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Layered Lunch: Easy Pre Made Meals for the Week

Layered Lunch: Easy Pre Made Meals for the Week

You'll save time and money with these tasty lunch ideas

You'll save time and money with these tasty lunch ideas.

Whether packing lunch for work, the beach, picnics or road trips, preparing meals in advance can save you tons of time (and sanity) during the week. Instead of rushing the night before or even in the morning to put together something both appetizing and filling, try assembling lunches ahead of time for smoother packing on the go. The classic Ball mason jar is an easy lunch box replacement and is the perfect vessel for a number of delicious, layered salads for exciting meals any day of the week.

Pesto Quinoa Bowls

Cold quinoa salad is an easy, fiber rich option for lunch. Add an assortment of your favorite in-season produce like peppers and cucumbers and layer on top of homemade pesto in a half pint Ball canning jar. Simply shake and pour into a bowl or eat right out of the jar for a tasty fresh lunch!


Pasta Chicken Salad

Pasta salads are summertime favorites and the combination possibilities are endless. Create a large batch of homemade pasta salad with penne, gorgonzola cheese, celery and nuts and top with shredded chicken and dressing. Pack in any size jar you’d like for an easy serving wherever you are!


Layered Pea Salad

For a lighter lunch, or when packing for those with smaller appetites, these individual pea salads are the perfect solution. A delicious mix of peas, peppers, cheese, cucumbers, lettuce and onion combines for a simple and fresh side salad. Perfect also for vegetarians!


Bean Salad

If you’re looking for an idea with little to no cooking involved, a bean salad is the way to go. Requiring that you only cook the green beans, this recipe is packed with protein and fiber and topped with savory Italian dressing and feta cheese for a crunchy treat.


16 Do-Ahead Freezer Meals for Out-of-Control Workdays

Just because the freezer aisle at the grocery store is full of crappy processed foods doesn’t mean your own freezer has to be. Instead, stock it with homemade meals that require only a little prep work.

Carve out an hour or two on a Sunday to cook and store these make-ahead meals so you have a bunch of healthy options that can be reheated in minutes.

We’ve got you covered with freezer meals that take care of breakfast, lunch, and dinner all week long.

1. Freezer-friendly bagel bombs

“Bagel bomb” doesn’t exactly sound like a healthy breakfast, but these homemade stuffed bagels (yes, you read that right) deserve a spot in your freezer. Not to mention: They’re only 240 calories each.

Craft the bagels from ready-made pizza dough. You can customize the filling, but do try the everything topping. It just says “bagel.”

2. Breakfast quesadilla with cheese, spinach, and white beans

Upgrade your breakfast quesadilla with this easy, freezer-ready version. It comes packed with protein thanks to the beans and cheese. Plus, a serving of veggies first thing in the a.m. is always a good idea.

3. French toast casserole

All the French toast flavor without the stovetop flipping? Sign us up. Not only is this casserole simple to make, but there’s finally a use for that stale loaf of bread you forgot about.

4. Scrambled egg muffins

How cute are these? And they’re even more clever: These egg muffins are foolproof. Fill muffin tins with torn bread, ham, and cheese and pour eggs over them.

After baking, you can freeze them in plastic or glass containers and then zap them in the microwave for about a minute to heat.

5. No-bake chocolate peanut butter breakfast bars

It’s never too early for chocolate. These grab-and-go breakfast bars are loaded with oats and chock-full of healthy fats. Place a sheet of parchment paper between bars and pop ’em in a zip-top bag when freezing — it’ll make pulling out a single bar a breeze.

6. Cheesy breakfast casserole

This make-ahead casserole is a good choice when you’re entertaining. The combo of potatoes and bell peppers adds color and a healthy dose of veggies.

Plus, it keeps in your freezer for up to 3 months, so you can be ready whenever you have unexpected company for brunch.

7. Portable breakfast sandwiches

These portable breakfast sandwiches are a go-to for people who always spend mornings on the run. The egg crepes take just a few minutes to cook.

Then assemble your sandwiches and wrap them separately for the full Starbucks experience — without wasting those add-up dollars.


18 Easy Lunches You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less

Lunch gets a bad wrap: Breakfast holds the title for most important meal of the day, and we pull out all the stops for dinner. But what about lunch? It's time we stop neglecting lunch and start treating it with the respect it deserves &mdash it's the meal that gives us the mid-day boost we need to keep going. You don't have to spend your Sundays meal-prepping to have healthy and satisfying lunches throughout the week. These quick and easy lunches are ready in 20 minutes or less and require no more than five ingredients. So stop with the sad PB&Js already! Keep reading for 18 easy lunches you can make in 20 minutes or less.


