Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post.
This week is all about arming ourselves with simple, quick, easy and delicious meal ideas for when life gets busy.
Yesterday was all about breakfast–my most challenging meal.
Today we’re giving some ideas for my least-planned-out meal: lunch.
Use Those Leftovers!
My most common strategy for lunch is eating leftovers from the night before. In fact, this is pretty much all my husband and I ate for lunches before we had kids. He’s not much of a sandwich guy, and I didn’t like buying sandwich stuff for just me.
However, on a limited grocery budget each month, we can’t always afford for me to make enough of one meal to cover all four of our lunches the next day. So, normally, my husband takes leftovers with him to work, and the girls can I eat something very, very simple for lunch. In a big rut, we may just eat breakfast leftovers for lunch! (A traditional Costa Rican breakfast–gallo pinto–is perfect for this!)
Protein & Produce
I often tell my husband that we girls just “scrounge around” the fridge and pantry for lunch. And that’s pretty much what we do. But I normally try to include at least some time of protein and produce in each of these super quick and easy lunches. A typical lunch at my house may look something like this:
- pre-cooked beans (black, kidney, garbanzo, lentils), peas and apples (Note: My girls LOVE frozen peas! So no cooking required for those!)
- hummus with veggie sticks
- salmon with a veggie or avocado
- cheese and crackers with salmon or avocado (for me…the girls can’t eat dairy) and a fruit
- fruit & yogurt with granola (no yogurt for the girls)
- protein-packed smoothies
Image by Meneer Zjeroen
When the day is running smoothly and I do take a bit more time to plan, these are some of my favorite 10-minute lunches:
- sliced bread pizzas: Top a slice of bread with tomato sauce, shredded cheese and any desired toppings, and broil on high for about 5 minutes. My favorite bread to use is sourdough, but my mom used to make me and my siblings French bread pizzas this way! (And our classmates always wanted to trade for our lunches at school!)
- quesadillas: Fill a whole wheat tortilla with shredded cheese and pre-chopped veggies or meat. Fold in half and cook on heated, oiled skilled for a couple minutes on each side.
- Stacy’s tuna melts: I’m not a tuna girl, so I use salmon for these. Stir together salsa, mayo (I use plain yogurt), salmon, mustard and cheese. Spread mixture on two slices of bread or a tortilla and cook like a grilled cheese. (See Stacy’s blog for full recipe!) Here’s another yummy-looking salmon/tuna melt recipe.
- tomato sandwiches: This probably doesn’t even take 5 minutes to make–and it’s one of my favorites in the summer with fresh tomatoes from our garden!
- tossed salad topped with leftover shredded chicken or canned salmon/tuna: If using the fish, this is the perfect lunch for a breastfeeding mom! And if your veggies are pre-chopped, this lunch should take less than 10 minutes of prep. time.
- apple and peanut butter sandwiches: I also do something similar with rice cakes…quick and easy lunch for those mommies with gluten-free kiddos!
- snack-style lunches: Justyn from Creative Christian Mama gives some great ideas in this post!
- Plan to Eat: I recently started using this online meal planning service–which is also one of my July sponsors! You can sign up for a FREE 30-day trial here!
- List PlanIt: I recently won a membership to this online organizational resource and have been using their pre-made lists to also aid in my meal planning.
- Plan It, Don’t Panic: Stephanie’s book gives you all you need to get your meal planning in order.
- The Breakfast Revolution: Beth’s gorgeous cookbook contains 40 recipes for real food, gluten-free breakfast dishes!
- 20 Minute Meals: Giving Weary Chefs Grace While Keeping Families Healthy: While Leigh Ann’s book only gives dinner recipes (28 meals that only take 20 minutes!), she includes lots of great tips for making any meal of the day less stressful.
What are your quick and easy lunch ideas?