5 Make-Ahead Vegan and Gluten-Free Lunches: Part 1

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Last week, a blog reader, Mary, asked me if I could put together a post on healthy lunches that could be made ahead of time. I thought it was a great challenge for back to school, so I got to work planning!

I spent a few days coming up with different lunches that could be prepped on Sunday.

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Complete with food stained paper!

I had several goals for the lunch recipes:

1) Most, if not all, of the prep work could be done on Sunday.

2) It would be made mostly from scratch for maximum savings (for example, using dried legumes instead of canned)

3) It would be vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free with easy nut-free options

4) In each lunch, I would have each of the following: protein, healthy fats, fibre, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains to make a well-rounded meal.

5) Chocolate, as necessary.

This challenge certainly lit a fire under my apron!

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For the recipes, I decided on the following grains and legumes (1/2 cup dry, each):

  • Millet or Quinoa
  • Wild brown rice
  • Chickpeas
  • Black beans
  • Lentils

 

Of course, you can use pretty much any grains and legumes that you desire. I purchased these from Bulk Barn and it was much cheaper than buying the canned or non-bulk variety. More money in my pocket means more money for chocolate covered cacao nibs! Wheee.

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Next, I had to figure out all of the various prep and cook times for each. I consulted the wonderful Clean Food Cookbook for some tips!

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It went from this…

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To this…

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All of that food only cost me about $3.50. Talk about savings!

While the legumes and grains were cooking, I did some other prep.

This trail mix, below, was one of my favourite recipes of the day. In fact, I’m munching on it right now. :)

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Eric and I are seriously obsessed with this mix. The chocolate covered cacao nibs are phenomenal and something I’m going to have to re-create at home!

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I also chopped up 1 cucumber, 1 large red pepper, and 4 carrots. I put them into a big container filled with water as this will keep them fresh and crisp all week long. Quick and easy snacks paired with hummus or other dips.

Note: I would not advise putting the peppers and cukes in water as I just discovered that they don’t crisp up, but get soft! The carrots were fine all week though.

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When I had a burner free up, I made the Carrot Apple Ginger Soup using some beautiful garden carrots. Yes, my carrots are finally ready to harvest after planting tiny seeds way back on May 24. Happy!

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Dare I say it turned out even better using my garden carrots? ;)

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Once the prep work was done, I started assembling lunches.

First up, Monday’s lunch!

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I had this lunch yesterday and it was delicious! (I forgot to include the avocado in the picture, but it really makes the salad.)

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Up next, Tuesday’s lunch:

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Tuesday’s Lunch featuring Carrot Apple Ginger Soup

Ingredients:

  • Carrot Apple Ginger Soup (click for recipe) in a mason jar for portability
  • 1 cup cooked millet (or quinoa), with Earth Balance, salt & pepper
  • 1/3 cup Go Go Glow Mix (above)
  • 1 plum
  • Lemon Water

 

Be sure to heat up the millet with a bit of Earth Balance and seasoning. It’s also good mixing it into the carrot soup.

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All the prep work I did yesterday took me the entire morning (about 4 hours), but I’m glad that I did it now because I have a ton of food prepped for the week.

Here is a grocery list, if you want to follow along. Keep in mind that it’s just a guide and you can make any modifications that you desire! I just used mostly what I had on hand…I’m not suggesting you go out and buy the entire list, but get creative and see what you can use in your own pantry and fridge. :)

In Part 2, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday’s lunches are coming on up! Click here for the post.

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Like many of you, I was touched deeply by the tragedies of 9/11. I’m watching along today and sending my thoughts to those innocent lives that were lost and families and friends who were impacted. wlEmoticon redheart   5 Make Ahead Vegan and Gluten Free Lunches: Part 1 Bless you all…

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{ 177 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather September 11, 2011

Thank you for doing this. I was just thinking how i needed new ideas for lunch. Im off to make the Carrot Apple Ginger soup. Sounds heavenly. :)

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Lauren September 11, 2011

These are some great ideas-I love having yummy but healthy lunches when I’m at school, even if they get looks sometimes. ;) I have seen goji berries everywhere but haven’t tried them….maybe I need to! We were watching 9/11 ceremonies on TV this morning and I could barely keep myself from sobbing. I was only in kindergarten but they still had a huge impact on me.

