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 }

Karen September 13, 2011

The pita in Monday’s lunch would not be gf unless you have a source? I’d love to get my hands on some without having to make my own… Please post so people who are new to the gf diet understand they cannot eat that safely. Folks who have been around the diet a while will know but newbies may not…. It can be overwhelming at first.

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Morgan @ Endorphaholic September 13, 2011

I think she said the pita was not gf, but could be subbed out for gf bread. I wish I knew of a gf pita, but I don’t think i’ve ever seen them. Good luck with gf living!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 13, 2011

Yes I said it was whole wheat and then suggested to use GF bread or GF pita as a replacement. Sorry for the confusion, I will try to clarify it a bit more in the instructions.

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Liz Calloway September 15, 2011

just found this site and am really excited – especially as a parent of a child with multple food allergies – (Dairy, Wheat, Eggs, and Peas). These recipes are fantastic and will make mommy’s life much easier – Thank You!!!

For a gluten free pita, might I suggest http://www.cybelepascal.com/?p=3320 for a recipe.

Thank you again!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 16, 2011

Thanks Liz!

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Nicole September 13, 2011

Where would a person find mulberries? I so want to make the Go Glow mix!!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 13, 2011

Bulk Barn :)

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Lauren September 14, 2011

hi angela! i love your ideas! i was just thinking that i wish i could chop up veggies in advance (like on sunday for at least the first part of the week) and saw your idea about putting them in water. i didn’t think of that! which veggies do you find work best to do that way? that would save me so much time in the morning!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 16, 2011

the carrots worked great all week long, but the cukes only were good for 2-3 days. The red peppers got soft! I think the firmer the veggie is, the better it will hold up. :)

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Lauren September 18, 2011

I just cut up my peppers, celery, cucumbers, carrots, and some peaches for my green smoothies. I just put everything in tupperware containers in the fridge, so I’m hoping it works. This would be a huge timesaver. :) Thanks for all of your awesome ideas!!!

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Diane September 19, 2011

Hi Angela,

I just came across your website a few days ago and I am so happy I did! I am struggling with my weight and have been trying to lose and eat right! I have lost about 40 pounds but am so tired of counting calories all the time. I love your approach of only eating when hungry and eating the right foods! I am trying the vegetarian route (not sure if I am ready to or will go vegan) for a full week now and I feel great! I have lost 3 pounds, my skin and my hair look healthier too! I was so excited to find your meal plan for a week of lunches! I tried “Mondays” today and loved it! Any helpful tips for a newbie? I would love it if you could do easy weeknight dinners too! Thanks for the wonderful info you have truly inspired me!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 19, 2011

Hey Diane, I’m glad to hear you are experiencing benefits of a plant based diet and are enjoying the recipes. :) Thanks for your suggestion re: easy weeknight dinners! Great idea.

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JenATX September 19, 2011

does the Go Go Glow mix make you feel like Go Go Gadget?? haha

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Tara September 23, 2011

Celery and radishes keep quite well in water though! And they are also great for lunch time snacking!

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Sara September 25, 2011

Anglea, I just wanted to say thank you!! This is absolutely perfect! I work some long, crazy weeks … for example this week I’m working from 6:30am-7:30pm Monday thru Thursday. I’m often too tired when I get home to cook a full dinner and to pack a lunch for the next day … so I eat whatever I can find. This is a great solution. I’ve thought of doing something similar before but I’m just too lazy and have never very creative at making meals. I am going to try your menu out this week. Thank you so much for doing this! I would love to see more examples in the future!

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Adrienne June 15, 2012

I LOVE these ideas….after reading this i vowed to try and revise my lunch routine and have had the best eating week of the summer! I would love more simple lunch ideas like these. Thank you!

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Leigh November 19, 2012

Just ate your delicious Monday lunch and I have the rest of the week prepped! I would love to see more weekly menus, breakfast, lunch or dinner!

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Jacquie December 10, 2012

Wow! These recipes are the best I’ve seen yet! I am just getting started, trying a vegan gluten-free diet! Thank you so much for taking the time to invent, prep and share these!!!! I can’t wait to try them and I can tell my family is going to love them too!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 11, 2012

Thank you so much for your kind words Jacquie!

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Rebecca February 19, 2013

I am new to your site and really enjoy it. I was just wondering once you have cooked all the beans etc how do you store them please?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) February 20, 2013

In the fridge or the freezer in small containers :)

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Alyson March 1, 2013

This is a fantastic post!! Thank you so much for throwing this together! I was wondering if you had an ideas for make ahead dinners as well. I’m a busy student who spends most of my time in the library. Frequently I don’t have a chance to make it home for dinner and usually end up eating out. Any thoughts?! I absolutely love your blog, especially as a busy vegetarian, I appreciate how balanced and healthy your recipes are!

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Megan March 14, 2013

Please, please, please post some more of these! One week is not enough, and I am so not creative in the kitchen!

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Mona April 21, 2013

Hi Angela,

I made this for the week and I am excited to have such a healthy array of food. I can’t believe the difference of what my normal vegan eats were and what they are now that I’ve made all this. I was wondering if you could do another segment like this, but including more salads? Pretty please?!?! :) I am just starting to become aware of what I need to pack, but one more may do the trick. I live in Arizona and its so dang hot that I salads have been doing the trick.

Thanks!

-M

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Helen October 14, 2013

Thanks for the great recipes!! I absolutely love them!

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Suzanne November 11, 2013

Hi Angela,
This is such an awesome idea! I’m cooking the black beans, garbanzo beans, millet and lentils right now. But, despite soaking the beans for about 16 hours, they are taking waaaaaaay longer to cook than your time recommendations. Any ideas why? This is a common problem for me, which is why I cook beans in the crock pot. But I would love to do a bunch at once like you suggest! (oh, and the beans shouldn’t be old…. got them within the last few weeks… so I don’t think that’s why they are taking so long to cook).
Thanks, Suzanne

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Colleen April 13, 2014

HI Suzanne,

I too found, the first time I cooked beans, that they take WAY longer than 15 minutes. Most other sources online say that beans take at least an hour to cook! Not sure what Angela is doing to get such speedy beans!

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kateinbkk November 27, 2013

Just found this post on Pinterest. It is so wonderful! Thanks so much!

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Daniela March 2, 2014

Love this! I have been struggling with coming up with lunch ideas for work, and this is genius. Love the list, will definitely be packing that soup, trail mix, grains, and fruits & veggies!

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