15 Make-Ahead Lunches to Cool You Down on a Summer Day
These low-effort, high-quality lunches will help you keep your cool in the kitchen. You can prep these salads, bowls and wraps days in advance—and in as little as 10 minutes—for a healthy, refreshing meal. Recipes like our Chicken Caprese Pasta Salad Bowls and Lemon-Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowls are delicious and filling.
Vegan Superfood Grain Bowls
This nutrient-packed grain bowl recipe comes together in 15 minutes with the help of a few convenience-food shortcuts like prewashed baby kale, microwavable quinoa and precooked beets. Pack these ahead to keep on hand for easy meal-prep lunches or dinners on busy nights.
Chicken Caprese Pasta Salad Bowls
Pasta salad is a classic summer side dish, but adding protein (leftover grilled chicken is perfect here) and extra greens makes it a super-satisfying lunch. We use baby spinach, but arugula or baby kale works too. Top with a bright and tangy basil vinaigrette just before serving. The great news is that these easy meal-prep lunches take just 20 minutes to prepare--that's 4 days of lunches in less than 30 minutes.
Spinach & Strawberry Meal-Prep Salad
One of our most popular salad recipes, Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Feta & Walnuts (see Associated Recipes), gets a makeover in these simple yet totally satisfying meal-prep spinach salad bowls. They require minimal prep and can be customized to your taste. Swap in roasted salmon for the chicken thighs, and almonds or pecans for the walnuts, and use any fresh berry that looks good at your market.
Italian Deli Salad
An antipasto lover's dream—amped up with plenty of veggies. Adding the arugula on top keeps the greens from wilting when you pack it to go.
Smoked Salmon Brown Rice Onigiri
These Japanese rice triangles can be made simply with seasoned rice or filled with vegetables or protein. Cooking a bit of starchier short-grain white rice with the brown ensures they hold together—but still gives you a filling dose of fiber.
Lemon-Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowls
Brimming with colorful roasted vegetables, these plant-based meal-prep lunch bowls are high in fiber to keep you full through the afternoon. The easy roasted veggies are based on a popular recipe from our sister magazine (see Associated Recipes). Feel free to use your favorite store-bought hummus to cut down on prep time, or make a batch of your own (see Tip). You can also sub in an 8-ounce microwaveable quinoa pouch to minimize cooking.
Mason Jar Power Salad with Chickpeas & Tuna
This power salad will keep you fueled for hours, thanks to 26 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. Tossing the dressing and kale, and then letting it stand in the jar, softens it enough so you don't need to massage or cook it to make it tender.
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Crunchy Chickpeas
This healthy high-fiber salad comes together in just 10 minutes. Serve it right away or pack it in individual servings for four super-satisfying high-fiber lunches for the week ahead. To cut down on prep time, we're using preshredded Brussels sprouts from the produce department and store-bought roasted chickpeas. Look for roasted chickpea snacks with the healthy snacks or nuts at your grocery store.
Edamame & Veggie Rice Bowl
The ingredients in this vegan grain bowl recipe can be prepped ahead for an easy lunch to pack for work. The tangy citrus dressing is a refreshing flavor with the sweet caramel of the roasted sheet-pan veggies.
Chicken Satay Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Chicken satay moves from classic Thai restaurant appetizer to delicious homemade dinner with this easy meal-prep recipe. A crunchy Asian-inspired slaw serves as the satisfying low-carb base, and the bold, creamy peanut sauce brings a hint of heat to every bite.
Spicy Slaw Bowls with Shrimp & Edamame
The quick 10-minute Spicy Cabbage Slaw serves as the low-carb base in this veggie-packed lunch recipe. Topped with high-protein edamame and shrimp, this satisfying lunch will help you power through the afternoon.
Meal-Prep Vegan Moroccan Lettuce Wraps
For these meal-prep-friendly lettuce wraps, we swap the traditional warm filling for a cold plant-based bean salad filling loaded with fresh herbs and lemon. Topping each lettuce leaf with a little quinoa before adding the filling helps to keep the lettuce from getting soggy.
Thai-Style Chopped Salad with Sriracha Tofu
Prep four days' worth of high-protein vegan lunches using just four easy ingredients from your local specialty grocery store, including a veggie-heavy salad mix as a base. Because this salad mix is hearty, you can dress these bowls up to 24 hours before serving to allow the flavors in this healthy chopped salad to marry. If you can't find a hearty mix, go with broccoli slaw or shredded Brussels sprouts.
Meal-Prep Turkey Cobb Salad
Cubed deli turkey takes the place of chicken, while Cheddar replaces blue cheese in this easy Cobb-inspired salad. The protein-rich turkey and cheese, plus eggs and bacon, gives the salad staying power, so you won't get hungry an hour after you eat. Feel free to swap out the turkey for cooked chicken or chickpeas to mix things up. Serve the salad right away or pack it up in individual containers and you'll be set for lunch for days.
Buffalo Chicken Grain Bowl
Get the flavors of spicy Buffalo chicken wings, without frying, in this nutritious couscous bowl loaded with protein and crisp veggies.