30 Easy Meal Prep Ideas for Lunch | Make Ahead Meals

Are you preparing for this week’s meal plan and need new meal prep ideas for lunch to add to the mix? We’ve got you covered! These easy and healthy lunch meal prep ideas are perfect for busy afternoons.

30 simple make-ahead meal prep ideas for lunches pin

Even if you love cooking, preparing three meals a day can get tiring pretty quickly. I found that planning out my family’s meals for the week ahead had eliminated some of the daily hassle, but actually preparing make-ahead meals for the week was life-changing!  

I can’t rave enough about the benefits of bulk meal prep every week. It’s a big time-saver, it saves money, it eliminates waste, it’s a much healthier option to have when in a pinch and it can help you better control portion sizes. What’s not to love?

How to Prep Meals for The Week

For my family, I bulk prepare snacks, lunches, and some breakfasts on Sundays to last the entire week. I still enjoy cooking dinner most days so I also chop up the raw ingredients that I will use for cooking dinner throughout the rest of the week.

  1. Dedicate a day to do all the work
    Pick a day of the week to dedicate to preparing your make-ahead meals. Spending a few hours that day will save you a lot of time and effort throughout the rest of the week!
  2. Plan your meals 
    Time to plan out your meals with fun and delicious meal prep ideas! Be sure to consider serving sizes and overlapping ingredients as you plan. You can use whatever process feels right to you but aim for a realistic and fast meal-planning process and template that works best with your family’s busy schedule. Keep in mind that you don’t need to search for new recipes each week. You can stick to what you already know and love! 
  3. Prepare to store your completed meals
    Not all make-ahead meals need to be frozen, especially when working on a weekly schedule. Get your fridge and freezer space prepared for the bulk meals you’re about to prepare and make sure you have the appropriate containers cleaned and ready to go. These glass and freezer-friendly containers are my favorites but you do NOT need matching or pretty meal prep containers. :)
  4. Buy groceries
    Time to shop! Following a meal planning process that’s focused on ease and efficiency will not only help you save time but will help you find the overlap in your groceries, saving you money while also preventing spoiled unused ingredients at the end of the week.
  5. Prepare ingredients
    Instead of preparing and cooking each meal individually you can cut all the veggies, cook all meat, dice some fruit, or prepare grains like rice that you may need for all your recipes according to your plan. This is especially great prep for quick dump meals that go in the crockpot or Instant Pot.
  6. Get cookin’!
    You’re ready to cook! Meal prepping is supposed to make things easier for you. After some practice, you’ll nail down the multi-tasking required in bulk food preparation and be able to whip up the whole week’s meals in an hour or two (depending on what you’re making, of course). How elaborate or simple your meals are, is up to you! 

Healthy Lunch Meal Prep Ideas

We’ve rounded up 35 of the easiest lunch meal prep ideas that will have your tastebuds somersaulting all over the place! I’ve listed which recipes are vegan below as well. Let’s dive in: 

Delicious Salad Meal Prep Ideas

Rainbow Chicken Salad with Almond Honey Mustard Dressing Perfect meal Prep Idea

#1 Rainbow Chicken Salad with Almond Honey Mustard Dressing

If you’re a salad person, this is a special treat for you. This Rainbow Chicken Salad is a heavenly blend of crisp lettuce, tender chicken, feta, grapes, berries, and almonds. But the real showstopper is the dressing! You can make this ahead and store it in a glass jar but make sure to put the dressing first and the leaves last. This Rainbow Chicken Salad recipe by Pinch of Yum is one of the best.

Keto greek salad by How 2 do Keto

#2 Keto Greek Salad

This simple and delicious Mason Jar Keto Greek Salad is a perfect grab-and-go meal for busy moms! A delicious and healthy blend of vegetables in this nutritious make-ahead lunch plus the dressing contains lots of good fats to keep you feeling full throughout the day. You can check out this tasty keto recipe for Greek Salad by How 2 Do Keto.

Pasta Salad

#3 Pasta Salad

Pasta salads are perfect if you’re looking for something quick, delicious and easy. Made with simple ingredients, you just need to mix everything together and you’re done in under 20 minutes! This salad is flexible, so you can adapt it to what you have on hand or what’s in season. You can find many versions of the Pasta Salad, but I recommend starting with this recipe by Inspired Taste.

