Six Weeks of Meal Prep Lunches, Menu Planning Made Easy

Ready to get started with meal prep but no clue where to start? I’ve compiled a list of twelve easy, healthy, and delicious recipes to get you started on your menu planning.

I like to plan two recipes for my weekday lunch meals, three days of one recipe, two day of another. This way I never get bored with eating the same thing every week. If you prefer to simplify, you can definitely stick to one recipe per week. In which case, here’s twelve weeks of menu planning all done for you.

Setting up a meal prep routine is a great way to save time and money during the week.

  • Preparing your own food saves money. Pick your meals based on what’s on sale and in season to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
  • Preparing your own meals means having total control over ingredients. This is important if you’re on a specialty diet. When you make it yourself, you know exactly what you’re eating and can feel good about what you’re putting into your body.
  • Spending just an hour or two in the kitchen one day a week means not spending time preparing meals every day, freeing up your time for everything else you need to get done in a day. And who couldn’t use a little more time?

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I’m in! How do I get started?

First, plan your menu. I spent a little time, usually not more than 20 minutes picking out what I want for meals the following week. I use Pinterest and my cookbook library to plan out what I’m going to make. I use a two column document to create my shopping list on one side and my menu for the week on the other. Get your free printable right here on my blog (see the form above).

Next, I spent a little time on Sundays doing my cooking. Typically, I prep lunches, snacks, and any baked goods I’m planning to make. I like to leave dinners to be made fresh during the week. I find it a nice way to relax in the evenings after a busy day. But set your meal prep plan based on what works for your lifestyle.

When I’m done, I have a week’s work of healthy options ready to grab and go. I use glass food containers that are microwave and dishwasher safe for easy heating and clean up. I like containers with compartments so there is space for a main dish, sides, special condiments, etc. Here is a link to my favorites:

Ready to Get Started?

Here’s a list of twelve of my favorite lunch recipes to start you off:

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Maple Glazed Carrot and Black Rice Salad with Salmon

Sweet glazed carrots and nutty black rice make a great pairing in this salad.

I first started doing meal prep three years ago. I found myself getting tired of eating the same old sandwich and fruit every single day. My process has continued to evolve as my schedule and tastes have changed. But I still take the time, at the start of each week, to create delicious and healthy meals to keep me going during a busy week.

For more details on how I plan my meal prep every week, jump over to my Meal Prep page (see top menu). You’ll find helpful tips as well as essential products I use. Subscribe to my blog to get a free download of my meal prep planning worksheet.

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Maple Glazed Carrot and Black Rice Salad with Salmon

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 3

Equipment

  • Mini food processor
  • Mortar & Pestle
  • Non-stick baking mat

Ingredients
  

For the Salad

  • 3 Large Carrots peeled and cut into diagonal slices
  • 2 tbsp Avocado Oil divided
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seed
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seed
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup Black Rice (aka Forbidden Rice)
  • 1/2 + 1/3 cup Water
  • 1 lb Salmon
  • 1/4 cup Sliced Almonds
  • 1/4 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 2 cups Arugula
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

For the Dressing

  • Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  • 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Honey
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

For the Salad

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a non-stick baking mat.
  • Using a mortar and pestle, roughly grind the coriander and cumin seeds.
  • In a bowl, combine the carrots, 1 tbsp of avocado oil, ground coriander and cumin, turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper. Spread out over the baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Add the maple syrup and bake an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
  • In a small pot, combine the black rice and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, until the rice is tender the water has been absorbed. Allow to cool slightly.
  • Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
  • In a pan, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat. Cook the salmon about 8 minutes per side, or until done.
  • To a large bowl, add the arugula, almonds, cranberries, black rice, carrots, and the dressing. Toss gently to combine.
  • Divide the salad among meal prep containers. Add portions of the salmon. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

For the Dressing

  • In a mini food processor, add the dressing ingredients and blend to combine.
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Ginger Pineapple Chicken

The key to keeping meal prep lunches interesting is making them flavorful. This dish is loaded with flavor from the fresh ginger to the juicy pineapple. Add in tender chicken and a protein-packed grain. You really can’t go wrong with this one.

