Looking for veggie recipe ideas to pack for work? These easy vegetarian lunches are quick, healthy, and so delicious. Say goodbye to your sad desk lunch. You're not going to find any boring, ho-hum salads here!
If you're new to plant-based eating, you may be wondering how to replace your regular deli sandwich during the week. And even if you've been a vegetarian for years, there's always room for a few fresh lunch ideas!
That's why I put together this collection of the best healthy and easy vegetarian lunches to pack for work.
What Should a Vegetarian Eat for Lunch?
There are so many different plant-based lunches out there, but I have one top tip if you want to feel full and satisfied after a vegetarian meal. Make sure you include a balance of nutrients.
Try to choose at least one food from each of these categories:
- Protein - beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, edamame, dry peas
- Starchy carbohydrates - bread, pasta, farro, barley, quinoa, rice, tortillas
- Fat - avocado, peanut butter, olive oil, cheese, tahini, full-fat yogurt, nuts, seeds
- Produce - include any fruits and vegetables you like (fresh, frozen, and canned are all great!)
A few of my favorite vegetarian lunch options are coconut curry, chickpea sandwiches, pasta, and grain salads. Find recipes for each of these ideas below!
What is the Easiest Thing to Make for Lunch?
There are 31 tasty vegetarian lunch ideas in the collection below (one for every day of the month!). But sometimes you're running late and just need something really fast.
So here are a few super easy to make, 5-minute lunches that only require a few ingredients:
- Hummus with vegetables (tomato, cucumber, bell pepper) and feta cheese on pita bread
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I like to use 100% fruit spread)
- Cheese sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles
- Tortilla chips with vegetarian refried beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo (Heat up the refried beans in the microwave and top with cheese for a quick, high-protein dip)
- Avocado toast with sliced tomato and hemp hearts
Hint: These options are perfect for beginners, too.
- What Should a Vegetarian Eat for Lunch?
- What is the Easiest Thing to Make for Lunch?
- Which foods are best for packed lunches?
- Tips for Packing Your Lunch
- Make-Ahead Soups
- Vegetarian Salads
- Meatless Sandwiches and Wraps
- Grain Bowls
- Pasta and Noodles
- Indian-Inspired Lunches
- Mexican-Inspired Lunches
- More Hot Lunch Ideas
- Want more?
Which foods are best for packed lunches?
The best easy vegetarian lunches to prep ahead of time and bring with you to work are:
- Soup (preferably with a high-protein ingredient like beans or lentils)
- Hearty salads (grain salads, pasta salads, chickpea salads, or veggie salads with kale, cabbage, or Brussels sprouts as the base)
- Sandwiches and wraps
- Burritos and tacos
- Grain bowls
Tips for Packing Your Lunch
- Batch cook a large pot of soup or a casserole every Sunday. Then, portion it into separate, microwave-safe containers that are easy to grab each morning.
- In general, keep dressings in separate containers. This prevents your salad from getting soggy.
- Separate anything that's supposed to stay crispy, such as tortilla strips, croutons, or roasted chickpeas. I like to use glass containers with dividers for these types of meals.
- To keep avocados from getting brown, either spritz them with lime juice or pack them whole and slice immediately before eating.
- Coat apple and pear slices with lemon juice to prevent them from browning.
- Some foods (like creamy dressings, sauces, and stews) thicken in the fridge. You may need to stir in a splash of water to thin them out. Start with a spoonful of water and gradually add more as needed.
- Beans and rice are a fantastic option if you're looking for something cheap. Read my Vegetarian Grocery List and Shopping Tips post for more info about eating on a budget.
I also published my favorite Vegetarian Meal Prep Ideas and Vegetarian Freezer Meals if you want some more recipe inspiration.
Okay, let's get to the recipes!
Cook a big batch of one of these vegetarian soup recipes and you’ll be set for lunch all week. (Even longer if you stockpile your makings in the freezer.)
When you’re choosing an entree soup, look for a mix of fiber from vegetables and grains and plant-based protein from pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas, and dry peas). This balance will help you feel full and satisfied longer.
Creamy Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup
This easy Carrot and Lentil Soup features a cozy blend of warming spices (lots of garlic and ginger!), along with rich and creamy coconut milk for added texture. Bolstered by protein and fiber-rich red lentils, this naturally vegan bowl is hearty (and nutritious) enough to serve as a complete meal all on its own.
Vegan Potato Soup with White Beans
This simple, plant-based potato soup with white beans, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh herbs is ideal lunchtime comfort food. Pack along some crunchy croutons to serve on top for a satisfying work meal.
