Vegan: On-The-Go.

Well, the school year has officially begun- today, I packed my first lunch! Last year, I was notorious in my afternoon classes for always having something delicious to eat, since it was really the only time I got to sit down and have lunch during the day. I was fortunate to have great professors who didn’t care that I set up a personal buffet each class period. This year, I have a nine-hour school day on Tuesdays, so packing some kind of meal is a must.

By far, one of the questions I get asked most often about being and staying vegan is, “what do I do for quick, easy, on-the-go meals?” There is a misconception that being vegan is especially challenging or restrictive, usually held by people who aren’t vegan. As a regular vegan lunch-packer, I strive to debunk that myth. With some forethought, putting together a fun lunch is incredibly easy!

This is what came to school with me today. I only ate a few of the snack-y items, since we were dismissed early. I brought: a salad box from Whole Foods, a black bean burger left over from two nights ago (carried in a reusable sandwich bag from Planetwise), chocolate covered espresso beans, an Artisana nut butter packet, a jar of potato leek soup left over from last night, and a large bottle of water. All of this, save for the water, fit into my canvas lunch bag from MotheringMother.

The salad box from Whole Foods is a fancy addition to my lunch. I picked up Luis from the train station this morning, and we stopped in to WF while we were in the area. Inside: kale salad with garlicky dressing, falafel, and stuffed grape leaves. This doesn’t differ much from what I keep on hand- I always have kale and my favorite lemon-tahini dressing in the fridge, as well as Trader Joe’s frozen falafel, so putting together a box like this is easy.

The key to my lunches is putting leftovers to good use, as well as keeping some healthy snacks on hand. These espresso beans were on sale today, and I usually have a few packets of nut butter on hand, but on any given day I might bring homemade granola, trail mix, hummus and veggie sticks, or even a piece of fruit- something that doesn’t require utensils or excessive cleanup.

Another lunch: zucchini and cherry tomato salad with fresh herbs, and quinoa with steamed greens. This one was obviously for home consumption, but everything is totally packable. What I usually do is pack these dishes in pint-sized Ball jars, but of course tupperware would work too.

Packing your lunch, whether for school or work, is a great way to save money and use up leftover food. My school’s cafeteria is great, and offers a number of healthy vegan options, so every once in a while I’ll treat myself to a sandwich or wrap there- but it adds up when it becomes a regular event. When I pack my own lunch, I know it’s something healthy and delicious to keep me going through the 4 1/2-hour silkscreening class that now occupies my Tuesday afternoons, and it doesn’t cost me anything extra to use the food I already have. I am really looking forward to packing super fun lunches for Jack and Carolyn someday 🙂

On the topic of lunch and being a cheap-o, check out what I found at Brands for Bargains when I dropped off this week’s consignment:

a wooden salad set, made of gorgeous Thai teak! I have been fawning over wooden salad sets on Etsy ever since I first saw some in a photo for a salad recipe. I fell in love, but a purchase like that is so far down my list of priorities, I had settled for just ogling them from afar.

Then I came across these beauties sitting on a shelf at the consignment shop for $10.50. My heart stopped- especially when I found out it was a sale day, 50% any item with a yellow tag. Guess what color these lovelies were sporting?

The entire set, for $5.25 🙂 I have been fawning over them ever since we got home. I haven’t even put them away because I don’t want to stop looking at them. The wood is gorgeous! I don’t know what the two little dishes with the spoons are for, though- I suspect they didn’t actually come with the set, they seem like a totally different weight and grain.

I have been doing a lot of research since yesterday, and am now somewhat of a teak expert 😉 It takes a bit of special care, but nothing beyond what I do for my cutting boards- no soaking, mineral oil rubdowns, etc. Totally worth it.

I also found these simple and pretty earrings for a dollar. I am convinced that there is no reason to ever pay full price for anything- between consignment, sales, and coupons, if you can’t get what you want at a discount, you probably don’t need it.

Now I’m off to play Brios with J & C and fawn over my salad set a bit more before heading out to my 2 1/2-hour Creative Writing class with the ever-eccentric Dr. Bursk. It’s good to be back in the swing of things 🙂

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