Hey friends! I know that prepping lunches/dinners for school/work can be a STRUGGLE. I’ve been there, believe me. So today I’m sharing how to meal prep the perfect lunch bowl, to give you a bit of inspiration to make lunch the best part of the day again!
Packing lunches is difficult for a number of reasons. It could be that you have no idea what to make, or that you’re just lazy (I get you). It’s times like these when it’s the hardest hard to fit nutritious food into your diet. When you don’t feel like prepping food or are lost as to what to even pack, it’s easier to grab more processed snacks and faster, less nutrient dense options. So this is why lunches need to be
b) Quick and Easy to Make
c) FREAKING DELICIOUS AND NUTRITIOUS
Having a slew of super tasty lunch ideas available makes it way more likely that you’ll have the desire to meal prep, because you’ll know that your future self will be thanking you. And if said delicious ideas are fast and simple to prepare, even better! It won’t be a laborious chore to make sure that you’re nourished everyday. Which is, of course, the goal. To NOURISH YOUR BODY so that you can be the best version of yourself possible. You can’t do that if you’re consistently packing you’re not having a good lunch- whether you’re consistently packing a couple of chocolate bars and a bag of chips, or s few cucumber slices. I have a ton of great lunch options under School Lunches on my site, but keep reading for my perfect bowl formula.
Like I just said, you can’t pack a super tiny lunch full of junk food or just veggies and expect to feel satisfied. You need BALANCE people. BALANCE! And that’s what I love about these bowls. You get your veggies, your complex carbs (aka ones that will help keep you fuller longer), AND your protein (also fills you up), all in a neat little package that is customizable based on what you have, what you like, and what you feel like preparing. The point is, you get a delicious meal that is simple and easy to make. Which is the optimum recipe for meal prepping success!
Once you have these bowls made, feel free to add a little something extra on the side, whether that be more fruits and veggies, or a little treat. If you’re getting all of your required nutrients in to fuel you throughout the day, of course you can have a lil something sweet- check out my healthy desserts here. It keeps things interesting and satisfying.
Before I present you with this bowl building guide, let me assert this point- UTILIZE LEFTOVERS! Whether it’s some chicken from that night’s dinner, some quinoa you made a few days ago, or some random roasted veggies that you have in your fridge, leftovers of all kinds are welcome in these bowls and are a part of what makes them so quick and easy!
You’ll definitely notice the difference once you fuel up properly, as opposed to being unsatisfied with your lunch choices. And this is incentive should be enough to keep on meal prepping! I hope that this perfect bowl formula helps you out- it’s my go-to lunch almost every day! Let’s get into the very simple steps.
Step 1: Choose Your Complex Carbs
Carbs are IMPORTANT because they give you energy for the day ahead, and help you feel full! Don’t leave em out. What is also important, however, is making sure that you’re choosing whole grain and complex carbs that release energy more slowly and provide you with more nutrients than more quick to release, simple carbs. Think whole wheat bread instead of white bread, and brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice. But if you don’t have whole grain options on hand, don’t shy away from using carbs like white rice. You still need that energy, and carbs shouldn’t be something to be afraid of. Fill your tupperware to about a 1/4 full with your carb of choice! Some of my favourite complex carb ideas are:
- Sweet Potato (see my 5 Minute “Baked” Sweet Potato for a quick option)
- Brown rice
- Sprouted grain bread
- Toasted whole wheat tortillas
- Brown rice crackers
- Whole wheat pasta or brown rice noodles
Step 2: Add Your Veggies
Veggies are full of nutrients and are an essential part of these bowls! Both fresh and cooked options work great- or use a combination of the two. I always like to have a bunch of different veggies on hand in the fridge, ready to be used for such situations. Be sure to pick veggies that YOU LIKE- don’t force yourself to eat stuff you hate, because that is not sustainable. Fill your tupperware at least 1/2 full with veg- here are some ideas:
- Corn, peas, or other defrosted frozen veggies
- Carrots (I grate mine- game changer!)
- The list goes on and on!
Step 3: Pick Your Protein
Protein is vital- it helps keep you feeling fuller longer, and is necessary to build muscle tissue and for your body to function in general! When you think protein, you may just be thinking of your conventional sources- meat- which can be hard to include if you don’t have any ready to go. There are a TON of easy protein options out there though! Many of them can be prepped before hand, and a bunch of others are ready to go as is. These are some great healthy protein options to add to your bowl:
- Boiled eggs (I love boiling a bunch at a time, and having them ready to use for the next few days)
- Chicken, pork, or beef (including leftovers, or meat that you cook in a batch for meal prep)
- Canned tuna (mix with some mashed avocado so it’s less dry)
- Canned beans- black, red kidney, navy, etc.
- Chickpeas- drained and rinsed from the can, or roasted (see my 3 Flavours of Crispy Chickpeas for ideas!)
- Falafel (see my favourite falafel recipe here)
- Veggie burgers
Step 4: Finish With Flavour And Healthy Fats
Ok, so we’ve got carbs, veg, and protein, which, on their own, should taste pretty good. You can see that I added some more protein in the form of chickpeas to this bowl as well. But to make these bowls even better, be sure to add some healthy fats and flavour at the end! I’m talking homemade dressings, hummus, tzatziki, avocado, nuts and seeds, or simply some balsamic vinegar! Healthy fats are a necessary part of your diet, and make your lunches that much more satisfying. Try and stay away from store bought dips and dressings- they can be full of preservatives, sugars, and other not so nice ingredients! Some finishing touches I like to add to my bowls are:
- Dips and dressings (see my favourite recipes here)
- Vinegars (love my balsamic)
There you have it- the perfect steps to make your meal prep dreams come true! There are so many combinations and that’s something that I love about this formula, but here are some flavour combo ideas if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed:
- Brown rice with cucumbers, spinach, mushrooms, grated carrot, Soy Marinated Tofu, and Peanut Dressing.
- Quinoa with cucumbers, tomatoes, red peppers, olives, red onion, Falafel, and Hummus.
- Sweet Potato with spinach, red onion, peppers, corn, roasted chickpeas and balsamic vinegar.
- Toasted whole wheat tortilla with tomato, corn, peppers, black beans, salsa and chicken.
- Couscous with beets, cauliflower, grated carrots, boiled eggs, almonds and Creamy Avocado Balsamic Dressing.
All of those combos sound amazing! Go ahead and get creative, and I promise that these steps will help you to create delicious, filling and nutritious lunches and keep you coming back for more.