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Recommendations for shelf-stable vegetarian lunches
blaisepascal
I have a tendency to eat out for lunch a lot. This is expensive and I should cut down on it.

The trouble is that I walk to work and have gotten into the habit of not carrying anything besides my wallet, keys, and phone. When I do decide to not eat out and take lunches is, I invariably forget, because I'm not in the habit of carrying things.

What has worked for eating at work is bringing in ramen: I can bring in a weeks supply at a time, make it daily, and it's cheap. The downside is that it's high-carb (which is not the best for me), limited vegetarian selection, and doesn't seem to have lasting satisfaction. A couple of hours later, I'm hungry again. I'd like a better choice.

At work, I have easy access to an electric kettle, a microwave, and a sink. There is a small, dorm-sized refrigerator for an office of a dozen people (which makes frozen foods impractical). There are cabinets I can stash stuff in that doesn't need refrigeration.

What I'm interested in is something cheap, vegetarian, and shelf-stable.

I wonder if home-canned dishes would work? It would probably have to be something soupy in that case, though.

Anyone have any better ideas?

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Obviously canned products like corn, peas, beans. There are often smaller sizes available so you can mix it up a bit. Bring a few spices like chili powder to flavor. If you have a shelf to keep stuff, a stick of butter in a covered dish will easily keep unrefrigerated until you use it and it really helps the flavor of canned veggies. Peanut butter and crackers. I like natural peanut butter. It separates so you'll probably have to mix it up at home but then it stays mixed for a long time. Bread will keep for a couple or 3 days so peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Apples keep for a while without being refrigerated.

You could look into camping stuff but it's probably not cheap. Good luck.

I've been thinking about this myself. I'm thinking that maybe I should purchase a very small rice cooker and bring in Quinoa. That would feed me, be high protein, have a long shelf-life, and could be varied with many spices to change things around a bit. D'you think that would work for you?

It's a thought. However, I don't like quinoa, so I'd have to try something else. But really, a cup of rice, with flavorants, would probably be a good step up. I can get a $15 3-cup rice cooker from Amazon easily enough, and a 5lb bag of rice would last a while, too.

I'd probably go as far as to combine rice and some sort of ramenesque flavoring, so I have a broth with rice, not a broth with noodles.

http://www.anniechun.com/

among other things, they have shelf stable microwave stuff like the Hormel's "Compleat Meals"

I like the whole grain Rice express ones

you can get 'em at wegmans.

Annie Chun's get mixed reviews on "Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap". According to them, the chili is excellent, but everything else has been kind of meh.

Urusla mentioned a package of microwaved steamed veggies made a good dinner, but she was eating a big lunch. You mentioned freezer space was minimal, so the canned veggies or a few packs of those pre-cut mixed veggies in the produce section could work.

It's more spendy, but I personally love the Ensure liquid meal/meal supplements. They have a high protein version and Glucerna is designed specifically for diabetics and low carb diets. A six pack of those will still be less then six meals out, and you could supplement again with the veggies or crackers and peanut butter or other such snacks.

There are a lot of packaged rice bowl meals in this category, many of them vegetarian. There are even some Taco Bell branded ones that are improbably not-crappy. Some of the products are organic. Getting some shipped to work from Amazon might be a convenient solution...

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