Try these 10 make-ahead lunch recipes to make your week less stressful and eat home cooked meals on the go!
Between balancing work and school, it is hard to find time to cook homemade meals. It is even harder to eat healthy lunches every day. Packing a lunch each morning is just not realistic for me because I love sleep too much to give up 5 minutes to make a sandwich. That is why I love make-ahead lunches! I can dedicate an hour or two on the weekend to making all of my lunches (and breakfasts) for the whole week.
The key to making lunches ahead is choosing meals that either freeze well or will keep in the refrigerator for several days. Quinoa, rice, pasta, meat, and firm vegetables and fruits are all good staples for make-ahead lunch recipes. I recommend avoiding ingredients that wilt quickly (like most lettuces) or add moisture and acidity (like sliced tomatoes and berries). Here are 10 Make-Ahead Lunch Recipes to help you get started.
If you want more ideas, check out the Prep-Ahead Breakfasts and Lunches cookbook. All of the lunch recipes can be made ahead of time and include storage tips.
10 Make-Ahead Lunch Recipes
1. Quinoa and Avocado Salad – This quick and easy recipe is easy to throw together on the weekend and portion for lunches all week. It is a great source of vegetarian protein and unsaturated fats, so it will keep you going through the rest of your day without making you sleepy.
2. Chipotle Ranch Chicken Salad Wraps – Chicken salad wraps are a great lunch to take on the go, and all of the ingredients in this wrap will stay fresh for days so you can prepare them ahead of time. You can either make all of the wraps at the same time or make the filling and scoop some into a tortilla each morning.
3. Red Quinoa and Pork Bowl – Quinoa bowls make awesome make-ahead lunches because they can be prepared in a glass storage container or mason jar and they are ready to go. This quinoa bowl with pork and vegetables is a well-balanced, flavorful meal that will get you through the afternoon.
4. Asparagus and Pasta Salad – Pasta salads are some of my favorite make-ahead lunch recipes because they keep so well in the fridge. This asparagus and pasta salad would make a light and flavorful lunch.
5. Broccoli and Quinoa Salad – Apples and bacon give this salad a crunchy texture and delicious flavors. Since it has broccoli, I would make it at most three days ahead of time to avoid wilting.
6. Turkey Salad Sandwiches with Apple and Cranberries – This turkey salad is my all time favorite Thanksgiving leftover recipe, but you can make it all year long. You can make a big bowl on the weekend and have easy lunches all week. If you want to make the sandwiches a couple days ahead, using dry lettuce leaves or cheese slices will keep the bread dry.
7. Italian Pasta Salad with Grilled Pork – For a more filling pasta salad option, try this pasta salad with grilled pork. If you don't have time to barbecue, you can bake or broil the pork instead.
8. Southwest Ranch Tortellini Salad – This Tortellini salad offers a unique twist on a pasta salad with tortellini and Southwest flavors. Nothing in this salad spoils quickly, so you can make it several days ahead.
9. Summer Couscous Chicken Salad – Couscous is another great base for cold salads, and this Summer Couscous Chicken Salad is packed with chicken and vegetables for a balanced meal on the go.
10. Ratatouille Chicken Bowls – With all of the ingredients of ratatouille combined with chicken breast and rice, these bowls are both delicious and filling.