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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

20 Easy, Healthy, Vegetarian Lunch Ideas

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Are you tired of the same lunch options week after week? Or are you trying to go meatless for a few meals but don’t know where to start? Here are 20 easy, healthy and delicious vegetarian lunch ideas that are perfect for taking to work or enjoying at home!

Whether you’re making your own lunch (to take to work or eat at home), or looking for something your kids will enjoy, coming up with healthy options for lunch can be so hard! Ideally, you want something that will keep you full (so you don’t end up with a candy bar in your hand at 3pm), and something that super fast and doesn’t require much cooking or prep time.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Here are 20 vegetarian lunch ideas that are tasty, good for you, and that kids will love!

What Do Vegetarians Eat?

There are five different categories of vegetarians, although, what all vegetarians have in common is that they do not eat meat, poultry, or pork.

  • Lacto Vegetarians: This type of vegetarian includes dairy in their diet such as cheese, yogurt, butter, and milk.
  • Ovo Vegetarians: This type of vegetarian includes eggs in their diet, but not dairy products.
  • Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians: This type of vegetarian includes both eggs and dairy products in their diet.
  • Pescatarian: A pescatarian generally excludes all meat, poultry, pork, eggs, and dairy, but does allow for fish.
  • Vegan: Vegans exclude all animal products including meat, poultry, pork, eggs, dairy, and fish.

Why Do People Become Vegetarian?

There are many reasons why a person may choose to become vegetarian.

  • Religious beliefs: Some religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Seventh Day Adventist, and Jains follow a vegetarian diet because it promotes nonviolence.
  • Health concerns: Following a healthy and well balanced vegetarian diet can improve your overall health, as well as reduce your risk of many chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. In addition, hormones and antibiotics are used in some livestock. People choose to avoid meat to reduce their exposure.
  • Animal rights: People also choose to follow a vegetarian diet because of their love for animals, and wanting to treat animals humanely and with respect.
  • Environmental concerns: The production of meat causes green house gases that have an impact on our environment.
  • Budget Friendly: Others may choose a vegetarian diet because it is more budget friendly. Plant sources of protein are less expensive than animals sources of protein.

Is Following a Vegetarian Diet Healthy?

If you follow a well balanced vegetarian diet, and make sure that you are eating plenty of plant protein, whole grains, vegetables and fruits, you will see numerous health benefits.

  • Reduced Risk of Heart Disease: The consumption of red meat increases your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, liver disease, respiratory illness, infections, and kidney disease.
  • Reduced Cancer Risk: Studies have shown that eating red meat increases your risk of developing cancers such as breast cancer, prostate, pancreatic, skin, colorectal cancer. Processed meats have the highest link to increased risk of cancer.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Vegetarians on average weight about 10% less than non-vegetarians. If following a well balanced and healthy vegetarian diet, you will generally consume fewer calories and fat. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.
  • Reduced Risk of Metabolic Syndrome: Metabolic syndrome is characterized by high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a large belly. If you have metabolic syndrome you have an increased risk in developing heart disease, and diabetes.

Can You Lose Weight on a Vegetarian Diet?

If following a well balanced low-sugar vegetarian diet, you can certainly lose weight.

As with any diet, you need to be conscientious about what you are consuming. You can easily fill up on unhealthy vegetarian foods like ice cream, cookies, crackers, chips, dips, cheese, and other high sugar, refined carbohydrate, or high fat foods.

If you choose to follow a vegetarian diet with the purpose of losing weight be sure to limit or eliminate refined sugars and sweets. Limit the amount of cheese, dairy, and eggs you consume. Eliminate all refined carbohydrates including white pastas, white bread, and crackers.

Instead eat plenty of fruit when you have sweet cravings.

Replace white carbs with whole grains such as whole wheat pastas, whole wheat bread, oats, bulgar, barley, and brown rice.

Increase your consumption of vegetables. Be sure to add vegetables to your meals. I like to think about filling half of my plate with vegetables. Not only do you benefit from the vitamins and minerals in vegetables, but also vegetables are low in calorie, but very filling. Include a wide variety of vegetables, and be sure in include leafy greens.

