This quinoa and tempeh with a rich, spicy tomato sauce may become your new favourite vegan meal prep idea. It’s perfect for a make-ahead lunch that’s vegan, gluten-free, and ready in 25 minutes! 

Vegan meal prep lunchbox with quinoa and tempeh in a tomato sauce

Who else loves meal prep? It’s an often overlooked but crucial habit for anyone that lives a busy lifestyle and is out and about during the day. I got into cooking my meals a few days in advance soon after I went vegan. My school cafeteria didn’t exactly boast a range of plant based options, and I wanted to optimise my time as a busy student. Ever since, I’ve been collecting and creating simple, lunchbox-friendly recipes that you can’t get bored of.

If you’re like me and want to keep organised and eat healthy with little effort, this quinoa with tempeh in a rich, smoky tomato sauce might be a great option for you. Make it for lunch, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Vegan lunchbox with tempeh, quinoa and cucumbers

Easy vegan meal prep idea

If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know that I like to keep super busy. In between uni work, running my business, and making sure that my fitness routine is on point, my days end up being packed full of activities that keep me super occupied and excited.

So concerning food, I love to have a selection of go-to simple meal ideas, preferably ones that are ready in under 30 minutes. Sometimes, if I’m testing a recipe for the blog, I will spend much longer on it. But if I’m just cooking for myself, being efficient is absolutely key. And that’s where the skill of meal prep comes in!

Vegan meal prep lunch box with quinoa, tempeh in a tomato sauce and a salad

Meal prep is basically the process of preparing all or some of your meals in advance. Or, it can be as simple as chopping vegetables and making sure that the ingredients are ready to go for when you start cooking. It’s a dream come true for busy people, and this tempeh recipe just happens to be an incredible meal prep-friendly option! Not only is it incredibly easy to make, but goes so well with a variety of sides, and can taste even better the day after preparation.

If you’re interested in learning more about meal prep, picking up useful tips, and learning even more recipes, make sure to check out my free vegan meal prep guide! It’s such a useful skill to have, and doesn’t have to be overwhelming/complicated at all.

Vegan meal prep quinoa and tempeh in tomato sauce

How to make tempeh in a rich, smoky tomato sauce

Like tofu, tempeh is a product made from fermented soybeans. While slightly less well-known, it’s another fantastic source of vegan protein, and easy to make flavourful and delicious. Dense in texture with a slightly nutty undertone, it makes a great meat alternative. Plus, given the overall neutral flavour of tempeh, you just can’t go wrong with it. In other words, versatility on point.

One of my favourite ways to prepare tempeh is marinading and then roasting it in the oven. But today, we’re keeping things really straightforward and using it to make a tomato sauce that’s very much reminiscent of spaghetti bolognese. It has a smoky flavour due to the paprika and with a hint of spice.

Tempeh in a tomato sauce sitting in a frying pan

Add the red onion, garlic, and fresh chilli into a large non-stick frying pan and cook on a medium-high heat for around 3 minutes, until softened. Add the carrot strips and stir for a further minute. 

Now add the tempeh pieces, garlic powder, and tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tempeh is lightly browned. 

Lower the heat and pour in the canned tomatoes, followed by the paprika, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. Simmer on a low-medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. 

Quinoa and tempeh with a tomato sauce vegan meal prep lunch

Do this while cooking the quinoa according to packaging instructions. When the quinoa is done cooking, stir in the fresh coriander and lemon juice.

Now all you have to do is arrange your boxes with fresh vegetables, and in under 25 minutes, you’ve got yourself a healthy vegan lunch for the next few days! Tasty, high protein meal prep has never been easier.

Why do I love this easy vegan meal prep recipe (and you might too)?

Vegan meal prep lunch box with quinoa, tempeh and a green salad

It’s…

  • Really easy and beginner-friendly! You don’t need anything other than basic kitchen equipment and a love for preparing nourishing food.
  • Ready in under 25 minutes. Need I say more? You could potentially save hours with this vegan meal prep recipe.
  • A great source of vegan protein. As a gym rat, this is the unique selling point for me. You’ll be getting in not one, but two high protein vegan foods in one meal.
  • Gluten-free. 
  • Can be made oil-free, as long as you sauté the vegetables in water.
  • Packed full of flavour. After all, meal prep should be neither bland nor boring.
  • Delicious either hot or cold. If you can’t heat up your make-ahead lunch on the go, no worries! Who doesn’t love a meal prep recipe that doesn’t need the extra work of seeking out a microwave?!

Notes and substitutions

Quinoa with lemon juice and fresh coriander in a saucepan
  • You don’t have to use tempeh: tofu or beans/pulses work super well in this delicious meal prep boox.
  • Likewise, swap the quinoa for any grain of your choice, such as rice or buckwheat. For a classic pasta with tomato sauce dish, use spaghetti, pasta, or noodles of your choice. Alternatively, roast a jacket potato in the oven or prepare a big batch of homemade fries for the week to eat with the tempeh.
  • Add any other toppings or sauces of your choice. I like to sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top and add fresh avocado. Grated vegan cheese also makes a fantastic addition.
  • This tempeh meal lasts well in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also freeze for up to 3 months, reheating in the microwave after leaving in the fridge to thaw fully overnight.
Quinoa and tempeh with a tomato sauce and fresh vegetables

Other vegan meal prep ideas

Let me know: do you like preparing your meals ahead of time? What’s your go-to recipe? If you give this vegan meal prep idea a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@earthofmariaa) so I can see your creations, or leave a review below together with a star rating.

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High protein meal prep lunchbox with quinoa and tempeh in a tomato sauce

Get the Recipe: Quinoa And Tempeh With Tomato Sauce

Looking for a delicious vegan meal prep idea? This quinoa and tempeh with a rich, spicy tomato sauce may become your new favourite make-ahead lunch. Ready in under 25 minutes, as well as gluten-free and easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, dry
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 fresh red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled into ribbons (simply continue peeling the carrot once you have removed the outer edge)
  • 15 oz tempeh, small bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 14 oz canned tomatoes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander
  • 1 lemon, juice of

Equipment

  • Saucepan

Instructions 

  • Cover the quinoa with around 4 cups boiling water and simmer on a medium heat for 20 minutes, until cooked. 
  • Meanwhile, add the red onion, garlic, and fresh chilli into a large non-stick frying pan with around 1 tbsp water and cook on a medium-high heat for around 3 minutes, until softened. 
  • Add the carrot strips and stir for a further minute. 
  • Add the tempeh pieces, garlic powder, and tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tempeh is lightly browned. 
  • Lower the heat and pour in the canned tomatoes, followed by the paprika, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. Simmer on a low-medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. 
  • Once the quinoa is cooked, stir in the fresh coriander and lemon juice. 
  • Distribute the quinoa and the sauce evenly between 4 airtight containers with cucumber and fresh greens.

Notes

  • Crumbled tofu or beans/pulses also work well here.
  • You swap the quinoa for any grain of your choice, rice, pasta, or noodles.
  • Add any other toppings or sauces of your choice. I like to sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top and add fresh avocado. Grated vegan cheese also makes a fantastic addition.
  • This tempeh meal lasts well in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also freeze for up to 3 months, reheating in the microwave after leaving in the fridge to thaw fully overnight.
Calories: 489kcal, Carbohydrates: 67g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 308mg, Potassium: 1437mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 18g, Vitamin A: 8494IU, Vitamin C: 33mg, Calcium: 226mg, Iron: 7mg