One-Pot Yellow Split Pea Soup
Simmer mushrooms and protein-rich yellow split peas in an Indian-inspired vegetable broth to make this entree soup recipe. There's lots of spicy flavor from garlic, ginger, turmeric, and coriander.
Instant Pot Black Bean Soup
Cook dry beans, sweet potatoes, and spicy chipotle peppers in your Instant Pot to make this hearty Black Bean Soup. Portion it off into microwave-safe containers for satisfying grab-and-go meals. The homemade crunchy tortilla strips on top are optional but highly recommended!
Vegan Turmeric Lentil Soup
Looking for a vegetarian lunch you can freeze? Make this nutrient-packed turmeric lentil soup in one pot and store it in the freezer for up to six months. Lunch for days!
Tomato Barley Soup with Cheesy Roasted Chickpeas
There's nothing more comforting than tomato soup! This Tuscan-inspired version is loaded up with hearty grains, kale, and veggies for ultimate satisfaction. Add vegan cheesy roasted chickpeas on top for crunchy texture and some extra plant-based protein.
Trust me, you can make a filling vegetarian salad that isn't boring!
Look for balanced recipes with lots of variety. The best salads have a mix of colors, textures, flavors, and nutrients.
And don't leave off the dressing! It provides so much yummy flavor, along with satisfying fats.
Summer Strawberry Salad with Chickpeas and Mozzarella
For a fuss-free, five-minute meal for one, try this no-cook Summer Strawberry Salad with chickpeas, mozzarella, and fresh basil tossed in a tangy balsamic dressing. Prep it up to five days in advance!
Meal Prep Salad
This easy Meal Prep Salad stays fresh in the fridge for days, so it's a convenient plant-based option to make ahead for weekday lunches. It's a flavorful mix of kale, shaved Brussels sprouts, diced bell pepper, chickpeas, walnuts, pepitas, and dried cranberries tossed with citrusy tahini dressing.
Brussels Sprouts Orzo Pasta Salad
Brussels Sprouts Orzo is a quick and easy vegetarian recipe inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean. Just toss lemon orzo pasta with chickpeas, feta cheese, Brussels sprouts, and walnuts. Enjoy cold as a pasta salad for an easy lunch to-go.
Lemon Tahini Apple Slaw
This filling vegan coleslaw recipe is made with fresh cabbage, juicy apples, and protein-rich chickpeas tossed in a citrusy, no-mayo tahini dressing. Prep it up to five days in advance for quick, weekday lunches.
Easy Pearl Couscous with Chickpeas
This 20-minute easy pearl couscous salad comes together with just one pot and minimal ingredients. Prep it ahead of time for a fast and easy to-go lunch.
Easy Edamame Crunch Salad
Protein-packed edamame tossed with crunchy vegetables, quinoa, peanuts, and spicy peanut dressing. Such a filling and flavorful lunch option!
Moroccan-Inspired Chickpea Mason Jar Salad
When you’re looking for ultimate portability, go with a mason jar salad. This easy recipe is made with farro, chickpeas, and ras el hanout spices. Great hot or cold!
Hint: You can find more interesting vegan salad ideas in this post.
Meatless Sandwiches and Wraps
Sandwiches and wraps are classic lunch food. They're just so convenient and easy to eat.
If you're on the hunt for some meat-free sandwich and wrap options, add these plant-powered ideas to your list.
Tomato Mozzarella Sandwiches with Blueberry Balsamic Reduction
Make this gourmet sandwich whenever you want to impress your coworkers. Fresh mozzarella, juicy heirloom tomatoes, arugula, fresh basil, sliced onion, and a sweet and tangy blueberry-balsamic sauce. So good!
Green Goddess Crunchy Tofu Wrap
This crave-worthy wrap is filled with crispy, breaded tofu and a fresh green goddess romaine salad. It's best enjoyed the same day, so save this recipe for when you're working from home or have a little extra time in the morning. (Waking up a tad earlier is so worth it for this one!)
Vegan Cranberry Chickpea Salad Sandwiches
Creamy chickpea salad with pops of sweet, tart flavor from dried cranberries. These vegan sandwiches make a tasty, meatless alternative to chicken salad and are so easy to prep ahead of time.
The options for vegetarian grain bowls are endless. And they're already really well-balanced meals by definition!
Just combine cooked grains with a source of plant-based protein (beans, edamame, tofu), colorful produce, and a creamy sauce.
Watermelon Poke Bowls
Watermelon Poke Bowls are a delicious vegan alternative to the original seafood-based dish. This Hawaiian-inspired bowl is made with marinated watermelon cubes, steamed edamame, avocado, nori (a type of seaweed), and rice. Make it up to two days in advance with just 10 minutes of prep work.
