Bringing lunch to work isn’t just a way to save money. It’s also a way to eat well, both in terms of flavor and health. These meal prep lunch ideas will help.
Lunch meal prep starts with a plan. What do you want to eat? What do you like to snack on? What will you pack for your main lunch dish?
That’s where these meal prep lunch ideas come in. Beyond being easy to prepare for several days’ meals, these dishes are also big in flavor and flexible too. Mix and match the recipes you find here with pasta, rice or even a big, fluffy batch of quinoa.
Some salads — like caesar salad or tossed salad — are best made in the morning, transported with dressing on the side and enjoyed the same day at lunch time. Others, like the ones included here, are perfect for meal prep since they can be completely made in advance.
French Lentil Salad
Filled with bits of onions, carrots and celery and dressed with a variation on my very favorite dressing, Shallot Vinaigrette, this lentil salad is best served warm. It's a little tangy and totally satisfying.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad
This sultry Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad combines shredded Brussels sprouts, sweet shallots and carrot and potato, all roasted together simply with olive oil, salt and pepper. It’s then tossed with a little balsamic vinegar before roasting some more.
Asian Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips and Arugula
Tender, sweet roasted sweet potatoes, parsnips and shallots with quinoa and peppery baby arugula are tossed with a bold sesame soy dressing. You can dig into this hot or cold — it’s delicious both ways.
Mediterranean Tuna Salad
This tangy, briny salad with sweet bell peppers with cool cucumbers, feta, kalamata olives and tuna is dressed simply with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Very Veggie Tabbouleh
Loaded with tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers and more, this salads’ flavors improve day after day. Plus, it’s quick and easy to make.
One batch of soup can be lunch for several people for days. It’s simple, easy and great for making ahead.
Easy Split Pea Soup
This smoky, salty soup with a hint of sweetness is easy to make — just make sure to set aside enough time to whip it up.
Super Easy Potato Leek Soup
Creamy and smooth, with a slight sweetness from the leeks, this recipe for Super Easy Potato Leek Soup is a cinch to make. Dress it up with fresh herbs and/or hot sauce to make it your own.
Slow Cooker Tomato Lentil Soup
Thick and satisfying, this recipe for Slow Cooker Tomato Lentil Soup is flavored with garam masala, lemongrass, onions and more. It’s delightful and warming on a cool day.
Slow Cooker Beef and Veggie Stew
This stew has a faint French onion-ness to the broth that’s also flavored with roasted garlic. FIlled with beef, vegetables and potatoes, it’s delightful.
Spaghetti Squash Chili with Toppings
Easy Chili Spaghetti Squash is a beanless chili with corn that’s baked to finish for a filling, satisfying, delicious dinner.
These protein recipes can be eaten in a variety of ways: with a grain, on salad, alone, on rolls. The flexibility means that you can transform one dish into several easily during the week. Also consider making a batch of hard-cooked eggs, which make a great protein for lunches too.
Satay-Style Chicken with Peanut Sauce
If you like chicken satay, the traditional Thai dish, you’ll love this recipe for Satay-Style Chicken with Peanut Sauce. It has all the flavor! Plus, it’s great to make ahead for lunches.
Easy 5-Ingredient Chicken Snow Pea Skillet
This easy, garlicky entree is lovely served with rice or mashed potatoes. With just five ingredients (oil, salt
Lemon Garlic Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
From turkey sandwiches to salads to stock for soups, this is the slow cooker recipe that keeps on giving to fresh, delicious make-ahead meals. And it’s easy too.
Hearty Turkey Meatballs
Big, tender and delicious with pasta, serve these big meatballs with zucchini noodles, pasta or on rolls.
Smoky Slow Cooker Beef Brisket
This sweet-smoky beef brisket cooks with a rich sauce slowly to fork tender. It’s great on sandwiches (add a little cheddar!), nachos and wraps.
Condiments and Sides
Scooped onto bowls, served alongside, dipped or spooned onto things, these condiments and sides will elevate your make-ahead meals.
Pickled Red Cabbage
This recipe isn’t the sweet variety of pickled cabbage (like you’d find jarred in the grocery store). It’s bold and tangy; a brilliant side dish.
Lemon Rosemary White Bean Dip
The creamy Lemon Rosemary White Bean Dip is filled with a wonderful mix of earthy rosemary, pungent garlic and tangy lemon zest. A perfect dip!
Peppery radishes get a sweet dill makeover in this easy recipe for pickled radishes. These are great on rice bowls, salads and so much more.
Spicy Mango Salsa
Spicy Mango Salsa is a sweet and spicy salsa, perfect for dipping, spooning onto nachos and tacos and enjoying with omelets.
Garlic Ginger Carrot and Cucumber Quick Pickles
With a quick pickling process, these Garlic Ginger Carrot and Cucumber Quick Pickles are easy to make and have a lovely Asian-inspired flavor.
Lunch meal prep, explained
Learn more about lunch meal prep in this handy resource: Everything you need to know about lunch meal prep.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.