Vegetarian Lunch Ideas: One Sauce / Three Lunches

Vegetarian Lunch Ideas: One Sauce / Three Lunches

This post is about taking one favorite tomato sauce, and working it into three different lunches. The lunches I had in mind are work, school, or on-the-go type lunches that don't require reheating. The basic idea is you tweak the main sauce a bit day by day, and create a pasta bowl (day one), a lazy chana masala (day two), and a spicy dipping sauce for quinoa patties (day three). The video goes into all the specifics, and you can see how I pull together a handful of weekday friendly lunches (with some diversity) using a lot of the basic ingredients many of you already keep on hand. The general idea is this - even if you're busy, these lunches aren't crazy to throw together, especially if you plan ahead a bit.

Vegetarian Lunch Ideas

WATCH VIDEO ON YOU TUBE


Related, meal prep has a tendency to make my head explode a little. I love the idea, but find it overwhelming. I'm always trying to find middle ground, and to simplify, but not-oversimplify ;) So, I'll include a few tips that work for me here. The main thing that keeps things easy is the following:

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EVERY WEEKEND: Good to keep on hand

- Cook a favorite grain (quinoa, brown rice, etc.)
- Cook a favorite pulse or bean (lentils, mung beans, etc.)
- Hard-boil 6 - 12 eggs (if you eat eggs)*
- Wash, cut, & prep a few quick-cooking vegetables (kale, broccoli, asparagus)

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If you're into this general idea, please let me know(!), and I can show you how I build off other core recipes or ideas (for example, I do a week based on my favorite saag paneer). Hope you find some of this helpful! -h

Vegetarian Lunch Ideas: One Sauce / Three Lunches

HS: If you don't eat eggs (and many don't consider eggs vegetarian), please feel free to substitute another protein-rich ingredient you prefer - tempeh, tofu, or more lentils.


FEATURED RECIPE: FIVE MINUTE TOMATO SAUCE (recipe here)


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LUNCH ONE: Red Garlic Kale Pasta

- Five Minute Tomato Sauce
- Cooked Pasta (short pasta)
- Big handful of chopped kale
- Lentils
- Hard-boiled egg*
- Dates
- Nuts (or toss 1 cup toasted pistachios w/ 2 sheets of crumbled, toasted nori // 2T. nutritional yeast // 1t. chile flakes // salt // drizzle of olive oil)

Bonus: scallions / olives // toasted almonds // olive oil

LUNCH TWO: Easy Chana Masala

- 1 cup Five Minute Tomato Sauce // Stir in 2 teaspoons garam masala & 1 tablespoon chopped ginger

- 1 cup chopped kale
- 1 cup chickpeas
- Brown rice or quinoa
- Plain yogurt whisked with a bit of salt & 2 garlic cloves smashed into a paste.

- toasted naan or pita chips // toss w/ olive oil or clarified butter, salt & toasted at 350F until golden and crisp.
- treat: Anna's Daughter Rye Crisps / dark chocolate
- orange segments

Bonus: toasted coconut // scallions // cilantro // avocado & lime


LUNCH THREE: Baby Quinoa Patties

- Five Minute Tomato Sauce seasoned with chile sauce (sriracha sauce)

-Baby Quinoa Patties **

- Plain yogurt whisked with a bit of salt & 2 garlic cloves smashed into a paste.

- Lentils

- A handful of shredded kale, massaged with a big squeeze of lime juice, pinch of salt, and topped with nuts (below).

- Nuts (or toss toasted pistachios w/ a bit of crumbled, toasted nori // nutritional yeast // chile flakes // salt // olive oil)

Bonus: Avocado // Cilantro


*To hard-boil Eggs: Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by half an inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn off the heat and cover. Let the pot sit for ten minutes. In the meantime, prepare a large bowl of ice water. When the eggs are done cooking, use a slotted spoon to place them into the ice bath. When the eggs are cool, remove them and crack and peel.

**Baby Quinoa Patties: Combine 2 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa, 4 large beaten eggs, and 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt in a medium bowl. Stir in 1 finely chopped onion. Add 1 cup of breadcrumbs (or rolled quinoa, or instant oats), stir, and let sit for a couple of minutes. Form into little patties, and pan-fry in a bit of clarified butter or coconut oil over medium heat, flipping once along the way until both sides are golden brown and the patties are cooked through.

Prep time: 40 min - Cook time: 30 min

Welcome!

I send an email roughly once a week, sharing new recipes and cooking inspiration. - xo heidi

Comments

Yes! Totally into any ways to get great food prepared quickly, early, and often!

Laura

Really liked this post! Great idea combining sauce into three meals. Please do more of these! You made it look so easy.

