peanut butter, i think i hate you...
October 17, 2006 4:25 PM   Subscribe

i'm sick of peanut butter sandwiches! vegan lunch ideas? with

my normal lunch is a peanut butter (no jelly) sandwich with either an apple or some carrots. once a week or so i might go out to eat, but i'm cheap and i don't like battling the crowds. the problem is, after 24 months of peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, i'm really starting to grow tired of it.

hive mind, any ideas for cheap and easy to prepare vegan lunches? preferably things that can be eaten room temp, though i do have access to a fridge and microwave. i've looked through this ask mefi and i read vegan lunchbox, but the food isn't so appealing (a little too fusion) and way too much work. part of the reason i fell into the pb rut is that it takes a minute to make.

help me look forward to lunch time again!
posted by kendrak to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Hummus or baba ghanouj and pita bread, with some tabouli and/or grape leaves. Hummus only takes a minute to make in the food processor, and it takes zero time if you buy everything premade. I'm neither vegan nor vegetarian and this is one of my favorite lunches.
posted by boomchicka at 4:29 PM on October 17, 2006

Oh, do I have an answer for you. Hee hee hee. I am delighted that I get to give such a good answer. Yay. I am not even vegan, or anything close to vegan, and I LOVE the lunches here. I even got the lunchbox.
posted by jennyjenny at 4:36 PM on October 17, 2006

Cucumber sandwich. Add whatever you qualify as a vegan dressing. Or cucumber and tomato. Lettuce too. (Not a vegan.)
posted by The Deej at 4:40 PM on October 17, 2006

make a wrap with refried beans, rice, seitan and taco sauce. Instant soft taco.
posted by lemur at 4:42 PM on October 17, 2006

if you have access to a microwave and a trader joe's, you'll have many good pre-prepared options. frozen noodly bowl thingies and also the shelf-stable indian food packets.

also on the trader joe's tip, switch up the contents of your sammiches with tofurkey slices, baked tofu, even just a different kind of nut butter.
posted by gnutron at 4:45 PM on October 17, 2006

I can assume you've gone the boca burger route?
posted by jazzkat11 at 4:45 PM on October 17, 2006

At room temperature, I usually whip myself up a hummus sandwich with vegan lunchmeat — my personal favorite is Cajun Chicken slices, or seasoned Turkey and red bell pepper hummus. If you want to be creative, throw some bean sprouts and shredded carrots on there. (And a roll rather than sliced bread for some variety.)

If you want to use the microwave, the instant soft taco is a good one. I do it with just black beans and Spanish rice (rice-o-roni style, add canned tomatoes). Premake and then reheat the rice and beans. Tofutti sour cream works wonders on this.

Another personal favorite is a meatball sub — pick up fake meatballs at the supermarket, microwave them with some tomato sauce (get something with vegetable chunks) and then throw it on a long roll.

Add soy yogurt on the side with some granola (if you haven't tried WholeSoy, it blows all the other brands I've tried out of the water).
posted by rafter at 4:55 PM on October 17, 2006

Best answer: When I was a vegan, I used to regularly have salads with tofu for lunch, regularly switching up the combinations of veggies, the dressing, and the way the tofu was prepared. But usually it was just uncooked firm tofu, a mix of veggies, and olive oil with balsamic vinegar.

I would also sometimes have stir-fry from the night before, or veggies with some kind of protein-based dip. But one constant was making more than I needed for dinner, and having some for lunch the next day.
posted by bingo at 5:11 PM on October 17, 2006

Cashew butter sandwhiches with jelly?
posted by DenOfSizer at 5:19 PM on October 17, 2006

Edamame, a bit of cheese if you like, some hot sauce and a wrap. Warmed is nice, but cold works too. I like edamame, goat cheese and lemon grass or basil and some asian hot peppers.
posted by caddis at 5:26 PM on October 17, 2006

/me pokes jennyjenny and asks if she's serious.
*okay to flag as noise*
posted by disillusioned at 5:29 PM on October 17, 2006

Best answer: Hummus without sprouts is a sucker's sandwich. (But hummus and sprouts is one of my favorites)

Avocado and tomato is a winner too! Lately I am into the avacado/tomato/sunflower seed bread ... sometimes with artichokes. Another favorite: arugula and tomato. Getting used to preparing veggies takes some adjustment time but it takes me maybe a minute now to make the average veggie sandwich, definitely similar to as long as the PBJ takes.
posted by shownomercy at 5:33 PM on October 17, 2006

