Meal Prep for the Week: Lunch Ideas

My simple system to meal prep for the week. Get everything ready on Sunday and enjoy ready-made, healthy lunches all week.

How to meal prep for the week with these easy ideas for healthy lunches. Prep for one or prep for the whole family.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I hate to pack lunches.

That is, I used to hate packing lunches until I came up with a weekly meal prep routine that has made lunch prep so easy.

And our lunches have never tasted better!

The basis for my lunches are a cross between a Buddha bowl and a salad.

Or maybe they are salads with hearty stuff in it.

Or maybe they are bowls on top of greens.

Anyway you look at it, these bowls are so easy to assemble, and they stay fresh all week.

How to Meal Prep for the Week:

How to meal prep for the week with these easy ideas for healthy lunches. Prep for one or prep for the whole family.

STEP 1 – COOK YOUR PROTEIN

By far the easiest and cheapest way to have chicken for your lunches is to cook a Whole Chicken in a Crockpot. Once the meat is done, tear it off the bone and sometimes I like toshred it using this trick. I use between 3 or 4 ounces of chicken per bowl. I actually use my digital scale to measure the right portion.

No time to slow cook? Grilling boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs is quick and easy.

Other options for protein:

Flank Steak (Use your leftovers!)
Mississippi Pot Roast (Again, use leftovers!)
Hard Boiled Eggs
Cooked Ham
Nitrate-free Deli Meat
Shredded Cheese

How to meal prep for the week with these easy ideas for healthy lunches. Prep for one or prep for the whole family.

STEP 2 – COOK YOUR GRAINS

At the same time your meat is cooking, you need to cook up a grain. What type of grain you cook is up to you.

Personally, I love rice or bulgur in my bowls. But any of these make good choices:

Quinoa
Bulgur
White Rice
Brown Rice
Farro
Millet
Kamut

Did you know you can freeze cooked brown rice? Double or triple your batch and you won’t have to cook a grain for several weeks.

How to meal prep for the week with these easy ideas for healthy lunches. Prep for one or prep for the whole family.

STEP 3 – FLAVORFUL ADDITIONS

Finish your bowls with any of the following:

Beans
Lentils
Cheese
Chopped or Shredded Vegetables
Fresh or Dried Fruits
Nuts

STEP 4 – DRESSING

I use a simple homemade salad dressing for almost all of my salads.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

If I want a sweeter dressing I add 2 teaspoons of honey. If I want a savory dressing I add 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard. If I need extra flavor, I add them both.

That’s it for the dressing. I’ll just add the ingredients to a mason jar and shake them well. No special equipment required.

How to meal prep for the week with these easy ideas for healthy lunches. Prep for one or prep for the whole family.

STEP 5 – ASSEMBLE THE SALAD BOWLS

You can make your salads to suit your favorite tastes; however, I thought you might like some inspiration.

SALAD BOWL INSPIRATION:

Steak and Egg Salad Bowl
Greek Chicken and Feta Salad Bowl
Chicken and Cherry Salad Bowl

I pack most of our lunches in a stainless steel lunch container. However, I pack up 9 lunches at a time (3 lunches for 3 people). I simply don’t have enough stainless steel containers for all of our lunches. *sigh* And people, they are SPENDY! So I have purchased some of these meal prep containers. If this is what your budget allows, then please use them but DON’T microwave any food in them! Don’t let your budget be a barrier to healthy meal prep.

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Weekly Meal Prep: Steak and Egg Salad Bowl Recipe

Steak and egg salad bowls bring this classic breakfast combination to your lunch.
steak-and-egg-salad

This salad is part of my meal prep for the week.

We like to grill steaks during the summer. Since steak is expensive, we almost always opt to purchase a flank steak and use a homemade rub to season it.

I’ll purchase a steak that is large enough to ensure we have leftovers to add to this salad.

I always use my kitchen scale when making this salad. Each salad only gets about 1 1/2 ounces of steak. It’s one of the ways I keep both the cost and the calorie content down.

To add to the protein content of the salad, I supplement the steak with a hard boiled egg. Steak and eggs are a classic combination.

If you have a hearty eater or growing teen in your house, feel free to throw on another hard boiled egg.

Since this is a bowl, and not just a salad, I use cooked brown rice as the grain in this salad. It’s my preferred combination, but you can try other grains in this salad if you’d like.

The addition of a grain makes this salad a bowl, which I think makes it more of a complete meal. It also helps me feel as though I’m not just eating rabbit food.

The following recipe has the portions for one salad. If you plan to make up several of these, simply multiply the ingredients by the number of salads you’ll be making.

For example: If you are making 3 salads, you need 3 times the steak. So instead of needing just 1 1/2 ounces of steak, you’ll need 4 1/2 ounces of steak.

