Meal prep lunch ideas

When you’re rushing out the door in the morning, it’s hard to find the time to prepare a nutritious lunch. But a balanced, healthy meal is crucial for restoring much-needed work-life balance. If you’re finding you can’t spare the time to put something together each day, meal prep is a great way to ensure you’re hitting all the food groups come lunch hour. 

This method has you planning a week ahead, so you’ll need a few items for preparation, storage and transportation. 

How to meal prep

What what meal prep is

Meal prep is a method of food preparation where you make multiple days’ worth of food at once. It’s designed to take some of the time burden off of busy people, and it also works great to give you more control over your diet. The primary tool for any meal prepper is the food-storage container, which helps with portioning and portability. 

When to meal prep

The most common meal prep method involves cooking large batches of food. Most preppers like to do this on Sundays. After cooking, you dish your meals into storage containers that you then take out of your refrigerator or freezer each day during the week. When and how you meal prep will depend on your dietary restrictions, nutrition goals and schedule, but set aside three to four hours for preparation, cooking and dishing up. 

How to meal prep

There are many ways to get organized so lunch time is breezy and never boring. 

  • Batch cooking: The most common form of meal prep, batch cooking involves cooking everything at once and portioning it out. This typically takes a few hours and is best saved for when you can carve out the time. Batch cooking is a good solution to meals that require lengthy cooking times, such as meats, stews, curries and sauces. Rectangular plastic takeout containers are a meal prepper’s best friend when it comes to this method. But you can also use plastic or glass storage containers. 
  • Ingredient prep: For those who work at home or who have adequate kitchen amenities at work, ingredient prep is a great way to ensure fresh ingredients in every meal. This method cuts down on one of the most daunting aspects of making lunch every day by getting all of your fixings in order ahead of schedule. You can then put a sandwich or salad together, heat your meal quickly in the morning, or bring your ingredients to work. In addition to storage containers, condiment containers and plastic, resealable bags are big helpers.

Best products to help you meal prep for work

Best meal prep tools

Instant Pot Duo 7-In-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

Instant Pot Duo 7-In-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

The slow cooker is every meal prepper’s secret weapon. The ultimate tool for batch-cooking, it can even cut time from meal prep — just throw everything in and let it stew. And what makes the Instant Pot Duo so up for the task is the sheer number of functions it can perform. From cooking rice to steaming vegetables, you’ll be able to hit all the food groups using one device.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

GreaterGoods Digital Food Kitchen Scale

GreaterGoods Digital Food Kitchen Scale

Whether you’re counting calories or just trying to even out your portions, a food scale is a critical kitchen tool for meal prep. It can help you stay on track with your diet or meal plan and take the guesswork out of lunchtime at the office. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Tiluck Stainless Steel Measuring Cups & Spoons Set

Tiluck Stainless Steel Measuring Cups & Spoons Set

This comprehensive set of measuring cups for dry goods not only helps with basic recipe prep but also portion control. Made from food-grade stainless steel, the cups have embossed and etched measurements so they’ll never rub off.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Pyrex Glass Measuring Cups Set

Pyrex Glass Measuring Cups Set

Oven-, microwave- and freezer-safe, these liquid measuring cups are a game changer in the kitchen. Great for pouring broths, stirring sauces and mixing marinades, you’ll never have to worry about rinsing tiny dry-good cups mid-recipe with these dedicated tools of the trade.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best food storage for meal prep

Bayco 8-Pack Glass Meal Prep Containers

Bayco 8-Pack Glass Meal Prep Containers

Divided into three compartments, these bento-box style containers are perfect for apportioning meals. They’re made of glass, so you can store your meals in the fridge for the week and reheat them at work. The airtight lids prevent spillage during transport, and with eight containers, you’re set for the week (even if you forget to wash a couple). 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Arctic Zone Canvas Expandable Horizontal Lunch Box

Arctic Zone Canvas Expandable Horizontal Lunch Box 

With a mature design and adjustable shoulder strap, this lunchbox is great for office workers on the go. It’s large enough for most food prep boxes and expands so you can add snacks, a drink, or an ice pack to keep your food fresh. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Cooler Shock Reusable Ice Pack

Cooler Shock Reusable Ice Pack

Never worry about yucky spoiled lunches and food poisoning with these cooler packs. Designed with a low melting point, these can keep your food cool for up to 8 hours.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Condiment Cups Containers with Lids

Condiment Cups Containers with Lids

These miniature plastic storage containers are great for dressings, sauces and condiments. They’re available in a few sizes for those who want a convenient way to break up dry foods into snack-size groups. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best meal prep seasoning

Make Your Day Condiment Packets

Make Your Day Condiment Packets 

Condiment packets are a lifesaver, preventing both soggy sandwiches and dry lunches. This set of five has all of the essentials to cover a variety of meals so you don’t have to worry about lugging around half your fridge for flavor. You get 50 packs each of ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise and barbecue sauce for a total of 250 pieces.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

On-The-Go Assorted Hot Sauce Condiment Packets With Mini Hot Sauce Packets Keychain

On-The-Go Assorted Hot Sauce Condiment Packets With Mini Hot Sauce Packets Keychain

When it comes to condiments, you can’t forget the hot sauce, and this huge assortment has a spicy packet for just about any kind of meal. This is a great flavor enhancer for the meal prepper who likes to cook all around the world. And it even includes a mini squeeze bottle for those whole like to make their own hot sauces at home. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Karl Daum writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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