One of the issues I had when living on the East Coast was that good Mexican food was harder to find. That meant that every trip home to San Francisco involved burritos, enchiladas, and piles of street tacos. Even now that I'm back out West, Mexican is still one of my favorite cuisines and something I can gladly eat for lunch almost every day!
Mexican and Tex-Mex meals don't always have to be heavy affairs that are better suited for dinner than lunch. You can add beans and vegetables to quesadillas, slow-cook a big pot of spicy chicken soup, or even take taco salad in a whole new direction by skipping the meat and fried tortilla bowl! It's actually quite easy to lighten up some taqueria favorites or shift the balance of ingredients to be more produce-driven.
Toppings Are Key
My favorite part of Mexican food are the fun garnishes that get thrown on top of everything. If you have some key toppers on hand, like avocado, hot sauce, scallions, cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream, lettuce, and cilantro, they can add flavor, freshness, and texture on just about anything from a burrito bowl to sandwiches so the meals aren't monotonous. Plus, it's always nice to be able to use the same ingredients across multiple recipes!
These recipes were designed with lunch packing in mind so that they can be made the night before — just remember to keep the fresh toppings separate and add them on right before you're ready to eat. The nice part is that there are a few freezer-friendly ones in here too. Stash away some soup or cooked meatballs in sauce and you've got an ace meal on hand for a hectic weeknight when cooking from scratch just isn't going to happen.
(Image credits: Maria Siriano; Faith Durand)