Budget-Friendly Vegan Lunches for the Week (10 Ingredients Only!)

Ditch the sad salad and try these fun, tasty vegan lunches for every day of the workweek!

These easy, healthy vegan lunches from Monday through Friday are made with just minimal ingredients that you can reuse throughout the week, so you’ll save time and money.

Using just 10 main ingredients and a few pantry staples, you’ll be able prepare exciting, tasty vegan lunches that you’ll actually want to eat!

Eating healthy yet delicious lunches during the workweek can feel impossible, so that’s why I’m sharing some fun yet budget-friendly vegan lunches from Monday through Friday!

Using just 10 main ingredients, I’ll show you how to prepare exciting, tasty vegan lunches that you will actually want to eat. And with just 10 main ingredients, you’ll not only be saving money but also simplifying your life. Say goodbye to eating the same boring salad at your desk every day, and hello to these delicious budget-friendly vegan lunches!

Watch the video below for all the meal ideas, and if you’d like a free printable PDF guide that includes a grocery list, pantry essentials, and the full written recipes, you can sign up over here!

healthy vegan lunches for the week with text

The 10 Main Ingredients

  1. Salad Greens, such as Arugula and/or Kale

  2. Avocados

  3. Tomatoes (regular tomatoes and/or cherry/grape tomatoes)

  4. Carrots

  5. Chickpeas (canned, or cooked from scratch )

  6. Extra-Firm or Firm Tofu (buy organic, if you want to stay non-GMO)

  7. Edamame (buy organic, if you want to stay non-GMO)

  8. Brown rice or soba noodles, or any noodles/pasta of choice

  9. Whole Grain Bread (I prefer sprouted grain bread)

  10. Hummus (store-bought or homemade)

Pantry Essentials

  • Kosher salt and/or sea salt

  • Black pepper

  • Regular olive oil and/or extra virgin olive oil

  • Lemons

  • Garlic

  • Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, or spicy brown mustard

  • Spices

    • Crushed red pepper flakes

    • Ground cumin

    • Garlic powder

How to Jazz Up These Budget-Friendly Vegan Lunches

  • Seeds and nuts

    • hemp seeds; toasted pumpkin seeds; toasted almonds or walnuts, chopped

  • Pickled veggies, such as sauerkraut, pickles, or vegan kimchi

  • Fresh herbs

    • dill, parsley, cilantro, basil

  • Green onions (aka scallions)

  • Extra sandwich toppings

    • cucumbers, sprouts, etc.

Monday: Avocado “Pesto” Pasta

Monday: Avocado “Pesto” Pasta

5 from 16 votes
Creamy avocado pasta is the perfect unexpected treat to get your Monday started off right!
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 4

Ingredients

  • 4-8 ounces of brown rice or soba noodles, or any pasta/noodles of choice*

Avocado “Pesto” Sauce***

  • 3/4 cup tightly packed arugula**
  • 1/4 cup water, plus more as needed to thin the sauce
  • 1-1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/2 of large ripe avocado
  • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (optional but recommended; omit if oil-free)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chickpeas (depends on your appetite)
  • 1 small handful of tomatoes: cherry tomatoes, halved (or, regular tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1 small handful of arugula or thinly sliced kale (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook your pasta/noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water until cooked. Divide the cooked noodles into half: use half for Monday’s lunch and store the remainder in the fridge for Tuesday’s lunch.
  • Make the Avocado Pesto Sauce. Add the arugula, water, lemon juice, and garlic to a food processor. Process until broken down and the sauce starts to come together. Add the avocado, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Blend until you have a relatively smooth and creamy sauce. Season to taste, adding more salt/pepper or lemon juice, as needed.
  • Assemble. Toss the cooked pasta with the Avocado Pesto Sauce. Add in the chickpeas, arugula, and tomatoes, and any other ingredients to jazz it up. Toss to combine.

Notes

* You will use half of the noodles in Monday’s lunch and the remainder in Tuesday’s lunch.
**If you use kale instead of arugula, remove the thick stems and ribs.
***The Avocado Pesto Sauce can be made up to 48 hours in advance without too much browning (though, of course, it’ll taste freshest if made the morning of).

