Vegan on the Go: Simple, Delicious Vegan meals for Taking to School, Work, Picnics or Travelling
There's something about the summer that always makes me think of potlucks and picnics on the beach or by the lake. We don't have an ocean near where we live but we love taking the dogs to a beautiful reservoir nearby, where they get to swim, roll around in the sand, and we all get that change of scenery we need sometimes. As you know by now, my favorite thing to do is spending time in nature with Carlos and the dogs, and this little reservoir is one of my favorite places ever. It's surrounded by the most beautiful rocks and mountains that look almost Pre-Historic, but then you look out into the sand and water and you see families eating together, or people paddle boarding or sailing in the water, and of course, no one is having more fun than the dogs (by dogs I of course mean me).
When we go there, we always know that there will be a delicious picnic in the itinerary, including doggie treats of course, and there's something so exciting about eating a picnic near the water that I think although neither of us wants to admit it, we secretly want to dig in and start eating it the minute we arrive, even though we've just had breakfast. For this reason, our picnic usually includes several stages, the first one usually involving watermelon or cherries to help cool us off in the summer, some chips and guacamole for a bit later, delicious sandwiches for the main event and sometimes that includes a a container filled with my potato salad on the side. Then of course, something sweet for dessert which can either be more fruit, cookies or energy balls (chocolate melts so sadly that one's a no-no). As you can probably tell, picnics are one of my favorite things to do, and in today's post and episode I'm going to explain where that tradition got started, and I'm giving you tons of simple delicious vegan meals you can take on picnics or to the beach, but that are equally as portable, practical and yummy to take to work, school or when you're traveling or going on a road trip.
Everyone's going to get hungry so don't say I didn't warn you!
Before we get to the food, let me just tell you that my mom was the absolute perfect picnic organizer. Growing up we had a little house on the beach we used to spend almost every weekend, summer and Christmas at. We would spend all Saturday at the beach, and my mom always knew exactly when we were tired of swimming, running around in the sand and were absolutely famished. She would set up a total spread including sandwiches, chips, sides like potato salad, pasta salad, fruit salads, treats and her orange smiles. Orange smiles were these orange half moon slices with the rind still on them, that we would put in our mouths, rip the fruit out while the rind was hanging out and we all had... well... orange smiles! We drank iced tea with lots of lemon and we always had chocolate in the cooler, or enjoyed cookies for dessert.
Those picnics were my rock on weekends. They were the most special part of the day. Although my immediate family only consisted of my mom and I, there were always friends hanging out with us at the beach and this was a total party. My mom was the absolute matriarch too. She couldn't sit in the sand due to her illness and disability, but she would sit on the huge roots of a tree, with all of us on a blanket right below her. It was like a total Native American indian scene, only with potato chips and bikinis.
Needless to say I learned a ton about what foods are perfect for packing on the go, and yes, I have veganized every single one of my childhood favorites, and today I'm giving you a ton of ideas!
Keep in mind that these are perfect whether you're having a beach or mountain picnic, you're traveling, or are taking lunch to work or school. Once you wrap it up it doesn't matter where you take it! We're linking to some of our recipes, and remember we teach you these and many more delicious ideas in our online program My Brownble.
Sandwiches and Wraps
Sandwiches were always my mom's go to picnic staples and for good reason. Many of them are portable, and when you learn the art of assembling a good "to go" sandwich, the bread doesn't get soggy and you have the perfect meal all in one. I love getting creative with sandwich or wrap ideas, and here are some of my favorites:
- The classic PB&J sandwich or our pb&j roll ups.
- Delicious BLT's made with tempeh or tofu bacon, tomato slices, crispy lettuce, a little eggless mayo and mild dijon mustard. Remember the key to a good sandwich is using fantastic bread, so buy the best bread you can find.
- No-egg salad sandwiches made with crumbled tofu. Our favorite bread for this is actually a bagel. Don't knock it 'til you try it! (Members you have all of these recipes in your Main dishes section!).
- Crumble up your favorite veggie burger patty and wrap it up with some raw veggies and guacamole or hummus in a whole wheat tortilla.
- Roasted vegetable and hummus sandwiches. I love roasting some bell peppers, tamari marinated shiitake mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant (or grilling these in the summer is even better!), and making a sandwich with them. Then add some hummus and some fresh arugula and sun-dried tomatoes.
- My "crunchy veggie easy wrap": Spread some hummus on one half of a large whole wheat tortilla, and some pesto on the other, add raw strips of tomato, avocado, bell peppers and carrots, add a ton of raw spinach and wrap it up tightly.
- Tempeh no-chicken salad sandwich made with some previously steamed tempeh, eggless mayo, some walnuts, finely chopped celery, some apples, raisins or grapes if you like a little sweetness.
- No-tuna salad sandwiches made with mashed chickpeas, some diced tomato and finely minced onion, a little lemon, sea salt, pepper and eggless mayo.
- Grilled portobello sandwiches with kimchi: Marinate your large portobellos in some tamari soy sauce and a little lemon juice and liquid smoke, grill them or roast them until tender and top with lots of kimchi.
- A simple vegan deli meat and cheese sandwich: You can even make a creamy cashew cheese at home and add some chives and a little truffle oil for added decadence!
- Our "Spanish mountain sandwich": A fresh baguette (the softer the better), with a little mild dijon mustard, some vegan deli slices, melted vegan cheddar, very thinly sliced tomato (samurai thin!), a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and pepper.
