Jimmie's Guide to Quick Fix Vegetarian Lunches

In this section, I will present some easily-prepared yet nutritious lunches. Many of the ideas presented use prepared foods, but they are of the more healthful choices, and I usually "beef them up" with added vegetables.
 There are many prepared soups and other canned goods which are nutritious but are really bland. Worse yet, almost all of them have the "universal condiments": onion powder and garlic powder. As any decent chef will tell you, these are no substitute for real onions or real garlic, and their overpowering "flavor" makes just about all of these soups taste the same.
 There are plenty of frozen meals available, but they are often high in sodium and/or fat, and usually are fairly expensive.
 So here are some alternate ideas.

Some prepared foods and vegetables to use as your "raw materials"

Here are some examples of prepared foods that you an use as combos. Any of the canned beans can be served with a rice blend or grain blend. Also consider Butter Beans. They're great in quick dishes, too. We also show three "Tasty Bites" rice blends and two Whole Foods "365" lentil blends. Other brands include Lundberg, truRoots, and Seeds of Change.
 Just pour some beans in one side of a microwave dish and some of the rice/grain/lentil mix in the other side. Then top with some sauteed (or "quick sauteed" - see below) vegetables. Red onion is great, and so are the multi-colored peppers. Or just add some frozen peas, corn, lima beans, or green beans.
 Not shown in this picture are two non-meat "sausages" that are the author's standbys for quick dishes:

Field Roast Italian Sausage

Tofurky Original Sausage Italian

lunch fixins
lunch fixins

Here are some other choices. The Ancient Harvest Quinola with Lentils is great, as are the others shown. Other brands include Lundberg, truRoots.

 Also shown are two plastic bowls of what the manufacturer calls "lightly dried" herbs. These are the next best thing to fresh herbs, and should last 1 - 2 months in the refrigerator. The brand name is "Gourmet Garden", and they are found in the produce department of some stores.

Why add some onions and/or peppers to a dish?

Adding some onions, peppers, or other veggies is a great way to:

Add some significant nourishment to your lunch. Onions, for example, are related to garlic and have the allicin compounds that are believed to lower LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol, and have antimicrobial activity. Additionally, the quercetin in onions has a moderating effect on allergies.

Really bump the flavor of the dish.

Often make up for the manufacturer's stinginess in adding vegetables to their product. Some rather dramatic comparisons are shown below!
Try to always have some sort of vegetable with your meal. They'll really keep your energy level much higher. Also, while while things like mac and cheese, pastas, sandwiches, and even meat and potatoes provide vitamins and minerals, it's the fruits and vegetables that provide the powerhouse stuff - the micronutrients and phytonutrients like beta carotene, luteins, allicins, zeaxanthins, and other compounds that preserve your cells by preventing oxidative damage, and also help greatly to prevent the "big" diseases.

To saute:

Just slice some onion and two of three of the peppers and place in a skillet with some olive oil spread on the bottom. Add some Jane's salt or other preferred seasoning. Optionally add some fresh basil or parsley if available. Cover and cook on medium heat for a few minutes, or when the veggies are soft.

Microwave the bean/rice or other combo that you have selected, and pour the sauted veggies over the heated dish. Pour the olive oil over the dish, too. This adds some fat for flavor.

Jimmie's "Quick Saute"

Adding some sauted onions, celery, or peppers to a dish is a great way to nutritionally amp up your lunch or other meals, but isn't "quick", and leaves you with a skillet that needs to be cleaned.
 So here's Jimmie's Quick Saute:

Slice up your onions/celery/peppers and then simply place them in a pyrex bowl.

Add a small amount of water, a bit of olive oil, and some of the salt/seasoning. Optionally add some fresh basil or parsley.

Cover with a paper plate and then microwave on high for about 1 minute. If the veggies aren't quite soft, just hit 'em for about 30 more seconds. If cooking red onions, you may find they're best when cooked slightly crispy. They impart a slightly sweet and complex flavor to any dish when cooked this way. (Why a paper, plate, instead of the plastic lids that usually come with the pyrex bowls? Because this tends to harden the plastic lids over time. Water condenses on the underside and gets very hot.)

Pour over your lunch dish. The taste really isn't significantly different from sauteing in a skillet, except that we're talking about just a few minutes of prep time and no skillet to clean!

Jimmies saute Jimmies saute 1

Quick saute prep
 This example shows onions as an addition to a dish. Just slice the onion
so that you have little strips, taking care to remove the outer skin. It's tough,
like eating a piece of paper. Add some olive oil, a bit of Jane's salt or your
preference, and perhaps some parsley. Microwave as discussed above.

Your "sauteed" onions ready to be added to the dish
 Tastes just like skillet-sauteed onions (minus the carmelizing - but you won't miss it).

