Bulk meal prep on Sundays sounds great in theory, but Foodies, we know you can’t stomach the same meal 5 days in a row. That’s why we’ve come up with our own version of lunch planning with gourmands in mind that will save you time without sacrificing variety (both the spice of life and lively lunches). All it takes is a little creativity and minimal planning.
1. Shop Smart
Our goal when grocery shopping each week is to stock up on versatile ingredients (like beans, grains and greens), but make sure to also grab a handful of more unique ingredients which will bring a custom flavor to each meal (like fresh herbs and in season fruits). Make sure you have enough of your “versatile” ingredients to get two uses out of them. You can grab smaller portions of your “unique” ingredients. There’s no need to get too rigid with list making — food is meant to be fun after all — but consider how all your ingredients could potentially blend, not unlike packing clothes for a trip.
Tip: Yuzu fruit is a great base for dressing and zested on a salad.
2. Make Dinner Do Double Duty
Most meal prep blogs would simply suggest making enough dinner so you have leftovers for lunch, but eating the same thing less than 24 hours apart makes our taste buds glaze over. Instead, focus on prepping more of a few key ingredients while you’re already making dinner. For instance, roasted veggies can be a side with roasted chicken for dinner and the base of a stir-fry for lunch. We’ve never made grains without having leftovers, a big win for lunch the next day. Finally, never under estimate making big batches of dressings and sauces— the right sauce can make the same base ingredients go an entirely different direction.
Tip: Smokey romesco sauce is beautiful with fish for dinner and can be used the spread on a Mediterranean sandwich the next day.
3. Praise Prepared Proteins
It’s hard enough to get out the door in the morning without forgetting your keys, let alone remembering to defrost something for dinner. Don’t put this unnecessarily stressful burden on yourself. Prepared proteins like canned tuna, rotisserie chicken, and marinated tofu are tasty and allow for more variety day to day than cooking them each night.
Tip: Tuna and eggs can go in a niçoise for dinner and this Italian-Style Tuna Sandwich for lunch.
Now that you know the strategy, here is a meal plan for the week to get you started.
Dinner: Beluga Lentil Tuna Salad
Lunch: Tuna with Black Lentils
Shared ingredients: Lentils, tomatoes, tuna in olive oil.
Flair ingredients: Raisins, avocado.
Make a double batch of lentils. Prep both bowls together and add flair ingredients for your packed lunch.
Dinner: Nova Scotia’s Hodge Podge with Tuna
Lunch: Niçoise Charcuterie Platter
Shared Ingredients: Potatoes, green beans, tuna in oil.
Flair Ingredients: Turnips, olives, watercress.
While the your stew simmers, assemble your lunch platter. Voilà!
Dinner: Pasta Puttanesca
Lunch: Mediterranean Tuna White Bean Salad
Shared Ingredients: Yellow fin tuna, kalamata olives, tomatoes, capers.
Flair Ingredients: Feta, sundried tomatoes.
Chop and prep all ingredients. While your Puttanesca pasta boils and sauce simmers, drain and rinse beans and assemble the white bean salad.
Dinner: Tuna, Black Bean and Sweet Corn Salad
Lunch: Mexican Tuna Salad
Shared Ingredients: Albacore tuna, black beans, corn, red pepper, cilantro.
Flair Ingredients: Green chili, queso fresco.
For busy days, this combination is easy. Prep all ingredients and assemble each bowl.