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Preparing for a week of lunches : Cooking in Advance

Posted: October 1st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Freezer Staples, Pantry staples | 1 Comment »

Lots of Pots

In order to save time packing a healthy lunch each day, it’s incredibly useful to prepare in advance. It makes a big daily time difference to take a few hours over the weekend to cook for the week. If you have time, blocking out an hour or so midweek will help you to refresh your stock. You can mix and match these staple foods with leftovers to create filling and unique meals.

Precutting Vegetables: It’s like having your own salad bar! Best done throughout the week, it’s helpful to cut up fresh fruits and vegetables and store them pre-chopped to add to whatever dish you are preparing, quickly steam, or eat raw. They won’t generally last the entire week, so doing this every few days is a better idea. Useful pre-cut vegetables include : onions, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, to name a few.

Roasting Vegetables : Roasting (or grilling) a big batch of vegetables is an easy way to use produce before it goes bad. The roasted vegetables can then be used on sandwiches (perhaps with some hummus), in stir fry, as a side dish, in salads, and even pureed with some yogurt or hot broth to form a tasty soup.

Cooking Beans: Canned beans are good, but dried beans are better. All it takes is a soak over night and a few hours in some boiling water – it’s mostly hands off. It helps to alternate different beans each week for variety, or sometimes I cook two varieties. Garbanzo Beans, Pinto Beans, Black Beans, and Edamame are all great options. Then during the week add the beans to soups, salads, mash them on sandwiches, throw into omelets, mix with salsa and top with some cheese, or dress them with a vinaigrette.

Hardboiled Eggs: So useful! You can hard-boil a half a dozen eggs and just leave them in the fridge to add to salads, bentos, make into egg salad, or just eat whole for an afternoon pick me up.

A Batch of Grain: Quinoa, barley, bulgur wheat, and brown rice are all great options. These can be made in advance, stored in the fridge, or wrapped in single portion (half-cup) amounts (while still warm to retain moisture) and stored in the freezer. Then, you can add fresh vegetables and seasonings create new combinations with different flavor profiles – say “curry, stir fry, salad”

A Pot of Soup / or Chili / or Curry:
Cooking a pot of soup or chili is a no brainer, and portions can be individually frozen if you aren’t keen on eating the same soup several times in a row. Hearty vegetable soups with beans hold up well, and are filling, butternut squash soups are great for fall. Just avoid adding pasta, because it can become mushy over a few days – best to cook some fresh pasta and add it in when you are reheating the soup.

And you can easily do the same with some breakfast foods – a pot of steel cut oats can be reheated throughout the week, as well as some healthy muffins packed with fruit and nuts, or breakfast burritos.

Photo: felipevex

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One Comment on “Preparing for a week of lunches : Cooking in Advance”

  1. 1 Healthy Lunch Recipes For The Week | kscfood said at 12:45 am on October 23rd, 2014:

    […] Preparing for a week of lunches : Cooking in Advance … – … healthy lunch ideas … Healthy Snacks; Lunch; Lunch Recipes; Lunches for Kids; Meal Planning; Nutrition; Pantry staples; Sandwich recipes; School Lunch; … It makes a big daily time difference to take a few hours over the weekend to cook for the week. […]


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