Homemaking

5 Easy Meal Preps for Cold Lunches

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit . . . but during my engagement, one main concern kept circulating in my mind: what in the world am I going to pack for my husband’s lunch?!

I would search Pinterest for a few moments before closing the app in frustration. Out of the hundreds of ideas I searched for, I found little inspiration for cold lunches that would please my bored-of-sandwiches sweetheart.

A couple of weeks after our wedding I had begun to adjust to this new shared life, and I experienced the honor of pinning my husband’s badge on his Police Officer uniform.

PANIC.

It was time. I couldn’t sit around waiting for my recipe app to load itself. Silas was headed to the streets where a microwave to heat his lunch wasn’t a guarantee. A few lucky finds and one Instagram call-out later, I gathered 5 Easy Meal Preps for Cold Lunches.

The best part? They each passed the test and all are husband (and wife!) approved!

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Greek Chicken & Cucumber Salad Rice Bowls

Tangy and full of veggies, protein, and carbs! Spice up your boring lunch with this amazing Greek Bowl!
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

Marinated Greek Chicken:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 5 tbsp olive oil of choice
  • 1 lemon juice and zest
  • 3 cloves garlic (I use minced garlic from a jar – major time saver!)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste

Cucumber Salad:

  • 1 large English cucumber diced
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil of choice
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 lemon juice and zest

Tzatziki Sauce:

  • 1 English Cucumber grated
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 lemon juice and zest
  • 2 tbsp dill (I used dried, you can use fresh!)
  • sprinkle dried mint (optional – I use a very light amount!)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1-2 lbs cherry tomatoes halved
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice (I cook jasmine rice with the spices used above – rosemary, oregano, dill, a little lemon juice, a little olive oil – my husband hates “boring rice”)
  • 1/2 red onion sliced

Instructions

  1. Marinate your chicken: Mix all of the ingredients and place them + the chicken in a plastic zip bag. Marinate at least 20 minutes in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. (I like to spend a day preparing many chicken marinades and freezing them for later. I took this chicken out of the freezer and thawed overnight in the fridge!)

  2. Cook your chicken: I cooked this chicken in the slow cooker on high for 4 hours. You could also bake, grill, or brown over the stove!

  3. Cook your rice: I use a handy rice cooker to save me time (it turns out perfectly every time, no more crunchy or soggy rice!)

  4. Make your cucumber salad: Dice your cucumbers, toss together with the rest of the ingredients, set aside.

  5. Make your Tzatziki sauce: Mix all ingredients, set aside.

  6. Cut cherry tomatoes in half.

  7. Slice the onions.

  8. Assemble your bowls: Divide rice, chicken, tomatoes, cucumber salad, onions, and Tzatziki sauce among your containers (amount will vary based on how big your appetite is – I got about 5 servings!). Keep refrigerated for 3-4 days. Serve cold. Pack with a sweet love note.
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Strawberry Poppy Pasta Salad

A healthy pasta salad with veggies, fruit, and protein? Pack this for lunch OR make a big batch for when the girls come over! Recipe inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction. 
Servings 5 servings

Ingredients

Poppy Dressing:

  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil of choice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard (I used regular mustard I had on hand!)
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds optional

Pasta Salad:

  • 2 chicken breasts seasoned to taste
  • 1 lbs dry pasta (I used bow-tie!)
  • 5 cups romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1 lbs strawberries sliced
  • 3/4 cups feta cheese
  • 3/4 cups almonds (sliced or slivered is recommended)

Instructions

  1. Cook your chicken: I baked my chicken, but you could grill it (or use the handy slow cooker! High – 4 hours)

  2. Cook your pasta: according to package directions. Drain and cool – set aside. Mix while cooling to avoid sticky bows!

  3. Mix your Poppy Dressing.

  4. Stir chicken and remaining pasta salad ingredients together with the pasta. Toss with dressing.

  5. Divide into containers, cover and store in fridge for 4-5 days.
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Tortellini Pasta Salad

3 Meat Tortellini that looks so good you’ll fool anyone into thinking you worked your life away in the kitchen for this bright dish! 
Servings 5 servings

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 1 lb tortellini (I used ricotta + spinach you can use whichever kind you like!
  • 10 oz cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 2/3 cup banana peppers chopped (I used sweet peppers we had on hand)
  • 1/4 lb capicola ham chopped (I used smoked ham from the deli)
  • 1/4 lb pepperoni chopped
  • 1/3 lb hard salami chopped
  • Italian spices to taste Basil, Parsley, Oregano, Thyme

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil of choice
  • 2 TBSP white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves pressed
  • 1/4 TSP crushed red pepper
  • 2 TSP Italian spices
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook your tortellini according to the package. Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl, stir as it cools to avoid sticky tortellini.
  2. Chop your meats, tomatoes, and peppers. Mix it in with the cooled tortellini.
  3. Whisk dressing ingredients together, pour over salad. Mix well.
  4. Divide into containers, and store in the fridge 3-4 days.
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Avocado Lime Chicken Burrito Bowls

Serve as a bowl or with tortillas for a quick lunch that doesn’t require a microwave! 
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • Avocado Lime Yogurt Dressing I like Bolthouse Farms!
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 bell peppers green, yellow, red, or orange, sliced
  • spicy or sweet peppers if desired, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow onion sliced
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 can black beans
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • fresh chopped cilantro to taste
  • grated cheese optional

Instructions

  1. Marinate your chicken for at least 30 minutes in the dressing, covered in the fridge.
  2. Cook your chicken – I grilled it on medium heat, but you can bake it (or put it in the slow cooker, seriously so easy!)
  3. Cook your rice (I use a rice cooker).
  4. Chop your peppers, onion, and cilantro. Cut your lime into wedges.
  5. Wash and drain black beans
  6. Assemble bowls with rice, beans, chicken, vegetables, and optional cheese. Cover and keep refrigerated for 3-5 days.
  7. Serve with pico, salsa, or guacamole and tortillas. To be eaten cold as a bowl or made into a burrito!
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Grilled Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

 This super easy pasta salad will satisfy your husband’s hearty appetite AND can even be heated up for tonight’s dinner! 
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Italian dressing
  • 1 lb dry bow-tie pasta
  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil cut into thin strips (optional)
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Italian spices to taste
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Marinate your chicken with Italian dressing covered, in the fridge, for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Cook your chicken: I grilled mine on medium heat, but you can bake it or cook it in the slow cooker!
  3. Cook your pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside, mixing occasionally to avoid sticky pasta.
  4. Chop your tomatoes in half.
  5. Mix pesto, pasta, and chicken in a large bowl. Stir well.
  6. Divide into containers, top with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella (mix when served). Store in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Have more husband-approved recipes?

Does your husband need cold lunch recipes, too? Let me know how he liked these recipes, or share his favorite in the comments below – I just might try it for Silas!

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