To Keep Make-Ahead Lunches Exciting, Don't Season Until You're Ready To Eat

Whether your life is filled with school pick-ups and extracurriculars or back-to-back meetings followed by late nights in the office, chances are you're extremely busy. With a packed schedule, all your responsibilities inevitably get in the way of your eating habits. Meal prepping is a great workaround, but it runs the risk of becoming too monotonous. Season your make-ahead lunches when you're ready to eat for more versatility with your food.

During the weekend, it's great to set aside time to make a batch of meals to last you throughout the week. Yet, by the third or fourth day of eating the same thing, you'll be tempted to ditch meal-prepping. Seasoning ahead is a common meal prep mistake everyone makes. For chicken and rice, a meal prep staple, flavoring it with honey and soy sauce from the beginning will result in you being bored of the dish.

Instead, cook the ingredients as they are and keep a rotation of condiments, spices, and add-ins for each day. While Monday could be chopped grilled chicken and rice with canned corn, beans, store-bought shredded lettuce, and salsa, let your Tuesday lunch be grilled chicken and rice with garlic chili oil and a quick crunchy purple cabbage salad. There's no need to use more than salt and pepper when cooking the meal — simply plan the types of flavors you want for the week.

Try these make-ahead lunch ideas

Going ahead with the chicken and grains theme, you can pan-sear chicken breast and simmer a batch of quinoa for the week. This combo can be turned into everything from a hearty salad with plenty of kale, feta, and olives to a zesty grain bowl. Make some green goddess dressing or a vinaigrette at the start of the week and add it to a salad or a bowl of tahini-covered chicken, sauteed canned chickpeas, pickled onions, quinoa, and cherry tomatoes. If you're not a fan of chicken, it can easily be swapped for shrimp, tofu, or seitan.

Another high-protein option, salmon, is also an excellent ingredient for meal-prepping. Along with broccoli, roast the salmon in a pan with nothing more than olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. From there, you can turn these two ingredients into several different meals. Whip up a quick honey balsamic glaze for the salmon while you boil some white rice. Add soy sauce and parsley to the rice and add broccoli on top.

With the push of a fork, salmon can easily be flaked for tacos. Add ground cayenne, black pepper, and cumin to the salmon and stuff it into a taco along with lime-soaked cole slaw mix and a sprinkle of cheddar. Eat with a side of broccoli tossed in olive oil and garlic powder.