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How to Easily Meal Prep Your Lunch With Simple Recipes

Different varieties of foods in bento boxes with text overlay Meal Prep your lunch ideas

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How great would it be to know that your whole week of lunches is healthy and ready to go on Monday? You can totally do this with these easy strategies and simple recipes to meal prep your lunch.

 

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Why should you meal prep your lunch? 

Meal planning and prep is a fantastic way to cut down on the time you spend in the kitchen.  And it works for more than just dinner.

 

3 Benefits to meal prep your lunch

  1. Save money by eating your prepared lunch instead of spending money at a restaurant.

2. Stop wasting time driving around and looking for somewhere to eat.

3. Your body will be better nourished and will be able to stick to your healthy eating goals.

4. Avoid that afternoon slump in energy and brain power by having a lunch that perks you up rather than takes you down. It will do wonders for your productivity!

 

 

#1 Utilizing Leftovers to Meal Prep Your Lunch

There isn’t enough love for leftovers. People often waste a lot of food simply because they keep leftovers in the fridge, and never touch them. I used to be such a food waster!

Instead of just scraping them into the trash bin, you should utilize those leftovers for your meal planning! There can be a very happy relationship between leftovers and meal planning.

 

Make Leftovers Your Lunch

If you typically use a single day of the week to do the bulk of your cooking, then you should make that meal large enough for leftovers. Something like a casserole can easily feed a family of four and then leave enough to use throughout the week. It makes for a great quick-grab lunch that you don’t have to worry about cooking.

Another example might be that you just have extra meat leftover from dinner. For example, you can just heat up some veggies to go with that leftover steak for a super quick lunch throughout the week.

 

Meal Prep Your Lunch by Repurposing Leftovers

Let’s say you cook something in bulk on Sunday and you’re left with a lot of leftovers. However, you’re not the type of person who can eat the same kind of meal every day. You don’t have to toss it out. Instead, repurpose them into a new meal for lunch. Let’s take the example of steak again.

Sure, you could just warm up the steak and use it as a meal with new veggies. Or you could cut it up a bit more and make a steak burger out of it. Throw those pieces of meat between two buns and load it up with all of the extras that you desire.

Or you can dice it up to add to a salad or a cheesy soup (think Philadelphia cheese steak soup) This is a chance to become a little creative in the kitchen. It will not only ensure you have a lot less cooking to do overall but you’ll also never get tired of your brand new lunch.

Cook Large Meals on Purpose 

Finally, you can purposely cook in bulk so you can plan several meals from one cooked recipe. Sometimes a really good pizza is what you want to get through the week. Why not make a veggie supreme pizza? Veggie-packed and large, it can easily feed you throughout the entire week for lunch with only one hour of cooking.

 

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# 2 Salads to Meal Prep Your Lunch

 

Salads are a great option when trying to eat healthy and get adequate servings of the nutrients your body needs, especially vegetables. They can be simple to make, catered to meet your taste preferences, and a great meal to pack for lunch.

Keeping It Fresh

Often, salads are not thought of something that you can plan and pack ahead of time because it can be difficult to keep it fresh and not soggy. One tip is to pack the salad dressing on the side. Much of the sogginess comes from the salad dressing sitting.

Another way to keep salads fresh is by choosing your containers wisely. It is best to use airtight, leak-proof containers. Some people opt for using mason jars, which can be a cheaper choice.

Have you heard of them? When I did I literally went out the very next day and bought a package of 12 Big Mouth Mason Jars and started in. One thing about me is I don’t usually sit on ideas. When I hear ideas I act on them asap, because otherwise I forget and it gets lost somewhere in my mind. Mom-Brain?

Basics of Salad Jars

The important thing about fresh salads in mason jars is to prevent them from being soggy! There is an order to what should go in first to last. Let me break that down for you before I share some Mason Jar recipes to use to meal prep your lunch.