5 EASY ON-THE-GO ADVENTURE LUNCHES

Camp lunches can mean anything from a quick snack to a full meal prepared in camp.

The name of the game is flexibility, as you never know how your plans will change or when everyone will start feeling hungry.

Individual portions help prevent a big set up and put away challenges…unlike a big spread. Leave the bigger meals for breakfast and dinner.

8 – Salads To-Go

Yep, I said salad!

Salads are NOT the first thing you think of for camping. But a quick salad can be an excellent break from the heavy meals you may have planned for the first few days.

Hearty leafy greens (like kale) last longer in an ice-cooler than more delicate ones. I tend to avoid iceberg or spring mixed greens for this reason. I recommend you plan your own camp salads accordingly.

This recipe calls for individual salads in single-serving containers. That way, you can grab one at a time from the cooler when you’re ready to eat.

9 – Hot Ham and Swiss Croissants

Whether you choose to eat them hot or cold, these make-ahead ham and Swiss croissants are a camping food favorite.

Again, individual packaging makes it easy to grab them as needed.

AND each person can choose to eat them cold or heat them on the grill or over the fire.

All I know is, a gooey melt sandwich tastes so dang good after a long day hiking!

10 – Cashew Chicken Salad Wraps

Wraps are an excellent option for lunch on the go, whether that’s at home, at work, or camping.

The variety of flavors of pre-cooked chicken and tuna make for endless possibilities.

But this cashew chicken salad version is excellent and packs well.

If you have a fire or want to break out a portable stove try toasting the tortilla.

IT makes the wrap so much better, in my opinion.

11 – Trailside Hummus

When you think of portable foods, you don’t always think of heavy items like hummus.

But, with a home food dehydrator, you can dry any flavor of homemade hummus ahead of time.

Just be sure to NOT add the olive oil before dehydrating since it won’t keep that way.

Pack some buttery crackers or tortillas, and you’ve got a substantial lunch you consume on the trail!

12 – Crackers/Salami/Cheese

No recipe needed for this one.

Crackers, sausage, and cheese have been a staple on many of my hiking lunches for years.

They’re calorie-dense, pack well, and taste great.

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Whether you've been bringing the same brown bag lunch to work for weeks straight of you've been working from home and have found yourself cooking the same hum-drum meals over and over again, there's a chance your lunch routine has gotten a little stale. It doesn't matter if you're grabbing last night's leftovers or tossing together a quick salad with whatever's left in the fridge, if you're like most people, you may have fallen into something of a lunch rut. Refresh your mid-day meals with these fast and delicious cold lunch ideas, like the Italian Hero Chopped Salad, pictured here&mdashyou won't even need to turn on the oven!

If you have pre-cooked chicken breasts on hand, turn them into a spectacular, flavorful chicken salad. The key to making a chicken salad that stands out from the rest is using fresh herbs, such as tarragon and basil, crunchy scallions and celery, and a touch of mayonnaise. You can serve it over crisp romaine or tuck it into a hot dog bun along with cherry tomatoes and bacon strips for a hand-held bite. Another cold lunch recipe that you can make in advance and enjoy throughout the week is our Creamy Ginger-Asparagus Soup, which happens to be vegan and gluten-free. It's the perfect way to make use of spring and summer produce. Plus, it will leave you feeling nourished and energized, so that you can avoid the dreaded afternoon slump.

For kids, take their favorite lunch sandwich&mdasha PB & J&mdashto the next level by using three slices of bread and two layers of filling for an epic triple-decker meal. Switch it up with different types of nut butter&mdashtry almond or cashew&mdashand homemade fresh jam made with beautiful summer berries. You'll look forward to the week ahead with these cold lunch ideas in your back pocket.


These are the containers I use, click below to get them from Amazon

King’s Hawaiian Rolls just make lunch sandwiches more fun. Any lunchmeat and cheese, a side of pickles, and pretzels in a bag.

Taking just a few minutes of prep time will save TONS of time getting everything out each day to make them multiple times.


