Brown bagging it is one of the best ways to ensure that your midday meal is nutritious and easy on your wallet. But for busy working girls like your Team LC editors, there isn’t exactly time to whip up a gourmet spread on your lunch break. And since mornings can be hectic too (a topic we covered last week with our Busy Girl Breakfast ideas), one of the best timesavers I’ve found is packing my lunch the night before…
Today I’ll be sharing some make-ahead meal ideas straight from my lunchtime repertoire. Not only are these three dishes delicious, but they can all be prepared earlier in the week and kept in the fridge for a few days—ready to grab-and-go on your way out the door. Check out the recipes below:
Make a Mason Jar Salad.
There’s nothing less appetizing than a Tupperware full of soggy lettuce and wilting salad greens. Luckily, I have a little secret for keeping a salad fresh for hours after you prepare it—and that little secret is the mason jar (What isn’t a mason jar good for?). Start by pouring a splash of dressing in your jar, and then pack the rest of your salad in tightly so that most of your veggies aren’t coming in contact with the dressing (dressed lettuce spoils more quickly). Stick with heartier greens like kale and your salad will last even longer. When you are ready to dress your salad, just shake and serve. Here’s one of my favorite kale salad recipes to try
• fresh lacinato kale, rinsed, dried, and chopped
• toasted pine nuts
• dried cranberries
• grated Parmesan
• grilled chicken (optional)
• balsamic vinaigrette
• Pour a splash of vinaigrette into your mason jar, followed by cranberries, pine nuts, grilled chicken,
and then Parmesan.
• Shake, serve, and enjoy.
Try a tuna alternative.
Eating tuna salad at your desk is the ultimate office taboo. But my favorite “Chickpea of the Sea” recipe is delicious, lasts for days in the fridge, and most importantly, won’t have your coworkers scrunching up their noses at the smell. It’s packed with protein and it’s vegetarian friendly, too. Give it a try and I can guarantee it will be come a lunchtime favorite.
• 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
• ¼ cup mayonnaise
• 1 tablespoon mustard
• 1 1/2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar (can be found at Whole Foods and other health food stores)
• 2 teaspoons celery seeds
• 1/4 cup chopped celery
• 2 tablespoons sliced scallions
• freshly ground black pepper
• a couple sheets of dried seaweed, crumbled
• whole wheat bread (to serve)
• lettuce leaves (to serve)
1. Place chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor and pulse two or three times to roughly chop.
2. Add remaining ingredients and pulse two or three times more to incorporate.
3. Spread onto your sandwich and enjoy!
Pack some pizza bites.
Like our other favorite quinoa recipe, these Quinoa Pizza Bites are low-calorie and high in protein and fiber. They store well in the fridge, so you can make a big batch on Sunday and nibble on them throughout the week. Mix in other “toppings” of your choosing from olives to sausage to spinach, and serve with pizza dipping sauce for a tasty, guilt-free meal.
• 1 cup uncooked quinoa
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup chopped onion
• 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
• 2 teaspoons minced garlic
• 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tablespoons dried)
• 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• pizza sauce for dipping
1. Place the quinoa and two cups of water in a covered pot. Bring to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes
or until quinoa is tender.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Mix together all ingredients, except pizza sauce, in a medium mixing bowl.
4. Distribute mixture into a greased mini muffin tin, filling each cup to the top (one heaping tablespoon
each), and press down gently to compact.
5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve warm with sauce
Which recipe are you going to try first? Do you have any ideas of your own?
Share them in the comments below!