 

Order of Ingredients in Jar

 

  1. Start with a clean and very dry mason jar.
  2. Salad dressing goes in first at the bottom.
  3. Next goes any proteins or grains. This is where you would put eggs, diced ham or turkey, bacon, quinoa, etc. This will put a barrier between your dressing and the lettuce.
  4. Now add seeds, nuts, and cheese.
  5. Next add any other veggies like carrots, zucchini, and cucumbers. You could put tomatoes here if you don’t mind the texture changing. Tomatoes usually turn mushy in the fridge. I usually just keep them separate all together and just cut one right before I eat the salad or that morning.
  6. Next would be any fruits. Fresh fruits are delicious but you’ll want to make sure to eat them sooner than later. They usually won’t last a whole week. Soak sliced fruits like apples and pears for a few minutes in salted water before adding them to the jar to prevent browning.
  7. Time for all the leafy lettuce. Make sure it is clean and very dry. The wetter it is the more likely it will be soggy. Use a salad spinner to remove excess water from your lettuce after you wash it.
  8. Fold a paper towel and put this between the lettuce and the lid at the top of the jar.
  9. Keep in mind you want as little air as possible between layers to help your salad stay fresh longer. So pack them tightly!
  10. When storing or transporting, keep jars upright to prevent the dressing from reaching the greens.

 

For Lettuce Haters

Not everyone likes lettuce and often shy away from salads because of this. However, not all salads need lettuce. There are many salad recipes that call for noodles in lieu of lettuce.

Pasta salad can be healthy if you use whole wheat pasta or create noodles out of vegetables. For example, spaghetti squash or zucchini can replace regular noodles for any pasta salad recipe.

There are also salads that call for beans as the main ingredient. Then there is taco salad which can be created to meet your taste preferences.

 

Unique Ideas for salads

Salads can get boring if you are using the same ingredients every day. To keep it unique, try a variety of salad recipes. I’m sharing some with you below.

You can use different toppings other than croutons. For example, you can try topping with Tostitos or pita chips. Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit are also healthy options.

You can change it up by using a variety of meats. Try shredded chicken, tuna, seafood, boiled eggs, beans, and different cheeses to add protein to your salad. It can be fun to try different things and give your taste buds a surprise.

 

 

A variety of different ways you can meal prep your lunch the healthy and easy way like mason jar salads, soups, sandwiches, and shakes recipes included.

 

 

Salad Recipes 

 

Greek Zucchini Salad in a Mason Jar

A salad using zucchini noodles instead of lettuce. It also has a creamy avocado and yogurt dressing.

 

Greek zucchini salad in a jar great to meal prep your lunch.

 

Blue Cheese, Pear, and Spinach Salad in a Mason Jar

Lots of variety to this mason jar salad. You can change up the cheese, the fruit, and the type of lettuce.

Blue cheese pear and spinach salad in a mason jar great to meal prep your lunch this week.

 

Cobb Salad in a Jar (serves 1)

1 wide mouth quart size mason jar
2 T ranch dressing (homemade see below)
¼ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup cucumbers, sliced
1 T red onion, chopped
A hard boiled egg, sliced
1 slice of turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 T plain Greek yogurt
2 slices of turkey, chopped
ranch seasoning-sprinkle
1 cup chopped romaine

Directions:

Dressing: Mix 2 T Plain Greek Yogurt with a sprinkle of ranch seasoning.
Start with dressing in jar, then add tomato, cucumber, onion, egg, avocado, turkey bacon, turkey, and end with romaine.  When ready to eat shake and pour into a bowl.

 

Cobb salad with ranch dressing recipe for meal prep your lunch.

