As much as I love food and to eat eat eat, one of my least favorite tasks is lunch prep. Sometimes I’m working from home and can whip up my meals when I’m hungry, but it inevitably takes too long and leaves less time for my lunch break. Leftovers like soup, rice dishes, and curries heat up quickly and easily, and when possible I fall back on these heat-and-eat dishes. But I often don’t have leftovers to lean on and I need something fresh instead. This brings us to meal prep: no-cook meals that are easy to make the night before and simply mix up and eat at lunchtime. The obvious choice is salad, but there are way more variations than you may think, and options that can be filling and flavorful.
Here are some combos to get to started. Simply use this as a jumping off point—you can mix and match based on your preferences and what you have available. If you’re still looking for ideas, I wrote a roundup a year ago about this very topic. These are in layering order, from the bottom to the top.
Asian Rice Salad
ginger, lime, and soy dressing + cooked brown rice + shredded cabbage and carrot mix + sugar snap peas + grilled tofu or chicken + sesame seeds
Quinoa Protein Salad
honey mustard vinaigrette + cooked quinoa + radishes + crumbled goat cheese + arugula + golden raisins + toasted almonds
balsamic vinaigrette + olives + grape tomatoes + cucumber + green pepper +spinach + feta cheese + freshly ground black pepper
Healthy Chopped Salad
roasted garlic and lemon dressing + cucumber + tomato + carrot + radish + butter lettuce + chicken (optional) + cheddar cheese + crumbled hard-boiled eggs
Sweet Potato and Kale Salad
grapefruit vinaigrette + kale leaves + avocado tossed with lemon juice + cubed roasted sweet potato + parmesan cheese + crunchy croutons (stored separately)
lime and cilantro vinaigrette + tomato + bell pepper + corn + black beans + chopped romaine + cojita or shredded cheddar cheese + avocado (added before eating)