Beth Lipton is a writer and certified health coach. She is a contributing editor at Clean Plates.
Weekday lunches can be such a hassle. Whether you rush to throw things together in the morning, you get through a plate of last night’s leftovers, or you spend your hard-earned cash on takeout that always seems to disappoint, the midday meal is never as healthy, tasty, or enjoyable as we want it to be.
Remember those “you deserve a break today” commercials from yesteryear? Well, you do—and definitely not the fast-food kind. We thought about what we crave at lunchtime, then gathered some awesome vegetable-rich, grain- and legume-free make-ahead recipes to leave you feeling satisfied and energized.
Craving tacos at lunchtime? We’re right there with you. Instead of heading to that Mexican fast-casual place (you know where we mean), do it DIY style. Spoon the spiced ground grass-fed beef (or swap turkey or chicken, if you prefer), bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and chilies mixture over greens and you’ve got a vegetable-rich meal that feels like a fiesta.
Add a little spice to your day with this super-tasty salad. With cooked chicken (make some extra when you cook dinner one night), apples, celery, and red onion, seasoned with curry powder, lime juice and cilantro, it’s anything but boring. We love to pack it in a container and bring some radicchio leaves to wrap it up.
Give plain-old bagged coleslaw mix a makeover by combining it with a few simple ingredients (garlic, scallions, a super-simple sauce) and sautéing it into the egg-roll filling of your dreams. You will not miss that fried exterior in the least when you try a forkful of this delicious, colorful dish. This recipe calls for ground pork, and it’s awesome—but we’ve also been known to swap in shrimp instead.
If visiting a bistro at lunchtime is your fantasy, say hello to your new favorite make-ahead lunch. With baby potatoes, blanched green beans, tomatoes, canned or jarred tuna, soft-cooked eggs and a luscious lemon-Dijon-shallot vinaigrette, it looks and feels tres fancy but is actually a breeze to pre-prep. Did we mention it’s Whole30-compliant, too?
Who doesn’t want pizza for lunch? (If you are raising your hand right now, know that this could affect our friendship. Just saying.) But the post-pie crash is no fun. Get all the pizza enjoyment but still feel like a champ after with these handy little muffins. Have 2 or 3 for lunch, grab one as a pre-workout snack—they’re simple to put together and so versatile. And they taste like pizza, though they’re dairy- and grain-free. Win-win.
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