 

 

Chef Salad in a Jar (serves 1)

In bottom of mason jar whisk together:

1.5 tsp red wine vinegar
1.5 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp thyme
pinch of sea salt
pinch of ground black pepper
1.5 T extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp of raw honey

Mix ingredients then layer in THIS order:
½ cup carrot matchsticks, 1/3 cup black olives, sliced, ¼ cup diced cucumber, 1/3 cup diced tomato, ¼ cup chopped bell pepper, 2 hard boiled eggs diced, romaine to fill to top. When ready to serve shake and serve in a bowl.

 

Chef salad in a jar from recipe to meal prep your lunch. A plate with some already on a plate ready to eat.

 

Rainbow Salad (4 servings)

1⁄2 cup white balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley

Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)

2 cups chickpeas, drained, rinsed

1 cup sliced carrots

A med red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped

2 cups chopped red cabbage

1 cup chopped cucumber

8 cups assorted salad greens (like mixed spring lettuce)

1⁄2 cup raw sunflower seeds

Directions: Combine vinegar, oil, garlic, and parsley in a small bowl; whisk to blend.
Season with salt and pepper if desired; mix well. Evenly divide dressing between 4 one- quart Mason jars. Set aside. Evenly layer chickpeas, carrots, bell peppers, cabbage, cucumber, salad greens, and sunflower seeds on top of dressing in jars. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Shake before serving. Makes 4 servings.

 

2 mason jars with rainbow salad recipe for meal prep your lunch.

 

Chicken and Black Bean Burrito Salad (4 servings)

1⁄2 cup fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp. + 1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, divided use

1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped

A medium jalapeno, seeds and veins removed, coarsely chopped

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups canned black beans

4 oz. shredded cooked chicken breast

1 cup chopped jicama

1⁄2 cup thinly sliced radishes

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

1⁄4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

8 cups chopped romaine lettuce

Directions: Place lime juice, 2 Tbsp. cilantro, garlic, and jalapeno in a blender; cover. Blend until smooth. Slowly add oil, blending continuously, until well mixed. Evenly divide dressing between 4 one-quart Mason jars. Set aside. Evenly layer beans, chicken, jicama, radishes, onion, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, and remaining 1⁄2 cup cilantro on top of dressing in jars. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Shake before serving. Makes 4 servings.

 

Chicken and black bean burrito salad to meal prep your lunch.

 

A few other varieties

2 Tbsp. vinaigrette dressing, ½ cup cherry tomatoes, ½ cup purple cabbage, ½ cup bell peppers, 6 oz. seasoned ground turkey, ¼ cup white onions, ¾ cup spinach

Use 2 Tbsp. vinaigrette dressing, 6 oz. seasoned ground turkey cooked in 1 tsp. oil, ½ cup black beans, ½ cup corn, ¾ cup bell peppers, ¼ cup white onion, 1 cup spinach, ½ chopped jalapeño

2 Tbsp. vinegar-based dressing, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, ½ cup bell peppers, ¼ cup onion, ¾ cup cooked chicken breast (about 4 oz.), ¾ cup baby spinach

 

Meal Prep Lunch Soup Recipes

Soups are another thing you can meal prep. Make a big pot have some the day you make it.  Then take the rest divide into containers to stick in the fridge or freezer. Here are some recipe ideas:

 

Clam Chowder

 

This clam chowder has been modified to make it a little healthier. It is great on a cold day.

 

Healthier clam chowder recipe

 

Portuguese Kale Soup

Looking for a way to add in more kale? This soup is a great way to do it.

Clam chowder recipe to meal prep your lunch

 

Grandma’s Chicken Noodle Soup

Nothing beats some classic chicken noodle soup. Check out the special recipe.

Grandma's chicken noodle soup recipe ready to eat in bowls.

Pasta Fagioli Soup

 

Try this classic Italian soup with white beans and pasta. You can really stock up on all kinds of veggies to this soup.

Pasta Fagioli soup recipe in a bowl ready to warm you up on a cold day.

 

 

 

Meal Prep Your Lunch With a Shake or Smoothie

 

Chocolate protein shake in a glass with a straw. The easiest way to meal prep your lunch.