I don’t give the measurements for the salad greens or cherry tomatoes. More is always better in my book, so I don’t stop adding them until the container can’t hold any more!

Steak and Egg Salad

You will need:
1 1/2 ounces cooked steak per salad
1 hard boiled egg per salad
1/2 cup cooked brown rice per salad
Spring Mix greens
Chopped cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
dijon mustard

Start your salad by adding a large handful of spring mix to your lunch container. Top with 1/2 cup cooked rice. Layer egg, steak and tomatoes on top. Seal up container and refrigerate up to 5 days.

In a mason jar, add 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and 2 teaspoons dijon mustard. Screw lid on tightly and shake to combine.

Add one to one and a half tablespoons dressing to a separate, small, leak-proof container. Make sure to pack up both your salad and your dressing.

If you are used to adding salt and pepper to your salad, I do recommend pink himalayan sea salt to get the extra trace minerals.

I find these salads will stay fresh for up to 5 days when properly refrigerated.

HELPFUL TIP: Check the date on your salad greens before you buy them. Try to find greens with an expiration date that is at least 5 days away. The fresher your greens, the better chance you have for your salad to stay fresh.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Greek Chicken and Feta Salad Bowl Recipe

Greek Chicken and Feta Salad Bowls are a family favorite. I work these into my weekly meal prep often.
greek-chicken-and-feta-salad-bowl

Once a week I will cook both a protein and a grain to be used in my weekly meal prep. I like to do it on Sunday if we are home.

While a slow cooked chicken is my preferred method of prepping chicken, if we are low on time, grilling up boneless, skinless chicken breasts is our quick and easy route.

I always use my kitchen scale when making up salad bowls. Each Greek salad bowl gets 3 ounces of chicken.

Weighing your protein instead of just “winging” it is a great way to get your portions under control.

Since this is a bowl, and not just a salad, I use cooked quinoa as the grain in this salad. It’s my preferred combination, but if you don’t like quinoa, you can use what you like. If you haven’t already read it, check out my weekly meal prep for inspiration.

If you don’t want to add a grain to this salad, serving it with a whole grain pita on the side is quite yummy.

The following recipe has the portions for one salad. If you plan to make up several of these, simply multiply the ingredients by the number of salads you’ll be making.

For example: If you are making 3 salads, you need 3 times the chicken. So instead of needing just 3 ounces of chicken, you’ll need 9 ounces of chicken.

I don’t give the measurements for the salad greens. Grab a generous handful and pack it into your favorite lunch container. That’s the right amount.

Greek Chicken and Feta Salad Bowl

You will need:
3 ounces cooked chicken per salad
1/2 cup quinoa per salad
1/4 cup garbanzo beans per salad
Spring Mix greens
Chopped cherry tomatoes
Chopped cucumber
1 tablespoon crumbled feta per salad
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
optional: dijon mustard

Start your salad by adding a large handful of spring mix to your lunch container. Top with 1/2 cup quinoa. Layer chicken, cucumber, garbanzo beans and tomatoes on top. Sprinkle crumbled feta over before you seal up your container and refrigerate up to 5 days.

In a mason jar, add 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and 2 teaspoons dijon mustard (optional). Screw lid on tightly and shake to combine.

Add one to one and a half tablespoons dressing to a separate, small, leak-proof container. Make sure to pack up both your salad and your dressing.

The feta lends a lot of salt to this Greek salad bowl. I’d caution against adding any more.

I find these salads will stay fresh for up to 5 days when properly refrigerated.

HELPFUL TIP: Check the date on your salad greens before you buy them. Try to find greens with an expiration date that is at least 5 days away. The fresher your greens, the better chance you have for your salad to stay fresh.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Chicken and Cherry Salad Bowl Recipe

I could eat a chicken and cherry salad bowl every day of the week!
chicken-and-cherry-salad-bowl

This is my favorite salad bowl. Hands down. However, it can be highly caloric if you don’t watch the portions. These salad bowls are part of my meal prep for the week.

Please make the kitchen scale and measuring spoons your friend when you make this salad. This salad has sweet and salty and crunchy, so a little can go a long way.

If you don’t want to add a grain to this salad, serving it with a whole grain roll on the side is quite yummy. In my opinion, the brown rice is perfect in this bowl. It pairs really well with the almonds and dried cherries.

By the way, if you don’t have access to dried cherries (I buy mine at Costco), you can substitute craisins or dried apricots.

The following recipe has the portions for one salad. If you plan to make up several of these, simply multiply the ingredients by the number of salads you’ll be making.

For example: If you are making 3 salads, you need 3 times the chicken. So instead of needing just 3 ounces of chicken, you’ll need 9 ounces of chicken.

