September is synonymous with back to school and brown bag lunches. And even if you’re not going back to school, you may be looking to spice up your midday meal. As a vegetarian or vegan, you may think your lunch option is limited to plain peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but here are three creative lunch ideas to change your mind.
Party platter: If you love grazing on a variety of snacks, veggies, crackers and spreads at parties, why not bring that fun into your lunch? In a divided Tupperware container or bento box, pull together a mix of your favorite finger foods. Don’t forget to include some whole grains (like woven wheat crackers), a protein source (such as beans or a hard-boiled egg), and fresh or cooked fruits and veggies. My favorite party platter lunch includes tabouli, whole-wheat pita triangles, garlicky hummus, cherry tomatoes and mixed nuts. (For a wheat-free take on tabouli, try this cauliflower version, above, from Food Network Magazine.)
Vegan Banh Mi Sandwich: The traditional Banh Mi sandwich is a baguette filled with oven roasted meat and accompanied by vegetables such as cucumber slices, cilantro, and pickled carrots. Typical condiments include spicy chili sauce or mayonnaise. Using pre-marinated teriyaki baked tofu, sliced thinly, and a crusty baguette, you can replicate the typical Banh Mi sandwich. Top the tofu with cucumber slices, cilantro, jarred pickled vegetables and a drizzle of sriracha sauce, and then wrap tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Keep each ingredient in a separate container in your fridge so assembling the sandwich each day for lunch is simple.
Hearty soups and stews: With the temperature dropping, it’s nice to have a hot lunch to warm you up in the middle of the day. Hearty soups and stews that are loaded with legumes and whole grains, such as barley or quinoa, are simple to prepare in big batches so you have lunch prepared for the week. Try this Moroccan stew, which combines satisfying lentils, squash, and brown rice with a touch of sweetness from apricots and cinnamon. Pack your soups and stews in an insulated Thermos, which will keep your meal hot until lunch.
TELL US: What’s your favorite packed lunch?