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Janiek September 11, 2011

Oeh I love this post Angela!! This will come in so handy when I have to pack lunches for school Trail mix is indeed already one of my easy, go-to staples.

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Tricia September 11, 2011

Thank you so much for this post! My daughter and I have just gone back to a vegan diet and your week of lunches is a huge help!

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G September 11, 2011

Best. post. ever. I am a student, therefore on a budget and busy busy busy so this is an AMAZING lunch plan! Thank you so much!

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Marion September 11, 2011

I was about to write the exact same thing! Great post, thx!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 11, 2011

Thanks!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 11, 2011

Glad you like the lunch idea guys!

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Giulia @ Tutupa's Lab September 11, 2011

uuuh, I’ve been wanting a post like this for EVER! I’m a college student and always bring my lunch with me from home. this weekly plan is excellent for inspiration!

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Kim @ vegan mama-to-be September 11, 2011

I don’t go to school anymore, but I do pack a lunch to work everyday. I’ve been in a lunch-rut so I’m excited to try some of these out. I totally forgot about pita pocket sandwiches, too!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 11, 2011

heh I did too til I saw a pic of one last week!

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Hannah September 11, 2011

Angela-what a beautiful and comprehensive post! Although I don’t have a full kitchen now, as I’m on a meal plan in school, I’m bookmarking this anyway because it is so helpful. And even with just a kitchenette I can make some of these things for when I’m not into eating what’s at the dining halls.

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin September 11, 2011

This is such a great post! I really want to try that avocado and black bean salad. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the lunches for the week are!

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DG September 11, 2011

This is seriously awesome! Here’s another challenge. For those of us thinking of trying veganism, maybe you could do a post on how to make sure you’re getting enough nutrition (including all the various minerals, vitamins, etc).

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ClaireRose77 September 11, 2011

This was and a helpful and awesome post from beginning to end!! :-)cc

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Jennifer September 11, 2011

MASON JARS! Great idea! I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to transport soup for lunches, and have been having an impossible time finding non-plastic, leak-free, microwavable containers and the answer has been sitting on the shelf all along! Simple, but brilliant. Thanks!

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Cait's Plate September 11, 2011

LOVE these types of posts. They’re so helpful to reference and these are awesome ideas!

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marie-pier September 11, 2011

I love all the informations! I’m always a bit hesitant with dry grain but you encourage me to use them :)
Also, those lunch are so colorful, yet healthy and not pricey!

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table September 11, 2011

Great ideas! I love the “quick” method of the chickpeas… I’m taking advantage of that right now so I can add to my soup. :)

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Heather (Faces of Beauty) September 11, 2011

yum! i love the difference flavors and textures…perfect for lunches :)

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Sweet and Savvy September 11, 2011

These are absolutley wonderful tips! I had to go on a gluten free diet over the summer, so going back to school where I do not even have access to a fridge or microwave has been a HUGE struggle. I will definitely be utilizing these tips. :) Thanks!

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Lesley September 11, 2011

I’ve always found preparing easy, healthy, and portable lunches during the week such a challenge. Thanks, Angela! A much needed post. :)

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Carar @ EAT. PRAY. RUN. September 11, 2011

This is a wondeful post and your photos are gorgeous! I love the breakdown of how to cook the grains and beans…very helpful tips! Thanks!

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Linda September 11, 2011

Love the container of veggies, will make packing lunches the night before go more quickly. I’m going to do that today. Now I wish there was a trick to ensure my kids ate them! Would cauliflower and broccoli go in water or just washed and then wrapped in paper towels?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 11, 2011

Hmm I think you could also put it in water too? I would assume so anyways!

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Rebecca September 11, 2011

Thank you so much for this! This is the first college semester when I’ve needed to pack lunches and lately my mind’s been drawing a blank. I’m bookmarking this post for many future references :)

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Carine September 11, 2011

Thanks for this post!! I’ve been looking for make-ahead lunches and this post is really useful! Also, I never thought of putting my veggies in a container filled with water to keep them fresh and crisp all week long. That’s a great tip! Can’t wait to read part II!

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Amber K September 11, 2011

This is such a cool idea! Thanks for all of the hard work you’re putting in. You definitely took on a huge task of vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, with nut-free options. Whew! Awesome :)

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Kara September 11, 2011

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you! I love these ideas ad can’t wait for your next post!

