Back to University Lunch Ideas

Emily is headed back to her last year of university and this time is commuting over an hour to classes. This means she needs fast food that is lunchbox ready and above all cheap. Let’s be honest, whether you are off to school/ work, working from home or a stay-at-home mother / house person you need something easy to eat at lunchtime when we are almost all trying to juggle too much in not enough time.

If I am working on something or gotten into a studying zone the idea of taking a break to prepare an enjoyable and hopefully healthy meal is a nightmare. I will not get back to that focus I had before. Sure, what you need is often to take off that focus and relax our minds but spending your whole break preparing a meal is not that rest time we need either.

What to do? Maybe a salad sandwich (going limp in the soggy bread) with some carrot sticks and a bottle of water? I don’t think so….nope! How about instead having a sushi bowl or a premade Mac and cheeze with broccoli? Those would be easy to make up ahead of time and toss in your bag in the morning. What else could we do? Here are a few ideas from my daughter, Emily. She is an omni eater so our recipes will be her recipe with my plant-based adjustments. You can see yummy ideas and how easy it is to make them a bit healthier.

You might notice that she has a thing for Chinese style food. I know it jumped out at me but I bet you can think of a few fusion ideas that could mix things up nicely like putting them in wraps or serving with boiled potatoes instead of rice. Our choice lunch ideas are:

  • Orange Chicken and Rice
  • Teriyaki Chicken and Rice
  • Sweet Chilli Prawns with Noodles
  • Honey Sriracha Chicken with broccoli and Rice
  • Pasta in tomato sauce

If you clicked the links you will see only one of these is my recipes but all needed veganising. This is how we did each and a review of the recipes.

Orange Chicken from Tasty : previously we had a go at this using This isn’t Chicken. The battering did not work. This time we baked the This isn’t Chicken at about 200C / 400F for about 5 minutes to get it hot through and crisp on the edges. After that we followed the sauce recipe but doubled it for each pack of This isn’t Chicken. The first time we did this the sauce was pretty much cooked up and our rice was sad. This time we doubled the sauce for each of the packs so in the end quadrupled it to make enough for a week of lunches. Do be careful to not let it over thicken. Yummy recipe with happy saucy rice on the side.

Teriyaki Chicken from SeonkYoung Longest: the only change we had to make was to get rid of the real chicken. Emily has chicken but I used Tofu to make Teriyaki Tofu. The sauce was perfectly acceptable without any adjustments unless you are oil free to which you couple probably just use water in place of the oil. This one tasted nice but there was NOT enough sauce by far. I would at least double if not triple the sauce recipe so you can have it nice and sticky with sauce in your rice. Personal preference but I am right.

Sweet Chilli Prawns from Chef Ricardo Cooking on YouTube: this one was a bit challenging as Emily didn’t find any measurements in the video. She did her best and this is our recreation. Ours is Sweet Chilli Cauliflower. Our first step was chopping our cauliflower into bite size pieces and steaming it. After that we just followed along as best we could. Cauliflower, 1tsp oil, 1/2 a large onion, 1 spring onion, 1 tsp garlic purée. Sauté a couple of minutes. Add in 1 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp mixed herbs, pinch of black pepper, and 1 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add in 4 Tbsp pasta sauce and 6 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with rice noodles.

You can replace the oil with water as it appears to just be to keep seasoning from burning. This was easy enough to make and tastes nice. It isn’t too spicy but it does have a nice kick.

Honey Sriracha Chicken from : This was a very easy recipe and straightforward to veganise. My version is Maple Sriracha Tofu. I just cut up my pressed tofu into smaller slices….shape doesn’t matter that much. Baked that in the oven at about 200 C /400F with a little drizzle of sriracha on top. While it was cooking I mixed up my sauce ingredients of 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup maple syrup, and 1/3 cup sriracha and microwaved for 6 minutes. Once the tofu was hot and a bit crispy on the edges I combined the tofu and sauce and served with broccoli.

We attempted to eat these as wraps because making rice was a faff but God giggled and gave us dry tortillas which broke to pieces immediately. The rice would have been better I think. What I would do differently in future is not use the microwave and just heat the sauce in a pot on the stove adding the baked tofu to the sauce for the last couple minutes. This would probably thicken up the sauce a bit more which it needed. That said, I now have so much leftover sauce that I have plans for using it at a salad dressing, marinading chickpeas before roasting, and possibly as a popcorn topping.

Pasta with tomato sauce: The last recipe we had a go with was just pasta with pasta sauce from my own recipe. As you can imagine, I am already a fan of this sauce. I do variations with chunky veggies in it, red lentils, or soya mince. I know some like a combo of mushroom and walnut minced as a meat sub in sauces and this would work as well. It is just a basic all around recipe.

There are thousands of possibilities out there. I love pastas and wraps or even a bagel sandwich. I can be happy as a clam with a peanut butter and jam sandwich but if you need something more special here are a few options for you.

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