Victoria

Love your tips and the recipes look wonderful! Curious if you have suggestions for a vegan version of the quinoa patties? Also would love to know where you found those great containers!

Danielle

Yes please! Would love some more meal prep ideas and tips!

Abby

Oh man, meal planning! I love the idea, but haven't achieved it yet ;). Please yes more of this!!

Robin

Love this post! This is how I'm trying to cook more and your ideas and tips are so helpful. We love your saag paneer recipe, please share how you base a week off it!
Cheers~
Heidi

Heidi Johnson

Heidi, this is so great. You are a wonder! It's really helpful to have this all stepped out. Totally doable! Any chance you could post similar lunch suggestions without the tomato element?

HS: Hi Claire - Sure! I have two other ideas that are top of mind....both tomato-free :)

Claire

loved this!

denise

Love this approach! Would love to see more posts like this.

Lindsey Bickers Bock

Thanks for this! Yes, I'd very much like to see future posts on strategic cooking/assembling, including how to flex a batch-cook recipe into multiple recipes. Avoiding boredom and increasing variety are always a challenge when I try to streamline my cooking efforts.

Emily Dietsch

This was great - would love more ideas for portable meals!

Veronica

This is awesome! I have loved your tomato sauce for a long time, so I am thankful to see it being used in alternative ways that are also delicious. Thank you for providing these choices.

Kelsey Lane

This is absolutely brilliant! I LOVE ideas like that and make up my own but would be super keen to see more of yours! I would love to try this one this week.

Emily

Loved this! It inspired me to go boil some eggs and make lentils immediately, as well as buy an avocado this evening. Thank you for the inspiration!

Rachel

Yes! More of this please!

Tara

Heidi, these ideas are WONDERFUL and so appreciated. Meal planning (for lunch in particular) is a real challenge for me and I love your creativity. Please keep these posts coming... it will help me stay sane! :-)

Ansley

Such a useful post! I may know the components of each of these lunches, but it's sometimes an a-ha moment watching you put them together and make them fresh. Thank you for that and yes, more please!

Katherine M

Great idea here that will save a lot of time. Love it.

Susan

I LOVE this concept! More posts like this please :)

Katie

Such a neat post. Will you explore ideas on how to package cooked grains into different lunch ideas?

Ambica

Wonderful post! I bet your magic sauce would be of great use here too. I get in food ruts, so other ideas are always helpful. Yes please more posts like this!!

Alice

Yes! This is a wonderful idea! It will be so useful and appreciated :)

Cheri

Amazing! Please do more of these! Such a brilliant idea!

Jamie

Love this! Can you share what containers you're using? And are they pretty good at keeping food seperate and not mixing or spilling?

Lindsay

hi, can you tell me where to get those containers?

Charlotte

This is really fun! I am like ideas how to use up dinner leftovers and vegetables without feeling like it is the same menu everyday. Thanks for always being so generous and inspiring!

AR

love this and loving your videos!
a breakfast version of this video would also be oh so helpful! tasty weekday breakfast meals that you can either prep the night before or quickly put together in the am.
thanks heidi!
xo

jenn

thank you for lunch ideas! would be great to have more of how you turn one meal into many and if possible without eggs? (the quinoa patties and hard boiled eggs)

sara

What beautiful wonderful lunches! I would eat all of them. I absolutely love ideas like this--thank you so much!!

Would love to see some bento lunches that are a little less on the carbs, heavier on the veg.

P.S. Where are your boxes from?

Tonya Q

This post was very helpful to me. Great ideas. Thanks!

Ellen

Thank you so much for these! I will definitely like more videos like these. Also, I really like the containers you used. Where can we get those from?

Rukshana

A great post offering a good start for so many possibilities!

Mary

I love this way of cooking! I'm also really enjoying your more frequent videos. Thank you!

Cyndi

This is a great post - I love the idea of having a central sauce and/or several ingredients that can be used in a medley of different meals! Today I used black quinoa with avocado, cherry tomatoes and Persian cucumber diced into it with avocado oil and lemon juice with sesame Yuba noodles for added protein - I love your stacking tiffen collection and would love it if you carried them:)

Jennifer Butson

This post is great! And ditto to others on wanting to know which steel containers you used.

Barbara

More ideas like this, please! I have a couple of your books, but struggle with changing things up enough to make a week's worth of meals.

For those asking, the lunch boxes are ECOlunchbox and available from Amazon.

Nancy

So helpful! I'd love to see more like this, please. And, I'm adding my name to the list of people asking where to find those containers. Do tell! Thank you.

Andrea

I'd love to hear more! Posts like these are very helpful. I have a big family and a limited budget so planning is vital :)

Stella

I'm echoing everybody else here when I say I love these lunch ideas. Especially love that you rollover not only the tomato sauce but also the yogurt and pistachio mixture. Awesome recipes. And yes, please more like this!!

Katie @ Whole Nourishment

Love these ideas and how the common element of the tomato sauce ties them all together. Great balance of carbs, veg, and protein too! I am forever looking for more lunch ideas since I bring mine to work every day. Like others, I LOVE your containers! Dying to know where you got them--so much more convenient than my bulky plastic tupperware!

Nicole

Love this. I struggle with making my lunches everyday and this looks like a great way to use up leftovers. Please do more of these.

Sandra Lea

Yes! I eat lunch out every day -- sometimes in a cold warehouse where my studio is, but more often out in the woods or in parks around town. Anything if this nature to ramp up the lunchbox with no needed reheating is wonderful.

Maggie Wauklyn

I really enjoyed this. Another set of lunch videos would be nice. I particularly like the saag paneer idea because I really love saag paneer!

For those who asked, the containers seem to be traditional stainless steel Indian lunch containers. Search on amazon (or elsewhere) for Indian tiffin box or go to an Indian grocery if there is one near you.

One quick question re the recipes here. Did you cook the kale or use raw kale?

HS: Hi Lynne - Thank you, and yes to saag paneer ;)....The kale here is raw, and I think the acidity in the tomato sauce helps break it down a bit, so no need to cook.

Lynne

Love these ideas.
I always end up wasting avocado though because I eat some of it and the rest of it goes brown. Every. Single. Time. I have tried everything, and nothing seems to work.
Any ideas? Thanks

HS: Hi Pallavi - I usually toss rub the cut edge with a bit of lemon or lime and throw it in a baggie or jar...if the brown bothers you, you can just shave off that thin layer before using :)...

Pallavi

Please! I am trying to prepare more of the food we consume, without myself becoming consumed by resentment. The "do every weekend" and then variations on a theme structure is SO helpful, so please, please, share more!

Celia

Where do you get those awesome lunch containers?

Erin

Yes! I love this idea - and in particular find the 'what to have on hand' to translate the one thing into many meals. Would love more posts like this - thanks!

Kathleen

Great post! I would love to see more like this.

Adriane Colby

I love the idea of being able to do a little simple prep over the weekend to speed things up during the week. "Meal prep" always seems so daunting: trying to cook a whole week's worth of food in a day. Your middle ground is a great solution. Yes please more ideas!

Lindsey

Brilliant. Loved this post, and getting to see and hear you in action!

Janet

Winter lunches are easy because I make a soup or two for the week, but when it gets too warm for soup, this is a great template for lunch meal prep.

Deb

Yes more meal prep please! I aways try to prep but then get bored with my ideas.

Payal

I am a big fan of this idea of batch cooking for the week. I'm trying to learn more about how to menu plan and feed my family fresh delicious healthy foods that are economical. Just read an article about how most cookbooks are recipe books rather than guides to home economics. Also a big yes to your saag paneer recipe, please!

keri

Making these this week & would love to see other similar posts for breakfast & more easy lunch ideas!

Sarah

I have made this trio twice now and love the elegant simplicity of the red sauce reinvented! Please, please, please do more of these beautiful lunch ideas!!! Thank you!!!

Amy

Love this post! And would love to see more of your lunch ideas. I live on my own and often don't want to make a load of something as it doesn't get used up but this might work for me not just for lunch!

Heidi Lea

Yes please! I love this idea. More ideas like this would be so good.

Sara B

Thanks for this! Making everything today to get me through rest of the week. Would love to see more quick and easy lunch ideas!!

Sarah

I'm into it! Would love see more like this. my current routine is based on the abundance bowls from my new roots. But more variety, like what you show here, would be better!

Rachel

I have just finished my first lunch. This is so great. I love the weekend setup, then spending a little time every day just putting it together. I am especially interested in the larger workflow of the kitchen, the ability to substitute and use what else you have in the kitchen that week, the work of one day propelling your meals for the rest of the week. That kind of thing I would especially love to see. I started following you and purchased your books for that reason (e.g. setting up your pantry), and I would love to see more posts in that vein. Thanks so much!

HS: Thanks for the note Alison - I definitely have more ideas in that vein. Will see what I can do. Thanks for the feedback (and encouragement!)...

Alison

Yes! Love lunch ideas like this one, especially with advice on what to prep on the weekend to make the week ahead that much easier! Please add more :)

Sarah

I just sat down to look up ideas for lunches like this, and for your pistou recipe because I thought it would be a good sauce for this sort of thing, and here is this perfect blueprint! Thank you! I'd love to see more ideas like this too.

Shelly

Yes, please post more of these. Definitely interested in the saag paneer. I love your saag paneer recipe!!

Laura

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