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Last summer, I was about to check out at Walmart when I spotted some portable salad containers on clearance. I was so excited, I accidentally bought 11. These salad containers ended up being the best addition to my meal prep arsenal because they are a big enough size for a decent meal.
Have you ever gotten leftover containers that are clearly only meant for a small amount of actual leftovers? These salad containers are not those kind. They include a fork, and have a small container that fits inside the lid for dressing. These are meant for actual meal-sized salad portions.
And I eat like an elephant, so I am the perfect authority on meal-sized portions.
However, sometimes you want salads without lettuce, so today I wanted to share 5 of my favorite easy vegan meal prep recipes so you can take a break from lettuce and still have a healthy and filling meal on-the-go.
Easy Vegan Make Ahead Lunches
This is a great cold salad recipe with tons of flavors and a variety of nutrients. I like the inclusion of the whole wheat pasta, but you can just as easily use a gluten-free pasta like a rice or a lentil. I have found that quinoa noodles don’t hold up as well for a longer time, so might be best to avoid them if you are using them for meal prep. No one wants a cup of soggy noodles for lunch, even if it does come with an amazing almond butter sauce.
Since Tristan is gluten-free, I make pretty much every pasta dish with either Pow! lentil pasta or Banza chickpea pasta for extra protein and fiber content. Not only does this mean he can eat the same meal as the rest of us, but it also means that my picky carb-monster of a preschooler will actually get some good protein and fiber in his diet, without even realizing it. Thankfully, he loves this pasta salad!
Unfortunately (but this is insanely yummy, so….fortunately?) I’m the only one in my house who likes lentils. I grew up on them, they cook up quickly, and they are so packed with solid nutrients that I know I am doing my body a solid by eating them. Plus, they are super cheap at the grocery store, and very filling, which make them a great food option when you’re on a tight budget.
One of the most popular arguments against veganism is “but where do you get your protein?” Quinoa is just one of the answers. This special seed (it’s not a grain) contains all 9 essential amino acids we need for protein synthesis, as well as tons of fiber and other phytonutrients. It has the basic texture of rice, but more health benefits. It’s an easy swap! This recipe gives it a refreshing twist by adding fresh pineapples and mango for an exotic and vitamin-packed experience.
Full disclosure: I’ve never made this particular recipe, because farro contains gluten, but how amazing does this look?! Farro contains a naturally-occurring gluten, so it’s not like eating store-bought bread where gluten is an extra additive. It’s in its natural form, so it is probably easier for most people to digest. I would absolutely make this without the farro, perhaps swapping it out with quinoa, to make it tummy-friendly for my whole family.
I absolutely love sweet potatoes in all forms. Roasted with that incredible natural carmelization, mashed with the cream that separates from a can of coconut milk, thinly sliced and baked into chips….and now this sweet potato salad recipe, just waiting for summer to get here. My favorite part about this salad is that it’s vegan, and here in the Midwest, you will be hard pressed to find a potato salad without mayonnaise and/or eggs. This recipe will leave you feeling full, but not uncomfortable.
A few tips about packing your salads if you choose the salad shaker cup style:
- If you choose to make a lettuce-based salad, pack your ingredients wettest first and end with the lettuce. This keeps the lettuce crisp and bright. If you use this cup just for a fruit cup, pack the juiciest fruits at the bottom, and leave drier and/or more delicate fruits towards the top.
- Be sure it stays upright, especially if you bring dressing. The seal isn’t completely perfect on the dressing cup, and it can leak a bit.
- Making salads ahead of time during your weekly meal prep makes the grab-and-go lifestyle so much simpler!
I hope I’ve inspired you to pack some healthy meals for your week!
If you’re looking to save money on your fixings, consider Brandless or Thrive Market. Both offer incredible savings off of all your basic non-perishables, and both support causes which provide meals to lower income families.
Curious about other meal prep containers? I use and love these:
3-compartment bento box – comes in a set of 20, BPA-free, microwaveable and freezer-friendly. I normally go for glass, but these are completely stackable and take up very little space. Which is a huge bonus feature since I have a toddler who loves the insides of cabinets. I’m also completely in love with the dishwasher-safe aspect of them, as I can just rinse them out and pop them in the dishwasher and they are ready to use again.
2-compartment yogurt cups – I use these for almond yogurt and granola, berries and nuts, veggies and hummus, whatever. These are so great for packing small snacks in my bag, especially since the two compartments allow for wet and dry snacks to be packed together.
Collapse-It Silicone Food Storage Containers – I received a Collapse-It container as my Mighty Nest offering last month, and I’m completely obsessed with it! I can’t believe that it’s so durable – they say it can go from freezer to the oven, and then to the dishwasher! It makes packing my meals so easy, since it can collapse to the right size to fit my food. I can’t wait to do some major freezer meal prep with these babies!
Insulated lunch box – When I update my lunch box game, this is my number one on my wish list! It’s HUGE, and since I tend to bring enough food for breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, lunch, and snack, this size is perfect to hold all the things. I like that the basic style is inconspicuous, and I’m a sucker for the price.
Don’t forget to share for future reference!