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 began 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!

Greek Chicken & Cucumber Salad Rice Bowls

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

Greek Chicken & Cucumber Salad Rice Bowls

Ingredients

Marinated Greek Chicken:

2 chicken breasts

5 tablespoons olive oil of choice

1 Lemon, juice and zest

3 garlic cloves (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:

2 small (or 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 and drained well

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 of dried mint (optional – I use a very light amount!)

salt, to taste

ground black pepper, to taste

To Serve:

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

Directions

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!)

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!

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!)

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

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

Cut cherry tomatoes in half.

Slice the onions.

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.

 

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

Strawberry Poppy Pasta Salad

Ingredients

Poppy Dressing:

2/3 cup Greek yogurt

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil of choice (I use light tasting)

1/4 cup honey

1/2 TSP salt

1 TSP dijon mustard (I used regular mustard I had on hand!)

1 TBSP poppy seeds (optional)

Pasta Salad:

2 chicken breasts, light seasoning to taste

1 lb dry pasta (I used bow-tie)

5 cups chopped romaine lettuce

1 lb strawberries

3/4 cup feta cheese

3/4 cup almonds (I used whole but I would recommend sliced)

Directions

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

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

Mix your Poppy Dressing.

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

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

 

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! 

Tortellini Pasta Salad

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

Directions

Cook your tortellini according to the package. Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl, stir as it cools to avoid sticky tortellini.

Chop your meats, tomatoes, and peppers. Mix it in with the cooled tortellini.

Whisk dressing ingredients together, pour over salad. Mix well.

Divide into containers, and store in the fridge 3-4 days.

 

Avocado Lime Chicken Burrito Bowls

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

Avocado Lime Chicken Burrito Bowls

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

Directions

Marinate your chicken for at least 30 minutes in the dressing, covered in the fridge.

Cook your chicken – I grilled it on medium heat, but you can bake it (or put it in the slow cooker, seriously so easy!)

Cook your rice (I use a rice cooker).

Chop your peppers, onion, and cilantro. Cut your lime into wedges.

Wash and drain black beans

Assemble bowls with rice, beans, chicken, vegetables, and optional cheese. Cover and keep refrigerated for 3-5 days.

Serve with pico, salsa, or guacamole and tortillas. To be eaten cold as a bowl or made into a burrito!

 

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! 

Grilled Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

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

Directions

Marinate your chicken with Italian dressing covered, in the fridge, for at least 20 minutes.

Cook your chicken: I grilled mine on medium heat, but you can bake it or cook it in the slow cooker!

Cook your pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside, mixing occasionally to avoid sticky pasta.

Chop your tomatoes in half.

Mix pesto, pasta, and chicken in a large bowl. Stir well.

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! Sign up to join the tribe to stay in touch and receive special previews + fresh inspiration straight to your inbox!

with love,

Emily Myrick

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