picky lunches

I am admittedly picky about my lunch selections. I like them to be:

  • Preferably vegan or vegetarian
  • Full of vegetables
  • But not frozen vegetables as they are never as good heated, cooled and then microwaved
  • Heatable in a microwave
  • Preferably warm in the winter, not in the summer
  • Must be full of protein and good fat to keep me satisfied
  • Preferably not bread based, since I have toast often in the morning
  • Each meal can only be repeated 2x/week
  • Something fun and exciting!

As you can see this leaves me in quite the predicament and does not leave many options for eating out either. This also leaves me pulling out my hair on a weekly basis as I try to plan my meals for the next week.

So do you have any ideas for me? :)


  1. says

    I am a big fan of soup and salad for lunch, I make a big pot of soup or open up a can of Amy’s and dig into a nice big salad. You get something hot and tons of veggies.

  2. says

    I’m a “picky eater” … and completely OK with it. :)

    Hmm so being very much in the winter season (I’m sitting here wrapped up in a huge blanket and sipping coffee, looking out at the lake from the comfort of INSIDE)… my top ideas would be stews/soups/chilis with a side of pita bread or corn chips. The CROCK POT has become one of my best friends this winter! I also think hot grain salads (think quinoa, squash, chicken/tofu, cranberries, etc.) over a bed of fresh arugala or spinach is deeelicious.

    Haha there may or may not be a certain restaurant I get many ideas from… :)

  3. says

    I love quesadillas…true there’s some bread but it’s not too heavy. Cheese and peppers and mushrooms and avocado and salsa…good stuff! Soup is always a good idea too, or vegan “deli meat” slices rolled up around hummus (for a cooler one in the summer)

  4. says

    Wow, girl, you are really picky! It’s all good though, we all have our little quirks :)

    My vote is veggie chili, I have mine with Morningstar Veggie Crumbles with beans, onions, peppers, sometimes mushrooms. It’s perfect to freeze and only takes a few minutes to heat. Also maybe veggie lasagne with spinach, shrooms, artichokes?

  5. says

    I would stick with something local and in season. In Minnesota I would suggest a delicious cup of snow (preferably white since it is the freshest) with a birch bark garnish on top. It is astonishingly low in calories and birch bark packs a large amount of nutrient density although raw it can be a lot to chew.

    If you have access to a local group of birch trees you can tap them for a fun seasonal winter activity of making your own birch beer. (I tend to go with the Pennsylvania blend recipe using Minnesota sap but you can easily go both ways) http://www.grouprecipes.com/80154/pennsylvania-birch-beer.html


  6. says

    It’s not vegan, but I love bringing leftover slices of frittatas that have been absolutely jam packed with tons of veggies. I like them room temperature but they’re also good microwaved. Perfect with a simply dressed green salad on the side and a clementine for dessert!

    I’ve also been eating a lot of polenta and quinoa lately, topped with roasted veggies and beans and spiced up with crushed red pepper.

    Finally – my absolute favorite lunch….beans and rice heated then with salsa and avocado added and all mixed together.

    Yum. Lunchtime is my favorite part of the work day :)

  7. says

    I prefer a hot lunch year-round, so I usually just pack leftovers from last night’s dinner. Today, I had veggie chili topped with a little shredded cheese, corn chips for scooping, and a banana! I hear ya on the variety, though — for me, it’s really tempting to snack on junk or go pick up something for myself if my lunch isn’t interesting!

  8. says

    wraps. i eat SO many wraps for lunch. make them up the night before in microwave safe plastic wrap and you can do hot or cold for more variety. my staples are:

    deli meat (mostly roast beef and chicken), turkey bacon, chicken breast, baked tofu
    hummus, cream cheese, guacamole, light mayo/miracle whip (i know, i know, but it’s DELICIOUS and i grew up with it), sweet/hot mustard, steak or worcherstire (i could NEVER spell that word) sauce, buffalo sauce
    raw baby spinach, red onion, grape tomato
    reduced fat sharp cheddar or feta
    TJ’s 21 salute, dried herb (dill, chives) sprinkling, or fresh pepper

    you’d be surprised the combos you can come up with. basic BLT to gyro and everything in between. i also make up a one-pan chicken burrito mixture with frozen mixed veg, shredded chicken breast, chiles, tomatoes and brown rice for when i want something heartier

    not vegetarian or vegan, but always accompanied by baggie full of baby carrots and sliced bell peppers for munching.

  9. says

    my favorite lunch combo of late : microwaved sweet potato topped with black beans, spinach, and some dena’s roasted red pepper hummus. yum!

  10. Emilie says

    One of my favorite vegetarian meals is the downright lazy version of shepherd’s pie. I take a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and top it up with herbed, garlicky mashed potatoes, and if I’m really jonesing for comfort food I sprinkle it with shredded cheddar, and then I bake it in the oven until it’s fully heated. It reheats well so I make leftovers.

    Mix and match with a variety of pasta shapes and a variety of vegetarian pasta sauces: tomato sauce, pesto, vodka sauce, etc.

    Leftover Fried rice, stir fry, or the endless vegetarian Asian options out there.

