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Lunch Help: Veg, Non-Perishable, Non-Sandwich, Non-Salad, Non-Hummus

Any suggestions: I need healthy vegetarian lunch ideas that do not need to be refrigerated, are not sandwich based, and are not lettuce-salad based... Also, no hummus.

Are there any healthy options left?

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  1. How about grain based salads like tabouleh? Really, any grain, with lots of diced vegetables, dressed with a simple oil/vinegar.

    1 Reply
    1. re: smtucker

      I had a really nice grain salad recently that was farro, garbanzo beans, red onion, roasted carrots & potatoes, olives, herbs, vinaigrette- tasty and hearty.

    2. I used to do frozen berries w/ plain or vanilla yogurt. The yogurt stays cold and the berries are thawed enough by lunch time. Add to that some chopped walnuts, granola, and/or banana.

        1. Right now I'm eating bulgur with chickpeas, red onion, red peppers, basil, dill, peas and pesto. Another good one is bulgur or quinoa with Greek salad ingredients. I also like chickpeas with red peppers, tomatoes, peas, cilantro, chives, lime juice and a stir of tamarind chutney or curried yogurt. You can also make a crushed chickpea salad (like a tuna salad but with chickpeas) with lots of spices and make a pita sandwich (you said no sandwich, but if you're open to pita) with sprouts, red onion, tomato, etc.

          1. I like chilled pasta mixed with chopped red and green peppers and herbs, olives and a light olive oil/vinegar dressing. I chill it overnight in the fridge and put it in the lunch bag with one of those small plastic frozen ice packs (find at Walmart with the kids' lunchboxes). Stays cold until lunchtime.

              1. Grilled veggie kebabs are good. Add your grain or bread of choice.

                1. Channa (the fried, West Indian snack type of channa that isn't perishable). Soy Nuts. Fruit Leather. Trail Mix. Cheese or Peanut butter with crackers, or dried apple or dried pear (suggesting dried since since fresh apples & pears are perishable). Handisnacks. Tofu jerky. (I much prefer normal jerky, but I guess there's a need to preserve tofu.)

                  Why are you looking for non-perishable food? That cuts out most forms of fruit & vegetables.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: prima

                    I am guessing there's not a fridge available at the OP's work. The options expand greatly if lunch items can be frozen before bringing.

                    1. re: ChristinaMason

                      Absolutely agree, the options expand greatly if some items can be frozen.

                      It was the non-perishable part in the subject line that made me wonder.

                      Most fruit, vegetables, cooked grains, cheese, yogurt, and most of the tastier suggestions in this thread so far are certainly perishable, but they'll keep at room temp for a good part of a work day, if not longer. Nuts, peanut butter, crackers, trail mix, etc are less perishable than some foods, but they're certainly perishable and will turn rancid.

                      I can't think of too many non-perishable foods, that I like to eat.

                  2. Pan fried tofu with napa kimchi and sesame seeds
                    Smoked tofu with chili oil
                    Potato salad with pistachios, lemon juice and tahini
                    Pasta salads

                    1. I used to bring portabello mushrooms stuffed with roasted vegetables and goat cheese for lunch. Perhaps not non-perishable in the long term, but perfectly fine if they're left unrefrigerated for most of the day. I'd bring one in a tupperware container shoved in my purse.

                      Quiche is another one that seems to be fine after half a day out of the fridge, so long as it isn't super hot where you are and it isn't in the direct sun. Although some might worry about the eggs.

                      1. A wide-mouth Thermos will solve many of your problems. I take pasta salad, bean salad, fruit salad, pretty much anything you can think of to work in mine and it keeps it cold until lunchtime.
                        Mine is a camping Thermos that even has a groovy folding spoon that fits in the lid. Cost about 11 bucks.

                        1. Thanks for your suggestions so far. (Keep them coming!)
                          I said non-perishable because it will sit out from 6am-noonish.. which items would last that long?

                          Also, I should have mentioned I do not like chickpeas or bulgar. I cannot have nutbutters.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: vegmonster

                            You could get an insulated lunch sack with a freezer pak. That would keep most anything cool for that amount of time. I have a lunch sack that has the freezer paks built in; it goes directly into the freezer itself.

                            I'm not a fan of chickpeas either (although I do like hummus). My favorite bean is the butter bean - which I believe is just a giant, white lima bean. Butter beans are big, creamy, and mild and really good in just about anything. I like them cooked in a light tomato sauce with onions and garlic with blue corn tortilla chips and tzatziki sauce.

                            You could also try making veg "sushi" rolls filled with cucumber, avocado, carrot, asparagus, etc.

                            1. re: vegmonster

                              Do you dislike all beans? most beans make wonderful spreads and are adaptable to various flavor profiles.
                              Nothing has to " sit out" if you have an insulated bag and a freezer pack; mine easily keeps cold food cold for 6-8 hours.
                              Quinoa makes a great tabouli, wheatberries, rice,barley and farro all make excellent bases for salads or can be kept warm in a thermos.
                              Any veggie pureed makes good soup and can stay warm enough in a thermos.

                            2. I'm on the road visiting accounts all day. I use a freezer pak in a simple tote during the summer or just the tote in the winter. Some of my fave lunches: baked tofu tossed into whatever veggies are in the cooler. Vietnamese pickle all by itself or with tofu or tempeh . Yotam Ottolenghi's super beet salad with avocado and limas. Green or regular gazpacho in a wide mouth thermos. Avocados mooshed up with just about anything. Corn, tomato and feta salad with or without beans.

                              1. Gosh my post disappears if I attach a single link...

                                Anyways, I recommended bean and grain-based salads. Soups and stews. Curries. I eat them every day for lunch, usually of the leftover variety. Swiss chard and kale travel well since they are heartier greens.

                                I have included one recipe for a warm chickpea salad where they are pan-roasted. It converts most chickpea-haters.

                                Here are some great ideas: