Adventures in Meal Prep: Healthy Lunch Prep for the Week

I’ve been on a diet since I was 12. Twelve was about the age when I started really noticing my weight and trying to watch what I was eating. It wasn’t just me noticing my own weight, though, everyone seemed to notice my weight. I once had my drama teacher (who in every other sense was really lovely) tell the Saturday lunch-runner,

“she won’t be eating today”

referring to my having to wear a spandex jumpsuit in the upcoming musical.

So yeah, not such a healthy relationship with food.

On the bright side, all of this focus really prompted me to learn more about health and nutrition and for what it’s worth, I can tell you how many calories are in just about anything. This odd relationship with food has led me to doing some fun exploration into meal prep in an attempt to have control over what I eat.

Here are some of the lunches I’ve prepped over the years.

Keto, Mediterranian, Millitary, Low-fat, and other Diets

I’ll preface this with saying that I don’t currently do any fad diets. I’ve tried them all (who hasn’t?) but now when a new one comes out, I do my research before diving in like I used to. What I’ve learned is it pretty much all comes down to this: fad diets work because they force you to eat less. Take for example, keto, the hot new trend. If I did keto, I wouldn’t be eating those donuts that my coworker brought in or ordering dessert on my nights out. Keto has the added benefit of also allowing me to indulge in things like bacon which makes the diet easier to stick to.

If it’s working for you then by all means you go girl! Plus I know that sticking to restrictive diets is difficult so I like to mention when I make a meal that follows one. For me though, I have such a sensitive stomach that all fad diets ever did was make me sad and usually in pain.

Making Meals for Multiples

Learn how to make the same meals for both you and your family members with simple alterations. For example I like bento-type lunches with a box full of a variety of small amounts of foods, but my husband isn’t a fan. For his lunches, I’ll give him more of fewer things. For example if I make myself a snack bento with grapes, carrots, celery, melon, and cheese chunks, I’ll make him a lunch with grapes and carrots, another with celery, another with melon, and I’ll put the cheese in a separate bag. Same ingredients, different presentation.

Low Carb Keto Tuna Lunches

Keto, low-calorie, high protein

Low Carb tuna salad on lettuce with apples, cucumber, almonds, and cheese for keto lunch prep.
  • Almonds for protein
  • Cucumber for substance without calories
  • Cheese stick for healthy fats
  • Tuna for healthy fats and protein. I mix mine with just a little but of mayo and some sweet relish.
  • Apples for sugars and some carbs
  • Triscuits for some healthy carbs. I love crackers, but crackers can be as bad for you as cookies! I’ve taken a serious liking to Triscuits due to them being made with whole wheat with good fiber content. If you’re doing keto, nix the Triscuits.

Egg Salad Sandwiches with Heaps of Veggies

Low-calorie, nutrient dense

Egg salad sandwiches with green beans, carrots, grapes, and cucumber for easy lunch prep.
  • Egg salad sandwiches. I know, white bread. I went through a phase where I figured why the heck would I use whole grain or wheat bread if it has more calories?? I’ve since learned – not all calories are created equal.
  • The hearts on the sandwiches indicate which ones are my husband’s – they have more egg salad in them than mine do! He needs the protein.
  • Carrots and grapes are THE BEST MIX especially if you have a vicious sweet tooth like I do. They’re both higher in sugars, but also have lots of good nutrients.
  • Green beans and cucumbers for low calorie crunch

PB&J Roll-ups with Piña Coolata Cottage Cheese and Celery Bagels

Good source of protein, high sugar

Peanut butter and jelly wraps with pina coolata cottage cheese and everything bagel stuffed celery - lunch prep.
I may have gone a little nutty on this one… but all the elements are there!
  • PB&J roll-ups have crunchy peanut butter for crunch! They’re cheap and easy, too. Next time I’ll use wheat wraps.
  • Piña coolata cottage cheese was my invention and I’m very proud of it! It’s just cottage cheese with canned, crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges, chopped mango, and coconut. Next time I’dd add a couple maraschino cherries and most importantly, I’ll put it in its own container! I covered it with saran wrap before putting the lid on, but it wasn’t good enough. Fruit juice leaked everywhere…
  • The celery everything bagels are a great source of low-calorie protein that can satisfy your bagel needs.
Everything bagel and cream cheese stuffed celery sticks.
Keto friendly
  • Plus it’s pretty It’s pretty simple to make: Dry your celery really good (or the cream cheese won’t stick)
  • Fill a quart-sized (preferably freezer) bag with cream cheese
  • Play with the cream cheese in the bag until it warms up a bit
  • Cut off a corner of the bag and pipe it into the celery like frosting
  • sprinkle them with everything bagel mix which you can find in just about any grocery store
  • DON’T chop them into little pieces! …like I did. I thought the bites would be better, but the cream cheese made them much harder to eat.

Spicy BLT Salad

Keto friendly, low-carb

Chicken, bacon, jalapeno, black bean, and tomato spicy salad lunch prep.
  • Lettuce – I like a mix of iceberg (cheap) and butter lettuce (yummy)
  • Black beans – protein without too much flavor
  • Tomatoes
  • Cheese – I used cheddar and some leftover mozzarella in this one
  • Chicken – you can buy precooked chicken from the grocery store, but a huge bag of it still sits in my freezer because I think it tastes weird… this is just chicken I threw in the oven for a bit with some S&P and olive oil on it.
  • Bacon bits – as per my husband, it’s REAL bacon, not the fake stuff.
  • Jalapeños – I know Josh likes spicy so I may have gone a little overboard with these things on this salad… turns out most people don’t want searing mouth pain every day at 11:30am, who knew?

Sweet Spinach, Goat Cheese, and Blueberry Salad

Low-carb, low-fat

Arugula, spinach, blueberry, goat cheese, chicken, and craisin salad lunch prep.
  • Spinach and arugula – Spinach I use for the health benefits, but the arugula has such a strong flavor that I only use it when I want that flavor, which is usually in sweet salads.
  • Chicken – protein of course.
  • Craisins – I adore these things! They make everything sweeter! Plus if you eat them in the same bite as some chicken, they’re like cranberry sauce.
  • Blueberries – it was blueberry season so they were really cheap!
  • Glazed pecans – any glazed nut is heavenly on a sweet salad.
  • Goat cheese – protein and flavor.

I have many more meal preps that I’ve made that I’ll keep adding in here, so don’t forget to check back!