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Madelaine @ Healthy, Hot and Happy September 11, 2011

What a wonderful post! I’m all about quick eats and often need to bring my lunch with me to school/work.

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Gina @ Running to the Kitchen September 11, 2011

This is a fun little “series!” It’s kind of neat to see your lunches throughout the week and the prep that goes into them. I always have such good intentions on Sunday’s to do prep work for the week but it seldomly happens!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 11, 2011

This challenge was also a good kick in the butt for me as I’ve been eating the same lunch day in and day out for a while now. It’s nice to change it up!

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mary @ what's cookin with mary September 11, 2011

This is an awesome post! I love the idea of prepping everything on Sunday. It makes staying on track with your weekly eats so easy. Making things easy = actually doing them! Right ?

I had wanted to mention that I really enjoyed your tutorial on how to chiffonade basil a little while ago. I will definitely be linking to it the next time I call for basil chiffonade. It was so clear, concise and easy to understand! …and your photography takes it over the top. :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 11, 2011

I’m happy that helped you!

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Dutchgirl Sam September 11, 2011

This is great! Wow, thank you Angela. Love your lunch ideas!

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Lauren @ What Lauren Likes September 11, 2011

Can I just say WOW. This post seriously rocked! As a person that practically lives at the University, these lunches are amazing! Thanks sooo much :)

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laura September 11, 2011

Fantastic recipes! Very WF salad-car-esque, my fav ;)
Thanks for the fesh veggie tip, i would of thought they would get soggy in water.
Approx how many calories in 1/3 cup of the glow mix?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 11, 2011

I’m not sure on that one, but I will post about it if I calculate it out :)

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Helen September 11, 2011

This looks amazing – such a useful post! Quick question though – how do you store the grains once they’re cooked to make them last a week? I would have thought they’d go a bit smushy after five days…?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 12, 2011

generally they last in the fridge for 5-7 days in an air tight container. You can also freeze some and then thaw overnight in the fridge.

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Katelyn September 11, 2011

Thank you so so sooo much for doing this, I love this theme idea and really needed some new inspiration this year!! :)

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raechel @the rebel grrl kitchen September 11, 2011

Great idea for a post, Angela! Thanks a ton! Those are some of my favorite kitchen staples, and this really inspires me to *finally* get around to using dry beans instead of canned!

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles September 11, 2011

Thanks so much!! I always pack my lunch, but you gave me some great ideas. I especially love the “quick soak” tip, I always forget to soak my beans! Ashley at the Edible Perspective posted about cooking beans in the crock pot as opposed to boiling and it’s been working perfectly. And I had no idea about keeping cut veggies in water. Great post!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 11, 2011

Crock pot is a great idea. I heard that cooking chickpeas in a crockpot makes them larger too (which is a problem I have when cooking in a pot)

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles September 11, 2011

Yes, I’ve definitely noticed they’re larger! And I love not having to deal with waiting for them to cook, it just happens while I’m at school, or skimming bean foam. All around fantastic! Unless, of course, I’ve forgotten to soak them.

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Shady September 11, 2011

Angela, this is awesome! I’m returning to school for what I anxiously refer to as my ‘hell’ semester. It’s going to be an intense four months and eating healthy to properly fuel myself for days long study sessions is so important. Thanks!

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Beth September 11, 2011

Thank you! Lunches always stump me. These look delicious and I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve for the rest of the week :)

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Melissa September 11, 2011

Great post Angela. Often my planning goes as far as making enough food the night before for lunch leftovers, but I am often stuck with days where we ate out and I have nothing to take! It’s a vicious cycle! I’m going to be whipping up a few of these today for sure!

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Katie @ Peace Love and Oats September 11, 2011

thanks for doing this! I have to pack lunch every day and dinner two days! These recipes will really help me out!

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Karen November 12, 2012

Blessing in deguise! We are not planned people over here..but need to get there. Today I made up a master grocery shopping list with all those items and plan to laminate it and carry in my purse. My daughter will have no excuse that we don’t have good nutritious lunches. I can’t thank you enough!

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Becky @ Skinnyfat Girls September 11, 2011

Everything looks absolutely beautiful! Your soup is so bright and colorful – it’s gotta be those homegrown carrots, eh? Oh, and I gotta get me some goji berries. Superfood!

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