The key to eating healthy is preparation and planning. Life is busy, and let's be honest, once the dinner dishes are cleaned up, the idea of cooking/preparing healthy lunches for the next day is unappealing at best. Full disclosure.. it doesn't happen around here. If I don't do the meal plan, grocery shopping, and prep ahead of time, healthy eating won't happen at my house. Lunch will entail me frantically rummaging through the pantry and offering my "hangry" children whatever it is that their heart desires. In most cases... cereal.
For this reason, I like to spend about 1 hour on Sunday afternoon preparing lunches for the week. It may sound like a lot, but trust me, when you finish up dinner on Monday night, you will be so glad that the kitchen is closed and lunches for the next day are taken care of.
When you spend time and energy planning and preparing a lunch plan, you are more likely to stick to it. Don't believe me... try it! Below you will find everything that you need to create 5 healthy and whole-food lunches (with plenty of leftovers for those nights that making dinner just isn't going to happen). Don't like one of the meals, eat another one twice. This is flexible! The most important thing is to make a plan for what you want your diet to look like for the week and then be as prepared as possible to make it happen.
If you would like more weekly lunch prep ideas, follow me on Instagram. I will be posting recipes and prep tips that you won't find here on the blog?.
THE MEAL PLAN:
Monday: Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwich
Tuesday: Roasted Chicken Salad
Wednesday: Loaded sweet potato
Thursday: Vegetable Soup with an Apple
Friday: Pesto Turkey Burger
Now What Do I Do:
Hit up your local grocery store. Click on the link for the week's printable grocery list.
Time To Prep:
- Storage Containers/Ziplock Bags
- Aluminum Foil
- Rimmed Baking Sheet
- Sharp Knife
- Food Processor
- VEGETABLE SOUP SPICE MIXTURE: You will use the same spice mixture for the soup and the chicken. In a small bowl, combine the following: 2 Tbs smoked paprika, 1 TBS garlic powder, 1 TBS dried oregano, 1 TBS onion powder, 1 TBS dried basil, 2 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. ground pepper, 1 ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, and 1 tsp. of white pepper.
- CROCKPOT ROASTED CHICKEN: Chop and onion into 4 pieces. Arrange them on the bottom of the crockpot. Place whole chicken on top of the onions. Rub 3 TBS of prepared spice mixture on the outside of the chicken. Make sure to get it in all the nooks and crannies! Cook the chicken on high for 4 hours. Remove from crockpot. Use 2 forks to shred chicken. Store in the refrigerator.
- THICK AND CHUNKY VEGETABLE SOUP: Click on link and follow recipe directions. You have already created the vegetable soup spice blend). The recipe calls for 1 can of black beans. Reserve a half cup from the can to use as a topping on your loaded potato.. the soup won't miss them!
- SWEET POTATOES/ROASTED VEGGIES: Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Use a sharp knife to pierce the potatoes all over, don't hold back! Place potatoes on baking sheet. Slice up 1 zucchini and 1 red bell pepper. Place on baking sheet and cook for 20-25 minutes minutes. Remove pan from oven. Place zucchini and bell pepper on a plate to cool. Flip the potatoes and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.
- PESTO: Combine pine nuts, almonds, and garlic into a high speed blender or food processor. Pulse 10 times. Add spinach, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, water, and yogurt. Pulse or blend until smooth. Add parmesan, and pulse until it is fully incorporated. (If you don't have a food processor you can buy pre-made pesto, just make sure it contains only real food ingredients. Also note, you will need to remove the pesto ingredients from the grocery list).
- PESTO TURKEY BURGER: In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine ground turkey, 2 ½ TBS of pesto, ¼ cup of chopped cilantro, 2 chopped green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Pat into 4-5 turkey burgers depending on size desired. You can choose to freeze the burgers by arranging them on a baking sheet lined with freezer paper and placing them in the freezer for 2-3 hours or until frozen through or store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container or ziplock bag if you plan on cooking them in the next 1-2 days. If you are following the recommended meal plan, you won't be eating them until Friday so freezing is recommended. There should be plenty of burgers to serve as a family dinner one night or to store in the freezer for future lunches.
Making The Actual Lunches:
Now that everything has been prepped you should be able to easily put together lunches in under 5 minutes. Below you will find a schedule detailing exactly what needs to be done for each meal included in the meal plan.
Monday: Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwich with an Apple:
Mix some of the shredded chicken with pesto. Place on whole wheat bread. Add a tomato slice (reserve the leftovers for salad tomorrow). Make sure to remember to pack an apple!
Tuesday: Roasted Chicken Salad
Chop romaine lettuce, tomato, tomato, cucumber, and red pepper. Add artichokes and shredded chicken, Top with your favorite clean eating dressing. (Make sure to reserve a least one slice of tomato for your Turkey Burger on Friday!)
Wednesday: Loaded Sweet Potato:
Skin one of the cooked sweet potato and place it in a small/medium bowl with lid. Use a fork to gently mash sweet potato. Top with shredded chicken and/or black beans, roasted vegetables, and salsa.
Thursday: Thick and Chunky Vegetable Soup with and Apple
Put some soup into a travel safe container and add an apple.
Friday: Pesto Turkey Burger
In small skillet, cook pre-made turkey burger patty over medium heat until no longer pink in the center, about ⅚ minutes per side. Place burger on whole wheat bread and top as desired. Slice a portion of the remaining sweet potato into 1 inch slices to have as a side (you may want to pack a little salsa to dip the sweet potato rounds into!)
*** I realize that with cooking time that this takes longer than 1 hour (the chicken cooks for 4 hours). I was referring to hands on time... please don't be mad?!
If you give this meal plan a try, let me know! Leave a comment and rate it, and don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #simplysissom on Instagram so I can see! Your photos make my day! Happy Saturday!