Lunch prep saves me on so many occasions when I start to feel hungry and need to eat a meal. I can be very indecisive (Libra tendency) when it comes to what I would like to eat (Just ask my husband when we are trying to figure out what to eat for dinner), so it is best for me to have some “go-to” items in my kitchen, or on the go that I will eat and not be tired of it. Some of my easy meal prep ideas for lunch are listed below.
Greek Yogurt – I tend to pick up the singe serve packages. I like to catch them on a sale at my local supermarket when they are 10 for $10 when I can, or I usually pick them up from the membership store (i.e. Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s). In addition, I get the smaller tub of plain Greek yogurt so I can add fresh or frozen fruit to them. I also add granola to my yogurt for a nice crunch and additional sweetness.
Fruit/Cut Veggies – These are easy foods to add on to leftovers from the fridge, or to pair up with some cold cuts or rotisserie chicken. My fave fruit to have on hand – apples, oranges, clementines, melons, peaches/nectarines, plums, berries, pineapple, mango, grapes, cherries. My fave veggies for snacking – cucumber, bell peppers, celery, shishito peppers, grape/cherry tomatoes, carrots.
Rotisserie Chicken – Whether I’ve prepared chicken at home or I’ve bought chicken from the supermarket, I love to have this on hand so that I can eat it warm or cold with veggies. I pair it with cut veggies, with a fruit salad, or I make a chicken quesadilla.
Cold Cuts – I love to have cold cuts on hand to make quick sandwiches with either whole wheat bread, rolls, croissants, pita bread or tortillas. I also will roll up the meat (turkey or ham) with cheese to pair with my veggies or fruit. It is an easy way to get in some protein with your meal.
Chips/Crackers/Pretzels – I love to have a salty crunch with my meal, and in moderation, it is fine to have chips or crackers or pretzels. I always portion out my snack and put it on the plate with my meal, or in a small bowl to pair with my lunch. This helps with my portion size, and when I have finished that portion, I ma not as likely to go back again to fill this container again.
These are some of my choices to regularly have on hand in my kitchen. I can easily put a meal together either to go to work with me or to have for lunch over the weekend while at home with the family. This helps relieve me of something I call “food choice exhaustion/indecision”. The less I have to think about what I have to eat, the more I can make effective food choices to support the life that I am working to build for my health.
There are times where I dread prepping and cooking and being in the kitchen. I know that it is helpful for me to have food prepped and in the fridge so that I can always piece a meal together. I used to prepare all kinds of meat, rice, veggies, etc., but I found that there was too much food left over for too long. Because I noticed this was happening, I started to fine tune what meal prep meant for me. Meal prep for me is having foods that are prepped that I can put a meal together in a quick amount of time to be heated up and eaten with minimal prepping time. Here are five items that I love to have prepped on a regular basis that I can use as a base to make dinner.
Chicken Thighs – This is a staple for me to have on hand either in the fridge or the freezer. These can be purchased at your local supermarket, meat purveyor, farm, or membership store (i.e. Costco, Sam’s BJ’s). When prepping, season the chicken and cook it in one of three ways – roasting in the oven, air frying in the air fryer, or cooking on the stovetop. Usually roasting in the oven or air frying is what I fall back on because it is an easy prep – place the chicken in the pan (after seasoning) and letting the oven or the air fryer do the work.
Seafood – I always have salmon or shrimp in the freezer for really quick meal prep for the next day. Salmon I will season, squeeze lemon/lime/orange on it, and put in the oven to roast for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cut of salmon. Quick tip – when you squeeze a citric acid (lemon/lime/orange) on the salmon, it lessens the “fishy” smell in your home significantly. Shrimp, I will season and cook on the stove. Depending on the size of the shrimp, the cooking process can be completed in as little as 6 minutes.
Green Veggies (Broccoli, Asparagus, Green Beans) – I love to roast or air fry my veggies. It actually changes the flavor profile of the green and has it tasting a little bit nutty. The texture changes a bit as it roasts – I like to say that I capture a bit of char on my veggies so that it has a crunch factor when I eat the veggies. I season the veggies, spray with either olive oil, coconut oil or a canola/olive oil blend, and roast off until the desired texture is reached. I usually roast at 375/400 degrees for about 25 minutes, longer if I desire a more crunchy texture.
Jasmine Rice – This is a staple that I always have in my kitchen to add on as a side dish to my protein and veggies. Quick tip – I flavor my rice with sea salt and powdered chicken bouillon. It kicks up the flavor profile and makes it more fun to eat alone, or with additional items on your plate.
Bell Pepper/Cucumber/Onion/Tomato – These items I always have on hand. Bell Peppers, Tomatoes and Cucumber I use to make a quick salad, or to eat alone as a snack or side dish with my meal. Onion I always cook down either by itself or with the bell peppers to pair with my protein. I very rarely eat raw onion because I don’t prefer that taste. The only onion I eat raw on occasion is a red onion, and that only happens when I order a meal outside of my home that has the onion paired with the meal (such as a salad or authentic tacos).
These are my go to items that are always on my grocery list and in my fridge/pantry so I can quickly put these things together to make meals. It has helped tremendously in creating new meals and fighting food boredom at home.