Updated: Mar 16
Whether you’re in your car, you don’t have access to a microwave or toaster oven, or you’re tired of eating the same things day after day, packing your lunch can feel like a drag at times. No worries, I got your back. Here are a few quick ideas (and some that require a little planning) to get you through the week. I highly recommend packing your meal in a fun tote. This may sound a bit elementary, but let’s be honest, I couldn’t wait to bust out my PB & J sandwich out of my Empire Strikes Back lunch tin with matching thermos as a kid, and the same holds true today. Now let’s throw in a freezer pack for food safety and get prepping!
Cold and Ready-to-Go (or close to it):
Tuna Salad: mix 1 can no salt added tuna with 1 tbsp mayo (I like Primal Kitchen brand), hummus, or extra virgin olive oil with lemon juice, 5 chopped Kalamata olives, and 2 cups diced vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, celery, zucchini, etc.). Serve with crackers (I like Mary’s Gone Crackers Seaweed and Black Sesame or Everything crackers).
Chili Loaded Baked Sweet Potato: ½ baked sweet potato (cooked prior) with 2 cups steamed or roasted broccoli (cooked prior), ¾ cup Amy's canned Black Bean Chili, ½ avocado (diced), and 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds.
Yogurt Parfait & Veggies: mix 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (dairy or non-dairy based) with ½ cup fruit and ¼ cup nuts/seeds (almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, hemp, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, etc.). Serve with a side of ¼ cup hummus and veggies for dipping.
Gazpacho Soup: In a large mixing bowl, mix 1 cucumber (seeded and chopped), 2 red bell peppers (cored and chopped), 4 tomatoes (chopped), ½ red onion (chopped), 1 clove garlic (minced), 2 cups tomato juice (low sodium), ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 lime (juiced), 1 jalapeno (seeded and minced), and sea salt and black pepper to taste. Ladle out 1 ½ cups of mixture into blender and puree, then add back into bowl and mix. Add beans or lentils of choice and mix. Ladle 2-3 cups in a container with a lid and top with ½ avocado.
Salads or Bowls:
Vegetarian Antioxidant: Apple cider vinegar/avocado oil dressing, carrots, blueberries, goat cheese, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sprouts, and mixed greens.
Mediterranean: Balsamic vinegar/olive oil dressing, artichokes, black olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, chicken (this can be from a plain rotisserie chicken or one you’ve cooked), oregano, and mixed greens.
Tuna Nicoise: lemon juice/olive oil dressing, tomatoes, black and/or green olives, French green beans, red onion, no salt added tuna, sea salt, black pepper, romaine lettuce.
Taco: salsa (no sugar added), black beans or leftover taco meat, quinoa, carrots, bell peppers, avocado, shredded cabbage (this can be bagged), bell peppers.
Deconstructed Shrimp Sushi: coconut amino dressing (tastes like soy sauce), cucumber, carrot, ginger, avocado, shrimp (you can buy frozen cooked shrimp and thaw it), cooked rice.
Or create your own Salad or Bowl with these ideas…
Choose a dressing: salsa, olive/avocado/walnut/pumpkin seed/macadamia nut oil, apple cider/balsamic/red wine vinegar, lemon/lime juice, etc.
Add vegetables: carrots, green or yellow zucchini, red/yellow/white or green onion, radishes, celery, tomatoes, jicama, asparagus, bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, cabbage, sugar snap peas, etc.
Add fat: avocado (I know, technically a fruit), Kalamata olives, green olives, black olives, nuts, seeds
Add protein: chicken, salmon, steak, tuna, sardines, hard/soft boiled eggs, slivered almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, quinoa (actually a seed), etc.
Top with a green: spinach, arugula, kale, mixed greens, etc.
Salad or Bowl Basics:
Start with a clean wide mouth mason jar or 5-cup pyrex bowl with lid
Place dressing and other wet items (tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.) on the bottom.
Add moisture-resistant veggies (carrots, broccoli, etc.)
Add protein of choice and any “dry ingredients” (chicken, greens, nuts, seeds)
Store in fridge until ready to eat. Shake, shake, shake, and enjoy!
I'd love to hear from you. What quick and easy lunch ideas or recipes are your favorites? Which of the ideas above will you use for your next lunch? Please comment below.
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With love, Steph