Hereby the grace of an unforgiving bank account or one too many cans of tuna and sachets of rice, prepare to have your head turned by meal prep.
Meal prep – as regimental as it sounds – is more flexible than you think, freeing up your lunch breaks to focus on what really counts: recharging for a productive afternoon ahead or getting deep in Miss FQ articles on your phone.
Much like regular cooking, there are no hard and fast rules on what you can and can’t substitute. If you’re over rice, consider noodles, pasta, grated cauliflower or zucchini. If you’re not a fan of chicken mince, try turkey, pork or lentils. Avoiding dairy? Don’t top it with cheese. It’s a simple equation that needn’t be overthought. And never underestimate the power of flavour to diversify your dishes. Spices, sauces and dressings are your new best friend.
Scroll for budget-friendly recipes that will get you excited about meal prepping your work lunches:
One Pan Teriyaki Chicken and Vegetables
Ease yourself into meal prep(ing) with this one-sheet-wonder. Just imagine some roasted cashew nuts thrown in for a hit of healthy fats or a sprinkling of sesame seeds for flavour! Y.U.M. | Discover the recipe here.
Steak Cobb Salad
No doubt you’ve seen this one doing the rounds on Pinterest (and for good reason!). It’s simple, fresh, filling – thanks to the protein, nutrients and greens – and keeps really well over the week.
TIP: If you tend to get bored or uninspired easily. Hold the dressing during your meal prepping stage and instead choose a different dressing on the day as you blat out the door.
Sesame Shrimp With Asian Greens Rice Bowls
This sesame shrimp stir fry with Swiss chard (aka silverbeet), edamame, and spinach, and served over brown rice = a quick, easy, and healthy recipe you can make in bulk and spread out over the course of your working week. | Discover the recipe here.
TIP: You can find shrimp (or prawns) and edamame beans in the frozen sections at your supermarket. Plus, cooking brown rice can sometimes be a mission. If this sounds familiar why not opt for the instant rice sachets? We’ll be making a beeline for the Pam’s brown rice & quinoa option.
Honey Sriracha Glazed Meatballs
Using turkey mince (which you can totally switch out for pork or chicken) and all of the flavour of your favourite sweet ‘n’ sour dishes, these meatballs are an easy option (don’t be fooled, we know they look hard – but they’re not) for making lunches or dinners ahead of time. | Discover the recipe here.
TIP: If you’re over rice, why not try zucchini noodles or grated cauliflower? Additionally, if you’re sensitive to spicy hot foods, consider adding some pineapple chunks to neutralise the kick.
Vegetarian + Gluten-Free Rich Lentil Bolognese
Yeah, baby. One of your most delicious comfort foods made nutrient-dense. How could one resist? We’re talking caramelised onions carrots, and capsicums making for one rich tomato-based pasta sauce. | Discover the recipe here.
TIP: If you’re not gluten-free simply switch out the said pasta for regular pasta. And if you are gluten-free but w/o the aforementioned ‘chickapea‘ pasta, any other gluten-free pasta substitute will do just fine.
Vegan Burrito Bowls
We mean, hello? How good do these look? Perfect for vegetarians or anyone looking to cut back on how much meat they consume. | Discover the recipe here.
Pasta with Crushed Pea and Basil Pesto
Creamy pesto versed with satiating pasta. Prepare to be the most envied person in the lunchroom this week with this as-good-as-it-looks dish you can meal prep in under 20 minutes. | Discover the recipe here.
TIP: If you’re looking to add more protein, a boiled egg or some sliced salami wouldn’t go amiss! While homemade pesto is the hero here, you could alternatively use store-bought pesto and toss through whole cooked peas instead if you’re short on time and/or care factor.