Calories: 178kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 362mg | Potassium: 286mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 220IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg

How to jazz up Monday’s lunch

  1. Top the pasta with hemp seeds, or any other nuts/seeds of choice.

  2. Make crispy pan-fried chickpeas instead of just plain chickpeas.

    1. Drain and rinse one (15-ounce) can of chickpeas. Dry thoroughly by patting with paper towels.

    2. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large (12-inch) nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, and ensure the whole pan is lightly coated with the oil.

    3. Add the chickpeas in small handfuls and spread out in a single layer. Cook, undisturbed, for 3 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the chickpeas and cook another 3-5 minutes or until beans are browned and blistered.

    4. Stir in a generous pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons seasoning/herbs of choice, such as dried thyme, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, etc. Stir to coat the chickpeas evenly. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 of a lemon and stir to combine. Remove from heat.

  3. Want a more classic pesto? Try this Classic Basil Pesto!
Tuesday: High-Protein Noodle Bowl with Hummus Sauce

Tuesday: High-Protein Noodle Bowl with Creamy Hummus Sauce

5 from 14 votes
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 4

Ingredients

  • 2-4 ounces brown rice or soba noodles (leftovers from Monday)

4 ounces Crispy Tofu* (or as much tofu as you want)

  • One (14 or 16-ounce) block of extra-firm or firm tofu
  • A few pinches of kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional; can use a different spice)
  • 1/2- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or oil of choice)

Creamy Hummus Sauce

  • 1/4- 1/3 cup hummus
  • ~1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more as needed
  • 1/4- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired
  • Salt and black pepper to taste, as needed
  • 2-4 tablespoons water
  • ~1/2 cup edamame
  • 1 large carrot, shaved into ribbons*
  • ~1/2 cup kale, thinly sliced or arugula

Instructions

  • Cook Tofu. Preheat the oven to 400°F/204°C. Drain the tofu and press for 20 minutes to remove excess water. Once pressed, cut the tofu into cubes and add to a large mixing bowl with a few pinches of kosher salt (or sea salt) and ground cumin. Toss gently to coat all of the tofu pieces.
  • Heat a cast-iron or oven-safe skillet over medium heat with the oil. once the skillet is hot, add the seasoned tofu. Cook for 7-8 minutes, flipping once, or until the tofu has begun to brown.
  • Transfer the pan to the heated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the tofu is firm and crispy.
  • Make the Creamy Hummus Sauce. Add the hummus, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Add enough water to thin so that a creamy yet pourable sauce forms. Taste for seasonings, adding salt and pepper as needed, or more lemon juice for acidity.
  • Assemble. Toss the pasta with the Creamy Hummus Sauce. Add in the Baked Tofu, edamame, carrot ribbons, kale/arugula, and any other ingredients to jazz it up. Toss to combine.

Notes

* Use a Y-shaped vegetable peeler to shave carrots into ribbons. Or, you can shred them using a grater or chop them into matchsticks.
**You will use half of the tofu in Tuesday’s lunch and half in Wednesday’s lunch.
***If you bought just one block of tofu, cook 1/2 or 3/4 of the block for Tuesday & Wednesday lunches; store the remaining uncooked in an airtight container, covered with cool water, in the fridge.
****If you bought two blocks of tofu, cook one block for Tuesday & Wednesday lunches (serve any leftovers with dinner), and keep the other tofu block for Friday’s lunch.

Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 407mg | Potassium: 450mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3017IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 3mg

How to jazz up Tuesday’s lunch

  1. Add additional seasonings to the tofu, such as coriander, paprika, oregano, etc.

  2. Top with nuts/seeds of choice.

  3. Love noodles? Try this Sesame-Cashew Soba Noodle Salad!

Wednesday: Big Chopped Salad

Wednesday: Big Chopped Salad

5 from 12 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 4

Ingredients

  • Finely chopped kale and/or arugula (use as much as you want)
  • Tomatoes: cherry tomatoes halved; or, regular tomatoes, finely chopped (use as much as you want)
  • Carrots, finely chopped, shredded, or in ribbons (use as much as you want)
  • 1/2 of a large ripe avocado diced*
  • 4 ounces Crispy Tofu from Tuesday’s lunch (or as much tofu as you want)
  • ~1/2 cup chickpeas or edamame, or both

Hummus Dressing

  • 1/4 cup hummus
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, or spicy brown mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper, as needed

Instructions

  • Make the Hummus Dressing. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl starting with 1 tablespoon of water. Add more water as needed to achieve your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.
  • Assemble the salad. Combine the chopped kale and/or arugula, tomatoes, carrots, Crispy Tofu, and chickpeas and/or edamame. Serve Hummus Dressing and/or avocado in a separate container.

