Quick and Easy Make Ahead Lunch Ideas

Why skimp on your mid-day meal? Reinvent your lunch routine with these easy and delicious ideas!
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Why skimp on your mid-day meal? Reinvent your lunch routine with these easy and delicious ideas!

If you’re anything like us, you struggle when it comes to planning weekday lunches. Often short on time (and even shorter on inspiration), many of us tend to turn to boring standbys and ordered-in, overpriced salads for the midday meal.

But what if lunch was approached with the same excitement and interest as dinner? After all, you wouldn’t eat the same thing for dinner every single night, so why follow such a strict routine for lunch? To help break you out of your midday rut, we’ve put together a list of quick tips for a better lunch. Out with the old and into the new, Clems. Your lunch is waiting! 

Rework the classics
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich feeling a little stale? Tired of that tuna salad? Take a new approach to tried and true classics by shaking up well-known ingredients. Up your ingredient game by choosing almond butter over peanut butter and fig or cherry jam over grape to replace a stale PBJ. For a more savory option, consider scouting for in-season vegetables, meats, and cheeses at your local farmer’s market to replace a tired turkey and cheddar. By changing up those oft-repeated ingredients with a few new favorites, you’ll give classic lunch staples a whole new look.

Think dinner
Fun pasta dishes, delicious veggie bakes, quinoa and grain bowls – all things you’d have for dinner, right? Apply that same approach to lunch by putting some of your leftovers aside or simply preparing a delicious dinner-like meal and take it for lunch the next day. Trust us – quinoa pasta with feta cheese tastes almost even more amazing in mid-afternoon when your taste buds are least expecting it.

Order a la carte
Rather than one large entrée, we love opting for varied dinner options like mezze platters, cheeseboards, and tapas. There’s just something about having multiple smaller plates and varied food options to choose from that’s just so…fun.

To apply that same a la carte idea to lunch, try disassembling your sandwich. Pack your lunchbox with separate containers of delicious wheat crackers, chickpeas, lentils, and vegetables, as well as a sampling of high quality cheese and meats. Prepare a mini caprese salad ahead of time, and pair that with delicious whole wheat crackers. Ultimately the ingredients may be the same, but the approach (and taste) is completely different. Bonus: Eating a la carte allows you to graze rather than shoving your entire lunch down your throat at once. This allows for more sustained energy, and makes snacking throughout the day officially ok – but then again, who ever said it wasn’t?

Lunch…in a can
Whether it’s homemade or a specialty option from Amy’s (we’re not judging), throw a can of soup into your bag for a delicious, fast, and filling option. Do yourself a favor and make sure it’s something other than routine tomato or chicken soup – we’re thinking black bean or spicy Italian vegetable. Enjoy!

p.s. Hungry? Grab a snack