Written by Katie of Good Life Eats
I‘ve already written about Balanced School Lunches for Picky Eaters, but what I really struggle with is making my own lunch. I’m not saying that I don’t eat during the day. I just don’t eat lunch like I should. This past year has been worse because my kids are getting to the age where they’re away from home for lunch more than they’re at home, which leaves me finding myself alone quite often.
I tend to snack on whatever it is that I’m cooking or photographing that day around lunch time because I spend much of my alone days testing recipes and photographing dishes for GoodLife Eats. And you should know that I am easily bored with food.
I know that what I really should be doing taking the time to sit down, take a break, and eat a balanced meal.
Aimée already talked about her Intentional Food Goals for 2012. Taking a midday break to eat a balanced afternoon meal is one of mine. I decided that it was high time I sat down and made myself a list of easy to prepare lunch ideas.
Because I’m alone and busy working, lunches need to be: something that requires little thought and effort and doesn’t create a lot of extra mess.
Note: Often when I express this frustrating dilemma people suggest that I eat leftovers for lunch, however we actually eat our leftovers for dinner because I don’t cook every night of the week
Moms Need Lunch Too! – 5 Easy Midday Meal Ideas for Mom
Salads are an obvious simple solution that is often forgotten in my home. I like big, loaded salads and they often seem time consuming to prepare.
Photo by Shaina
My resolution for simpler salads for lunch: prepare in advance. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to chop extra vegetables, wash and dry extra lettuce, and reserve a portion of the evening’s lean protein while I am preparing dinner.
Such items can be stored in individual containers in the fridge. When lunch rolls around the next day the ingredients are already prepped and just need to be assembled.
Quesadillas or Tacos
Quesadillas and Tacos are great because you can put almost anything between a tortilla and call it a Quesadilla or Taco without needing a recipe.
Just take a look at what vegetable, meat or bean, and cheese options are available in your refrigerator and get creating! I love The Flavor Bible for flavor inspiration.
One of our favorite fast, vegetarian taco recipes is this Sweet Potato and Black Bean Taco. I’ve also experimented with using the sweet potato and black bean filling with pepper jack cheese inside a quesadilla. YUM!
Easy Gourmet Sandwiches
Allison from Some the Wiser recently featured this delicious Gouda and Apple Croissant with Baby Spinach on her blog. I immediately bookmarked it and made note to purchase gouda and croissants next time I hit the grocery store.
Photo by Allison
What I love about this recipe: It tastes special, but it’s no fuss. And it doesn’t add a ton of extra items to the grocery list. We always have spinach on hand since our resident picky eater recently decided that fresh baby spinach is one of the vegetables that he will tolerate. Apples and nuts? Check…got those too!
For even quicker preparation, prepare the candied pecans or walnuts in a larger batch ahead of time. Store them in an airtight container for use as needed.
No croissants? No problem. Put the ingredients between two slices of whole grain bread and toast in a panini press.
Get the recipe: Gouda and Apple Croissant with Baby Spinach
We eat pasta for dinner once a week (and it’s always available in the house), so I figured it would make lunches easier if I prepared more pasta than we needed for our dinner meal and saved it in the fridge for me to use with lunch.
Photo by Katie
I can quickly chop up a medley of vegetables from what we already have in the fridge, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in the toaster oven. Toss the vegetables with the leftover pasta and some cheese and call it lunch.
No recipe needed!
Egg and Vegetable Scramble
I’ve finally figured out what the rest of the world already knows: eggs make a super fast meal. Lately I’ve been enjoying eggs for more than just breakfast. Scrambled up quickly with vegetables and cheese make a filling and healthy meal.
photo by: Katie
I prefer scrambles over omelets because they’re no-fuss to prepare. As witnessed before, my attempts at omelets often turn into scrambles anyway.
Tips for preparing Egg and Vegetable Scrambles
- Saute the vegetables first
- Whisk the egg(s) in a bowl until lightly beaten.
- Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the pan and scramble until cooked to your preference.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper
- Top with cheese, if desired.
Simple Combos I Like:
- Chopped Baby Spinach, Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Feta cheese
- Black beans, Diced Green Chili, Red Bell Pepper, Cilantro, Cheddar Cheese
- Ham or Bacon, Onion, Red and Green Pepper, and Cheddar Cheese
- Diced Tomato, Bacon, Sliced Green Onions, Avocado (added just before serving) and Swiss Cheese
More Lunch Ideas for Mom and Kids
Pressed Sandwiches | Simple Bites
A-B-C Frittata | Simple Bites
New Year, New Lunchbox: 9 Cures for the Mid-Day Blues | Simple Bites
Finger Foods for Toddlers | Simple Kids
What are your favorite, easy lunch solutions?