How to Make 5 Healthy Lunches in 50 Minutes

By June 25, 2018Nutrition
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Often when I start with a new client (I teach cooking), they tell me they want to make dinner faster. But once we start exploring their entire day, it turns out the availability of healthy lunches is the bigger problem.

With dinner, most people at least have some semblance of a cooking routine. But with lunch, it’s typically a given that people are eating out. And what happens when we eat out? We buy what’s available and what looks good at the time.

It’s the rare person who goes to the salad bar, gets only salad, and washes it down with a glass of water. More often, we buy one thing that is healthy to feel good about ourselves — and then we surround that thing with juice, chips, and cookies because we are being “so good” about our main dish.

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Contrast that with the people who pack their own healthy lunches. These folks don’t walk into a deli when their appetites are at their strongest. Instead, they unwrap their meal, pour a glass of water, eat, drink, and move on.

But you know what? You can be that person.

It will only take you fifty minutes once a week to make a flight of healthy lunches that will be the envy of the break-room. (Plus, we’re going to make a flavorful variety so you won’t get tired of eating the same thing every day).

Below you’ll find a video, shopping list, and step-by-step instructions for creating a workweek’s full of healthy lunches in under an hour. Give this process a try this week and let me know how it goes.

Your Healthy Lunches Shopping List

Produce (2 handfuls of each of the following):

  • Tomato
  • Broccoli
  • Mushroom
  • Zucchini
  • Bell peppers

Meats:

  • 5 palm-size pieces of chicken breast (or 5 different types of meat)

Grains (optional):

  • 1/2 cup brown rice

Seasonings:

  • Onions (2 medium-sized, minced)
  • Garlic (pre-peeled ideally)
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Curry
  • Rosemary
  • Ginger
  • Butter
  • Coconut milk
  • Dijon mustard
  • Red wine
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sesame oil
  • Tamari or coconut aminos
  • Chinese chili sauce

Step 1: Prep the Ingredients for Your Healthy Lunches

Time: 10 minutes

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut the produce into bite-size pieces and separate equally into two bowls:
    1. Tomato
    2. Broccoli
    3. Mushroom
    4. Zucchini
    5. Bell Peppers
  3. Dice onions
  4. Dice jalapeno
  5. Mince garlic
  6. Wedge lemon and lime
  7. Portion out five equal pieces of chicken breast
  8. Slice three portions of chicken into strips
  9. Place chicken portions in five separate bowls
  10. Clean and put away your knife and cutting boards

Step 2: Season the Ingredients for Your Healthy Lunches

Time: 10 minutes

Italian:

Lay out three bowls:

  1. Chicken breast
  2. Zucchini
  3. Tomato

Spread the following seasonings over the three bowls, roughly equally:

  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Pepper 2 tsp
  • Onion 1/4 cup
  • Garlic 2 Tbsp
  • Olive oil 2 Tbsp
  • Oregano 1 Tbsp
  • Basil 1 Tbsp
  • Red pepper 1 tsp
  • Red wine 1/4 cup

French:

Lay out three bowls:

  1. Chicken breast
  2. Zucchini
  3. Mushroom

Spread the following seasonings over the three bowls, roughly equally:

  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Pepper 2 tsp
  • Onion 1/4 cup
  • Garlic 2 Tbsp
  • Butter 2 Tbsp
  • Rosemary 1 Tbsp
  • Dijon mustard 4 Tbsp

Indian:

Lay out three bowls:

  1. Sliced chicken breast strips
  2. Broccoli
  3. Tomato

Spread the following seasonings over the three bowls, roughly equally:

  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Pepper 2 tsp
  • Onion 1/4 cup
  • Garlic 2 Tbsp
  • Coconut milk 1/2 cup
  • Curry 4 Tbsp
  • Basil 1 Tbsp
  • Mint 1 Tbsp

Mexican:

Lay out three bowls:

  1. Chicken breast
  2. Bell pepper
  3. Mushroom

Spread the following seasonings over the three bowls, roughly equally:

  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Pepper 2 tsp
  • Onion 1/4 cup
  • Garlic 2 Tbsp
  • Olive oil 2 Tbsp
  • Cumin 1 Tbsp
  • Oregano 1 Tbsp
  • Jalapeno 1 Tbsp

Chinese:

Lay out three bowls:

  1. Chicken breast
  2. Broccoli
  3. Bell pepper

Spread the following seasonings over the three bowls, roughly equally:

  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Pepper 2 tsp
  • Onion 1/4 cup
  • Garlic 2 Tbsp
  • Ginger 1 Tbsp
  • Sesame oil 2 Tbsp
  • Sesame seed 2 Tbsp
  • Soy sauce or coconut aminos 3 Tbsp
  • Chili sauce 3 tsp
  • Lemon

Now, put away your seasonings and wipe down your counters.

Step 3: Cook Your Healthy Lunches

Time: 25 minutes

  1. Add contents of three Italian bowls to one baking dish.
  2. Add contents of three French bowls to another baking dish.
  3. Place both dishes into 400-degree oven and set timer for 20 minutes.
  4. Cook rice (optional).
  5. Put into pot 1/2 cup rice and 1.5 cups water.
  6. Bring to boil.
  7. Reduce to simmer.
  8. Leave simmering uncovered until liquids are gone.
  9. Set three frying pans on the stove-top (around the cooking rice).
  10. Set each pan to medium high heat.
  11. Pour veggies from Mexican bowls into one pan.
  12. Pour veggies from Chinese bowls into second pan.
  13. Pour veggies from Indian dishes into third pan.
  14. Stir veggies until they start to soften.
  15. Clean your empty bowls while the veggies cook.
  16. Pour Mexican chicken slices into Mexican pan.
  17. Pour Chinese chicken slices into Chinese pan.
  18. Pour Indian chicken slices into Indian pan.
  19. Stir dishes until chicken is cooked in each one.
  20. Clean your remaining empty bowls while the chicken cooks.
  21. When 20-minute timer goes off pull dishes from oven and check that chicken is cooked all the way through. If not, put back into oven for 5 minutes and check again.
  22. Clean your pans as you finish using them.
  23. Go directly into your storage containers as you finish cooking each dish.

Boom. Now you have a flight of five truly different, healthy lunches to make your workweek nutritious, happy, and yum. And, perhaps best of all, your kitchen looks like nothing happened.

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Casey Moulton
Casey Moulton is the founder of Kitchen Karate, an online cooking course that has enabled thousands of busy people to turn home cooking into a lifestyle once and for all. Living in Los Angeles, Casey is a working professional, husband, and father of two, who works on Kitchen Karate in his spare time. As a time-strapped parent, his cooking and meal-prep techniques emphasize speed and organization.

If you interested in making healthy, delicious, home-cooked meals in a practical and consistent way, Casey is offering a free five-day email course called Jumpstart Your Healthy No-Recipe Meal Prep Practice.

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