Notes

If you are preparing your lunch the night before, do not dice the avocado up into the salad to prevent it from browning; instead, store it separately. If you do add the avocado directly to the salad, sprinkle lemon juice on top to slow it from browning.
If you’re not using the other half of the avocado at this time, store it in the fridge in an airtight container with a sliced/chopped onion (the best method to slow the browning process) – you can use this half the next day for Thursday’s lunch.

Calories: 305kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 166mg | Potassium: 668mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 12266IU | Vitamin C: 78mg | Calcium: 244mg | Iron: 3mg

How to jazz up Wednesday’s lunch

  1. Top with hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, or any other nuts/seeds of choice

  2. Add sauerkraut or pickled vegetables

wednesday lunch (1 of 1).jpg
Thursday: Avocado Chickpea Smash Sandwich

Thursday: Avocado Chickpea Smash Sandwich

5 from 18 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 1

Ingredients

Avocado Chickpea Smash

  • 1/2 large ripe avocado (can use remaining half from Wednesday’s lunch)
  • ~1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ⅛-¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup chickpeas
  • 2 sliced whole grain bread of choice

Sandwich toppers

  • Kale or arugula (or any other salad greens)
  • Tomato slices

Instructions

  • Make the Avocado Chickpea Smash: Place the avocado flesh, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Mash with a fork until relatively smooth. Add chickpeas and mash with a fork, but leave some chickpeas whole for texture.
  • Spread avocado smash onto one slice of bread. Top with the sandwich toppers and any other optional toppings, and then with the other slice of bread.

Notes

This sandwich is best made morning of, as it helps prevent premature browning of the avocado.

Calories: 453kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 471mg | Potassium: 1031mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1147IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 166mg | Iron: 5mg

How to jazz up Thursday’s lunch

  1. Add all or any of the below to the Avocado Chickpea Smash.

    1. 1 tablespoon sliced green onions/scallions

    2. 2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill

    3. 2-3 teaspoons nutritional yeast

  2. Additional sandwich toppings

    1. Alfalfa/broccoli sprouts

    2. Cucumbers, sliced or shaved into ribbons

If you like this sandwich, you’ll love this Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich! Tastes *just like* tuna but is 100% vegan and takes less than 10 minutes to make.

Friday: Tofu Salad Sandwich

Friday: Tofu Salad Sandwich

5 from 14 votes
Prep Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 1

Ingredients

  • 2 slices whole-grain bread of choice

Tofu Salad

  • 1/2 of a (14- or 16-ounce) block of extra firm or firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons hummus
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 pinch or two of kosher salt or sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, or spicy brown mustard
  • 2-3 teaspoon of water, as needed

Sandwich toppers

  • Kale or arugula, or any other salad greens
  • Tomato slices
  • Carrot ribbons

Instructions

  • Make the Tofu Salad: Drain the tofu and press for 20 minutes to remove excess water. Once pressed, chop into very small cubes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the hummus, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and mustard. Add the tofu cubes and stir gently to coat each piece. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt/pepper as needed.
  • Spread Tofu Salad onto one slice of bread. Top with sandwich toppers and any other optional toppings, and then with the other slice of bread.

Notes

This tofu salad makes enough for 2 sandwiches. The salad stays good in the fridge for several days so you can keep leftovers or make it for another lunch.

Calories: 339kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 636mg | Potassium: 711mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 993IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 192mg | Iron: 5mg

How to jazz up Friday’s lunch

  1. Add all or any of the below to the Tofu Salad.

    1. 1 tablespoon sliced green onions/scallions

    2. 2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill

    3. 1 small pickle, finely chopped

  2. Additional sandwich toppings

    1. Alfalfa/broccoli sprouts

    2. Cucumbers, sliced or shaved into ribbons

Friday lunch.png

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27 comments on Budget-Friendly Vegan Lunches for the Week (10 Ingredients Only!)

  1. Liana

    5 stars
    Thank you! I just finished the monday meal. It was sooo good. I had to use cashews instead of avocado because I couldn’t find any ripe avocado. I hope they will ripen for the next meals.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So great to hear you loved it, Liana! Good luck with the rest of the meals :)

  2. Brittany

    5 stars
    The avocado pesto was delicious! I only have a small part of my stomach due to a medical thing, so I wish I had a bigger stomach so I could eat more of it! I added more garlic, because garlic is life! But it was really good. The hummus sauce was good too. I think I’ll use them on everything in the future! I made the pesto with kale though because it was all I had and it worked out pretty good.