Chicken and Cherry Salad Bowl

You will need:
3 ounces cooked chicken per salad
1/2 cup brown rice per salad
spring mix greens
1 tablespoon dried cherries per salad
1 tablespoon slivered almonds per salad
1 tablespoon blue cheese per salad
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey

Start your salad by adding a large handful of spring mix to your lunch container. Top with 1/2 cup brown rice. Layer chicken, almonds, cherries, and blue cheese on top. Seal up your container and refrigerate up to 5 days.

In a mason jar, add 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and 2 teaspoons honey. Screw lid on tightly and shake to combine.

Add one to one and a half tablespoons dressing to a separate, small, leak-proof container. Make sure to pack up both your salad and your dressing.

I find these salads will stay fresh for up to 5 days when properly refrigerated.

HELPFUL TIP: Check the date on your salad greens before you buy them. Try to find greens with an expiration date that is at least 5 days away. The fresher your greens, the better chance you have for your salad to stay fresh.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

How to Make Brown Rice Pudding in the Slow Cooker

Did you know you can make brown rice pudding in the slow cooker?

Make this healthy version of brown rice pudding right in your slow cooker. Sweetened with maple syrup and full of whole grain goodness, you can serve this for breakfast or dessert.

I’ve been making Brown Rice Pudding in my slow cooker and it is so ridiculously easy, I had to share the recipe with you.

Rice pudding is a healthy yet indulgent after-school snack. Or, make a batch during the day, and reheat the next morning for breakfast. It’s a delicious substitute for anyone who objects to oatmeal.

If you are looking for more whole grain, naturally sweetened recipes, pull out your slow cooker!

Don’t be surprised by the small amount of rice this recipe requires. It absorbs all the moisture while cooking and turns into a delicious, creamy bowl of yumminess.
brown-rice-pudding

This is all the rice you need.

Since slow cooker brown rice pudding is so easy to make, you’ll find yourself wanting to make it over and over. To change up the recipe a bit, try adding some homemade pumpkin pie spice or homemade apple pie spice  before cooking.

Brown Rice Pudding

Ingredients

  • 32 oz milk - any kind
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup brown rice
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. In a slow cooker, stir together the rice, milk and cinnamon stick. Cook on high. At two hours, the rice is cooked, but it is still liquid-y. By three hours, it should be a thick rice pudding. You can decide how your family most enjoys to eat it!
  2. Remove cinnamon stick before serving.
http://thegreenbacksgal.com/brown-rice-pudding/

By the way, in case you were wondering, yes, you can reuse cinnamon sticks.

Brown Rice Pudding Serving Suggestions:

  • Top with dried fruit such as raisins, apricots or dried cherries
  • Stir in dark chocolate chips
  • Stir in strawberry or blueberry compote
  • Top with shaved coconut
  • Sprinkle on some crystallized ginger
  • Saute chopped apples in butter until soft then add to your pudding

To be perfectly honest, I find this recipe pretty darn sweet. If you are planning on adding a sweet topping, you may want to cut the maple syrup in half.

If you have trouble cleaning your slow cooker after you’ve made your pudding, my technique for cleaning burnt pots and pans works really well on a slow cooker mess!

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Healthy Pumpkin Queso Dip (No Velveeta!)

Velveety pumpkin and gooey, rich cheese are the two stars of this pumpkin queso dip (No Velveeta!).

An easy queso dip recipe with smooth pumpkin, gooey cheese, and smokey chipotles. This healthy homemade recipe has no Velveeta, only read food ingredients. Make it quickly in your cast iron skillet.

It’s fall, so it’s time for all things pumpkin – including this pumpkin queso dip.

Dangerously addictive, homemade queso is simple to make. You don’t need to open a foil packet of cheese-like substance. Real food ingredients are the star of this show.

The addition of pumpkin to this queso results in a rich blend of creamy goodness and melty cheese. Pumpkin is not the star of this dish. No. Pumpkin’s role is to smooth out the richness of the cheese and add some depth of flavor.

In my opinion, the chipotles in adobo are what make this dish. It pairs so well with the pumpkin.

Have you used chipotles in adobo before? You’ll find them with the Mexican foods in your grocery store. They are both smoky and spicy.

I suggest you only add about 1/2 tablespoon of the chipotle peppers. If you really like spice, you can amp it up to 1 tablespoon, but you have to be ready to take the heat!

Because the chipotles add quite a punch, this may not be kid-friendly in your house. You could try leaving it out, or subbing in some plain, mild picante sauce. However, I can only endorse this dish as made, since I’ve never tried it any other way.

If you experiment with it, I’d love to hear your results!

Instead of doing a picture tutorial, I made this quick video shows you exactly how to make this recipe:

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Healthy Pumpkin Queso Dip (No Velveeta!)

