Welcome to our every-so-often series of questions to discover how you, our readers, live a super interesting, healthy life. We totally invite you to dish on your habits, preferences, and know-how in the Comments, and we may even use our favorite ones in an upcoming article!
Inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook—which is all about simple, but tasty, meals—this week we asked you how you prepare for a week full of delicious, healthy lunches. Well+Good readers, no surprise, pack their fridges with Tupperware full of roasted veggies and cook big batches of ancient grains for seamless lunchbox prep all week long. They’re fluent in big batch stir-fries and mason jar salads.
You also shared some of your best hacks to make prepping and packing lunch as simple and tasty as possible.
Below, some of our readers’ best intel: seven tips for your best lunch prep yet.
1. Tupperware is your new BFF.
You’ll want a variety of shapes and sizes for your wide array of lunches. Soups and sandwiches, after all, need different vessels. “Having the right containers is very important,” agrees W+G reader Michelle. “Invest in some.”
2. Meal prep doesn’t have to be boring.
A fridge full of ready-to-go proteins and salads means that weeknights can be spent winding down, instead of chopping veggies like a mad woman to prepare for the next day’s lunch. But that doesn’t mean you have to slave away in the kitchen all weekend. Reader Kourtleeh suggests laying out all your ingredients in an assembly line to make prepping less time-consuming. Another pro-reader tip? Tracey sets her meal prep “to the tune of Gilmore Girls or Friends” for some stress-free (super fun!) cooking.
3. Bring everything to work at the beginning of the week.
No matter how many veggies you have on hand or big batches of grains you made over the weekend, sometimes the last thing you want to do after a long day is fill a new Tupperware. “I grill chicken, cook a batch of quinoa and make a jar of dressing every Sunday and throw it all in a bag with salad vegetables,” W+G reader Cheryl tells us. “I bring everything to work on Monday morning and put a salad together for lunch each day.” How’s that for hassle free?
4. Don’t forget about the condiments.
Reader Tara suggests that we all “make yummy pestos and sauces and freeze them in ice cube trays so that you can thaw individual servings.” Noted! Our gluten-free pasta salad just got a whole lot tastier.
5. You don’t need to eat the same thing every day.
Preparing a variety of options in advance means that you can pick and choose throughout the week. Reader Adeline writes, “On Sundays I love to prepare a few things that I know make any meal amazing (pickled vegetables, beet hummus, sesame cucumber noodles, mashed coconut sweet potato, etc.) and then for an easy and nutritious lunch I create what I like to call ‘vibrant bowls’ with a combination of greens, proteins, and other delicious add-ins, depending on my mood!” Top Monday’s salad with pickled veggies, pair mashed coconut sweet potato with some grilled chicken on Tuesday…you get the idea.
6. Frozen foods can be your friend.
Just because you’re short on time doesn’t have to mean that you can’t still pack a nutritious lunch. Reader AJ uses a fully stocked freezer to her advantage. “I keep Aidell’s chicken sausage on hand, a few packs in the freezer, for a quick throw-together lunch during the week. I’ll toss sliced chicken sausage and 2 cups of frozen green beans in a container, drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, and cayenne pepper. By the time it thaws, it’s about right for lunch,” she explains.
7. Have a backup plan.
If you pushed yourself harder than normal in your morning spin class (per usual), that delicious cauliflower tabbouleh that you love may not keep you as full as it usually does. Reader Brynn suggests making a snack to keep with you in case of hunger emergencies. “Every week I make a new batch of hummus and cut up a bunch of veggies to dip in it (bell peppers, cucumber, carrots); it comes in handy when hunger hits!”