A little meal prep goes a long way. With a wee bit of planning, some slicing and dicing, and a few strategic sauces, your sad desk lunch can really become something awesome. And don’t worry: Even though these recipes are vegetarian, they go way beyond tofu. These 11 vegetarian meal-prep recipes will make your week a heck of a lot easier—and tastier too.
Five days’ worth of food in less than 20 minutes? Glory hallelujah say it ain’t so! Thanks to this recipe, it is so. Simply mix cooked quinoa with corn, beans, cilantro, spices, and lime juice and fill the rest of your containers with chopped romaine, store-bought salsa, and sliced avocado. Craving more veg? Add sautéed mushrooms or diced bell pepper to the quinoa mixture. Want some heat? Try sliced jalapeños or hot sauce.
This recipe takes inspiration from tabbouleh, skipping the lettuce and instead adding heartiness (and fiber) with a base of grains. And since all of the add-ins are so sturdy—feta cheese, bell pepper, chickpeas, and radish—you can pour on the dressing in advance without fear of anything getting soggy. In fact, the more this salad soaks, the more delicious it is.
We want to let you in on a secret: Crispy, golden tofu cubes are way easier to achieve than you think. It starts with extra-firm tofu (this is key!) and then it’s all about the pressing technique to remove moisture. We love slicing the tofu block into inch-thick sheets, laying them out flat and topping with a cheesecloth or hand towel, and using a heavy cookbook to remove every last drop.
A little olive oil and store-bought jerk spice do the rest. (The charred broccoli and pineapple salsa don’t hurt either, but the crispy tofu is the real star.)
Having a barbecue? Sneak some extra veggie skewers on the grill for a week’s worth of chargrilled deliciousness. This recipe sticks to bell pepper, zucchini, and red onion, but we say go all out and use mushrooms, squash, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, or anything else you like to bulk up your black bean bowl. We also love adding a half a cup of grains, like quinoa or brown rice, to make things a bit more filling.
This recipe not only makes your week of eating a breeze, but it also minimizes kitchen cleanup, which can get a little crazy when you’re prepping several meals. While the rice cooks, sauté the spinach and garlic, and once it’s nice and wilted, set to the side in a separate bowl. Use that same pan to cook up the curried chickpeas and don’t even worry about wiping the pan—a little leftover garlic never hurt anyone.
Sweet potatoes are a great ingredient to meal prep with. Not only do they taste good with almost anything, but they also maintain their texture for days and even taste good cold.
Since potatoes take longer to roast than the veg used in this recipe—red onion and bell pepper—pop them in the oven before adding the rest (feel free to use one sheet pan to minimize cleanup). For extra protein, add a layer of black beans below the roasted veg. We love topping with salsa too.
Sick of savory lunches? Give these sweet chili tofu bowls a try. Made with crispy tofu, red bell pepper, carrots, and brown rice, they’re a great way to combine heartiness and sweetness into every bite.
Though this recipe opts for store-bought sweet chili sauce, we say make your own to cut back on sugar. Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be. Simply mix two teaspoons of chili paste (or harissa) with one tablespoon of honey and gradually drizzle olive oil into the sauce until it thins to your liking. (A squeeze of lime taste mighty good too.) If you’re hankering for greens, roasted broccoli makes a great addition.
To give quinoa an extra hint of flavor, we love cooking it in vegetable broth. (A dash of salt and splash of olive oil does wonders too.) The rest of this bowl is simple as can be. While the quinoa cooks, roast diced and spiced sweet potatoes and sauté torn kale with garlic powder, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. The rest is as easy as piling the ingredients as you please.
Have you been tempted by tempeh yet? If not, these taco bowls are the perfect time to give ’em a try. The vegan protein soaks up the taco spice like a champ, making it rival some of the best Mexican dishes we’ve ever had.
Fill the rest of the bowl with black beans, lettuce, and chopped tomato and red onion and top with whatever taco toppings you choose (avocado, cilantro, salsa, etc.) Psst… if tempeh isn’t for you, mushrooms are a great substitute.
Let’s talk about pasta. Though carbs get a bit of a beating when it comes to nutrition, pasta isn’t the enemy. (It’s all about moderation!) This recipe is heavy with greens—arugula, broccoli, peas, zucchini, and pesto—with pasta serving as a fiber-rich counterpart. If you’re gluten-free or want a noodle that’s higher in protein, opt for chickpea or lentil pasta. And if you truly don’t want to give pasta a go, feel free to substitute a hearty grain like farro.
We’ll take any excuse to eat tahini—especially for a whole week. This Mediterranean bowl uses a light lemon and tahini sauce to bring together all kinds of veggies—think sweet potato, arugula, artichoke—bringing new life to lunch (or dinner). Though some salads can be skimpy on protein, this recipe gets plenty from green peas, chickpeas, and beloved tahini. We love adding toasted almond slices or pumpkin seeds for added crunch.