Meal prepping has become all the rage lately. Have you seen the Instagram accounts where people have every single meal they will consume already prepared and ready by the time Monday morning rolls around? They are amazing! While I can see that would be a great way for a single person to prepare for the week, it's not always the most feasible for a family. For one thing, that's a lot of containers and it doesn't leave a lot of room for spontaneity.
I do like to prepare for the week though, but on a smaller scale, and a little less daunting. Let's call it prepping lunch the easy way. Since I heavily rely on leftovers for lunches at my house for myself and my husband, I really only need to do minimal prep to make lunches happen fairly easily.
Here are a few things I do on Saturday or Sunday to make the week a little easier. Note that I do not do every single one of these every single week. I choose two or three options and that's it.
Cut up produce
Cutting up fruit, vegetables, and salad greens goes a long way when trying to get more produce in our diet. I'm much more likely to serve my children veggie and fruit for lunch if the hard work of cutting it up is already done. I'm more likely to eat a big salad for lunch if the ingredients are cut and all I have to do is add my protein and salad dressing.
Hard boil eggs
Hard boiling eggs in the InstantPot or on the stove makes for quick sides or an easy egg salad sandwich or lettuce cup. They also make great grab and go snacks.
Pre-portion Sunday leftovers
One of my favorite tricks to is to make a big casserole, chili, etc for dinner or lunch on Sunday and then pre-portioning it out for Monday is a great way to get ahead. It can even be done in the slow cooker if you have church most of the day like we do.
Big batch of soup
Making a big batch of soup and freezing it in individual portions is a great option when you don't have any leftovers or sandwich components on hand.
It is always helpful to have some sort of protein ready to go on Monday morning. This could be anything from buying a rotisserie chicken from the store to put on salads, sandwiches, or wraps or planning to grill on Sunday (burgers, chicken, etc) and cooking extra for Monday.
If you are already making it on Sunday for meals, just double it!
Putting it together
Then when it's time to make lunch either in the morning before work, the night before work or school, or in the afternoon if you stay home, you just grab what sounds good.
- Fill a lunch box with already cut up fruit, veggies, hard boiled egg, and a sandwich.
- Put together a work lunch with leftover dinner and a salad.
- Grab a portion of soup out of the freezer.
- Grab lunch for you and your kiddos if you stay home with items that you have already on hand: a sandwich, leftovers, cut up produce, cottage cheese, yogurt, nuts, a salad, or the soup that you have sitting in the freezer.
Don't make it complicated. Just try to do a couple of things that make lunch time easy. It should really take no longer than five minutes to pull together a nutritious lunch for yourself and your family. My kids actually pretty much get their own lunch now. They make sandwich, grab some fruit and veggies, or a yogurt and applesauce. If they want leftovers for lunch, I do warm that up or heat it and put it in their thermos if we will be on the go or at our co-op.