5 Tips for Mastering Lunch: Build to Last All Week

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(Image credit: Christine Han)

In my home, meal planning goes beyond dinner. Just as important as making the week run like a smooth, well-oiled machine, is lunch prep. Unlike dinner, I tackle my midday meal by preparing a whole week’s worth of lunches in one fell swoop. These are the five ways I make it happen, and how you can do it too.

1. Make foods you actually want to eat.

Admittedly this seems so obvious and should go without saying, but it’s easy to forget when we’re in a mad dash to pack lunch. If you’ve been eyeing up your co-workers lunchtime noodle bowl and lentil salads, you know what you should make. Pack foods you actually want to eat.

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

2. Prepare foods that are versatile.

Versatile foods like beans, lentils, rice, grains, chicken breast, and others give you the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to lunch prep. These are the items that can get transformed and reworked into so many different meals, from salads and wraps, to soups and grain bowls.

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3. Work in bulk.

When you’re putting in the time and work to prep your lunch, make it count. Working in big batches rewards you for your efforts with a week’s worth of meals. So while you’re at it, double that batch of soup or pot of grains, cook another piece of chicken, or make extra burritos.

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(Image credit: Christine Han)

4. Rely on your freezer.

When you’re working in big batches, look to your freezer. Prep and freeze individual portions of foods like burritos, egg sandwiches, grain salads, and beans. Putting in this work now makes lunch a grab-and-go affair later.

5. Don’t season food until you’re ready to eat.

Waiting until lunchtime to toss spices into your food is a quick and simple way to skip eating the very same meal day after day. For example, give your grain salad a southwestern twist with chili powder and cumin one day, then take it to the south of France the next with a sprinkle of herbes de Provence.

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