Packing Meals as a Vegan

While I have been blessed to always have a roof over my head and food to eat, I have always had to abide by a reasonably strict budget. While “budget” was a word that I heard frequently growing up, the meaning of the word didn’t really sink in until I started working in college. I was a commuter student, and by working at my university, I extended my hours there just enough to constitute the need to eat at least one meal a day at school. Being that I was gluten-free at the time, there weren’t many options for me at the dining halls, but even if there were, the meals weren’t exactly cheap. At the time, I made $7.25 per hour, and with this in mind, purchasing a $10 sandwich everyday didn’t seem like the most realistic option. That’s when I became a big fan of packing meals. Here are some tips for packing your lunches for school, work, or a day out:

Tip 1) Purchase a bento-style lunch box.

I didn’t learn to do this until more recently, but the beauty of a bento lunch box is that it offers both portion control and a compact way to carry your meal. Moreover, it’s a much more sustainable way of packing meals, as it greatly reduces the amount of paper and plastic used to do so. I personally purchased my bento lunch box from Walmart for around $11, but Amazon offers a wide selection of much cooler bento lunch boxes that I highly suggest browsing through. Here are a few that I recommend checking out:

Tip 2) Remember the vegan food pyramid.

If you grew up aware of the standard food pyramid, you should understand that there are certain foods you need in greater quantities than others. As vegans, we need to remember that, while our food pyramid looks a little different, it offers the same idea. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I love to indulge in pastas and breads, but when I’m packing meals for work, I have make the conscious effort to prioritize packing mostly fruits and veggies. Here are some examples of meals I’ve packed recently:

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a side of grapes and strawberries
  • Rice and veggies with a side of banana and strawberries
  • Protein smoothie with a bowl-sized side of fruit and a small side of almonds

Not sure what the vegan food pyramid looks like? Check out the graphic below.

Credit for this image belongs to

Tip 3) Make sure that whatever pack will sustain you for the remainder of the day.  

In addition to failing to remember the vegan food pyramid, I have also failed to pack enough food. There are two things to consider when deciding how much food you will need: 1) How active will you be that day? 2) What kind of food are you packing? For the most part, I exercise in the morning before I go to work, which often leaves me feeling hungriest during lunch time. So, if I am packing my lunch for a day where I will have worked out in the morning, I need to make sure that I pack something that will revive me after my workout. Likewise, the type of food I pack influences how much I pack: For example, if I am packing a salad, I will need to pack a fairly large salad to feel satisfied and sustained until dinnertime. In contrast, if I am packing pasta, I can get by with a smaller portion.

Do you pack your own meals? What tips and tricks would you offer your fellow vegans who are also packing meals? Let us know in the comments.

The featured photo was taken by Shane Cason. Find more of his work at


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