Benefits of Pineapple

Pineapple has long been known as an anti-inflammatory. Why? Because it contains Bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme that aids in digestion and contains anti-inflammatory properties. Studies say it can also help with pain control. So it’s a great ingredient to incorporate into your diet if you are affected by inflammatory autoimmune conditions (see my About Me page for disclaimers). Plus it’s sweet and delicious!

Benefits of Ginger

Ginger has a crazy amount of health benefits. It’s a natural germ fighter. It’s great for relieving nausea and stomach irritation. It’s anti-inflammatory and has been shown to reduce muscle pain. It’s the epitome of a super food! Plus fresh ginger adds a slightly spicy, slightly citrus flavor to dishes. It’s so good!

Grain Options

I try to stick with protein-rich grains with lots of antioxidants in my meals. So I tend to avoid things like white or even brown rice. If that’s your preference with a dish like this, by all means, go for it. But I find there are better options that pack more nutritional value into my meals. Which is important to me when I’m consuming a small portion. Might as well make every calorie count, right? I also like to avoid gluten whenever possible because I find it can lead to inflammation for me. So here are some other options for you:

Quinoa

Quinoa is a delicious super grain that is packed with fiber and protein. It’s a great substitute for rice and it’s really quick to prepare. Be sure to give your uncooked quinoa a rinse before cooking to eliminate any bitterness. My preferred brand of quinoa calls for a two to one ratio of liquid to quinoa. I add two cups of water or vegetable stock and one cup of quinoa to a small pot with a small pinch of salt. Bring it to a boil and simmer for fifteen minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Let it stand about five minutes and then fluff with a fork before serving.

Forbidden Rice

Also aptly known as black rice for its hue, this stuff is also packed with protein, fiber and antioxidants. I really like the subtle nutty flavor while texturally, it gets soft like white rice. It is a little slower cooking than quinoa. My preferred brand takes thirty minutes. But it’s well worth it.

Gluten Free Brown Rice Noodles

This is a great, gluten free pasta option. I like the wider Pad Thai noodles but Maifun is a great option if you prefer a thinner cut. They’re a good source of fiber and they cook up in just five minutes.

Recipe:

Start by taking the skin off a fresh pineapple and removing the core. I like to use a pineapple corer to make this job a little easier and cuts the fruit into even slices. Place half the pineapple into the bowl of a food processor. Add ¼ cup of coconut aminos, 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 inch of grated ginger and a pinch of salt. Process until smooth and set aside.

Cut the remaining pineapple into chunks and set aside.

Cut about a pound of chicken thigh meat into bite sized pieces (swap breast meat if you prefer). Toss the chicken pieces in two tablespoons of cornstarch, salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon of avocado oil to a pan. Heat over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the chicken pieces and allow to brown. When the chicken is nearly browned, add the pineapple pieces. Allow them to caramelize. Add the pureed mixture from the food processor. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer until the chicken pieces are cooked through and the sauce is thickened.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare your grain of choice.

Divide the grain between three meal prep containers. Top with the chicken mixture. Store in the fridge until ready to heat and enjoy.

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Ginger Pineapple Chicken

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Main Course

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Pineapple peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Aminos
  • 3 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 inch Fresh Ginger
  • 1 lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • To prepare the sauce, add half the pineapple along with the coconut aminos, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, and salt to a blender. Process until smooth and set aside.
  • Cut the remaining half of the pineapple into chunks and set aside.
  • Toss the chicken pieces in the cornstarch and season with salt and pepper.
  • In a large skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. Add the pineapple chunks and allow to caramelize. Pour in the sauce mixture and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thickened.
  • Prepare your grain of choice.
  • Portion your grain of choice and the chicken mixture between two to three meal prep containers. Refrigerate until ready to heat and enjoy.
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Blueberry Pumpkin Seed Chicken Salad

Great for lunch or a quick snack

Chicken salad is a great go to as a sandwich, with greens for a salad, or as a protein-packed snack with crackers. This salad has a little different twist with the addition of sweet, dried blueberries, and crunchy pumpkin seeds. Both add great flavor and extra fiber.

This recipe can dressed in two ways. I used a jarred olive oil based mayonnaise. You can also substitute vegan-aise.

Or blend your own dressing using an avocado, a tablespoon of lemon juice, a table spoon of avocado oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and process until smooth and creamy.

