Between my tween, my teen and myself, we go through a lot of food. When you add in the fact that the tween is a dancer who sometimes has full days of rehearsals and performances and the teen is a runner who logs 4 to 6 miles most days, you can get an idea of how much fuel my kids need.
Lots of activity means needing lots of food.
So whenever I can, I try to make things easier — batch cooking on weekends, for instance, or freezing portions of meals for easy defrosting.
When it comes to lunches, we all like to pack ours, and we all like variety. That’s how I came up with this method of lunch meal planning. I make three easy recipes and transform them into five distinct lunches. Best of all, the five lunches are cooked and assembled in less than an hour. So if you can find an hour on the weekend, you can make these.
If you are feeding just yourself, this is lunch for a week. If you, like me, are feeding a few people, this gives you five meals to share over a few days.
Each of the recipes in this column — Garlic Herb Marinated Chicken, Roasted Broccoli with Garlic, and Sauteed Carrots and Shallots — are good on their own. You could make these three recipes together and have one nice meal.
But mixing them up in different ways transforms these dishes into unique lunches perfect for busy folks who are tired of spending too much on takeout for lunch.
How to use this meal plan
Start by making your shopping list. You’ll need a pound of chicken breasts, a nice round head of fresh broccoli, some carrots and shallots, as well as a cup of quinoa and some pantry ingredients you may already have — namely garlic, white wine vinegar, dried thyme and rosemary and olive oil, as well as salt and pepper. You’ll also need a few extras for the lunches like lettuce, a cucumber, barbecue sauce, a small head of endive, a bit of shredded cheddar, chicken broth, roasted red peppers and a couple of Kalamata olives.
This is all very flexible though. If you don’t like endive, choose another lettuce with firm leaves such as Boston or even iceberg. If you don’t eat cheese, skip it. You could even replace the chicken with firm tofu and the chicken broth with vegetable broth to transform these into vegan recipes.
Sarah Walker Caron
Sarah Walker Caron is the senior editor, features, for the Bangor Daily News and the editor of Bangor Metro magazine. She’s the author of “Classic Diners of Maine,” and five cookbooks including “Easy...
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