TIPS ON GETTING STARTED ON MEAL PREP:

  • Plan out your meal plan for the week. The first thing I do for my food prep day is put together a weekly meal plan and grocery list. My meal plan includes all three meals. This way there is no confusion about the food I should be eating throughout the week.
  • Keep it simple by choosing just 2-3 recipes for each meal and portion them out for the rest of the week – this helps cut down on prepping time so you are not prepping all day long. Don’t go overboard with too many new recipes.
  • Once my meal plan is done, I start putting together a grocery list.
  • And if you can, try to grocery shop the day before your food prep day. Otherwise, shopping and food prep on the same day can make for a very long exhausting day.
  • Prepare – Depending on the meals, food prep usually takes me about 2-3 hours to complete. The key is planning your day ahead of time. This way you can get right into it without thinking about where to start.
  • I usually start with cooking chicken or roasts in the slow cooker or oven, that way, I can spend the rest of the time chopping vegetables while the meat is cooking.
  • Even the littlest bit of food prep makes a difference. Just portioning out ingredients that you might need throughout the week can still save a ton of time. Not all of the food for your meals throughout the week have to be cooked. Start off with just one meal if you feel overwhelmed with meal prep until you get the hang of it.
  • Pick your day and time that works for you. Whether you prefer to prep on Sunday or Monday is entirely up to you. Choose a time that you’ll be free and swap around as you need.

7 Quick-N-Easy Lunch Recipes For A Healthy Diet!

Does lunch time make or break your diet? Well it doesn't have to! These 7 quick-n-easy lunch recipes will delight your taste-buds!

For many people, the mid-day meal often makes or breaks their diet. Some will have planned their lunch out ahead of time, done any prep-work that was required, and packed the meal to take with them to the office or wherever they will be eating. Others cannot say the same. Instead, they head out on a hunt for nourishment, but often are only left with a few options that consist of fast food or vending machine fare.

Being prepared is half the battle with your midday meal, and it's important that you are prepared because it plays a critical aspect in your day. If you don't eat properly, not only are you much more likely to turn to simple carbs by the time 3 pm rolls around and your stomach throws a hunger fit, but you will not be setting yourself up for when you go to do your workouts later on in the afternoon or evening.

Getting in both carbohydrates and protein will be essential to prepare your body for the work that is to come. Here are seven easy healthy lunch options for you to consider. All are based around a calorie count of between 350-450 calories.

Note: if your particular calorie requirements call for you to take in more calories, you can either double up on the servings of some of the food or add an additional piece of fruit, handful of nuts, or protein shake.

If, on the other hand, your calorie requirements call for you to be slightly lower for your mid-day meal, then you can reduce back on the carbohydrates or fats listed in each meal option. Just keep the protein the same!

Monday: Tuna Wrap

Quick and easy, this one is great to take in the morning when you're in a rush and headed back to work at the start of the week.

Ingredients

  • tuna 1 can
  • fat-free mayonnaise 1 tbsp
  • onions 1/4 cup sliced
  • pickle 1 sliced
  • wheat tortilla 1 whole
  • peppers 1/2 cup
  • apple 1
  • peanut butter 1 tbsp
  1. Mix together the tuna with mayonnaise, onions, and the pickle.
  2. Spread over a whole wheat small tortilla wrap and then fill with the chopped vegetables of your preference (mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, etc).
  3. Roll up and serve.
  4. Have an apple smeared with peanut butter afterward for something sweet and to provide some healthy fats to slow down the digestion of this meal.

Tuesday: Chicken 'Fried' Rice

This healthy version of a favorite recipe will provide you with a good dose of protein and carbohydrates to get you through the afternoon. You can easily make this the night before and store it in your fridge to grab quickly on your way out the door.

Wednesday: Baked Potato Extreme

If you're able to run home quickly for your lunch break or work in an office that has a good lunchroom with fridge and microwave, this is a delicious, well-balanced meal to prepare.

Thursday: Italian Shrimp Pasta

Shrimp is an excellent source of protein and when purchased pre-cooked, requires very little prep time at all. Take 5 minutes to prepare this in the morning to take with you.

Friday: Tuna Burger And Salad

This is a great alternative to eating your tuna that boasts a high protein content and a healthy level of dietary fat.

Saturday: Chicken Stir-Fry

Stir-fry dishes are simple to create and typically only take ten minutes tops. If you purchase pre-chopped vegetables already, your prep time will be further reduced. There are many different variations of sauces you can come up with so be sure to try a variety of your own. Keep in mind that with a few ingredient swaps, you can also really improve the nutritional content of most sauce recipes.

Sunday: Protein Pancakes With Fruit

If you're like most people, you like to enjoy sleeping in on the weekends and getting up to a brunch that reminds you of your mom's home cooking. Rather than opting for high calorie pancakes or waffles, try this healthier version that you can whip up yourself in minutes.

