The COVID-19 pandemic has launched us into a new reality. It involves working in makeshift home offices, educating children attending virtual school, and, in a lot of cases, doing both. Certainly, we are spending a lot more time in our homes. That includes preparing and eating most of our meals. In addition to dinner and figuring out breakfast for our kids, we now also need ideas for lunch to please everyone. It’s a lot.
It can be incredibly overwhelming to figure out things to make at home for every meal every day. Not to mention everything else we must do. Fortunately, with an eye focused on simplicity, we don’t have to compromise on providing healthy meals for our families even through these difficult and crazy times.
Prep and Organize in Advance
Some of these ideas for lunch or breakfast might be easiest to do on a weekend when you have more time.
- Bulk prepare various meal components (i.e. protein, grains/starch, vegetables, or fruit) in advance. For instance, we like to cook a big batch of quinoa on Sunday and then use it for a base throughout the week to top with roasted veggies or leftover protein from dinner. You could do the same with rice or farro.
- When you are planning chicken or salmon for dinner, buy extra and cook an extra batch for lunches. You could use the extra chicken to make a quick batch of chicken salad, or top some greens with the extra salmon for a filling lunch.
- Hard boil a dozen eggs to add to sandwiches, use in salads, or slice up for breakfast. They are also an excellent protein source for snacks.
- Roast vegetables in advance or while you are cooking dinner (such as broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, or butternut squash) on a big sheet tray. Refrigerate and then add to pasta, cooked rice or quinoa, or even to scrambled eggs for breakfast.
- Wash and cut fruit 3 days in advance for easy snacking or breakfasts for kids. Place in easy to see containers in the fridge so it is front and center when your family opens the fridge looking for a snack. Fresh fruit is also excellent to throw in smoothies or top yogurt for breakfast.
Don’t cook: assemble the things you make at home
- When it comes to breakfast and lunch, few of us are in the mood for breaking out a sauté pan or turning on the oven. If you have done a few of the prep in advance steps listed above, lunch can be a simple assembly process. Simply assemble lunches on a plate from your prepped in advance ingredients (or show your kids how to do so if they are old enough) For instance, if you make up a batch of rice, quinoa, chicken or salmon, and some roasted veggies, you can quickly put together a healthy lunch by just assembling the ingredients on a plate.
- Smoothies also make great breakfast for kids and all you have to do is blend.
Re-heat the right way
- Eating leftovers is an obvious route for solving the “what’s for lunch” question, but for many people it lacks appeal due to loss in original texture. Often, that has to do with the re-heating technique:
- If something requires a crispy texture, like roasted potatoes, place them on a sheet tray and underneath the broiler.
- For reheating rice, quinoa and pasta, use the microwave, but be sure to cover with a damp paper towel to keep it from drying out while it heats up.
Need more ideas for lunch? Use the search box on your menu using key words
For those of you that are Dinner Daily members:
- Our “dinner” recipes are designed to be healthy, delicious, and quick to prepare and are also great for lunch. On your menu page, use the pencil icon to search for the following key words: “lunch, soup, salad, sandwich”.
- You can even search by ingredients, so if you have leftover produce you need to use up (like broccoli, asparagus, or bell peppers), then you can find recipes in our database that feature them. You can even enter groups of ingredients, such as “chicken, broccoli, and onion” and you will be shown a list of recipes that use those three ingredients. Click on the recipe to place it in your menu and the corresponding ingredients on your shopping list.
If you need some other ideas on how to make meal planning easy, check out these other articles below: