This post is from our friends at Slender Kitchen.
Meal prep is a popular topic these days and everyone seems to be sharing images of perfectly portioned, prepped lunches labeled and ready for the week. Honestly, every time I see these images, I immediately start to feel overwhelmed. Not only do I not want to spend every Sunday laboring over my lunches for the week, the fact is I just don’t have time. Healthy meal planning is hard.
What if it didn’t have to be so hard? Today I am going to share a quick and easy strategy for prepping five delicious and healthy lunches for the week in less than one hour of active kitchen time. When you’re done, lunches will be packed for the whole week.
Easy Meal Prepping Tips
- Pick out a slow cooker recipe that will serve as the protein source for your lunches all week. On Saturday or Sunday morning, spend ten minutes throwing everything into the slow cooker. Then walk away and enjoy your weekend!
- Spend one hour in the kitchen prepping all the other ingredients you need to build out your weekly lunches. This will include cooking any grains or veggies, portioning out things like dressing and dips, and packing everything up.
- Post your lunch schedule so you know exactly what you are eating every day. I don’t know about you, but I am usually running behind in the morning, so having a quick reminder of what’s for lunch keeps me on track and organized.
Our Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes For Lunch Prep
Now that we understand the strategy, let’s dive into exactly how this would work. Here are five of my favorite slow cooker recipes to use for lunch prep. Pro tip: When looking for good healthy slow cooker recipes for lunch prep, think about versatility. You want something that will taste delicious paired with a wide variety of foods.
- Slow Cooker Italian Red Pepper Chicken
- Slow Cooker Chicken in Salsa Verde
- Slow Cooker Simple Pork Tenderloin
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga
- Slow Cooker Italian Beef
Here’s what’s on the menu for lunch:
|Meal Idea||How to Make it|
|Monday||Quesadillas or Pizzas||Pair your slow cooker protein with a low carb or whole wheat wrap, your favorite veggies, and a º cup of cheese. Fold it in half to create a quesadilla or layer it all on top and bake it for a quick and healthy pizza.|
|Tuesday||Grain Bowls||Choose a healthy grain (quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, etc.), your favorite veggies, and your slow cooker protein for a healthy grain bowl.|
|Wednesday||Hearty Salad||Grab your favorite greens, lots of chopped veggies, some canned beans, and your slow cooker protein to make a hearty lunch time salad. Use a hearty green like kale for saucy recipes.|
|Thursday||Wrap it Up||Use a low carb or whole wheat wrap, the slow cooker protein, and greens to make a healthy and portable wrap. Pair it with some fresh fruit.|
|Friday||Soup and Salad||Grab your favorite healthy canned vegetable soup and add the slow cooker protein and whatever grains you used on Tuesday. Make a hearty stew in minutes. Just pair the soup flavor with the slow cooker recipe.|
Now it’s time to prep. Here’s what you need and how to do it in 45 minutes or less.
- Cook your grain: Start by getting the grain you are using for your grain bowl and stew since it takes the longest. Time saver! Use a packaged precooked rice or quinoa product.
- Roast, sauté, or steam your veggies: Start by getting any cooked veggies ready. I like to add cooked veggies to the quesadillas/pizzas, grain bowls, and soup. You can roast, sauté, or steam the veggies – it’s up to you. Usually I make two cooked veggies to have some variety. Time saver! Frozen veggies can save you lots of time here. Just pick out the veggies you want to use and defrost them during this step.
- Chop Salad Ingredients: Now start in on your veggies for the hearty salad on Wednesday, wrap on Thursday, and side salad on Friday. Chop all your veggies and pre-pack the greens. Time saver! Buy a package of pre-washed prepared greens and then swing by your store’s salad bar for all the yummy veggie extras.
- Portion Sauces, Cheese, and Dressing: Measure out and pack any sauce you are using (like salsa or spaghetti sauce), cheeses, and salad dressing.
- Pack it Up: That’s it! Time to pack your lunches for the week. Other than the rice/grain bowl, I like to pack things individually (or use containers like these) since I find it stays fresher. Then I assemble and heat everything up when it’s time for lunch that day.
- Post your Lunch Schedule: Post your plan so you don’t forget what’s on the menu. I like to write it down and stick it up on the fridge but you could also record it in your planner, calendar, or on your phone.
Repeat, repeat, repeat. Each week you can change up the protein, veggies, canned soup, and grains to keep things interesting. Lunches prepped in under an hour. Want more healthy lunch ideas?