I don't know about you, but I definitely don't have time to make lunch every day! When I'm lucky, there will be some leftovers I can snag from the fridge. Many days, though, I ended up ordering takeout - which got really expensive! My husband has no problem buying a pound of deli meats like turkey and making the same sandwich every day, but that sounded too boring to me. So, I started prepping our make ahead lunches on the weekend.
I was worried that this would take up my precious, relaxing weekend time, but I gave it a try anyway. As it turns out, meal prep for make-ahead lunches actually couldn't be easier! It's a great way to bring a healthy lunch to work while keeping the lunch options new every day. Here are some of my favorite make-ahead recipes that are quick and easy. Just get ready to be the envy of the office, because these make ahead lunches will make everyone jealous!
1. Mason Jar Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas
Mason jar salads are great ideas, especially if you live with an on-the-go schedule. All you need to do is put the salad dressing (or plain olive oil if you prefer) at the bottom. Then, top it with hearty vegetables like broccoli or legumes like chickpeas. Next comes grains like quinoa or brown rice, followed by tender greens.
Store them in the fridge all week and pull them out and shake when you're ready to eat! They're so easy to make, you can put a bunch of healthy make-ahead lunches together on a Sunday and be set for the week.
2. Make-Ahead Chicken Enchiladas
The thing I love most about casseroles is how easy it is to transform dinner into make ahead lunches. All you need to do is make an extra casserole and cut it into individual portions. Place the portions into the air-tight containers and they'll be ready to grab and go on for weekday lunch. You can also take this one step further and chuck 'em into the freezer for a later week.
3. Whole Wheat Peanut Butter and Jelly Pockets
Who needs peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when you can make a wholesome pocket? This whole-grain lunch idea is a great way to take the fuss out of morning lunch prep. Just make a big batch of the pockets on the weekend and they'll be ready for lunch all week long. Bring a side of vegetables or a salad to turn this into a complete meal.
4. Chickpea Salad with Bacon, Cotija, and Roasted Chiles
Chickpea salad is one of the best make-ahead lunches because the hearty beans hold up well to dressing. You can make this on Sunday and it will still have its texture and flavor on Friday! This makes an excellent meal by itself because the chickpeas are full of fiber and protein. If you're looking for more protein in your life, you can easily top this salad with a grilled chicken breast or pork chop.
5. Roasted Vegetable Buddha Bowl
Buddha bowls are so hot right now, and for good reason. They're a perfect way to deliver tasty food in a healthy package. The other amazing thing about them? They're super easy to make in advance, so they're perfect for make ahead lunches. You can customize a bowl like this for any vegetables you have in the fridge and it will make a satisfying Meatless Monday lunch.
6. Black Bean and Quinoa Freezer Burrito
Don't be afraid to use your freezer! Meal prepping doesn't have to be about spending all day Sunday making meals for the week. It's great to make a batch of these freezer burritos for the weeks where you simply don't have time to meal prep. Just grab one of these, heat it up in the microwave, and you'll be enjoying a healthy lunch in no time.
7. Meatball and Provolone Subs
Leftover meatballs are a lunchtime dream! You can do so much with them. I love making a big batch of meatballs on Sunday so I can have lunch all week long. Sometimes I like to cook some pasta or zoodles for the meatballs, but my favorite way to enjoy them is on a sandwich. All you'll need for this make-ahead lunch is some tasty bread, a couple slices of provolone, and your favorite meatball recipe.
8. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad
Who needs mayonnaise-rich chicken salad when you have Greek yogurt? This is one of my favorite make ahead lunches because I can eat it for lunch or use it as my snack! It's super easy to make a large batch on Saturday or Sunday and have chicken salad all week long. Enjoy this flavorful rendition of boring old chicken salad on your favorite bread, or go gluten-free and eat it with rice crackers.
9. A Good Bowl of Chili
Everyone knows that chili is better the next day, so why not make up a batch on the weekend for a grab-and-go weekday lunch? You can make your favorite recipe in the slow cooker or go old-fashioned and simmer away on the stovetop. Then, all you'll need is a container full of sour cream, cheddar cheese, and some sliced jalapenos (if you like it spicy). I like to switch it up every now and again and serve my lunch chili over Fritos!
10. Lunch Box Pasta Salad
Pasta salad makes a great side dish at a potluck, but you can transform it into a healthy weekday lunch. Make a huge batch of pasta salad that's chock full of healthy vegetables like broccoli, peppers, and tomatoes. You can keep it veggie if you like, or you can make it the main meal by adding some shredded chicken or canned tuna.