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin
  • 1/2 tablespoon chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 10 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • tortilla chips
  • Optional: sliced radishes, fresh cilantro leaves, sliced jalapeno, celery

Instructions

  1. In a cast iron skillet, heat the oil. Saute the red onions until soft - about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook two minutes while stirring constantly.
  2. Add chicken broth, pumpkin and chipotles and stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Reduce the heat to low. Stir in 8 ounces of the shredded cheese. Stir until cheese has started to melt.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining 2 ounces of cheese across the top. Place the cast iron pan in the oven under the broiler just until the cheese has melted.
  5. Optional: Top with radishes, jalapenos, and cilantro.
  6. Serve with either chips or celery.
http://thegreenbacksgal.com/healthy-pumpkin-queso-dip-no-velveeta/

If you want to really keep this dish on the healthy side, lay off the tortilla chips and use celery or steamed cauliflower as your dippers. This dip is so rich, I promise your veggies have never tasted better.

To be perfectly honest, I make everyone eat two celery sticks with the dip before they are able to have any tortilla chips. No one thinks they want the celery, but once they start to dig in, they are just focused on ooey gooey cheesy goodness.

Are you adventuresome enough to add pumpkin to your queso?

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Daily Supplements Green Smoothie

This green smoothie is my favorite way to get my daily supplements.
Adding my daily supplements to a green smoothie is a great way to pack a ton of nutrition into one tasty drink.

Do you take daily supplements?

I don’t take many, but there are three that I do try to take every day.

The three supplements I take daily are Vitamin D, Collagen and Omega-3s. The vitamin D I take as a gummie, the other two I add to my daily green smoothie. It’s so easy to get a burst of nutrition in a green smoothie.

In the case of the vitamin D, I started taking vitamin D when my girl’s pediatrician told me since he started taking vitamin D regularly, he never gets sick.

We’ve been taking Rainbow Light Sunny Gummies for probably 3 years now. While I can’t say with 100% certainty that it’s the gummies, my girls have not missed school due to illness in my recent memory. We just don’t get sick.

It took me a while to warm up to the idea of taking collagen. Collagen just seems gross to me. Maybe it does to you too?

However, the health benefits you get from collagen include healthier hair and nails, smoother skin, and better joint and bone health.

What prompted me to take the collagen was I really wanted the joint benefits. As I get older, there are more and more mornings where my joints are sore.

While I don’t have any physical evidence to show you that it is helping my joints, check out my nails!

Adding my daily supplements to a green smoothie is a great way to pack a ton of nutrition into one tasty drink. Adding collagen will help build strong nails and hair.

My nails and hair are growing so fast now that I’m taking the collagen! I can’t believe how strong they are too.

I did a lot of research before landing on this brand of collagen. It dissolves easily and has no taste. It is perfect for adding to your morning green smoothie.

Finally, I add my omega-3s in the form of Cod Liver Oil to my green smoothies too. Yes, the thought of cod liver oil makes me want to throw up a little. But this is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your body!

I’m going to make you a promise. If you add the recommended amount – 1 teaspoonful – to your green smoothie, you won’t even know it is there! Plus, the brand I take has been naturally flavored, and it is actually sweet – not fishy at all!

So here’s how I put this all together:

Adding my daily supplements to a green smoothie is a great way to pack a ton of nutrition into one tasty drink.

I try to pack as much nutrition into my daily smoothie as possible. I don’t always eat a perfect diet. Not even close. So I like to pack in as much healthy goodness in a quick drink as possible.

DAILY SUPPLEMENTS GREEN SMOOTHIE

Serves 2

1 cup milk (any kind)

1 heaping handful of spinach, which is high in Vitamin A and antioxidants

2 peaches, which adds fiber, Vitamin C and natural sweetness (You can use frozen)

1 heaping handful of strawberries with stems (so make sure they are organic!), adds flavor with little added sugar plus a dose of Vitamin C

2 tablespoons collagen

2 teaspoons cod liver oil

Blend all together and serve.

If your peaches aren’t in season, this smoothie won’t be very sweet. Add a touch of honey or maybe a half a banana.

My friend asked me if I taste the spinach in this drink. I can’t decide if I’ve been drinking these so long that I don’t taste it, or if I really don’t taste it. But my answer is no. To me, this smoothie tastes like peaches.

Now, you may be a bit type A like I am. And you may be concerned that by mixing this all together you aren’t getting the full teaspoon of cod liver oil or the full tablespoon of collagen.

If that is you, you can always mix up the smoothie, then add the supplements to each individual smoothie.

In that case, I use the blender to make my smoothie, then I add each supplement to each smoothie and use my aerolatte to blend in the supplements.

Adding my daily supplements to a green smoothie is a great way to pack a ton of nutrition into one tasty drink.

Here’s a quick video to show exactly how we make this in our house:

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