I am sitting at my desk, looking at a crumpled candy wrapper and wondering how this became my lunch. I know better. But I also know that when I’m in a hurry in the morning, I sometimes fail to plan meals for the day.
The smart girl shops on the weekends and plans meals for the coming week.
I try to be that girl, but that didn’t happen. The secret to success is meal prep. Here are a few tips for simple make-ahead meals for the week. I will also let you know about a few great products that will make this task even easier!
Shop on Saturday or Sunday
Shop on the weekends for the following week’s lunch materials. We are going to make our weekday lunches in one session, then refrigerate and pull them out on the way to work, or at lunchtime if you are at home. No guesswork, and no need to default to a Payday bar.
If you haven’t read my post Too Busy To Plan Your Meals, do it now. I’ll wait…… Done? Ok, remember, the idea is to choose a protein, then veggies, then fruit or starch for your meals. You will be preparing your lunches with this concept in mind.
Take advantage of the weekend to make larger dinners – leftovers make great lunches!
Make a big batch of something on Sunday. That something could be a larger Sunday pot roast. Or an extra roasted chicken, or a big bowl of tuna salad or egg salad. This will be the basis for the protein in your lunches for the week.
Buy containers or a bento box
Separate containers make it easy to make lots of lunches at once. If you have kids, make another set of lunches for them at the same time! Amazon has several sets of containers with compartments – perfect for managing portions.
Get out your foods, line up your containers, and off we go! If your protein is a roasted chicken, you can have chicken lettuce wraps one day, then make chicken salad for lunches later in the week. For roast beef, consider making something like beef and barley soup later in the week. You can roast a few chicken breasts and divide them up into daily portions.
Assembling your lunch box
Salad greens are a great vegetable choice; you can add carrots, beets, peppers, cheese and different salad dressings for variety. Take some bell pepper strips or broccoli or cauliflower or carrots to dip in hummus.
A handful of blueberries with nuts, apple slices with cheese, strawberries, or other fresh fruit are great to add for a not-too-sweet finish. Too much starch will have you dragging anchor by mid-afternoon.
Don’t worry if your week of lunches looks all the same. You can mix it up next week! Variety is nice, but not necessary. Stick with what works. It’s better to have something healthy to eat on hand.
There are some great posts on Pinterest if you search “meal prep.” Look there for more inspiration. I am going to the store this weekend to stock up and make my lunches for next week. Want to join me?