly ready, you throw in the broccoli. Drain, then pour back into the pot and add lemon juice, garlic, cheese, and oil or butter. I also take the squoze lemon and cut it into little slices and throw that in there, too, and eat it, skin and all, just as if it were supposed to be eaten. I like it a lot. Consume all at once with fork out of the pan, or, if you're on the phone with your mom and think she can see what you're doing through the phone, transfer it into a bowl in sections to more successfully pretend you're not just eating all of it like you're bellied up to a trough.
Toasted sesame oil on rice or noodles with toasted nori sprinkled over plus maybe sesame seeds if you have them
This is supposed to be eaten with tuna fish, but the tuna is the least important thing. The most important thing, practically in the world, is sesame oil.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:10 PM on March 1, 2018 [13 favorites]

Best answer: 1) Tub of hummus.
2) bag of baby cut carrots.
3) English cucumber (slicing optional, if it's your own personal tub and no double dipping problems).
4) maybe a pita, maybe some crackers.

We call it hummus feast.
posted by gideonfrog at 3:57 PM on March 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

Spread hummus on two pieces of whole-grain bread. Sprinkle with a generous amount of Salad Toppins. Add lettuce, slices of cucumber, tomato and dill pickles. Makes a very satisfying sandwich. I'm eating one for dinner right now.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:08 PM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I buy a package of Trader Joe's pre-cooked lentils and stir it together with a container of TJ's crumbled goat cheese, a bag of (cooked, obviously, but it's their 10-minute quick-cook) barley, and a bag of arugula. Toss in some red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. If you're REALLY motivated you can dice up a shallot but I am usually too lazy. Takes about five minutes to put together after you cook the grains, and it gives me 4-5 days' worth of lunches at home.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 4:10 PM on March 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Mamma Pepino's Toaster Streudel and Splodey Biscuits Four Course Dinner Minuet
Explode the splodey biscuits and bake as directed. Put a bunch of toaster streudels in the oven while you're at it why not what even matters anyway. While the dough wads heat, open the fridge and the cupboards to see what there is to see. Fiddle Faddle, that's what. Also pretzels. And black olives. Open 3.99 wine or twobuckchuck, whichever is there. Pour in clean mug (don't even take time to investigate: there are no clean wine glasses). Arrange pretzels on a small plate. Pour olives in a bowl. Eat pretzels and olives while waiting for biscuits and toaster streudel to finish their efforts. Remove biscuits and turn off the oven. Leave the streudels to keep warmish while you eat every single biscuit, with a ton of butter. It's important to get the right butter. Cabot is good. Kerry Gold and Plugra seem like they'd be good, but they taste like 'fridge usually. Streudeltime! If you have the patience to tear tiny holes in the streudeljizz sachets so that you can strew the struedeljizz on the streudels just like in the picture on the box, then great. If not, cut them open longways and scrape the stuff out with a knife. Consume all the streudels. Have the Fiddle Faddle for dessert.

I guess what I'm saying is that I was not a very health-savvy vegetarian.
posted by Don Pepino at 5:33 PM on March 1, 2018 [9 favorites]

I'm not sure if you would consider this lazy enough, but I am a huge fan of flatbread pizza: naan bread from the freezer section of the grocery store, canned tomato sauce, whatever veg is in the fridge that looks good. Shove it into the oven for 10 minutes. Pizza magic!
posted by janepanic at 5:34 PM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Can of lentil soup and some amazing bread.

ramen with tofu slices. Bonus if you put some celery greens or a few bits of napa cabbage in. Also a ton of dried parsley flakes, maybe some onion powder, maybe some miso (miso keeps forever; just put a tub in your fridge and add a couple tablespoons to your ramen).
posted by amtho at 5:44 PM on March 1, 2018

Stir together a hunk of miso, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil. Slice some tofu. Put it in miso mixture. Buy bag of prewashed arugula. When ready to eat put miso marinated tofu on arugula. Eat until full.
posted by songs_about_rainbows at 6:05 PM on March 1, 2018

Best answer: Quickest easiest chili recipe, which makes a big pot you can eat out of for days (also freezes well).

2 cans red kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can corn, drained
1 large can tomato sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes
chili powder, cumin & seasoned salt to taste (don't be shy)

Dump all the cans in a soup pot, add spices, simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take a potato masher and smash up some of the beans to thicken the soup. Cook for another 5 minutes, then serve. Eat as-is or garnish with olives, avocado, greek yogurt or sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, etc.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:21 PM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’ve become obsessed with vegetarian Thai curry for home lunches lately. Buy (or make) a vegetarian curry paste — our grocery store has Thai Kitchen brand, which is vegetarian — then just stir fry the veggies of choice with the paste and simmer in a can of coconut milk and a splash of fish sauce. I’ve switched to eating it with quinoa instead of white rice. Probably don’t want to eat too frequently because of the coconut milk but it’s a delicious option!
posted by caitcadieux at 9:01 PM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I make noodle soups in mason jars on weekends and then eat them throughout the week.

