In the world of meal prep and healthy lunch ideas, the humble sandwich often gets overlooked. Which is a shame, because high-quality, 100-percent whole-wheat bread is kind of a lunchtime all-star; it’s hearty, fiber-rich, and often packs a decent amount of protein. Plus, it’s the perfect vehicle for veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats like avocado and nut butter.
When it comes to meatless sandwiches, the trick is to make sure you’re packing in enough protein. Sharon Palmer, R.D., tells SELF that while daily protein recommendations vary based on individual factors, aiming for 16 to 24 grams of protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a good place to start. She suggests vegetarian protein sources such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy, but also points out that you can get a solid amount of protein by choosing the right bread. “Some whole-grain breads have more protein than others,” Palmer says. “For example, Ezekiel flax sprouted whole-grain bread has 5 grams per slice. So with two slices, you’re getting 10 grams of protein.” Her go-to sandwich fillings are baked tofu, tempeh bacon, and lots of vegetables. She picks spreads like hummus, tahini, and pesto instead of mayo or butter, since they increase the protein a little bit and are packed with healthy fats.
Regardless of whether or not you include meat in your diet, here are some creative meatless sandwiches that make awesome packed lunches.
1.Brussels Sprouts and Hummus Grilled Cheese from Simply Quinoa
This grilled-cheese sandwich tastes good hot or cold, thanks to a chickpea-Brussels sprouts filling that’s equal parts creamy and crunchy. Get the recipe here.
Per one serving: 530 calories, 20 grams protein
2.The Ultimate Hummus and Veggie Sandwich from Bless This Mess
The key to making the veggie sandwich as satisfying as possible is using 1/4 cup of hummus per sandwich, and choosing a bread that’s 100 percent whole wheat and hearty enough to hold all of your veggie fillings. Get the recipe here.
Per one serving: 510 calories, 17 g protein
3.Meatless Mexican Sloppy Joes from Veggie Inspired
This bean- and veggie-packed filling is easy to make and fun to eat. Serve 1/6 of the recipe on an Ezekiel sprouted-grain burger bun and you’ll get 18 grams of protein and just under 400 calories.
Per one serving (with the bun): 366 calories, 18 g protein
4.Cucumber and Avocado Sandwich from Two Peas and Their Pod
Between Dave’s Killer Bread (trust us, it really is killer), and a good smear of goat cheese on each slice of bread, one of these sandwiches packs an impressive 24 grams of protein. Get the recipe here.
Per one serving: 485 calories, 24 g protein
5.Make-Ahead Bean Burritos from Yummy Mummy Kitchen
A big batch of these simple burritos doesn’t take long to make, and you can refrigerate or freeze them for grab-and-go lunches throughout the week. Get the recipe here.
Per burrito: 507 calories, 19 grams protein
6.Hummus and Tahini Egg Salad Sandwich from Kitchen Confidante
This egg salad is lighter than the traditional mayo-based version, thanks to the hummus and tahini swap. Get the recipe here.
Per one serving of egg salad plus two slices of whole wheat bread: 361 calories, 19 g protein
7.Cottage Cheese Sandwich from Foodie Crush
Some people might think this is crazy. Those people are missing out on something simple, quick, and surprisingly delicious. Get the recipe here.
Per one serving: 507 calories, 22 grams protein
8.BBQ Tofu Sandwiches from Yup It’s Vegan
These barbecue tofu sandwiches are great for a crowd but also for Sunday meal prep. Get the recipe here.
Per one serving: 379 calories, 21 g fat
9.Smoky Tempeh Sandwich with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto from My New Roots
Tempeh is like tofu’s more sophisticated, more deeply textured cousin. Which is to say that this sandwich is very, very much worth trying, whether you’re a tofu fan or not. Get the recipe here.
Per one serving (including 2 ounces of smoky tofu and 1/4 avocado): 461 calories, 20 grams protein