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3 Make-Ahead Lunches to Get You Through the Work Week

image source: sarah hubbell
image source: sarah hubbell

Like every mama, my lunch is usually last priority — it lags behind lunch for my boys, a stack of laundry a mile high, and if I’m lucky, a dash of concealer before I head out the door.

So a healthy homemade lunch? You can pretty much forget it. That is, however, until some leftover rotisserie chicken got my culinary wheels turning. I don’t know about you, but we can never finish an entire roast chicken around here, so these lunch recipes help me stretch those leftovers into meal after meal.

The best part? Each one is super easy, and you can make them ahead over the weekend, pop them in the fridge, and grab them in the morning on your way out the door!

Image Source:
Image Source: Sarah Hubbell

Tostadas make such a satisfying lunch with limited prep and assembly. I love this simple salsa and whip it up for a quick snack with chips, over eggs in the morning, and best of all on these tostadas — light and citrusy with just the right amount of heat.

For a make-ahead lunch, wait to assemble until just before eating. Pack each component in a separate container: salsa, tostada shells, shredded chicken, and keep avocado whole (or half depending on serving size), then mash just before assembly.

Shredded Chicken Tostadas

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 3 tablespoons red onion, sliced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado, mashed
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast (simply shred the chicken by separating the meat from the bone and tearing into bite-sized pieces)
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tostada shells

Directions:

  1. Toss together the tomato, red onion, fresh lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeño. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Spread about 1 tablespoon mashed avocado over each tostada shell. Then top each with 1/4 cup shredded chicken and 1/8 cup tomato salsa mixture. For a make-ahead lunch, wait to assemble until just before eating.
Image source:
Image Source: Sarah Hubbell

This dish is a great picnic or potluck item, because it can be eaten both cold or at room temperature without losing any oomph, which is also what makes it perfect for a brown bag work lunch. Let’s just get down to it — lemon and chicken are a flavor match made in heaven. Don’t be afraid to liberally sprinkle salt and pepper — you can’t go wrong!

Chicken Pasta Salad

Makes: 2-3 servings

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup rainbow pasta
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken breast (simply shred the chicken by separating the meat from the bone and tearing into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1/2 cup English cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • chopped parsley for garnish, optional

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together lemon juice and zest, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  3. When pasta is al dente, drain and rinse with cool water.
  4. Pour juice mixture over cooked pasta, stirring to coat. Add the chicken and remaining veggies, and toss to combine.
Image Source:
Image Source: Sarah Hubbell

When my husband and I had our first baby, a friend of ours brought us homemade Tabouli for dinner, and despite our new parent sleep-deprived haze, I still remember how good this tasted. The mint and freshly squeezed lemon juice are the real heavy-hitters when it comes to flavor, giving a fairly hearty meal a light and refreshing feel. Traditional Tabouli is vegetarian, but I find the added protein keeps me feeling fuller longer while still maintaining the integrity and healthiness of the dish. Not to mention, the bulgur practically cooks itself, so the only real assembly is a bit of chopping.

Tabouli

Makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 English cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • 3/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded or chopped rotisserie chicken breast (simply shred the chicken by separating the meat from the bone and tearing into bite-sized pieces)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pita chips for serving

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, add bulgar and boiling water. Let it soak while you prepare the veggies.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, green onions, mint, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Fold in the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Serve with pita chips.

You can also get a head start on breakfast with these easy overnight oats!

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