Do you ever get in a lunch rut? We often want something quick and easy for lunch, and it can be really easy to resort to unhealthy foods or just eating the same thing day after day for lunch.
But having the same thing day after day can get old. Fast!
I’ve found there is a two part solution to a lunch rut, and that is having a list of lunch ideas to refer to when meal planning and preparing healthy foods as much as possible ahead of time.
Typically, lunch around our house is repeated about 2-3 times a week with a day or two of leftovers.
Our Typical Lunches:
Sunday: frozen meal like chicken tenders or a frozen pizza
Monday: turkey wrap, chips, fruit
Tuesday: rice or pasta with veggies, cheese, and protein mixed in
Wednesday: big salad and a fruit
Thursday: turkey wrap, veggies and hummus
Friday: rice or pasta with veggies, cheese, and protein mixed in
Saturday: leftovers from dinner
Each of these lunches include pretty basic ingredients and don’t require a recipe. They are simple, yet they provide plenty of variety. Simple is key when you are a busy homemaker!
The lunches are all included on my list of lunch ideas that I keep on rotation and many of the components are prepared ahead of time.
You can get a printable for making your master list when you sign up for my email newsletter and get instant access to my free printable resource library.
So let me share some of my favorite lunch ideas with you and then we’ll talk about how you can prepare some of the food ahead of time for quick and easy lunches.
Main Dish Lunch Ideas
- big salad (add chopped up veggies, fruit, cheese, protein, dried fruit, or nuts)
- wrap (fill with sandwich ingredients or hummus and vegetable slices)
- lunch meat sandwich (ham, turkey, roast beef and cheese)
- salad Sandwich (chicken, tune, egg, ham)
- pita sandwich
- soup (tomato, vegetable, chili, chicken and noodle)
- macaroni and cheese
- grilled cheese or panini
- pasta salad
- rice and veggies and protein
- crackers and cheese
- precooked chicken pieces, sausage links, or other meat
After choosing 2-3 of the main dish lunch ideas, pick 3-4 sides to have throughout the week. You can rotate the side that you have pretty easily based on what you want to eat that day.
Side Dish Lunch Ideas
- cheese sticks or chunks
- cottage cheese
- tortilla chips and salsa
- crackers and cheese or peanut butter
- granola bars
- energy balls
- pita chips and salsa or hummus
- apple slices
- orange slices or mandarin oranges
- dried fruit (raisins, pineapple, dates, banana chips)
- mix diced fruit together for a quick fruit salad and sprinkle with cinnamon or add nuts
- add fresh, canned, or frozen fruit to yogurt or cottage cheese
- celery and peanut butter or other spread
- hummus or ranch dressing with raw vegetables: carrots, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, radishes, zucchini slices
- side salad
- add fresh or frozen vegetables to pasta or rice
- Stuff a pita bread with fresh vegetables and dressing
After deciding on what to have for lunch based off of the lunch ideas list, I like to make sure a lot of the food is prepared ahead of time so that it is easy to put together lunch each day.
Usually, I like to do this on the day I come home from the grocery store when the kids are down for a nap and I have about an hour to work on the food and then clean up without having to focus on my kids at the same time.
Believe me. I’ve been there. Done that. It doesn’t work too well!
Here are the ways that I typically food prep for lunches:
- Wash, peel, and cut fruit such as berries and melons.
- Wash and chop lettuce for salads and to put on sandwiches or in pita bread or wraps.
Sometimes, honestly, that’s all I do, and that makes a huge difference. But if I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll do some more…
3. Cook up pasta or rice and place in fridge.
4. Cook up chicken breast or a pork roast in the crockpot and cut up or shred meat to use throughout the week on salads, a sandwich, or throw in with pasta or rice.
I hope this has given you inspiration to get out of your lunch rut! Just making a list of lunch ideas to refer to is half the battle. If you want to make lunch time even more simplified, then definitely try to food prep what you can each week.