However you choose to dress this salad, it makes a great grab-and-go lunch. Save yourself some time and use leftover chicken or even a cooled rotisserie chicken from your local market.

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Blueberry Pumpkin Seed Chicken Salad

Prep Time 10 mins
Course Main Course, Salad, Snack

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups Chicken cooked and diced
  • 1/4 cups Dried Blueberries
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Green onions chopped
  • 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Add all ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine.
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Chili Salmon Grain Bowl with Mango Salsa

Perfect for a spicy and delicious lunch

I like to keep things as simple as possible when I’m putting together my meal prep menu for the week. This salmon dish goes together very quickly and easily. Yet, it’s packed with flavor.

For this meal, I elected to make the mango salsa myself. You can definitely use a jarred fruit salsa, if you prefer. I never seem to have good luck when it comes to picking out mangos. So I took the easier route and went with frozen mango chunks instead. Frozen fruits are processed at their peak so you know you’re getting flavorful fruit. Obviously, it’s not quite the same as fresh but this is one way to avoid issues with fruits being out of season.

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Chili Salmon Grain Bowl with Mango Salsa

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course

Ingredients
  

For the Salmon and Quinoa

  • 1/2 cup Quinoa cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 lb Salmon Fillets
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Salsa

  • 2 cups Mango Chunks thawed if using frozen fruit
  • 1 small Red Onion diced
  • 1 small Yellow Bell Pepper diced
  • 1 small Jalapeno diced, ribs and seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp Lime Juice
  • Cilantro finely chopped (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

For the Salmon and Quinoa

  • Prepare the quinoa according to package instructions.
  • In a skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat, until it shimmers.
  • In a small bowl, combine the spices. Rub the mixture over the top of the salmon fillets.
  • Place the salmon in the pan, skin side down and cook approximately five minutes. Turn the fish and cook an additional three minutes. Return the fish to the skin side, reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and allow the salmon to cook through.
  • To assemble, place a layer of quinoa in a meal prep container. Top with a salmon fillet. Add the salsa to a separate well of the meal prep container. If not using partitioned containers, store the salsa separately until ready to eat.

For the Salsa

  • Add the salsa ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
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Israeli Rice and Beans

Easy and flavorful vegetarian lunch or delicious side with meat or fish

This is a great recipe to keep at the ready for a quick, vegetarian lunch. It’s also a great side dish to pair with chicken or fish. Rice and beans is a traditional Sephardic dish that has become increasingly popular across Israel.

I opted to make this version with canned beans, in order to save time. But to really do it right, I recommend using dried beans and slow cooking this dish to really develop the rich flavors. But for a quick lunch version, this works just fine.

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Israeli Rice and Beans

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Israeli

Ingredients
  

  • 15 oz can Cannellini Beans
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil
  • 1 small Onion diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 cup Vegetable Stock
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Rice prepared according to package instructions

Instructions
 

  • In a pan, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  • Add the onions and saute about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  • Add the beans, tomato paste, and spices. Cook another minute.
  • Add the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until the sauce thickens.
  • For a meal prep lunch, place a layer of rice in the container and top with the bean mixture. Refrigerate until ready to heat and eat. This recipe makes two lunch servings.
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Chicken Shawarma Salad

A flavorful salad, perfect for meal prep

Shawarma is a delicious, spiced, Middle Eastern classic. And one that I absolutely love! This version includes a spice mixture of cardamon, cumin, and coriander, giving the chicken a wonderfully earth, smoky, and complex flavor. Then it’s diced over refreshing greens, cucumbers, and bell peppers.

Finally, for the dressing, I use a classic Israeli hummus. Or in this case, I use a white bean hummus. You’ll have to check out the recipe to learn why.

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Chicken Shawarma Salad

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 3 lunches

Ingredients
  

For the Chicken

  • 1 1/2 lbs Chicken Thighs
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Ground Cardamon
  • 1 tbsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil

For the Salads

  • 4 cups Mixed Greens
  • 1 Bell Pepper sliced
  • 1/2 cup Matchstick Carrots
  • 1 small Cucumber sliced

Instructions
 

For the Chicken

  • Combine the spices and coat the chicken pieces generously.
  • In a pan, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken on each side until deep brown.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and allow the chicken to cook through. About 30 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and allow to cool slightly.