    I can’t really eat bread or rice, so I made up a batch of protein pasta and used that everyday to make different versions of the salads, and it worked pretty good. I added peanuts and sunflower seeds to my salads because I wanted more crunchy things. One day I added roasts red peppers and olives and one day I used cucumbers in my salad.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Brittany! We’re thrilled you loved the recipes!

  3. LeAnn

    5 stars
    The avocado pesto pasta is so bright and tasty, and I did not need to add any olive oil, so far I’ve also tried the avocado chickpea smash sandwich—twice— I just love it. These recipes are so easy and having all these lunch variations based on the same group of ingredients is so helpful, thanks very much!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, LeAnn!

  4. Lisa Klemm

    5 stars
    I’m totally doing this plan this coming week. I’m newer to Plant-based eating and have 5 weeks under my belt. Your Rainbow Plant Life is bookmarked!!
    I enjoy your fun videos, with your family enjoying your creations~ Super Sweet.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Lisa. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  5. Farzana Saiyed

    5 stars
    Everything in here looks so delicious and so easy to make . I love your recipes they are hassle free and easy to make with the regular ingredients that are in the pantry. And not so expensive either. Keep it up Nisha can’t wait to try these recipes . Thank you so much for posting delicipua receipes.!!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Farzana. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  6. Sherry

    Great meals! Can’t wait to make them!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We hope you love them, Sherry!

  7. SusanM

    Wow. Everything here looks and sounds delicious. And, it’s all based on pretty “normal,” everyday, pantry friendly ingredients. Im doing a pantry challenge now so everything I make is modified to fit what I have on hand. These will adapt beautifully. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hope you enjoy the recipes, Susan!

  8. Hitha

    5 stars
    Please do more of these meal planning posts! They are easy to make for my family of four.

  9. Kathi

    Loving your recipes. Thanks for all the flavour!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So glad you do, Kathi! You are very welcome!

  10. Soccermomland

    5 stars
    I love the convenience of cooking 5 lunches off of one simple shopping list.
    So far I made the Avocado Pesto Pasta bowl (enough for two lunches) and then I had to skip to the Avocado Chickpea Smash because I was craving a sandwich. It really delivered! Can’t wait to try the other recipes!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing! :)

  11. Annie

    5 stars
    I am obsessed with the avocado chickpea smash sandwich!!! i change the seasonings to add new flavors and never get tired of this

  12. Sarah

    5 stars
    Hi! I’m super excited to start trying your recipes. My parents started a “whole food, plant based” diet about 3 years ago and they both reversed their diabetes and are feeling so good and healthy! My daughter (almost 2) eats EVERYTHING my mom makes. My husband and I waned to start but really had no idea how. I stumbled across your YouTube channel and decided to give it a try! Super excited!

  13. Megan Quayle

    5 stars
    I’ve been making at least 1 of Nisha’s recipes per week, this week I tried these and they were all amazing! (as they all are) I looked forward to my lunch every day. It was quick to prepare as well since you used the same ingredients for multiple meals. Loved the variety!!

    1. Nisha

      Hi Megan, you are so sweet! So nice to hear you’ve been making my recipes so often and glad to hear that these lunches were quick and something to look forward to!

  14. Danielle

    I love how you put these meals together using the same main ingredients for a meal plan! This is something I still struggle to do with vegan food. I would love it if you made more of these plans for lunch and dinner!!

  15. Erica

    Oh la la! I look forward to trying the tofu salad sandwich. I have made chickpea salad sandwiches before, but I’d like to try a tofu version. Cheers!

  16. Alba Stefani

    I have made this meal prep recipe multiple times and each time I enjoy it even more! Nisha combines simple ingredients in different ways which makes each lunch exciting and new ! Highly recommend trying this for your meal prep.

  17. Kelsey D

    I have seen so many awesome plant-based blogs and recipes online. These are by far THE BEST (I also watched your 10 ingredient meal prep video). I am loving the well thought out meal prep with simple easy ingredients and cooking. Please keep these coming, I will be sharing all over!
    Thank you!!

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