What Should You Look For In A Healthy Vegetarian Lunch?

When it comes to lunch, you want something that’s easy, flavorful and will keep you full. Here are some other things to look for when figuring out what to make for lunch:

  • Low Sugar: Choose a recipe that won’t make you feel sluggish (no sugar highs and crashes!)
  • Well Balanced: Look for lunches that are balanced when it comes to protein, fats, carbs and have a good amount of vegetables. You especially want to make sure there is enough plant-protein to keep you full.
  • Easy to Pack: Because if you’re taking lunch on the go, you need it to be easy to transport and not have 100 components to put together!

What Can I Eat For Lunch Without Meat?

  • Simple veggie filled sandwiches: Using a whole grain bread fill your salad with layers of grilled or fresh veggies. Use a healthy spread such as hummus, guacamole, or a slice of low-fat cheese.
  • Hearty salads filled with legumes, a light amount of cheese, and a small amount of dressing. This will make your salad filling and feel like a meal.
  • Soups, Stews and Chilis: Preparing a pot of soup or a hearty stew will provide you with lunch for several days! Pair with a side of whole grain bread, and be sure to add some plant protein such as beans to make it a complete meal.
  • Rice and grain bowls. Begin with a base of brown rice or a whole grain such as farro, bulgar, barley, or even oats. Top with sautéd vegetables, a light and simple sauce, and a plant protein such as tofu, beans, or tempeh.

20 Vegetarian Lunch Ideas

Hearty Sandwiches and Burgers

lunchbox makeover: vegetarian sandwich on sprouted wheat bread with tomatoes, cheese and lettuce

Sandwiches and burgers are lunchtime staples, but can become boring if you have the same thing every day. Try these recipes to switch things up!

top view of garlic bread grilled cheese on a wooden cutting board
Gooey Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese Sandwich
This Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese with French Onions is the ultimate gooey cheesy indulgent sandwich with a healthy twist. Packed with flavor and done in minutes, it's comfort food at its best!
View this recipe
Greek pita sandwiches stuffed with veggies, feta, and chickpeas on a white cutting board.
Greek Pita Sandwich
Healthy eating just got a whole lot tastier with this easy Greek pita sandwich recipe! Whole wheat pitas are filled with creamy hummus, crunchy cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, and salty feta for a tangy, refreshing lunch or dinner. The best part? This can easily be made gluten free and vegan, too!
View this recipe
Gourmet Banana Peanut Butter Sandwich
Who said that the peanut butter sandwich had to be 1) boring 2) just for kids and 3) the same every time? Sometimes reinventing a classic is just what you need to get out of a rut.
View this recipe
Black bean quinoa burgers on a white plate served with roasted potatoes on the side.
Black Bean Quinoa Burgers
These vegetarian black bean quinoa burgers are easy and quick to make, so they are perfect for a healthy and affordable weeknight meal. Your whole family will be impressed by how tasty and hearty the burgers are! The best part? They're ready in under 30 minutes and can easily be made gluten-free and vegan, too!
View this recipe
chipotle black bean burgers with tahini sauce and sweet potato fries
Spicy Black Bean Burgers
Spicy black bean burgers are protein packed and perfect for summer cookouts, barbecues and easy family dinners! Great for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who follows a plant-based diet.
View this recipe

Other Sandwich Tips

  • For an everyday savory sandwich: Start with sprouted wheat bread like Ezekiel, and layer on some plant-based protein (mild cheddar cheese, hummus, baked tofu, etc.), any veggies you like (greens, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers, roasted vegetable slices, etc.), and add some flavor (salt/pepper, mashed avocado or guacamole, mustard, pesto, etc.) For kids, I like to “deconstruct” the sandwich and serve it bento-style since being able to hold a sandwich that big without everything spilling out can be hard for little hands. You really can’t go wrong with a healthy, filling sandwich, and you can change things up slightly every day!
  • For a sweeter sandwich: Try using a combination of nut and seed butters, fresh fruit, and toppings like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. One of my favorites is a combo of almond butter, pear slices, walnuts and cinnamon!
  • For a quick veggie burger: I recommend making the patties in bulk and freezing them, so you can spend 5 minutes warming them up and assembling them before you head out for the day. For kids, I pack a deconstructed burger with the patty in one compartment, toppings in another and the bun cut in half in the third. That way it doesn’t get soggy by the time they eat it and it’s easier for kids to eat without getting messy!

