Y’all. Eating healthy and bringing your lunch to work every day is hard work. It’s a lot easier to eat out and not have to worry about it. But it’s also a lot more expensive and a lot less healthy. So how do you find that middle ground? Well I am only an expert in what works for me, but here is what did work: I joined a co-op.
More like I created a co-op because one didn’t exist at my workplace. I found four other people who also wanted to eat healthier, cheaper lunches every day. And it wasn’t as hard to find four other vegans (or at least people willing to eat vegan lunches every day) as I thought that it would be.
We assigned each person a day and on your designated day you are to bring five servings of whatever it is that you prepare for lunch. And then you don’t have to make lunch for the rest of the week.
You get all of the benefits of bulk meal prepping but without having to eat the same thing every day. You also get to try a lot of things that you may not have thought of trying before.
It’s been two weeks in our Lunch Bunch, and I’d say things are going pretty well. What have we been eating? I was hoping that you would ask!
Day One: Stir Fry Veggies with Tofu Over Rice
I figured this would eventually be one of our meals so I kind of laughed when it was the first one. I love stir fry. Love love love. But I’m not very good at pressing my tofu to get the firm texture that this dish had. I was super thankful that we had this dish because I was able to get some advice on press, press, press again.
Day Two: Kung Pao Cauliflower and Chickpeas
Day two was my day. I had a head of cauliflower that I
had bought at the grocery store but almost forgot about when I was able to whip up this
yummy dish. I absolutely love chickpeas, so I added those as well. This dish was super easy and even the non
vegetarian in our group was
impressed. I used a super simple breading, roasted the cauliflower, then tossed the cauliflower and some chickpeas in a kung pao sauce that I made. I felt like the
portion was a little small, but it seemed to be fine with everyone. We’re all learning a lot about portion control lately.
Day Three: Vegan Quiche
Oh. My. Goodness. I still cannot get over how delicious this was! I’ve seen recipes for vegan quiche for YEARS but could never convince myself to try it. Now I am absolutely kicking myself. The non-vegetarian in our group whipped this up and you would swear that she’s been a die hard vegan and master chef her whole life if you had tasted this. If you want to try it for yourself, you can use this recipe from Minimalist Baker.
Day Four: Soy Chorizo and Sweet Potato Wraps
Sweet Potatoes are probably my favorite food. Or maybe avocados. I can’t decide. Who cares? This dish had both! There was a little bit of assembly required but it was well worth it. A warm tortilla with spinach, a tasty mixture of sweet potato and vegan chorizo, topped with avocado. Say no more. My taste buds were happy all day long. This is a combo that I had never really thought about making but will be sure to whip up for myself in the future.
Day Five: Spaghetti with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes
Remember what I said about us learning portion control? It’s hard. And it’s hard to control yourself when the food is so yummy. I don’t eat pasta very often so this was a nice change of pace for me, and I was tickled to see that there were roasted Brussels sprouts as a side.
Day Six: Congee
I had never even heard of congee before but it may be one of my new favorite dishes.
Congee is a savory rice porridge that is popular in many Asian countries. It’s often paired with meat and/or veggies and served to people who are ill. It’s healthy comfort food! Oddly enough, I was having a really bad day the day that we had congee so it was perfect. Our congee was topped with kale, tofu, mushrooms, and green onions.
Day Seven: Zoodles with Homemade Sauce
I’m not sure what dish I was planning to prepare for my second week, but this was not it. That being said, I am a sucker for a good deal. Any time that I go to the grocery store, I always check for produce that has been marked down to sell before it goes bad. Monday evening I was at the store when I found zucchini marked down to 4 for 99 cents and could not just let it sit there. I also scooped up a bag of tomatoes for 99 cents. I already had plenty of garlic and basil at home, so Zoodles it was! If you haven’t tried making vegetable noodles yet, I strongly suggest it. I also scored an organic personal sized watermelon for only 99 cents so I added some fresh fruit to our lunch.
Day Eight: Zucchini Hummus Wraps
I DIDN’T GET TO EAT TODAY! I was so busy running around with meetings that I didn’t realize until I got home that I had forgotten to eat. Today’s lunch was a whole wheat tortilla with hummus, vegan cheese, kale, grilled zucchini, tomatoes, and onions.
Day Nine: Barbecue Carrot Sandwiches
Yum! This is another dish that I wouldn’t have made for myself. I love carrots and I love barbecue sauce, but I had never thought about using carrots in a dupe of a pulled pork sandwich. The sandwiches were topped with guacamole so of course my avocado loving soul was thrilled.
Day Ten: Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower with Mushroom Gravy
Remember that day that I was so busy that I forgot to eat lunch? I was NOT about to let
that happen again. Which explains why I am standing up in this picture, holding my food. I had to eat on the go, but I’m so glad that I took the time to heat my lunch up. I am not a huge potato person so having the mixture of potatoes and cauliflower mixed things up in an unexpected way. I definitely went into this meal thinking “mashed potatoes and gravy is a side dish, not a meal” but I was pleasantly surprised.
There were lots of hearty mushrooms in this dish and it gave it a really meaty texture. I am ceasing to pass judgement on food because I haven’t had a single meal that I wasn’t head over heels for this week.
So there you have it. I’ve eaten healthier, saved money, saved time, and helped my friends do the same. You could easily implement this in your own workplace or friend group as well!
Click the thumbnails below for full size pictures of each of the meals that I posted above: