Despite working mostly from home, lunch is my biggest pain point of the week when it comes to meal planning. My solution: a weekend meal prep session largely devoted to big-batch lunch recipes to get me through the week. Over time I've learned that the best recipes that fit the bill can hold up (even get better) over the long haul, and freeze well.
Here are 20 big-batch recipes that help make lunch easier for me.
Rice and Grain Bowls
These one-bowl meals lend themselves so well to batch cooking. A great tip anytime you're making rice and grains in advance: Once cooked, spread them on a baking sheet in a single layer and pop in the fridge to cool. It helps the grains cool faster, and most importantly allows them to keep their toothsome texture.
- One-Pot BBQ Chicken Burrito Bowls
- Greek Chicken Grain Bowls
- Spicy Thai Chicken and Brown Rice Bowls
- Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea Bowls
Unlike grain bowls that are assembled in layers, everything in this big-batch lunch gets mixed together. Hearty options like farro and quinoa are two top picks since they keep their shape without getting soggy, yet soak up all the flavors of the other ingredients and dressing. Expect these salads to taste better and better each day.
- Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad
- Summer Farro Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers & Basil
- Farro Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion, and Pine Nuts
- Warm Beet and Farro Salad
Slaw and Hearty Salads
Green salads typically don't hold up well when made too far in advance; the exception, however, is using tough, sturdy greens like kale, as well as cabbage for slaws.
- Sesame Ginger Slaw
- Cabbage Apple Slaw with Honey-Lime Dressing
- Kale & Quinoa Salad with Dates, Almonds & Citrus Dressing
- Sesame Chicken Celery Root Salad
While you're at it, I suggest making a double batch of soup — enough to get you through the week ahead plus more to stash in the freezer for later. The way I see it, you're already dirtying some dishes and it doesn't take a lot more effort.
- Vegan Sweet Potato Chowder
- Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup
- Red Lentil Soup
- Slow Cooker Corn Chowder
My favorite type of big-batch recipes are the ones I can stash in the freezer. These recipes all require some upfront work from your weekend meal prep session, but the reward of grab-and-go lunches for days to come is so worth it.
- Ham and Cheddar Lunch Box Muffins
- Scrambled Chickpea and Spinach Pitas
- Chickpea and Cheddar Quesadillas
- Roasted Sweet Potato Wraps with Caramelized Onions and Pesto