Salads That Pack Well

lunchbox makeover: healthy greek salad with peppers, cucumbers, greens, against a white background

You can pretty much do anything you want with a salad. For kids, I recommend chopping up the veggies/toppings/etc into smaller bite sized chunks so it’s easier to chew. And in general, there are a few rules to keep in mind to make sure any salad you make is both tasty & healthy:

easy healthy gluten free pasta salad recipe in a bowl
Gluten Free Pasta Salad With Olives and Herbs
If you are looking for an easy, make-ahead dish, then this Gluten Free Pasta Salad could be for you!
View this recipe
Keto Greek salad with feta served in a white bowl.
Keto Greek Salad
This refreshing Keto Greek Salad is a healthy, low-carb version of a classic Greek salad, but tastes just as delicious as the traditional recipe! It's packed with fresh vegetables, salty olives, tangy feta cheese, and a zesty dressing that's vibrant and flavorful. This is the perfect side dish for a potluck or picnic, but it can also be eaten as an entree for a light lunch or dinner!
View this recipe
feta salad with lentils, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn in a bowl
Simple and Fast Lentil and Feta Salad
This simple and quick Lentil and Feta Salad is made with cucumbers, juicy grape tomatoes, red onion, corn, and bell pepper for a high protein, nutrient-packed salad hearty enough to make a meal!
View this recipe
tomato avocado cucumber salad in a white bowl
Tomato Avocado Cucumber Salad
This quick, easy tomato avocado cucumber salad is a delicious blend of colorful, fresh veggies that will brighten up your dinner table. It’s vegetarian, gluten-free, and the perfect healthy side dish for a picnic, summer gatherings, potlucks with friends, or a quick weeknight dinner any time of the year! Plus, you'll only need 10 minutes of prep time to make it!
View this recipe
Copycat Chick-Fil-A kale salad served in a white salad bowl, garnished with almonds, top view.
Chick-Fil-A Kale Salad (Copycat Recipe!)
This copycat Chick-Fil-A kale salad recipe will quickly become one of your new favorite salads! It is made with a blend of kale and cabbage, and tossed in a homemade apple dijon vinaigrette for the perfect combination of tangy and sweet. If you are looking for healthy options for lunch or dinner, give this simple recipe a try! 
View this recipe

Other Salad Tips

  • Lots of Veggies: Start as many veggies as you like! Greens, cucumbers, peppers, roasted veggies, tomatoes, and anything that’s in season is always fun to add in. Just avoid anything that’s already pre-dressed – like from a deli.
  • Lean Protein: Some of my favorites include hardboiled eggs (use more of the whites vs. the yolks), beans, lentils or nuts and seeds
  • Seasoning: To season your salad, use salt & pepper – they do wonders for flavor, and 2 tsp olive oil with 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Spreads: You can add in hummus or guacamole for extra flavor! Just stick to 1-2 tbsp per salad serving.
  • What to Avoid: Avoid croutons, chips, dried fruit, and pre-made dressing – they are generally high in calories, low in nutrients and high in processed ingredients and/or sugar
  • In Moderation: If you’re using cheese, just watch the portions! 2-3 tbsp is enough for 1 salad.

Soups and Stews That Make Great Leftovers

When it comes to soups, I recommend making a big batch one evening and using it a couple times during the week. It packs really well in a thermos for kids (or adults too honestly!), or you can pack it alongside other lunch items in my favorite bento box that incorporates hot and cold items in the same box!

