Stressed about what to eat for lunch? Meal prep for easy lunches is your ticket to hassle-free, delicious midday meals. In this guide, you’ll find straightforward steps and recipes that will make lunch the highlight of your day.
Things You’ll Need
- Meal prep containers
- Measuring cups and spoons
- A kitchen scale
- Chopping board
- A good knife
- Cooking utensils (spatula, ladle, etc.)
- Non-stick cooking spray or oil
- Ingredients for recipes
- Salad spinner
- Cooking thermometer
For Specific Recipes
Chicken Caesar Salad
- Ziplock bags for marinating
- Caesar dressing
- Grill or oven for cooking chicken
- Large mixing bowl for assembling the salad
- Parmesan cheese
- Parmesan cheese grater
- Skillet or wok for stir-frying
- Vegetable oil
- Stir-fry sauce or ingredients to make one (soy sauce, minced garlic, honey)
Tuna Salad Sandwich
- Can of tuna
- Can opener for the tuna can
- Whole grain bread
- Mixing bowl for preparing tuna salad
- Bread knife for slicing the bread
Getting Started: Organizing Your Meal Prep
A successful meal prep journey begins with thorough planning. You’ll want to start by picking out the recipes you’ll be preparing. A good mix of protein, vegetables, and carbs is usually a balanced choice. Once you’ve decided on your menu, write down all the ingredients you’ll need on a shopping list.
When you go shopping, keep the freshness of the ingredients in mind. Look for vibrant colors in your fruits and vegetables and check the firmness by touch. For meat and fish, ensure they don’t have a foul odor and that they are stored at the correct temperature. Finally, always remember to check expiration dates on packaged items like sauces and grains.
Basic Meal Prep Techniques
Three basic techniques can elevate your meal prep for easy lunches:
Uniform Chopping: The size of the chopped ingredients affects not just the appearance but also the cooking time. For instance, if you’re cutting vegetables for a stir-fry, try to cut them into similar sizes to ensure they cook uniformly. Utilize techniques like julienning for carrots and dicing for bell peppers.
Preheating: When cooking meat or baking, a preheated cooking surface is crucial. It ensures that your food cooks through uniformly. For example, if you’re using an oven, allow it to preheat to the required temperature as indicated in the recipe. For grilling or pan-frying, give the cooking surface a few minutes to warm up.
Cooling: After your meal is cooked, let it sit out to reach room temperature before storing it in containers. This reduces the risk of bacterial growth and also maintains the texture of the food.
Read more meal prep topics here – Meal Prep for Every Situation: Your Ultimate Guide
Meal Prep for Easy Lunches
Below, we show you how to meal prep for easy lunches…
Recipes for Easy Lunches
Chicken Caesar Salad
Marinate Chicken: Place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a ziplock bag. Pour in enough Caesar dressing to coat the chicken. Add a pinch of salt and pepper for additional seasoning. Seal the bag and make sure the dressing is well-distributed. Let this sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Cooking Chicken: Preheat your grill or oven to 375°F (190°C). Place the chicken on the grill or in a baking dish if using an oven. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C) when checked with a meat thermometer.
Prepare Lettuce: Take romaine lettuce leaves and wash them under cold running water. Use a salad spinner to remove excess water or pat them dry with a kitchen towel. Chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
Assemble Salad: In a large bowl, toss the romaine lettuce with Caesar dressing. Cut the cooked chicken into thin strips and lay them over the dressed lettuce. Add croutons and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese for that extra flavor.
Prepare Vegetables: Start by washing your chosen vegetables—bell peppers, carrots, and broccoli—under cold running water. For bell peppers, remove the seeds and inner membranes before slicing. Peel the carrots and slice them into thin rounds or juliennes. For broccoli, cut them into small florets.
Cooking: Place a skillet on medium heat and add about two tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once hot, toss in the chopped vegetables. Stir regularly to ensure even cooking.
Seasoning: While cooking, add your chosen stir-fry sauce or prepare a quick one with soy sauce, minced garlic, and a touch of honey. Add this to the skillet and stir to coat the vegetables evenly. Cook until the veggies are tender but still have a slight crunch.
Tuna Salad Sandwich
Prepare Tuna: Open a can of tuna and drain off all excess liquid by pressing the lid down while tilting the can over a sink. Transfer the drained tuna to a mixing bowl.
Mix Ingredients: To the bowl, add mayonnaise, finely chopped celery, and basic seasonings like salt and pepper. Stir the ingredients well until thoroughly combined.
Assemble Sandwich: Lay out slices of whole-grain bread on a clean surface. Spread a generous layer of the tuna mixture onto one side of each bread slice. Layer with freshly washed and dried lettuce leaves and thin tomato slices. Close the sandwich with another slice of bread.
Meal Prep for Easy Lunches: Conclusion
Meal prep for easy lunches doesn’t have to be daunting. By organizing and using basic cooking techniques, along with trying out these simple recipes, you can look forward to delightful lunches all week long.