All throughout January we’re bringing you 30 Days, 30 Ways to Good Health, a series of easy strategies for overall wellness (and because we love food, it’s focuses on the foods and cooking techniques to add into your life instead of what to take away.) Read on for our latest eat well strategy: resist takeout.
We’ve all been there: between long hours at work, commuting and family commitments, it can be a challenge to make the time to prepare lunch in the morning. But if you just spend a few hours on a the weekend prepping for the week ahead, you’ll find that you can throw together a healthy, delicious lunch in minutes. Here are some of our favorite lunch ideas; most of them can be made-ahead, and the others can be easily assembled in minutes.
|Curried Chicken Salad
The addition of spices such as cayenne pepper and turmeric bring an Asian flavor to this chicken salad. For a spicier curry, add a little more cayenne. The salad can be served as is or used as a filling for halved avocados.
|Lentil Salad with Feta
Lentils absorb seasonings well and can be transformed into a variety of distinctive dishes. After making the cooked lentils for this salad, you can use the leftovers in a pasta and lentil soup or a spicy curry.
|Quinoa Salad with Dried Cherries and Pistachios
Grain salads like this one will last for several days in the refrigerator and will take on even more flavor as they sit. You can make the salad on a Sunday and pack it for lunch any day of the week.
|Bulgur Salad with Roasted Peppers, Chickpeas and Pistachios
Pomegranate molasses, a Middle Eastern specialty, has hints of fruitiness and a concentrated sweet-sour taste. Here, its intensity combines with lemon juice and olive oil to create a dressing with full-ranging flavor. If you have a choice of bulgur styles, choose a medium grind to stand up to the hearty beans, nuts and dried fruits.
|Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Pecans and Green Onions
This colorful roasted root vegetable salad is delicious alongside roasted meats and poultry. Sweet potatoes are high in nutrients and vitamins and they keep well, so they’re great to have on hand for healthy meals.
|Tuna and White Bean Salad
The toasted bread crumbs can be sprinkled on vegetables, pasta, pizza and egg dishes such as a frittata, as well as other salads, to add crisp texture and garlicky flavor. Store the crumbs in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or in the freezer for a few months.
|Farro Salad with Turkey and Roasted Squash
In this clever twist on classic spaghetti, long strands of zucchini, made with our spiralizer, stand in for the pasta. It’s a delicious way to cut back on fat and up your intake of fresh vegetables.
|Beet and Watercress Salad with Farm Eggs
Assertively peppery watercress is a good foil to the sweet, earthy flavor of beets in this salad. For the best taste and vibrant yolk color, seek out eggs from a local egg farm.
|Roasted Squash Salad with Curry Vinaigrette
Curry powder is known to aid digestion and boost metabolism. It adds great warmth and spice to this vinaigrette, which also makes a delicious marinade for meat and fish. Candied walnuts, tender cubed acorn squash and juicy pears are combined to create a healthy and seasonal fall salad.
|Pasta with Beans and Escarole
If you are unable to find escarole, you can substitute another bitter green such as mustard greens or chicory (also known as curly endive). Core and roughly chop either vegetable before cooking.
|Foccacia with Havarti, Arugula and Eggplant Spread
For a variation, substitute pesto for the eggplant spread and smoked fontina or pepper jack for the Havarti. This recipe also works well when grilled in a panini-style sandwich press.
|Black Quinoa Salad with Lemon, Avocado and Pistachios
Regular beige quinoa can certainly be used here, but it tends to look rather drab, so we love using black quinoa, or red if you want even more drama. Red quinoa takes a little longer than the beige but not as long as the black; you just have to taste it as you go.
|Orzo, Delicata Squash and Chicken Soup with Sage
You can save time making this colorful and plentiful soup by using leftover rotisserie or roasted chicken. You can also substitute a different type of squash, or sweet potatoes. Make it meatless by omitting the chicken, substituting vegetable broth and serving with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
|Lentil Soup with Pasta
The flavor of this soup just gets better the longer it sits. Unlike other dried legumes, lentils need no presoaking, so think of this recipe when you want homemade soup but are short on time.
|Tarragon Chicken and Avocado Wrap
Sandwiches and wraps are ideal for using up leftovers. Experiment with different combinations, such as sliced leftover steak, horseradish mayonnaise and sliced ripe tomatoes.