Tempeh reuben? It's better warm, but you can wrap and give it a little blast to warm it.
posted by holgate at 5:38 PM on October 17, 2006

I know you said easy to prepare but how do you feel about spending a bit of time for something you can make and re-use for a week? And do you have a blender?
posted by dobbs at 5:45 PM on October 17, 2006

You didn't say if you have access to a microwave. If you do, I vote for bento.
posted by lilithim at 5:57 PM on October 17, 2006

I've said it before, but odwalla superfood and primal strips. or make your own lunchables with crackers, cheese, and fake meat.

A friend of mine who was a raw vegan would do corn tortillas and bananas (not together).
posted by nadawi at 5:58 PM on October 17, 2006

Oops, my bad. The vote still goes for bento - Make rice at home. Frozen veggies in freezer of fridge, pop some teriyaki on top.. call it good.
posted by lilithim at 5:59 PM on October 17, 2006

Best answer: Get some plastic containers, then make up the following sorts of things.

Risotto, with lots of vegetables.
Pasta loaded with vegies, basil, pine nuts etc.
Vegetable stir fry with tofu.
All manners of nice soup.

Most things like this can be easily cooked in a single pot, and you could easily make a weeks worth in 45 minutes or less.

These can be made in quantity and kept for a week in the fridge. Since they don't have meat they should last from morning to lunchtime without refrigeration. I've often made a big pot of noodles with all sorts of tasy things, then put it in the fridge. It only takes a moment to scoop out an appropriate serving.

If you still want a sandwich, try a nice fresh bread roll with avocado, vegan mayo, tomato (sun dried or otherwise), lettuce etc. Why stick with boring old peanut butter every day? Life is too short to eat boring food.
posted by tomble at 6:00 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

I've been into making wraps lately: get some big tortillas (I like the tomato/basil or spinach/herb flavored ones) and a tub of [spicy] hummus. Lay down a wrap, spread a couple spoonfuls of hummus on. Chop a bunch of different veggies into bits; I use cucumber, mushrooms, tomatoes, green peppers, avocado, sometimes sprouts, whatever you like is good. (You could theoretically also toss in some tofu or seitan or something, though I've never tried.) Sprinkle everything on and... wrap it burrito-style (there are usually instructions on the package, hehe). Only takes a couple minutes and a knife, and to expedite you should totally chop the veggies in bulk beforehand and keep a tub in the fridge.

Or get some substantial/sprouted/seedy bread, a spread of your choice (hummus, fake cream cheese), slice some cucumber and tomato; sandwich-ize.

There are vegan soups ready-to-go from e.g. Trader Joe's, not quite as cheap. Or a can of vegetarian chili with... a roll? Pretty lazy. How about cereal and soy milk (w/ fruit) for a breakfast angle? I think fresh veggies are so worth it though, at least a couple days of the week.
posted by Xelf at 6:03 PM on October 17, 2006

Best answer: Hummus sandwich with whatever fixings you like.
Vegan soup with bread. (Split-pea; chili; potato-leek; minestrone...)
Pasta salad with pesto, veggies, fake sausage, whatever you like

Make a batch of hummus at the start of the week. It's really cheap and easy to make your own; including chopping and washing time it's around 20 minutes. You can make as much as you like, add whatever flavors you like, and save the earth by not buying a million little plastic containers.

Also make a batch of soup or chili at the start of the week. Especially with winter coming, it's soup time! Figure about an hour and a half to make a good batch of soup. The result can be refrigerated or frozen in blocks that you can re-heat at work. Again, you can customize the flavors, save the earth by not buying the individual serving packages, and also your soup will be much healthier because it won't have nearly as much salt etc.

Cook up some corkscrew pasta halfway through the week, refrigerate, and then you can top it as needed. A nice basil pesto is easy to put together in the blender, keeps great, and is a good addition to lots of foods. Or quickly sautee some peppers and onions, and add them to the pasta in the morning. Or just extra virgin olive oil and garlic, maybe with a bit of fake cheese grated on.