Baked Falafel Bowl
This Mediterranean-inspired Baked Falafel Bowl combines whole-grain farro with hearty collard greens, a bright and herbaceous tomato-cucumber salad, cumin-spiked baked chickpea fritters, and a creamy Greek yogurt tzatziki sauce. What more could you ever want?
Vegan Rice Bowls with Roasted Carrots
A balanced and flavorful vegan rice bowl with chickpeas, roasted vegetables, and creamy lemon-tahini sauce. Super filling and delicious.
Pasta and Noodles
Pasta and asian-style noodles are easy to reheat and often taste great cold, too. This makes them ideal for office lunches.
Cook a big batch for dinner and bring leftovers to nosh on the next day. It doesn't get any simpler!
Veggie Pasta Pesto
Veggie Pasta Pesto is a simple, Italian-inspired meal with roasted chickpeas, tomatoes, broccoli, and yellow squash mixed with creamy, pesto-coated pasta. Enjoy it hot or cold for a satisfying lunch on the job.
Vegan Pasta Primavera
Vegan Pasta Primavera is a plant-based version of the classic, Italian-American dish with colorful vegetables tossed in a bright and flavorful lemon cream sauce. Perfect for spring!
15-Minute Easy Edamame Peanut Noodles
Make these Easy Peanut Noodles in just 15 minutes with protein-rich edamame, spinach, and garlicky peanut sauce. Sure to become one of your go-to's!
Indian-inspired curries are another type of meal that works great as a packed lunch. Simply portion curry into single servings alongside a scoop of rice and reheat when you're ready to eat.
Vegan Tikka Masala
Vegan Tikka Masala is a totally plant-based version of the Indian-inspired dish with yogurt-marinated tofu cooked in a rich and creamy coconut-tomato sauce. This is great if you're looking for something spicy!
Roasted Butternut Squash Curry
The coziest-ever, meal prep coconut curry with butternut squash, protein-packed lentils and Brussels sprouts. Reheat over rice or any cooked grain for a filling midday meal.
Coconut Curry Stuffed Peppers
Red bell peppers make convenient "bowls" for this hearty coconut curry with lentils and veggies. I love that they're already portioned into grab-and-go single servings!
Classic Mexican meals, like burritos and tacos, are lunch staples for a good reason. They're a great way to fill up on fiber- and protein-rich beans, along with a mix of veggies.
Try a Mexican-inspired casserole if you're looking for a comforting recipe you can batch cook over the weekend!
Sofritas Tofu Burrito
The fully loaded, make-ahead vegan burrito you need in your life right now! This Spicy Sofritas Tofu Burrito has it all. Crumbled tofu cooked in a roasted poblano adobo sauce, cilantro-lime quinoa, corn, and creamy mashed avocado. All I can say is YUM.
Root Vegetable Tacos with Sunflower Seed Queso
Looking for a tasty vegetarian lunch without cheese? These root veggie tacos are drizzled with the most delicious dairy-free sunflower seed queso sauce. Make them with any mix of root vegetables you like, such as russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets.
Mushroom Kale Black Bean Taco Bake
Layers of beans, vegetables, tortillas, and melty pepper jack cheese make this comforting taco casserole a great option for batch cooking in the oven. Slice into individual portions and store in separate microwave-safe containers so you can easily reheat it throughout the week.
More Hot Lunch Ideas
Prep and portion these recipes when you’re craving something beyond the typical soup, salad, or sandwich. These recipes also work great as vegetarian dinners. And leftovers make some of the best next-day lunches if you ask me!
Chimichurri Grilled Tofu Skewers
Skewer tofu and vegetable, marinate in Argentinian-inspired chimichurri sauce, and toss on the grill until golden and crispy. Serve this make-ahead vegan lunch with rice or flatbread for a complete meal.
7-Ingredient BBQ Loaded Sweet Potatoes
Roasted sweet potatoes are loaded with sweet and spicy BBQ tempeh and veggies in this simple, meal prep-friendly recipe. (Tempeh is a type of fermented soy food that's packed with plant-based protein!)
Mushroom Goat Cheese Frittata
Everyone loves breakfast for lunch! Sautée mushrooms and spinach and cook with eggs and goat cheese to prep a one-pan, beginner-friendly vegetarian frittata in just about 30 minutes.
One-Pot Butter Beans and Greens
This butter beans recipe is made with lima beans, kale, tomato, garlic, and spices. It's a one-pot vegan lunch that's great for meal prep. Add rice or your favorite grain to make it a complete meal.
Find more plant-based cooking tips, tricks, and recipes in my ebook, Easy Vegetarian Meal Prep.
Made the chickpea mason jar salad tonight for lunches tomorrow and it is incredible!
Stephanie McKercher, RDN says
So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks, Lou!