Your Quick Lunch Dishes

7 grain lentils

Seven Grain Lentils plus 365 Ranchero Beans

This works great also with 365 "Long Grain Brown and Wild Rice", "Spelt, Green Lentils, & Long Grain Brown Rice", "Barley and Green Lentils", or the Tasty Bites "Garlic Brown Rice" or "Asian Rice". Also try the 365 Refried Beans instead of the Ranchero Beans


One half package 365 Seven Grain Lentils, one half can 465 "Ranchero Beans"

Some sauted onions and multi-colored peppers


Microwave the lentils and beans about 1 minute

Saute the onions and peppers in olive oil plus some Jane's salt (or "quick saute"). Perhaps add some fresh basil or parsley.

Pour the sauted veggies on top of the beans and lentils. Heat for maybe 30 more seconds in the microwave. Optionally serve with some blue doritos or rice crisps.

Don't want the beans?

If you don't want the beans, just adding some "quick sauteed" veggies to one of the rices or similiar meals works great too.

Peppers and onions with "Jimmie's breakfast pilaf"
 The pilaf is described on the "Tasty Breakfast Ideas" page of the Wrackline Blog.
The peppers here are from the package of mixed red/orange/yellow peppers

Peppers and onions with wild rice
 Here's the peppers (sliced lengthwise instead of cut up) and onions on the 365 Long
Grain and Wild Rice mixture.

Pilaf plus veg Wild rice plus veg

Using quick sauteed veggies to make your dish look like the package!

So you've just opened your package of "Rice plus Vegetables", and find that you can count all of 3 small pieces of vegetables in your plate. Here's how "Jimmie's Quick Saute" can remedy that.

Rice before Rice after

Package cover vs what you get!
 The "Tasty Bites" foods have great seasonings but, as you can readily
see, come up real short on the amount of vegetables.

What you can make it!
 Here we have simply added some "quick sauteed" peppers,
as well as some frozen corn, and a bit of parsley.

Rice before Rice after

The package says "Asian Rice Plus Vegetables"
 Perhaps it should have said "Asian Rice Plus Vegetable Bits"

What you can make it!
 We have added some "quick sauteed" red onions, and some parsley.

More quick lunch dishes

Butter beans plus "sausage"


One Field Roast Italian Sausage

One can butter beans (Eden Organic is one good brand, or 365 Whole Foods)


Open the can almost all the way, then turn it upside down and let the juice drain into a pan. Heat to boiling and let the juice simmer until it is a fairly thick liquid. This takes a few minutes and does require some attention so that it won't boil dry! Add the beans after the juice has thickened and heat just a minute or two more, until the beans are hot. This method enhances the taste of the meal, but if you'd rather not spend the extra time, just discard the juice and microwave the beans. Add a bit of parsley or other herb, if desired.
NOTE: the juice from canned beans actually has a name! It's called "aquafaba", and can be used as an egg replacer. I've even seen it in a recipe for chocolate cupcakes!

Cut the sausage down the middle and heat for a few minutes (on the cut side) in a bit of olive oil, just until the cut side is slightly browned.

butter beans sausage
lima beans sausage

Lima beans plus sausage


Some frozen lima beans

One Tofurky Italian Sausage


Microwave the lima beans, perhaps adding a bit of butter or vegan butter.

Cut the sausage down the middle and heat for a few minutes (on the cut side) in a bit of olive oil, just until the cut side is slightly browned.

Butter beans, onions, and toasted pecans

Want a lunch that's a bit lighter than the two "sausage" dishes mentioned above? Add some "quick sauteed" onions and pecans (or walnuts or other nut) to butter beans. This is an unusually tasty dish!


One can butter beans

Some sliced red (or yellow) onion

Some pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts


Boil down the bean juice (as described in the above "Butter beans and sausage" dish), or just microwave the beans.

Quick saute some sliced red onion.

Break up the nuts and gently toast on a shallow flat pan placed directly over a cooktop burner. They toast fast, so be prepared to remove them after about a minute.

butter beans onions

Spaghetti and diced tomatoes


Some spaghetti pasta

One can of Muir Glen diced tomatoes, fire roasted with medium green chilies. You can use any can of diced, crushed, or stewed tomatoes for this dish. The author prefers the ones that do not have tomato sauce in them - to avoid that "bottled pasta sauce" taste.

optional: some "quick sauteed" red onions


This is a great quick lunch if you happen to have some leftover spaghetti, or even fettuccine. Otherwise, boil a serving or two of spaghetti.

When the pasta is ready, pour in the can of diced tomatoes, and the red onions (if you made some), and heat a bit until it's hot.

Grilled cheese sandwiches (one of Jimmie's favs)


Some extra sharp chedder or some pepper jack cheese.

Some whole grain bread. The bread shown is from Kroger (Fred Meyer in the Pacific NW). It's variously called "Supergrain", "Henry's Harvest", "La Brea Harvest Grains". or something similiar. It's a great multigrain bread with some millet among the other grains.

Some of the multi-colored peppers or other veggie to accompany the sandwich.


Lightly toast your bread. Then leave one side in the toaster oven and place the cheese over it to melt. (It might be well to place it on a shallow pan to avoid having the cheese drip on the oven.) Place some sliced peppers on the pan to heat them while the cheese is melting. Add some spinach or arugula to the sandwich and serve with the peppers and perhaps some potato chips.

grilled cheese

Copyright © 2021 J.A.