It’s not the easiest to make lunch before work every day. And let’s face it—when you do, chances are it’s either a half-assed PB&J or an odd assortment of snacks that will leave you feeling pretty weird at around 2 p.m. But you don’t have to live like this. Yes, it might take a little bit of meal-prepping, but nope, it won’t be as painful as you think.
These super-simple five-ingredient meal-prep lunch ideas definitely won’t require you to spend hours at the grocery store prepping for meal prep. In just half an hour, you can knock out your weekday lunches in one fell swoop.
1. 5-Ingredient Chicken Tikka Masala
You’ll have to commit to making a homemade masala paste, but we assure you, it’s worth it. Once you’ve got your spices in order, marinate chicken with coconut milk, tomato purée, and yogurt. Top with a generous amount of cilantro, and when you’re ready to head to work, throw it together with cooked rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice.
2. 5-Ingredient Vegetable Frittata
Why not extend Sunday brunch into the rest of the week? Throw together your eggs, veggies, and cheese; toss in the oven; and slice it up. Pack whatever you don’t eat with a tomato and basil salad or chopped fresh fruit to re-create brunch in the office (minus the mimosas… )
3. Sheet-Pan Shrimp With Cherry Tomatoes and Asparagus
This may come as a surprise to some of you, but it doesn’t take much to throw together a nutritious lunch. The proof is in this recipe that keeps it simple by combining fresh shrimp, tart cherry tomatoes, and asparagus drizzled with just a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s also a great option if you’re following a specific diet plan since it’s low-carb, gluten-free, and Paleo-friendly.
4. 5-Ingredient Healthy Pasta
This recipe finds the perfect balance of delicious and healthy, featuring whole-wheat penne, turkey sausage, and Swiss chard. Keep it simple while prepping, but customize each lunch with pesto, cherry tomatoes, and, if you’re feeling cheesy, some Parmesan. If the pasta gets a little dry by day four, feel free to add a little olive oil or more pesto to bring life back to it.
5. 5-Ingredient Easy Posole
Loaded with protein, flavor, and warmth, this comforting posole (a stewy Mexican soup) is the next best thing to a mom-packed lunch. Each spoonful is all about the black beans, but if you’re so hungry you could eat a cow, toss in a little ground beef. Made with fire-roasted tomatoes and a generous amount of garlic, this hearty classic will be a fast winter favorite.
6. Foil Pack Garlic Butter Sausage and Veggies
There are many ways to cook a sausage. Toss it in the oven, throw it in a pan, or fire up the grill. With roasted red potato, sweet corn on the cob, and green beans, this is a lunch best enjoyed outdoors… probably by the grill… and maybe near a pool. But we know life isn’t always a beach, so go ahead and take it into the office too.
7. Baked Egg and Roasted Veggie Casserole
This is a great last-minute meal to throw together when you want to clean out the fridge. Not only does this recipe require only a few ingredients—many of which, like eggs, onions, and broccoli, might already be in your possession—but it also benefits from whatever it is you’re trying to finish up. Dealing with week-old kale? Or maybe leftover rice and beans? Toss it on in; the casserole is here for you.
8. 5-Ingredient Black Bean Quinoa Burgers
Here’s a secret about veggie burgers: If you can make one, you can make many. And that’s great news for these spicy black bean quinoa burgers. They’re the bomb on a bun with avocado, tomato, and onion, but you can also keep things interesting by tossing them into a wrap with hummus and arugula or into a summer salad. These options will prevent the “I’m so over this lunch” feeling that hits on Thursdays.
9. Cauliflower Fritters
When it comes to meal-prepping, cauliflower fritters are, quite literally, the gift that keeps on giving. One batch yields 16—and, to keep things interesting, you can serve them up in a variety of ways. Chop them up and toss into a salad, stick ’em in an English muffin with roasted veggies and tahini, or serve one up on toasted naan with mango chutney.