There's something about the beginning of summer that always makes me think of potlucks and picnics on the beach. We don't have an ocean near where we live but we love taking the dogs to a beautiful reservoir about 45 minutes away from our house. When we do, we always know that there will be a delicious picnic in the sand, including doggie treats of course. Although we'll be covering ideas of vegan meals you can take to potlucks soon, today we're focusing on simple delicious vegan meals you can take on picnics, to work, school or when you're traveling or going on a road trip.
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 when we were totally 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 or 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 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 with 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, 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).
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 whole grain 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.
- 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, 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 like a polaroid picture! 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 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 a tiny bit of olive oil, sea salt and pepper.
Snacks should always be a part of your "on the go" meal. Just remember that if you're buying pre-packaged snacks make sure to check the ingredients. Not only for the absence of animal products if you're vegan, but also for unhealthy or unrecognizable ingredients. As a rule of thumb, the first ingredients on the list are highest in concentration in the product, meaning, if sugar is the first ingredient, that energy bar has an extremely high sugar content, higher in amount than any other ingredient on the list. Good news is there are so many delicious whole food options for snacks it's crazy!
- 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.
- Air 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, almonds, pecans and macadamias. Macadamia nuts are my personal kryptonite. I have a hard time stopping once I start, so I only take a small portion so as not to be tempted.
- Some raisins, dried apricots, dates or your favorite dried fruit. Keep these portions mindful as well, since you're essentially shrinking a bigger piece of fruit into something really small, and could easily overeat.
- Our homemade oat coconut cranberry bars, or a healthy bar of your choosing.
- 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, keep the portions in mind and check for strange ingredients.
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. I tend to keep options healthier for every day meals, and keep the good stuff for special occasions like a picnic with friends or a day trip.
- 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 everyone's favorite!
- Peanut butter or pumpkin butter in a small container and some apple slices for dipping.
- For total decadence: your favorite vegan brownies, sweet bars or balls, cookies or muffins. All easy transportable.
You're now ready to enjoy delicious, healthy vegan meals on the go! Don't forget to share this post 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.
If you'd like to dive in deeper, enjoy more of our recipes here, and we'd love for you to join us in our video-based online program My Brownble, where we teach you how to cook amazing vegan food, and help you on that ongoing quest of finding balance. You'll learn how to indulge in your favorites and still prioritize your health, creating healthy habits that last you a lifetime. Improve your relationship with food and finally gain confidence with your choices.
In and out of the kitchen.
...and there's so much more. You can check out all the details here.