There's a reason meal-prepping is so popular these days—it's one of the easiest ways to save time during the busy week while keeping up with healthy eating habits. If the thought of meal-prepping evokes images of spending half your weekend in the kitchen, we're here to convince you otherwise. With help from a few healthy grocery-store convenience items—like preprepped veggies, cooked grains, healthy frozen foods and bottled dressing—you can meal-prep a week's worth of lunches in as little as 15 minutes.
Take advantage of precut ingredients from the produce section (think spiralized zucchini noodles or bagged greens) to cut down on prep time. Opt for parcooked whole grains or swap in microwavable brown rice or quinoa pouches. Add protein with store-bought rotisserie chicken, frozen cooked shrimp or low-sodium canned beans. If you go for items like frozen meatballs, bottled salad dressing or jarred pasta sauce, compare nutrition labels and ingredient lists and go for the option with less sodium, added sugars and partially hydrogenated oils.
Easy Ideas: Prewashed leafy greens; spiralized veggie noodles; steam-in-bag green beans; frozen riced cauliflower; sliced vegetables from the salad bar
Easy Ideas: Precooked packages of brown rice, quinoa or couscous; seeded crackers; whole-wheat bread, pita or tortillas; canned low-sodium beans
Easy Ideas: Rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast from the deli section; baked, ready-to-eat tofu; hard-boiled eggs; canned tuna or salmon; precooked chicken sausage; canned low-sodium beans; prepared hummus; frozen edamame
Easy Ideas: Avocado; nuts or seeds; store-bought salad dressing (made with olive oil, canola oil or avocado oil); prepared pesto; olives
We've outlined the steps to help you prep and pack three different extra-easy lunches for the week in as little as 15 minutes.
Ready in: 15 minutes
These nutrient-packed vegan bowls come together in 15 minutes with the help of a few grocery-store shortcuts, like prewashed baby kale, microwavable quinoa and precooked beets. Mix store-bought hummus with fresh lemon juice for a quick dressing.
Prepare an 8-ounce package of microwavable quinoa according to package directions; set aside to cool.
Combine ½ cup store-bought hummus and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice to make a dressing. Thin to desired consistency with water. Divide the dressing among 4 small single-serving containers with lids and refrigerate.
Slice 8 ounces of refrigerated cooked beets and 1 medium avocado; set aside. Follow package instructions to defrost 1 cup of frozen edamame in the microwave.
Divide the contents of a 5-ounce container of prewashed baby kale among 4 single-serving containers with lids. To each container, add ½ cup cooked quinoa, ½ cup sliced beets, ¼ cup edamame, ¼ of the avocado and 1 Tbsp. sunflower seeds. Seal the containers and refrigerate until ready to eat. Dress with the hummus dressing just before serving.
Ready in: 15 minutes
Save yourself major prep time by using premade zucchini noodles from the produce section. Canned beans and precooked chicken sausage (which heats in about 5 minutes) add protein, while store-bought pesto serves as a source of healthy fats.
Slice 6 ounces of chicken sausage (about 2 links) into 1/2-inch pieces. Sauté in 2 tsp. olive oil over medium heat until browned and heated through, about 5 minutes; set aside.
Rinse a 14-ounce can of no-salt-added cannellini beans; set aside.
Drain and rinse a 7-ounce jar of roasted red peppers; slice and set aside.
Divide 1 pound of premade zucchini noodles among 4 lunch containers. There should be about 2 cups zoodles in each container. Top each portion of zucchini noodles with an equal amount of the sausage, beans and roasted red peppers and add 2 Tbsp. pesto to each. Seal the containers and refrigerate until ready to eat.
Note: To reheat, vent lid and microwave on High until the sausage is steaming and the zucchini noodles are tender, 2½ to 3 minutes.
Ready in: 20 minutes
These quick Mediterranean-inspired bowls come together in 20 minutes, thanks to healthy convenience items including frozen falafel and steam-in-bag fresh green beans. Whisk together the simple Tahini Sauce with Lemon & Garlic while the other ingredients cook.
Prepare 8 frozen falafel balls or patties according to package directions; set aside to cool.
Prepare precooked couscous according to package directions (or try our recipe for Easy Whole-Wheat Couscous). Fluff with fork; set aside.
Prepare 1 pound of fresh steam-in-bag green beans according to package directions; set aside.
Whisk together ingredients for Tahini Sauce with Lemon & Garlic. Divide among 4 small single-serving containers with lids and refrigerate.
Divide the green beans among 4 single-serving containers with lids. Top each with ½ cup cooked couscous, 2 falafel balls (or patties), 1 Tbsp. Kalamata olives and 1 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese. Seal the containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Dress with 2 Tbsp. Tahini Sauce with Lemon & Garlic after reheating.
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