You'll need:
  • Some of these rice noodles. You can get them very cheap at a Chinese grocery store.
  • Whatever vegetables you like. Beans and/or tofu, if you want.
  • Miso paste or veggie stock.
  • Some kind of sauce.
  • Some kind of leafy salad green.
Fry up the vegetables, just like you're doing a stirfry. And cook the noodles -- it's easy, you just boil some water and pour it over them. Don't let them get too soft -- they'll cook more when you put water in your jar at lunch time.

First, put the sauce and miso paste in the bottom of the jar. This is where you can get creative. One week, I'll do soy sauce and chili sauce. The next week, I'll do Indian curry sauce.

Next, split the vegetables among all of the jars.

Next, put in some noodles. Now the jars should be about 3/4 of the way full.

Finally, full the rest of the space with greens.

Each day, fill your jar with enough hot water to cover the noodles completely. Let it sit for five minutes, and then give it a good shake to mix everything together.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:20 PM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for lazy and low-key, the answer is sandwiches. There is no reason why lunch needs to be a hot meal. Millions of people eat bread for lunch every day and it's easy and fine.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:26 PM on March 1, 2018

Best answer: I cook up a couple cups of quinoa in my rice cooker, cuz it’s lazy. Use stock or bullion for flavor. Mix with whatever salad fixins you have. Go heavy on the quinoa so it’s filling. I tend to keep on hand: greens, carrots, mint, lemon vinegrette, seeds and nuts, and something fruity like pomegranate seeds or blueberries. Split up between three containers and you’ve got lunches for more than half the week thanks to 10 minutes of “active cooking” time. Which was actually 1 minute of prepping the quinoa, 5 minutes of assembling stuff, and 4 minutes to fill the containers and wash my utensils and bowl.
posted by greermahoney at 12:09 AM on March 2, 2018

Best answer: Veggie Peanut Noodle Bowl!
Very cheap, very quick, very tasty, pretty healthy:

Boil about an inch of water in a pot.
Throw in a handful of baby carrots. Cook til they're a bit soft.
While they're cooking, chop a couple other veggies (broccoli & kale maybe?)
Add the new veggies to the pot.
Add a pack of ramen noodles to the water (discard the salt pack, you're not making soup).
Cook briefly (I like my ramen kind of hard, and my greens not too mushy, so I don't use a lot of water and I cook very sparingly, like under 2 mins... your texture preference may vary, just cook til the noodles and veg are as soft as you like them).
Use tongs or a spoon to remove the noodles & veggies to a bowl. Keep that little bit of water boiling.
Crack 1-2 eggs into the boiling water and let them poach, they'll be messy, it'll be fine.
Put a roughly equal spoonful each of: peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey in a small bowl. Microwave it for 30 seconds and stir. Pour this sauce over the noodles & veggies & stir.
Put the poached eggs (ideally with runny yolks) on top.
Sprinkle with chopped nuts or sesame seeds if you want.

Super Easy PseudoShakshuka!
Again, super cheap, fairly healthy, warm and hearty:

Put something in the toaster (whole wheat English muffins in my world, but whatever bread you like)
Throw an inch of jarred marina sauce into a small pot (I buy homemade jars of amazing sauce from a small local Italian bakery, but any premade sauce you like will be good)
You can add veggies to the sauce if you want- a handful of bagged baby spinach or frozen peas, maybe?
Crack a couple eggs into the sauce and gently spoon a little sauce over them to bury them
Put the lid on the pot and put it on a burner at medium heat for about 4-5 mins (you want the sauce to heat up and the eggs to poach in the sauce)
When the toast pops, put a little butter or cheese on it, then microwave or broil it to melt.
When the sauce is hot and the egg whites are cooked (ideally still with runny yolks), pour that red mess into a bowl and eat it with a spoon, dipping the cheesy bread into it.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:57 AM on March 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

I eat what you eat. My answer would be sandwiches. My go-to is hummus and greens, or a caprese-type situation, but the options for veggie/protein/spread combinations are pretty endless and could include pretty much anything you already enjoy.
posted by mosst at 6:49 AM on March 2, 2018

Things on toast or rice cakes are my answer to this: avocado, pb&j, hummus & tomato & cucumber, other bean dip & veggies, smooshed lentils with mustard and walnuts.

If you want something to prep ahead and scoop out of the fridge with no additional work needed, a kale and quinoa salad with hardy veggies like carrots in a lemon vinaigrette will last most of a week.
posted by snaw at 7:43 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I like to keep a jar of this stuff in my fridge basically always. My favorite thing to do with it is scramble some eggs in it and maybe put those over some soba noodles and/or broccoli, but you could also use it to stir-fry tofu and whatever vegetables, or make fried rice with it, etc. Easy and flavorful and a jar lasts a while.
posted by clavicle at 8:10 AM on March 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all so much! I really appreciate all of these wonderful recipes. Metafilter is the best.
posted by orangutan at 6:29 PM on March 5, 2018

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