 

When you are really low on time the quickest lunch you can have is a shake or smoothie. It is my favorite way to meal prep lunch! Now, I also like to “chew” my food so I normally have my shake as my healthy dessert after eating my salad or soup I prepped for the week. The main ingredient in my shake with all the nutrients as well as plant based protein is SolleComplete. Just click on the name to read about the ingredients.

 

SolleComplete can be prepared in more than just a shake or a smoothie. I have put it into pancakes, made cookies and pudding with it. My favorite is my daily Peanut Butter Chocolate shake though because it tastes like a Dairy Queen blizzard, but I know it is full of vegetables a little protein and is just what I need to get over that middle of the day energy slump.

It also has prebiotics and probiotics (read my blog Everything You Want to Know About Probiotics Here) and only all natural ingredients that will leave you feeling full and satisfied.

You don’t lose weight by starving your body of food but by only giving it the right food! In a nutshell, it staves off hunger, cuts cravings, and keeps you healthy during this journey.

No need for a daily multivitamin either it is all in here in a much more bioavailable form, unlike the tablet which your body has no idea how to absorb.

 

 

Before and after transformations of real people getting real results in the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Pants Wellness to weight loss program Click here to join today!

 

Other Ideas to Meal Prep Your Lunch

Turkey Taco Bowl

 

One of the easiest meals that you can ever make is a turkey taco bowl. All you need is to cook some ground turkey, a good dose of brown rice, and then fill the bowl with your favorite toppings. You don’t even need a taco shell to eat this delicious meal. Just take a spoon or fork and gobble it up. Perhaps one of the coolest aspects about this lunch is that you can add or remove ingredients as you wish to ensure that you never become tired with it.

 

Chicken Avocado Burritos

For those who want a delicious meal but also an easy meal to cook, then you have to try the chicken avocado burrito. All you need to do is wrap chicken, avocado slices, sour cream, salsa verde, and cheese in a tortilla. You can obviously add anything else you want to the burrito, too.

The cheese should be placed on either the top or bottom to ensure that it melts into the rest of the burrito. Then, grill it up!

That’s all you need to do for this meal. You can make as many as you want for your lunches. Not only will this meal keep you full but it’s also packed full of veggies and protein to keep you healthy and energized.

 

Chicken and Broccoli Shells with Cheese

If you love health and comfort for lunch, then you need to try out this chicken and broccoli shells with cheese idea. It’s basically like mac and cheese except for grown-ups. All you need to do is cook your shells, broccoli, chicken, and cheese sauce for a mouth-watering meal.

 

Wraps

Flour tortillas are a great choice for all types of healthy wraps. Be creative with versatile ingredients such as rice, chicken and quinoa and healthy veggies. They’re also easy to eat and less messy than many choices.

 

Sandwiches

Don’t forget the old standby, sandwich, choice. You can prepare them ahead of time and choose ingredients that are low in calories and rich in nutrients. Tomato, hummus and spinach or low-calorie chicken salad on whole grain bread are great lunchtime choices.

 

Are you ready to meal prep your lunch now?

Remember, you never have to let your lunches become boring. There are so many great choices from which to choose – and they’re easy and less time-consuming to prepare. Let your imagination soar and you’ll never dread having to eat a boring lunch again.

Whether you’re having lunch at your desk or overlooking a beautiful waterfall, a little planning ahead will make it a more enjoyable – and nutritious experience. It’s also likely you’ll save money by avoiding those expensive lunches at nearby restaurants – or drive through fast food.

 What will you meal prep for lunch this week? Share in the comments below.

 

Mastering Meal Prep & Planning Guide Send me the guide now!

 

 

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29 Responses to How to Easily Meal Prep Your Lunch With Simple Recipes

  1. Lunch prepping is really something I need to work on! I love the Mason jar salad ideas. Luckily I have lots of Mason jars hanging around the house 🙂

    1. Shannah Holt says:

      Awesome! Let me know your favorite after you give it a go.