- Our delicious tofu and potato breakfast for lunch burritos with some guacamole on the side (make the guacamole early that morning so it's still bright green when serving).
- The "choripan", a juicy grilled vegan sausage or vegan chorizo sausage in a baguette with some eggless mayo, arugula, fresh basil, tomato or sun-dried tomatoes, and guacamole on the side to add as you eat it.
- The caprese, a toasted baguette with melted vegan mozzarella, thinly sliced tomatoes, lots of fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil or pesto, salt and pepper.
Salads that Keep
Salads can be a bit trickier to take on the go, but only if the salad is lettuce based and you added the dressing beforehand. There are plenty of salads that completely keep and even get better with time, that are perfect for taking with you. If you're still a lettuce based salad junkie, simply take the dressing in a separate container and toss it right before serving. Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- Pasta salad!: Toss your favorite short pasta with any vegetables you like. My favorites are artichoke hearts, olives, grilled or BBQ tofu or tempeh, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers (raw or roasted), fresh or grilled corn, lightly steamed broccoli florets and even water chestnuts for that crunch. For the dressing you can add any type of dressing you like. A simple eggless mayo, mustard and lemon combo thinned out with a little water or miso paste diluted in water, does the trick. You can add a little cumin to make it Mexican style and add some black beans and salsa too, or add some curry powder for a more exotic Indian variety. Another option is to make a yummy avocado pesto and toss the salad with it for a truly addictive pasta salad.
- Tabbouleh salad: Combine cooked bulgur wheat (I love the coarse kind), couscous or quinoa with lots of finely chopped parsley, some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers and a little olive oil and lemon juice. Eat this with some warm pita on the side and some hummus and you have a complete Middle Eastern meal that is so filling!
- Brown rice salad: Toss some cooked brown rice (or any whole grain you like) with some cherry tomatoes, finely chopped spinach, dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, and add any veggie protein source you like, this can be chickpeas, baked tofu, tempeh bacon, black beans, black eyed peas, edamame, and any other veggies you might like. Toss this with a lemon or lime based dressing with lots of fresh herbs and garlic.
- Salad in a jar: Perfect if you love your green salads. Add layers of your favorite salad ingredients inside a mason jar. Some great ideas are your favorite greens, chopped tomatoes, olives, thinly sliced radishes and cucumber, some cooked chickpeas or puy lentils, roasted bell peppers, grilled mushrooms and any other toppings you like. Take your favorite dressing on the side, and when you're ready to eat, add it to the jar, close it and shake it! Dig in.
- Kale salad: Kale is one of those greens that can be massaged with the dressing ahead of time and it just keeps getting better and better! I love my kale salad with a creamy tahini based dressing with some tahini, soy sauce, lemon juice, a little agave, garlic and some sriracha, thinned out with some water. I massage lots of kale with the dressing, and then I add the rest of my toppings. For kale I love a combo of sweet and savory, like sliced pears, grapes, walnuts or pecans, shaved carrots and grilled portobello mushrooms which won't get as watery.
- Potato salad: This is the easiest recipe to veganize! You can use your favorite potato salad recipe and simply swap eggless mayonnaise for the mayo you used to use. I love adding lots of chives and herbs, not to mention thinly sliced red onion.
- Asian noodle salad: Cook your favorite buckwheat noodles and shock them in an ice bath after they're done, to halt the cooking process. Toss with snow or snap peas, edamame, water chestnuts, thinly shaved cucumber and carrot, some sesame seeds, tofu or tempeh, and a quick dressing of lime, sesame or chili oil and soy sauce.
- Bean salads: I LOVE bean salads, especially when I make them with a combination of beans, lots of finely chopped raw veggies like tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro, chives or green onions, corn, avocado, salsa, some lime juice and olive oil, sea salt and pepper.
Snacks should always be a part of your "on the go" meal:
- Fresh fruit portioned out into individual containers. Grapes, pineapple chunks, berries and watermelon balls are some of my favorites.
- Individual fruits which are best eaten or chopped right away, like pears, apples or bananas. (You can take some almond or peanut butter in a little container for dipping!)
- Pop some popcorn at home and place it in an air tight bag or container.
- Individual baggies with your favorite nuts or seeds. My favorites are hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans and macadamias.
- Some raisins, dried apricots, dates or your favorite dried fruit.
- Our homemade oat coconut cranberry bars, or a store-bought bar you love.
- Kale chips.
- Carrot sticks with hummus or your favorite bean or vegetable dip.
- Small containers of non-dairy yogurt and some almonds and unsweetened coconut flakes
- Potato or corn chips and salsa.
Other Sweet Treats
Other than some of the sweet options just mentioned, I love taking a little dessert on all my picnics, and it can be as simple and small, or elaborate and big as you'd like.
- Dates stuffed with almond or peanut butter.
- Our avocado chocolate puddings with a pecan coconut crumble which you can pack in individual containers for each person to enjoy.
- A delicious fruit salad. My rule is always add grapes, they're really everyone's favorite!
- Peanut butter or pumpkin butter in a small container and some apple slices for dipping.
- Your favorite vegan brownies, sweet bars or balls, cookies or muffins. All easy transportable.
You're now ready to enjoy delicious, vegan meals on the go!
Don't forget to share this post and episode with anyone who has ever asked you "well what can you eat as a vegan?!". In my book the answer is always everything and anything, and picnics in particular can be such a great way to share yummy vegan food with friends and family who might have no idea how delicious and traditional good vegan food can be.