As busy as we all seem to be constantly, sometimes preparing meals ahead of time doesn’t just save money – it saves loads of time too. When you work outside the home, it’s easy to just swing through a drive thru or order something straight to the office, but the cost can add up. Utitlizing Make Ahead Lunch Ideas is smarter and more cost effective.
The only thing you really need to prepare your meals ahead of time, are good containers. You need containers that can stack easily, can freeze and are microwave safe. Dishwasher safe is a plus too. Want all three? Check out these awesome Mealtainer Meal Prep Containers. They make using your make ahead lunch ideas a breeze.
These meal prep containers are made from food grade polypropylene plastic material, making them BPA-free! They do well in your freezer, microwave OR your dishwasher, making them some of the greatest! They are stackable which is really important when you have limited space. One package contains 10 containers for two work weeks of lunches. They are great for kids too. Plus they are portion controlled – each container has a 32 oz. total capacity: Two 8 oz. compartments and one 16 oz. compartment. They also send you a free e-book of recipes that has some fabulous Make Ahead Lunch Ideas which is pretty cool! I love mine and I suspect you will love yours too!
So lets talk about Make Ahead Lunch Ideas and what can go inside these wonderful containers.
Leftovers – I tend to first use up leftovers from dinners. Instead of putting them in other containers, I fill up 2-3 of these with leftover meals, veggies, sides.
Veggies & Fruits – I purchase bulk fruits and veggies from our local farmer’s market or local grocery store and slice up enough to make it through the week. I only do one week at a time so the veggies and fruits stay fresh – anything longer and often they are a mess or going bad by the last week. If washing the fruits or vegetables, be sure they are completely dry before placing them in the containers for a longer shelf life. It also only takes about 2 minutes to slice an apple up in the morning to throw into one of the containers compartments so you don’t have to ahead of time if you don’t want to.
Meat 3-Ways – Recently I have begun using a technique I used when freezer cooking way back when. I purchase chicken breasts in bulk, bring them home and slice them and dice them until they are what I want. I then take three pieces of tin foil and fold them into “trays” and place all three side by side on one large baking sheet. Layer a portion of the chicken into each of the three dividers. I then choose three different flavors or styles of chicken I am going for. One might be BBQ, one might be Lemon Pepper and one might be Teriyaki. Essentially season your meat, add marinades or sauces to the individual divider of chicken. You can then pop the whole entire baking sheet into the oven at once and you will have three separate types of chicken at the end. I sometimes will do this ahead of time, as in choose 3-4 different types of meat: chicken, pork, steak, hamburger meat, shrimp, etc. and prepare it three ways. Takes a couple of hours but the meats can be frozen after they cool and used later. This allows you to prepare a month of lunches ahead of time. If you have the freezer space, simply purchase extra meal containers or else store individual portions in freezer safe baggies. Dump the contents of the baggies into your lunch containers the day you are doing your weekly meal prep. (or bi-weekly with the set I recommended above).
Pasta & Rice – Pasta and Rice can also be made ahead of time and layered beneath the meat in your food prep containers.