Conclusion

So don't let yourself fall off your diet during this lunch-time meal again. With some creativity in the kitchen it's definitely possible to stay on top of your diet and please your taste buds at the same time - all within a twenty minute time span.

About the Author

Shannon Clark

Shannon Clark is a freelance health and fitness writer located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Cheese & onion pasties

5 mins prep • 15 mins cooking • Makes 6

  • 3 potatoes, mashed
  • 150g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • ¼ tsp mustard
  • Plain flour, for dusting
  • 500g ready-made puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas 7. Grease a large baking tray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the mashed potato, cheese, onion and mustard.
  3. Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface and roll out the pastry to the thickness of a 10-pence coin.
  4. Cut out six circles from the pastry. I used a side plate (15cm diameter), but you can choose your own cutting tool to suit the desired size.
  5. Place the pastry circles on the baking tray.
  6. Put a large spoonful of the mixture onto each circle, just slightly off- centre.
  7. Fold each pastry circle over, sealing tightly around the edges using a fork.
  8. Once you have sealed all of the pasties, brush the tops with the beaten egg.
  9. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until golden and crispy.

TIP: For a Cornish pasty, just replace the cheese with cooked beef.


26 Easy-to-Make Pasta Recipes to Bring to Work

Lunchtime is a catch-22 for a lot of workers. Do you shell out big bucks for a tasty (sometimes healthy) meal or bring a sandwich from home that ends up soggy and squished by the time you get around to eating?

The answer, my friends, is neither! It turns out pasta is the perfect work lunch. Sauce and cheese keep things moist, while add-ins like Gorgonzola, Meyer lemon and sausage make for a much more exciting meal than anything you could get at the local coffee shop. Best of all, pasta freezes beautifully, so you can make a batch of pasta on Sunday, freeze it into individual portions and keep enjoying it all week long.

Here are our favorite lunchtime pasta recipes.

Creamy pasta:

1. 20-minute creamy Meyer lemon pasta recipe

Image: SheKnows

Creamy pasta doesn’t have to taste heavy. Here, sunny Meyer lemon brightens things up.

2. Tortellini chili recipe

Image: SheKnows

Tired of the same old pasta with red sauce? Jazz things up with plump tortellini and hearty chili.

3. Pasta with sausage, spinach & creamy Gorgonzola recipe

Image: SheKnows

Full of flavor thanks to sausage and Gorgonzola, this pasta is a great midday pick-me-up.

4. Red pepper & butternut squash pasta recipe

Image: SheKnows

This creamy pasta sauce is actually vegan &mdash or vegetarian if you garnish with a sprinkle of cheese.

5. One-skillet spicy sausage pasta recipe

Image: SheKnows

Make this quick meal the night before, and bring leftovers the next day. You’ll get two satisfying meals without wasting a bunch of time in the kitchen.

6. Vegan “scallops” over pasta with creamy white wine sauce recipe

Image: SheKnows

Microwaving seafood for lunch at the office is kind of a no-no, but these succulent vegan “scallops” made from mushrooms are just as satisfying.

7. One-skillet creamy pasta with garlic chicken recipe

Image: SheKnows

Delightfully creamy with a garlicky punch, this hearty pasta will keep you going all day long.

8. Pasta with pumpkin cream sauce & crispy sage recipe

Image: SheKnows

Enjoy a taste of fall all year-round with this luscious pumpkin and sage pasta.

9. Baked pasta with Sriracha cream sauce recipe

Image: SheKnows

It’s a little spicy and a lot delicious. Make this Sriracha pasta bake for dinner, and enjoy the leftovers at lunch all week long.

Hearty pasta:

10. Cheesy pesto-chicken-stuffed shells recipe

Image: SheKnows

These pesto chicken shells are a dream when it comes to packing easy lunches. Freeze individual portions, then grab and go in the morning.

11. Pasta with collard greens & bacon recipe

Image: SheKnows

Hearty greens pack a nutritional wallop while smoky bacon keeps things fun in this tasty dish.

12. One-pot chicken enchilada pasta recipe

Image: SheKnows

Who said pasta has to be Italian? This warming pasta features the flavors of your favorite enchiladas.

13. One-skillet Italian sausage pasta with ricotta cheese recipe

Image: SheKnows

Simple and classic, this one-skillet meal will fill your lunchbox all week long.

14. Chili spaghetti recipe

Image: SheKnows

Repurpose some leftover chili or create it from scratch in this unique spaghetti recipe.

A version of this article was originally published in March 2015.