    I often bring a can of soup and a tupperware to heat it up in the microwave. On cold days, I also warm up my wraps or sandwiches on the microwave just until it’s warm.

    Apple, Blue Cheese, Spinach salad with toasted walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette

    Artichoke and Sun-dried tomato pizza

    Vegan Chili potato

    Roasted acorn squash with brown sugar

    Black bean and sweet potato burger

    Vegetarian nacho with tortilla chips with (can try vegan alternatives) cheese, olives, salsa and guacamole

    Ratouille, Spinach Lasagna, and endless more. So many ethnic foods out there are originally vegetarian or can be easily adapted.

    I make what I call Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink Mexi rice, which is rice, tomato sauce or salsa, black beans, corn, sometimes avacadoes or canned tomatoes. Whatever I have or feel like putting in there. And then I eat it like that (usually with cheese), or make it into a wrap, or bake them into an enchilada- like casserole. Sometimes I add in a scrambled egg to make a breakfast wrap.

    Sandwiches, like pasta, is an variety-lover’s best friend. There’s so many different types of breads or rolls and fillings. I rarely use mayo, mostly because it’s a potentially hazardous food, high in calories and additives and it’s a waste of money if i only a tablespoon of it ever so often. I like to use salad dressings instead, especially Italian dressing or other vinaigrettes. Another favorite is guacamole or roasted red pepper hummus for an ethnic twist. Who says you need meat and cheese for sandwiches? Why not sauteed vegetables with olives, red wine vinaigrette and guacamole? Or a ciabatta sandwich filled with marinated artichokes, fresh tomatoes, olives, onions and fresh spinach?

  11. says

    I’m a big fan of bringing leftovers for lunch. A favorite of mine is kale soup – it’s hearty with barley and chickpeas: http://tinyurl.com/2f7nj3u

    Veggie chili and cornbread is another fave: http://tinyurl.com/2vo6ltu

    And if I don’t have leftovers, I stick with pb&j, Greek yogurt and fruit, Morningstar Chik Patties, or TastyBite meals (http://www.tastybite.com/).

    Hope that helps…thanks everyone else for all your comments… I now have lots of new lunch ideas :)

  12. says

    I’m a big fan of leftovers from dinner for lunch. Easy to pack, easy to heat in a microwave if needed, and always better ingredients than all of the horrible frozen entrees I see my co-workers eating.

  13. says

    canned soup + Kashi frozen meals are lunch lifesavers. they are easy peasy and relatively healthy. i am working on a recipe for a veggie miso millet soup that is almostthere. it’s reheated really well all week for me, and fits all the above criteria!!!

  14. says

    I’m totally picky with lunches, too. It’s hard to get excited about eating a meal out of tupperware sometimes! I like a good grain or pasta salad with lots of veggies and beans or meat mixed in- they’re good cold or hot! I also make a ton of casseroles and just reheat for lunch- veggie mac ‘n cheese or shepherd’s pie (my favorite) work really well!

  15. Rachel says

    The key to using frozen vegetables for lunches is to not cook them beforehand. Just pack them still frozen in a little container. They defrost over the course of the morning and then just need a little zap in the microwave to heat them through. I do mixed vegetables, peas, and chopped spinach this way. Cheap. No prep.

  16. says

    I’m a toast eater in the morning too. :)
    I find that if my lunch isn’t somewhat exciting I have a completely blah day at work. Probably not so good to let my food selections create my mood, but I can’t help it. My favorites are leftover curries and rice noodles with lots of veggies. I also love a good salad with toppings like nuts, dried cranberries and blue cheese.

  17. says

    I get pretty bored with my lunches from time to time as well. My go to veggie lunches are:

    -Veggie packed wraps (I use the low-carb tortillas since I eat oatmeal for breakfast)
    – Chili (becuase it reheats well)
    – veggie pitas
    – Morningstar also makes a super yummy black bean burger that tastes great all by itself or crumbled on top of a salad!

    I’m pretty boring myself, but maybe I’ll try making faces out of my veggie wraps! That was too cute!

  18. says

    Quinoa stuffed peppers, refried bean and rice burritos, noodles with peanut sauce, soup made out of whatever scraps you have in the fridge? I have a picky teen, he takes nuts, cheese balls or wedges, triscuits, fruit cups. Do you freeze dinner leftovers in lunch containers? This way you can pick and choose after a suitable time has passed (my husband refuses to eat leftovers the very next day).

    : )

  19. adrienne says

    Actually, one thing I do with frozen vegetables (when I’m really running around) is take a dish with some leftover rice or couscous or whatever, dump some frozen veggies over it, stick a bit of goat cheese or a little butter on top, sprinkle some salt and pepper on top, then pack it in my bag. When it’s lunch time, I nuke the whole thing and the veggies get warmed without double cooking. Not the best, but certainly not the worst, and a favorite for when I haven’t been shopping recently…

    Also, one of my recent favorites too is leftover rice, a sweet potato cubed on top of it (raw), some fresh broccoli cut on top, and a bit of goat cheese, microwaved all together at lunch time. Sometimes some leftover black beans too. Same idea as your squash/spinach/blue cheese– yum!

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