Delicious Greek Couscous Salad as meal prep idea

#4 Greek Couscous Salad

A family favorite, this salad is nutritious and packed with veggies, chickpeas, and beans. This salad is not only delicious but flexible as you can swap which veggies or dressing you use in each container to give yourself some more variety throughout the week or to cater to your family’s individual preferences! As with all salads, store the dressing separately. Try out this recipe for Greek Couscous Salad by Chelsea’s Messy Apron.

Salmon Cakes with Cucumber Dill Salad

#5 Salmon Cakes with Cucumber Dill Salad

Light, refreshing, and so satisfying– these salmon cakes with yogurt dip paired with loads of fresh dill, cucumber and sweet onion are a huge hit over here. You can use canned salmon to make it pantry, time and budget-friendly. Store the salad and patties separately in two large airtight containers than on the day of eating, combine it to keep the salmon patties crispy! This Salmon Cake with Cucumber Dill Salad recipe by Delish is another one you must try!

Sweet Potato Tuna Salad

#6 Sweet Potato Tuna Salad

With this Sweet Potato Tuna Salad recipe by Eating Bird Food the sweet potatoes, hummus and mustard make the tuna salad so creamy you don’t need any mayo. Sweet potato is a great whole-food source of carbs so it’s perfect to add to lighter meals – especially salads! Plus, it’s loaded with protein, gluten-free and it’s dairy-free.

LIKING THIS POST? Check out my post on building laundry family systems that actually work!

Super Easy Wraps & Sandwich Meals

Chicken, Spinach and Cream Cheese Wrap

#7 Chicken, Spinach, and Cream Cheese Wrap

If a rotisserie chicken is on your grocery list then this tasty wrap recipe will take you no time to prepare. The cream cheese mixture is so good featuring sour cream, green chilies, green onions, and bacon bits. Mix a little, spread, sprinkle some spinach, sprouts for added nutrition, and chicken, roll it up and you are on your way! This quick and easy Chicken, Spinach and Cream Cheese Wrap recipe by Tried & Tasty is perfect for the whole family. 

Wholemeal Wraps with Minty Pea Hummus & Beetroot

#8 Wholemeal Wraps with Minty Pea Hummus & Beetroot

Homemade wholemeal wraps taste 10x better than store-bought options, and with this recipe, you can make them in less than 15 minutes. If you don’t have rapeseed oil you can substitute it with olive oil as I do, and I personally like to add some chicken to these wraps. These are also freezer-friendly and can be stored for months! Get inspired with this easy Minty Pea Hummus & Beetroot recipe by BBC Good Food.

Mini Rosemary Roast Beef Sandwiches

#9 Mini Rosemary Roast Beef Sandwiches

This mini rosemary Roast Beef Sandwich Recipe with Horseradish is loaded up with flavor. Sliders are generally a breeze to make in bulk. You can look for the sweet Hawaiian rolls that come in a package all stuck together to save even more time. Consider adding a touch of sweet onion for added flavor and crunch. If you enjoy deliciously pickled flavors, then this Mini Rosemary Roast Beef Sandwich recipe by Taste of Home is for you.

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Cilantro Lime Sauce

#10 Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Cilantro Lime Sauce *VEGAN

Tacos don’t get any easier than this! A quick and easy lunch, you can store the filling in the refrigerator and spread it on the tortilla when you’re ready to eat them. Or you can freeze them with the tortilla and fry before serving. You really have to try the recipe for these delicious Crispy Black Bean Tacos by Pinch of Yum.

Deviled Egg Sandwich

#11 Deviled Egg Sandwich

Bored of the typical egg salad sandwich? Try this mash-up of a traditional egg salad and the beloved deviled egg. So delicious, so simple and so easy to store as a spread until you’re ready to use it on a slice of toast or a sandwich! You’ll find this tasty Deviled Egg Salad Sandwich recipe over at Fountain Avenue Kitchen.

Simple Entrees, Bowls, or Sheet Pan Recipes

Spicy Chicken with Rice and Beans (Instant Pot Recipe)

#12 Spicy Chicken with Rice and Beans (Instant Pot Recipe)

You can never really go wrong with chicken and rice, especially when you add fresh herb sauce to the mix! All you need is 10 minutes in your instant pot to prepare this nutritious yet delectable meal that can stay in your fridge for up to 4 days. And don’t worry if you or your kids are a spice-wimp like me, you can adjust or completely forego the cayenne spice altogether. Get the full instant pot recipe for Spicy Chicken with Rice & Beans by Pinch of Yum.

