We eat clean to lose weight, feel better, reduce our risk of disease, get an energy boost, and more. That means that when we’re stuck at work with no food, we’re serious about the choices we make. We could go to the vending machine, but it would be better for our wellness goals if we sprung for the fancy takeout salad from the place down the street.
However, a suffocating budget can be just as oppressive and worrisome as those extra 10-20 pounds. Save money by prepping a week of lunches on Sunday, and never get stuck with an overpriced container of lettuce again. Here are 17 meal prep ideas to keep you on track and out of the takeout line.
- Southwestern Sweet Potato and Lentil Jars
The homemade chili lime vinaigrette is worth its weight in gold, strategically layered in a jar with roasted sweet potatoes, lentils, and veggies to keep things from getting soggy. You can get four servings from this batch.
- Mexican Quinoa Chicken Salad
Quinoa isn’t boring when it’s simmered with broth instead of water, plus beans, spices, tomatoes, and jalapenos. This recipe makes about four lunches, although you might have enough quinoa to squeeze a dinner out of it, too.
- Falafel Buddha Bowls with Tahini
You can’t go wrong with homemade falafel patties (easier than you think), cucumber salad, and a hummus dressing. This recipe takes just 30 minutes to make and can be used to assemble four fresh, healthy meals.
- Cold Sesame Noodle Bowls
If the microwave in the break room makes you shudder, consider these no-heat lunches. Whole wheat spaghetti and veggie noodles are dressed up with chickpeas and a delicious sauce made from almond butter.
- Vegan Butternut Squash Casserole
You can easily get three filling lunches out of this casserole. Layers of squash, tortillas, beans, and tomatoes can be garnished with jalapenos and avocado before you fly out of the house in the morning.
- Spring Roll Bowls
Rice noodles, veggies, and the protein of your choosing come together in minutes for a fresh, healthy lunch. Don’t forget to bring your own garlic lime vinaigrette to top it off.
- Brussels Sprout Polenta Bowls
Creamy polenta, sautéed kale, caramelized onions, and roasted sprouts make this a meal prep idea suitable for the foodie who gets too tempted to spend lunch at a pricey hot spot.
- Paleo Cauliflower Fried Rice
Gingery grated cauliflower gets healthy fats and flavor from coconut oil and coconut aminos. Best of all, you can throw it together in less than 30 minutes on a Sunday night. Optional eggs add extra nutrition.
- Chicken Burrito Bowls
If you’ve got quite the appetite, prepare two containers per meal. One holds your guacamole, lime, Greek yogurt, salsa, or any other fixings. Fill the other with chicken, rice, beans, and sautéed peppers and onions.
- Tofu Burrito Bowls
If you’re looking to cut back on meat, create a burrito bowl that begins with a classic tofu scramble. From there, all it takes is beans, salsa, or whatever else you enjoy on a burrito. Pack some leaves of Romaine for lettuce wraps that are much more satisfying than the average salad.
- Sesame Shrimp and Asian Greens
Less than 45 minutes of your weekend will net you days of delicious edamame, Swiss chard, spinach, and shrimp awash in garlic and ginger. Your coworkers will be asking for a bite.
- Honey Sriracha Glazed Meatballs
Healthy additions based on what you have available go over well when you spend the real effort on these glazed turkey meatballs. Pack it up with some brown rice and any sliced veggies you want.
- Santa Fe Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Spend one hour on Sunday making these flavorful, filling peppers, and you’ve got lunch locked down from Monday through Thursday. They’re the perfect excuse to whip out that hot sauce you keep stashed in your desk.
- Moroccan Couscous Bowls
Roasted cauliflower and lemony large-pearl couscous create a dish you’ll want to make for dinner, too. It takes less than an hour to prep, and has fewer than 400 calories per bowl.
- Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Salsa and Saffron Rice
If you’re getting bored of chicken, pair it with some new flavors. Homemade, easy-as-pie pineapple salsa is a stroke of genius next to all of that fiber and protein.
- Vegan Green Rice Burrito Bowls
If you’re forcing yourself to eat more fruits and veggies, this bowl is an easy way to meet your quota. Spiralized zucchini and carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, spinach, a nice avocado garnish – it’s definitely vitamin-packed enough to get you through to quitting time.
- Greek Chicken Bowls
A cucumber salad is refreshing next to a Greek yogurt-based sauce and marinated chicken. It’s creamy, crunchy, and savory in one container, all with enough protein to power your afternoon.