The best Instant Pot vegetarian chili, served in a bowl garnished with green onions, cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.
The Best Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili
This is the BEST Instant Pot vegetarian chili ever! It’s incredibly rich and hearty, super smoky and slightly spicy. Made with three types of beans, packed with veggies, it's family-friendly, ready in 30 minutes, and will satisfy both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike!
View this recipe
Tuscan Bean Stew with Whole Wheat Pasta, topped with parmesan cheese and served in a ceramic bowl
Tuscan Bean Stew with Whole Wheat Pasta
This Tuscan Bean Stew is hearty, spicy, healthy and satisfying. Full of veggies, beans, and whole wheat pasta it's a high protein, high fiber, delicious meal that's done in 30 minutes.
View this recipe
Authentic Lebanese lentil soup served in a white bowl, garnished with parsley.
Lebanese Lentil Soup
Rich, flavorful, easy Lebanese lentil soup (shorbet adas) is warming and hearty, perfect for a family-friendly weeknight meal. Made with red lentils, vegetables, spices, and lemon juice, this easy dish is healthy, vegan, and naturally gluten free too!
View this recipe
thai sweet potato soup with poblano peppers served in a white bowl, top view
Poblano Soup with Sweet Potatoes
This spicy Poblano Soup with Sweet Potatoes combines the flavors of a traditional curry with some unconventional spices and seasoning for a rich and healthy soup with a real depth of flavor.
View this recipe
vegetarian stew recipe with beans and rice, served on a white plate with a spoon
Vegetarian Stew Recipe with Beans and Rice
This Vegetarian Stew recipe with beans and rice is healthy and hearty. It's a budget-friendly, family-friendly, plant-based meal that the whole family will enjoy!
View this recipe

Bowls, Grains, and Pastas

Bowls are great because you can just throw them together and they travel really well. Grains and pastas can both be wonderful bases for healthy and filling meals! All of these taste great hot or cold, so they work well in kids’ lunchboxes especially if they don’t have a place to reheat their lunch.

bbq jackfruit served in a white bowl with burrito fixings
BBQ Jackfruit Burrito Bowls
This pulled BBQ jackfruit burrito recipe in a bowl is simply incredible and bold in flavor. Made with tender jackfruit, hearty beans, rice, fresh vegetables, and comforting spices, this recipe is the perfect healthy option for meatless weeknight dinners!
View this recipe
Baked Vegan Pasta
This cheesy, healthy, Baked Vegan Pasta recipe is so easy to make and packed full of tasty, nutritious ingredients. Lightened up with roasted veggies, paired with a rich tomato sauce, it's a meal that the whole family will enjoy!
View this recipe
pesto without pine nuts in a glass jar
Pesto Without Pine Nuts
This healthy pesto without pine nuts is the perfect pasta sauce for a quick and easy weeknight meal. This walnut and sage pesto is packed full of earthy flavors and is lower in fat and calories than its store bought counterparts!
View this recipe
black bean casserole with quinoa and cheese, in a white baking dish
Black Bean Casserole with Quinoa
A lightened-up, healthy black bean casserole that you can enjoy completely guilt-free. Reminiscent of enchiladas, slightly spicy and super satisfying, full of black beans, veggies, quinoa, and cheesy goodness.
View this recipe
whole wheat pasta recipe topped with spinach, pasta sauce, parmesan cheese on a white plate, with a fork
Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta Recipe
This homemade whole wheat pasta recipe is a healthy twist on your regular pasta. Made with whole wheat flour, this pasta not only tastes great but also packs a nutritional punch.
View this recipe

Vegetarian Lunch Ideas for Kids School Luches

When it comes to preparing a healthy vegetarian school lunch for your child you want to look for ideas that are simple, easily portable, healthy, satisfying, and super tasty!

You also want to prepare a lunch that is well rounded with all of the important food groups included. That means protein, fruit, vegetables, whole grains.

Just because a lunch is vegetarian does not mean it doesn’t include protein. You can add plant protein to your child’s lunch by adding nuts, seeds, cheese, beans, legumes, and hummus. These ingredients are satiating, delicious, and healthy!

  • Hummus and veggie sandwich
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Nut butter and fresh fruit sandwich
  • Falafel sandwich with veggies
  • Black bean & cheese quesadilla
  • Thermos of soup
  • Sliced fresh veggies with hummus
  • Fruit paired with nut butter or Greek Yogurt for dipping
  • Homemade granola bars
  • Low sugar muffins
  • Quinoa and bean salad with tortilla chips
  • Black bean tacos with corn tortilla and fresh veggies

For toddlers, try these healthy vegetarian toddler lunch ideas (and most of these can be adapted to big kids too)!