Any of these would take under 2 minutes to assemble into a container on your way out the door in the morning.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:42 PM on October 17, 2006

That is, sautee peppers and onions (or whatever you like) the night before, and refrigerate them.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:43 PM on October 17, 2006

Couscous takes me 5 minutes to cook in the morning. Throw in some raisins, sliced almonds, chickpeas and you're done. Epicurious has a good recipe.
posted by hooray at 8:03 PM on October 17, 2006

Response by poster: thanks for all the suggestions. i do have access to a microwave, but i don't like taking the time to walk across the hall to use it on my way out to lunch. that and my boyfriend who i eat lunch with everyday only eats pbj.

so many suggestions sound really tasty and way easier than the vegan lunchbox.
posted by kendrak at 8:29 PM on October 17, 2006

I have food restrictions and I'm super-lazy (and super-picky), so boy do I relate. I tend to think in terms of protein/carbohydrates/fruits&vegetables (yes, I know that fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates, but let's not belabor the point), and I make lists of things that fit into each category and then pick one from each. Maybe it would help to make a long list of all the vegan foods you can think of, and that you're willing to eat, and then figure out how you can incorporate them into quick & dirty recipes.

I strongly second Trader Joe's if you have access to one. It's like Mecca for lazy people with food issues. Even regular supermarkets have those little cardboard cups with freeze-dried soups that you add hot water to. On the other hand, this would be significantly more expensive than homemade peanut-butter sandwiches (although cheaper than eating out). Unfortunately, I just don't think there are many recipes that fit all the criteria of vegan, cheap, easy, filling, and appetizing. Maybe you could keep a stash of portable things that you can just grab and take around with you - a can-opener and cans of soup or chili, bags of rice cakes and nuts, bags of baby carrots and pints of cherry tomatoes to store in the refrigerator, stuff like that.
posted by granted at 8:32 PM on October 17, 2006

Apple curried couscous

I am eating this right now and it is delicious - I traded the butter for olive oil, added a plum in addition to the apple, and used pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts and it is incredible. came together in about 10 minutes and I am going to eat it at room temperature for lunch tomorrow! and maybe the next day!
posted by jengineer at 8:32 PM on October 17, 2006

Marmite is made from yeast so is vegetarian and I assume would be considered vagan also. Marmite sandwiches, a little bit of olive oil-based table spread, fresh bread, tastes great and is just as easy as peanut butter.

Make sure you get the yeast based one (e.g. kiwi or australian made), I can't vouch for the vegetarianishness of british marmite for example.
posted by shelleycat at 9:21 PM on October 17, 2006

Salads: Quinoa/Rice/Pasta salad seems like work but isn't really. I find if I make the starchy bit one evening (boil for 20 mins, although for rice salads brown rice is much tastier, so that takes it to 40 mins, but it doesn't take much attention) they last in the fridge for 3 days. Ideas -
Quinoa with cucumber, tomato, raisins, frozen sweetcorn, mushrooms. Dressing 1/2 olive oil 1/2 lemon juice, salt and pepper, coriander if you have any.
Brown rice with cashews, raisins, frozen mixed veg (it'll defrost by lunchtime). Dressing 1/2 olive oil 1/2 lemon juice, salt and peppper, bit of mango chutney.
Pasta with a tin of kidney beans, sweetcorn, green peppers, dressing 1/2 olive oil bit of soy sauce bit of tabasco.

If you've access to a microwave at work things get much more interesting. Get one of those packets of stir fry mixed veg from the supermarket, a load of cheap noodles, and keep a bottle of soy sauce and a bottle of chilli sauce by your desk. Stick 1 block noodles and some veg in a tupperware box, cover with water, nuke for a minute or two. Add soy sauce. Job done. I've always got noodles+soy+chilli sauce on my desk so some days I just stop by the supermarket for the veg bit. The other thing you can do if you have a microwave is home-made frozen soup - it is a bit of a faff, but I know that when I was vegan I quite often spent a sunday with a vat of veggie soup +beans brewing on the stove and froze it for weekday use in the evenings. Taking some in for lunch is the obvious next step.
posted by handee at 2:49 AM on October 18, 2006

What about Vegemite sandwiches?
posted by cholly at 3:58 AM on October 18, 2006

One of my favorite sandwiches is hummus, sprouts, carrots and salsa on pumpernickel. Mmm. I can't eat eggs, and I've really grown fond of the various forms of Nayonaise out there.
posted by frecklefaerie at 6:50 AM on October 18, 2006

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