Taco Bowls

#13 Taco Bowls

If you prefer simple one-bowl recipes with plenty of room for variation then this one’s a must-try. So effortless and delicious, the cilantro-lime rice and protein from the homemade ground beef, combined with the vegetables and sour cream makes it a staple meal that is loved by all. This scrumptious Taco Bowl recipe by Valentina’s Corner only takes 30 minutes to prepare, cook and store!

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

#14 Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Whip up some sizzling hot chicken fajitas without dirtying up multiple skillets sautéing vegetables and chicken. You simply throw everything on a sheet pan and let it work its magic in the oven. These fajitas are bursting with flavor from the quick spice rub fajita seasoning but you can also get creative and add more flavors with the toppings. You can’t go wrong with Ahead of Thyme’s Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas recipe. 

Cilantro Lime Chicken & Lentil Rice Bowls (Instant Pot Recipe)

#15 Cilantro Lime Chicken & Lentil Rice Bowls (Instant Pot Recipe)

This meal is an instant one-pot 15-minute recipe, and all you need to do is chop the veggies and throw all your ingredients into the pot! If you don’t feel like having rice as its side, you can pair it with nachos, quesadillas, burritos, soups, and so much more. Try the Cilantro Lime Chicken Rice Bowl recipe by Pinch of Yum.

Ground Turkey Stir Fry

#16 Ground Turkey Stir Fry

What could be easier than a satisfying stir fry recipe? You can have comfort, convenience, and health all in one bowl with a few ingredients and veggies. You can even customize it according to your own food preferences. Nuts? Tofu? Mushrooms? Yes, yes, and yes! Add whatever you like to enhance the flavor to your family’s liking. Plus, it’s freezer-friendly making it a perfect recipe to make ahead with this super easy Ground Turkey Stir Fry recipe by The Girl on Bloor.

Chickpea Butternut Squash Fajitas *VEGAN

#17 Chickpea Butternut Squash Fajitas *VEGAN

The only thing better than chicken fajitas is probably butternut squash fajitas! And the best part is, you only need a few simple ingredients to make this delicious dish. It is just tender veggies served alongside chickpeas in a fajita sauce. And you can freeze it for later too. I would recommend this Chickpea Butternut Squash Fajita recipe by Sweet Peas and Saffron because it is super easy and delicious.

Baked Tuna Meatballs

#18 Baked Tuna Meatballs

These baked tuna balls are just too good to be true. You can pair them with veggies, pasta or zucchini noodles for lunch. Or you could simply eat them as a snack. You can easily store them in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days or even three months in the freezer. These meatballs are so easy to make- you just have to try them. Use this easy-to-follow Tuna Meatballs recipe by Downshiftology.  

Sheet Pan Pesto Chicken & Vegetables As Meal Prep Idea for Lunch

#19 Sheet Pan Pesto Chicken & Vegetables

This pesto chicken with vegetables is yet another easy meal prep idea for when you don’t have time to cook. All you need is a sheet pan, veggies, and some chicken. You can substitute the chicken with shrimp or tofu, and serve these with some rice, quinoa, or orzo. You can even layer these on a flatbread for a quick, nutritious pizza to go. This recipe for Pesto Chicken & Veggies by Gimmie Delicious is really pocket-friendly, so don’t forget to check it out!

Pork Souvlaki

#20 Pork Souvlaki

Perfect for grilling on a BBQ, this grilled pork loin recipe with a delicious lemon-olive oil marinade is the perfect make-ahead lunch for hot summers. Pair it with Lemon rice (linked in the recipe), a fresh salad, or grill up some veggies on the BBQ while you’re at it! For best results start marinating in the morning or even the night before. You can check out this quick and delicious Pork Souvlaki recipe by Barbara Bakes.

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers

#21 Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers

This super quick meal idea is perfect if you’re in a lunch rut. Lightened-up chicken salad has all the creamy, tangy flavor you crave—minus the heaviness of mayo. For ultimate ease, use a store-bought rotisserie chicken. It uses up lots of veggies and leftover chicken I usually have sitting in the fridge. Try Pure Wow’s Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Pepper recipe and savor the simple light flavors!