  2. I LOVE leftovers! They really do make the best lunch. I haven’t tried the salad in a jar yet but I will have to try it out. It looks delicious!

    1. Shannah Holt says:

      Hope you find one you really enjoy!

  3. I am the worst meal planner but I’ve got to get on it. I love these ideas, so simple and healthy. I will definitely be giving these a try. I need some structure in my life.

    1. Shannah Holt says:

      Just take it in small steps maybe do a few days at a time or even just one part of a meal prepped at a time. You got this!

  4. Kim says:

    Meal prepping is the hardest part of sticking to a diet, for sure! I can totally relate to being a total food waster (especially with my kid around now…) and I feel so guilty about it! Trying to get back into the swing of things, thanks for the recipes you shared! The chicken avocado burrito is a great idea that is easy to throw together and right up my alley!

    1. Shannah Holt says:

      Thank you so much! Hope you get back into the swing of things quickly, let me know how the avocado burrito is or you.

  5. Shellie Lynn says:

    I’m a Certified Health Coach and I hate meal prepping! Ugh! These are all great ideas and the mason jar salads look so pretty. Isn’t there a saying something like the things you resist the most are the things you need the most? I guess I need to stop flying by the seat of my pants and try to organize some meal prepping 🙂

  6. Megan says:

    Stand aside same old salad, there’s a new lunch in town! Lot of great tips and ideas here, thx Shannah.

  7. laura says:

    These are great ideas that I would love to try. Thank you for sharing this. I really enjoyed reading it.

  8. I’d like to consume fewer grains and more veggies and protein. Meal planning is the perfect way to help. I love the idea of making dinner leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch.

  9. Martin Adams says:

    Some very cool tips in there. We go camping almost every weekend and this post will come in very handy indeed 🙂

  10. Heather says:

    These are great ideas for meal prep. I love mason jar idea! I have been wondering what to do with all the mason jars on a shelf in the basement (ha) – now I have a plan. 🙂

  11. That rainbow salad sounds really yummy! Thank you for such much amazing advice. I am able to start bulk making because I am starting an at home job soon and just want to make life a bit easier. I’m gonna have to try the mason jar idea!

  12. Ewa says:

    What a great post! I love your ideas!! I cannot wait to try some of them 🙂

  13. Olivia says:

    Meal prep! I really need to do this so I can take control of my calories again! These are great ideas!

  14. Monica says:

    I never saw meal prep in a jar! This is brilliant! Great way to save storage space too!

  15. Great tips and some delicious recipe ideas. I’ve been trying harder to meal plan as a way to save time and also to avoid overeating. I’m still a work in progress though! 😛

  16. Eimear says:

    I guess it’s time to go out and buy a heap of mason jars! I must say I’m guilty of saving left-overs only to throw them out later. Your post is full of so many great recipes I feel inspired to fill my fridge with beautiful mason jar salads!

  17. Kerri says:

    I would be lost without meal prepping. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  18. Kasey Ma says:

    I love these tips and these recipes! Thanks for sharing!!

  19. Some really great ideas – I’m all about meal prep to make life easier! I often use leftovers for lunch the next day!

  20. Sarah says:

    I had a mason jar salad for lunch today! It was relish!

  21. Kristin says:

    Oooh another great post on meal prep. I think I’d like to try the salad jars – that’s definitely a new idea for me. I also agree that wraps are a quick and easy solution for lunches. I like to throw hummus, lettuce and tomatos in a whole wheat wrap when I’m in a hurry…

    1. Shannah Holt says:

      Yes, it is all about easy and quick!

  22. Anne Meador says:

    I love salads in a mason jar. I never thought about the importance of minimizing the amount of air to keep it fresh. I’m so going to try the Blue Cheese and Pear.

    1. Shannah Holt says:

      Let me know how it goes for you!