I have great respect for Sunday preppers — people who divide big batches of vegetables, protein, and grains into perfect lunchtime portions a week at a time. But as much as I love the idea of using one day to take care of multiple meals, my commitment-phobic heart says "nah."
Instead, I lean on two to three make-ahead dishes a week. It's still prepping, but bite-sized, night-before endeavors. In addition to picking sturdy meals that will last a day or two (or three), just enough time for me to not get bored of them, I keep recipes simple — under an hour — so my work-weary brain won't balk.
Here, I've gathered nine of my favorites that'll have all your coworkers (even those Sunday preppers) eyeing your plate.
Hearty lentils bulk up this broccoli-carrot slaw. I cut the recipe in half and still had enough to make a week of meals.
Give your traditional egg salad a kick of warming spices and the bite of pickled red onion. Then, to make the dish really come alive, add a sprinkle of cilantro. Bring the egg salad and bread to work separately, then assemble them together before you're ready to eat.
Freekeh is a whole grain that I love with my whole heart — it cooks in just 30 minutes and keeps a great bite (no mush!). This fresh fennel and mint combination is the perfect base for grilled chicken or fish; you could also top it with avocado or even an apple for a creamy or crisp contrast.
Salad smartypants EmilyC just shared a pasta salad even the mayo-haters will love. She starts with a peperonata — the combination of sweet peppers, onions, and tomatoes — and then adds creamy mozzarella, slivered almonds, and tons of basil to freshly boiled pasta. Buonissimo!
When you're facing a hot, hazy, humid summer night, call on this 10-minute chickpea salad. Your future self will thank you. (Maybe just keep a loaf of bread at your desk all week ...)
Squish this aromatic chicken salad between two slices of bread for a hearty lunch. Want more of a crunch? Toss in some diced cucumbers.
A vegan pesto that's a love letter to peas. But don't worry about it feeling flat. "The lemon brightens the pesto, the soba adds an earthiness, and the balsamic vinegar and kale bring a depth to the dish," wrote recipe tester Elizabeth.
Only you will know that this salad comes together in just a few twists of the can opener. Play around with the herbs and spices if you like. Add a hardboiled egg or two to luxe it up even more.
A Food52 favorite from the early days. Amanda Hesser used to inhale this smoky salad during Tuesday photo shoots in her apartment. Now, it's your turn.
This story was originally published on Food52.com: 9 make-ahead lunches that'll be the envy of the office.