More Delicious Recipes!

And that’s it! 20 ways to completely makeover your lunchbox that will leave you and your family feeling satisfied, happy and full!

40 responses to “20 Easy, Healthy, Vegetarian Lunch Ideas”

  1. I have a picky eater and making school lunches are a nightmare. I’ve tried many things. Have to keep at it trying different things. Some of these look good.

  2. These look yummy! I tend to pack pb&j most days, but will have to try some of these to change it up. I think my youngest would like the pb and banana sandwich. I never thought to send a deconstructed hamburger for lunch!

    • Thank you so much Patrice! I can’t wait to hear how your kids like these lunch ideas! And yes – I’m all about deconstructing things for little hands — makes for less messy eating that’s still tasty and satisfying! 🙂

  3. Thanks, Anjali. The recipes looking very good and tasty. I am not a student and I also have no kids. Still, I’m going to try in my everyday office lunch. 😊

  4. These look so amazing. I don’t go to school, I don’t have kids, but these are so amazing, just to make for myself 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

    • Haha! That’s awesome – and yes! These are great lunch options for adults too 🙂 Thanks Tammy – enjoy!

  5. thanks for the ideas…peanut butter sandwich looks like a melt in mouth…yumm…
    i have never grilled a PBJ sandwich before…now i am thinking of buying a panini press to make it goey…your pictures are really a treat :-))

    • Thanks Jyo!! And yes omg – grilled PBJ is seriously the best ever. You don’t need a panini press to make it either, you can just use a regular pan and a spatula – just flip it over when one side is done and press down with the spatula on the side facing up to make it flat and crispy! Enjoy!

  6. Where can I find this Ezekiel bread? I have a trader Joe’s and a sprouts near me. That ends the healthy store list.

    • Oh! Trader Joe’s has an Ezekiel bread knockoff – it’s basically the same thing – they have a whole “sprouted wheat bread” section – just look for it in the bread section (they have a ton of varieties, so just pick the one you like 🙂 ). I’m not sure if Sprouts has Ezekiel – since they’re a health food store I’d guess that they would, but Whole Foods definitely has Ezekiel. Hope that helps!

  7. Tried the recipe, but maybe I gotta give it a second go. Looked way better on this site than my plate. HA!

  8. Thanks for these amazing recipes – and great pictures! I’m suddenly hungry at 11.23 pm!! I do healthy recipes on my website – do check out our recipes; would be great to connect!

    • Thanks Vandana! So glad you like them! I’ll be sure to check out your website too – looking forward to connecting more through our blogs!

  9. Thank you so much for posting these meals! I’ve been trying to make a weekly meal plan that includes a short grocery list and minimal prep/cook time. Your blog has made this really easy! Thanks again! 🙂

    • Yay!! No problem at all – I’m so glad it’s helpful! Good luck with your weekly meal plan – let me know how it goes! 🙂

  10. Some fantastic ideas and quick meals at that.. Nor reason that ‘Healthy’ has to take ‘longer’ to prepare. I’m going to be trying the peanut butter sandwich reinvented today.. Thank you Anjali…

  11. Makeover #1 is making my mouth water … it looks so good! There’s something about a colorful sandwich … just makes one happy to take a bite! Thank you for sharing … I can’t wait to try some of your ideas!

    • Totally agree – I try to make my meals as colorful as possible, they’re so much more fun to eat that way! Hope you enjoy these recipes when you try them! 🙂

  12. OMG…. I think I love you. My mouth is literally salivating. Everything looks sooooo yummy! Thanks for posting!!

  13. Thanks for this, Anjali! The first one is actually my most favorite sandwich, ever (with some kettle cooked jalapeno chips on the side. :)) Also, in addition to the hummus I add pesto. It’s so flavorful my stomach is actually grumbling just thinking about it!

    • Oooh those additions sound fab 🙂 I like eating it with the Baked Kettle BBQ chips since they’re slightly more guilt-free – but I’ll have to try the jalapeno chips soon!!

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