Does lunchtime feel like a rush to get something down before your stomach eats itself? Or worse... is it sometimes nonexistent, because who has time to STOP when you're so busy?
Enter: meal prep lunches! Packing lunches can be as easy as your kids- it's just about making them a priority. I love having a couple of packed lunch options on hand for when days are busy, I'm heading to my co-work space for the afternoon or I just want the comfort of knowing lunch is DONE.
A few tips for prepping lunches ahead:
Choose items that hold up well for 2-3 days in the fridge. Hard cooked eggs (keep them in the shell if you're not making it day-of), chicken salad, tuna salad and sturdy wraps do better than a sandwich- no one likes a soggy sandwich!
Never pre-dress salads! I have the chicken and tuna salad on lettuce wraps, but pack them separately if you want them fresh and crisp, or use a mason jar salad as a sog-free option.
Add items that will go stale (like crackers) morning-of.
Crisp and/or whole veggies stay better than sliced (carrots, whole tomatoes, whole baby cucumbers).
Add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to apples, pears and avocado to avoid oxidation (or add at the end, my preference!).
Here are four of my go-to make-ahead lunches:
1) Chicken salad over lettuce or in a wrap, crackers and veggies or a fruit.
A few favorite chicken salad recipes: Copycat Trader Joe's Wine Country Chicken Salad
2) Leftover chicken + veggie wrap (I love adding avocado or avocado oil mayo), veggies and fruit.
I often make a whole slow cooker chicken, and I'll use leftover meat for lunches throughout the week.
3) Protein box: hard-cooked egg (best with Everything But the Bagel Seasoning), cheese, veggies or crackers and fruit (this one reminds me of the protein boxes at Starbucks, but easier and tastier!).
4) Tuna Salad on lettuce, crackers and veggies or fruit
Best-Ever Tuna Salad Recipe: 2 5-oz cans tuna (drained)
1/3 cup avocado oil mayo
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp pickles, chopped
2 tbsp red onions (optional)
2 stalks celery, chopped
My lunch formula is easy- a main and 2 sides. It's enough I know I'll be fueled, even if I don't finish my container (though I often do!), the extra can always be a snack!
Other favorite prep-ahead lunch options: Thai Peanut Chicken Salad