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These Meal Prep Lunch Ideas are Better than Takeout

Forget takeout. With these meal prep lunch ideas, you’ll eat well, save money and look forward to lunchtime every day.

This image shows a grid of meal prep bowls including salads, pasta, meatballs and shrimp.

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?

If it’s been awhile since you last packed lunches — or if you are just getting started — the key is to be organized about it. Start small, meal prepping one dish. Then work your way up to using more meal prep lunch ideas. By starting with a little meal prepping and working your way toward lots of meal prepping, you ensure that it doesn’t become an arduous or overwhelming process.

These meal prep lunch ideas will help. 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.

Salads for Easy Lunches

A plate with a salad featuring arugula, grains and other ingredients sits on a yellow napkin with a fork nearby.

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.

Make Ahead Lunch Salads

Packable Soups

A saute pan with chili sits on a wood table with a bowl of cheese, a bowl of avocado and a bowl of tomatoes nearby. In the background, there is a stack of bowls.

One batch of soup can be lunch for several people for days. It’s simple, easy and great for making ahead. Pack them with sides like bread, crackers, a small salad or fruit.

Make-Ahead Soups for Lunch

Proteins to Meal Prep for Lunch

A meal prep chicken dish with a brown sauce in another bowl sits on a granite countertop.

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.

Make-Ahead Proteins for Lunch

Meal Prep Condiments and Sides

A meal prep bowl with a grain, arugula and picked red cabbage sits on a desk.

Scooped onto bowls, served alongside, dipped or spooned onto things, these condiments and sides will elevate your make-ahead meals. I especially love including these with meal prep bowls and salads, adding new dimension to favorite recipes.

Condiments and Side Dishes For Lunch

Lunch meal prep, explained

A granite counter is topped with clementines, apples, cut vegetables in a container, a bowl of cooked grains and a bowl of cooked chicken. Sauces are in small containers as well.

Learn more about lunch meal prep in this handy resource: Everything you need to know about lunch meal prep. Also, make sure you pack your lunches safely! These resources on Food Safety Tips for Lunch Boxes from The Lunch Box Ladies will help.


Saturday 23rd of February 2019

I'm completely spoiled because I can make lunch every day. But I still find it so much easier to have everything prepped so I can just grab it when i'm hungry!