Easy Baked Falafel *VEGAN

#22 Easy Baked Falafel *VEGAN

If you’ve never tried falafel before, you’re in for a treat. This recipe for Easy Baked Falafel by Eating Bird Food is just as easy as it is tasty! It can be made with canned chickpeas so there’s no soaking necessary. These protein-packed patties are great for topping bowls and salads, plus they’re vegan and gluten-free. Drizzle with some tahini or hummus to make it that much more delicious! 

Lemon Ricotta Fettucini 

#23 Lemon Ricotta Fettucini 

Packed with flavor and made in under 20 minutes, this Lemon Ricotta Fettucini recipe from Six Hungry Feet contains only  7 ingredients from which you will probably have already everything at home except for the ricotta and asparagus! I recommend storing the sauce, cooked noodles, and cooked asparagus all separated from one another and assembling it all when you’re about to eat it. Rinse the cooked noodles in cold water right after boiling them to help prevent them from sticking together when stored. 

Incredible Soups & Stews for Meal Prep Ideas

Stuffed Pepper Soup with Ground Beef

#24 Stuffed Pepper Soup with Ground Beef

This delicious soup is an excellent choice for a hearty and comforting make-ahead meal. It’s so easy to make and uses basic ingredients like ground beef, tomatoes and rice. Your family is sure to love how well the comforting flavors all blend together. Enjoy the lazy way of making a stuffed pepper with this quick Stuffed Pepper Soup recipe by Cooking Classy.

Tomato, Pepper & Bean One-Pot Stew *VEGAN

#25 Tomato, Pepper & Bean One-Pot Stew *VEGAN

One-pot stews are really convenient, and you can make a batch of this stew over the weekend to enjoy hassle-free meals during the weekdays. You can also add different toppings to make things even more interesting. This dish is very nutritious and a hit with the kids. Try BBC Good Food’s easy-to-follow recipe for Tomato, Pepper & Bean Stew.

Lemony Lentil Soup *VEGAN

#26 Lemony Lentil Soup *VEGAN

Soups are perfect as a make-ahead meal and this lemony lentil soup is packed with flavor and nutrition for the whole family. Veggies, herbs, lemon, broth, and lentils are a pretty killer combo. Vegan or no vegan, you’re going to like this. Try out the Lemony Lentil Soup recipe by Gimme Some Oven this week!

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew (Instant Pot Recipe)

#27 Old-Fashioned Beef Stew (Instant Pot Recipe)

Perfect for when you’re craving something warm and hearty. This Instant Pot Beef Stew recipe has just a 12 minute cook time and will be ready in under an hour. A bit longer to prepare compared to other recipes on this list, but freeze these in individual portions and there’s enough to last all month! Find a great Old-Fashioned Beef Stew recipe by Pressure Cooking Today. 

Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili (Instant Pot Recipe)

#28 Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili (Instant Pot Recipe)

A flavorful chili, this butternut squash and turkey chili features red lentils and is simmered in a creamy coconut milk and tomato broth. It can be made in either your pressure cooker or on the stove top. Try this Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili recipe by Eating Bird Food – it’s extra perfect for chilly weather.

Lunch Snacks and Treats as Meal Prep Ideas

Yogurt Parfait with Mixed Berries

#29 Yogurt Parfait with Mixed Berries

This is yet another brilliant make-ahead meal that you won’t have to worry about going bad in the fridge, at least not for a few days. This ready-to-go breakfast meal has no added sugar, and thus, you can satisfy your sweet tooth without having to feel guilty. Don’t forget to try this Yogurt Parfait recipe By Gathering Dreams because come on, parfait literally means perfect, and who would want to miss out on that? 

Lunchables in a Jar

#30 Lunchables in a Jar

DIY lunchables are a huge hit with the kids! You can prepare these quickly in advance, slicing and sorting everything together, then package them into small mason jars. They will stay fresh for a few days, and are perfect if you are in a bind and need to get the kids something to eat before a busy evening! When I prepare a snack jar like this, I also add some fruit to the mix. You can get some inspiration from this Lunchables recipe by Savings Lifestyle.

Get Meal Prepping!

Here’s to healthy, homemade food that you don’t have to break a sweat to prepare.

Whether you’re meal prepping to save time, be more intentional with nutrition, control portion sizes, or all of the above, I hope you were able to make good use of some of these simple lunch meal prep ideas.

Don’t forget to adjust portion sizes and/or ingredients according to your family’s needs or to better fit the rest of your meal plan!


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