For the Salads

  • In your preferred meal prep containers, divide the mixed greens, bell pepper, and cucumbers.
  • Remove the chicken from the bone (if using bone-in), dice and divide over the salads.
  • Refrigerate the salads until ready to eat. Add white bean hummus before enjoying.
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White Bean Hummus


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Chipotle Chicken Salad

Sweet and spicy

Summertime is almost here. The weather is finally warming up and that has me in the mood for light and fresh food when I’m creating my meal prep menus for the week.

This salad is a perfect balance of sweet and spicy. It’s mixed greens, sweet strawberries, creamy avocado, and spicy chicken.

The dressing in this case is mayonnaise-based. I used a combo of mayo, honey, lime juice, and a little sauce from chilies in adobo. It also adds a nice creamy element. If you’re not into mayo, it could be swapped for avocado instead.


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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 2 lunches

Equipment

  • Mini food processor

Ingredients
  

For the Chicken

  • 1 1/2 lbs Chicken Thighs
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Powder
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil

For the Salad

  • 3 cups Mixed Greens
  • 1/2 cup Strawberries quartered
  • 1 cup Sweet Corn prepared to package instructions and cooled, if using frozen
  • 2 Green Onions sliced
  • 1 Avocado diced

For the Dressing

  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise or 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tbsp Lime Juice
  • 1 tbsp Adobo Sauce from chilies in adobo

Instructions
 

For the Chicken

  • Combine the spices in a small bowl and generously coat the chicken pieces.
  • In a pan, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken, about three to four minutes per side.
  • Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Allow the chicken to cook through, about 30 minutes for bone in pieces.
  • Once cooked, set the chicken aside and allow to cool.

For the Salads

  • To assemble the salads, divide the salad ingredients evenly between two meal prep containers.
  • Dice the chicken and add to the salad.
  • Refrigerate until ready to eat. Keep the dressing on the side to avoid the mixed greens getting soggy.

For the Dressing

  • Add the dressing ingredients to a mini food processor and proces until combined.
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Chinese Salmon Salad

A fresh twist on an old favorite

There are a ton of recipes out there for Chinese Chicken Salad. It’s an incredibly popular option for meal prep, lunch, and dinner. So I decided to to put a new spin on an old classic. This version uses salmon as the protein. You could also use ahi tuna steak if you prefer.

The dressing for this salad is a basic Asian vinaigrette. I prefer to use coconut aminos in place of soy sauce. Coconut aminos has a similar flavor, although a little lighter and sweeter. It’s also soy free, gluten free, and much lower in sodium, making it anti-inflammatory friendly. I also chose to use avocado oil instead of olive oil. Both are rich in heart-health omeg-3s so it really comes down to personal preference.

When mixing dressings, I find it easiest to whip them up in a mini food processor. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend getting one. They’re relatively inexpensive and come in really handy for making salad dressings and chopping nuts.

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Chinese Salmon Salad

A new twist on an old favorite
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 27 mins
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American, Chinese
Servings 3

Equipment

  • Mini food processor

Ingredients
  

For the Salad

  • 1/2 12oz Bag of Coleslaw Mix
  • 1/2 cup Matchstick Carrots
  • 1 cup Sugar Snap Peas halved
  • 1/2 lb Salmon cooked and flaked
  • 3 Green Onions sliced
  • 1 cup Oranges, supremed or one 12-15oz can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/3 cup Sliced Almonds

For the Dressing

  • 3 tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • 2 tbsp Avocado Oil
  • 3 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 4 tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Powdered Garlic

Instructions
 

For the Salad

  • In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw mix, carrots, peas.
  • Top with the salmon, green onions, oranges, and almonds.
  • Add the dressing or serve on the side if preferred.

For the Dressing

  • In a small food processor, combine the dressing incredients.
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Mediterranean Tuna Salad

A great option for a quick and delicious lunch

Recipes centered around the Mediterranean diet are great options for anti-inflammatory friendly meals because they’re loaded with antioxidants and, often, plant-based proteins. Not to mention heart-healthy fats.

When making this salad, I opted for using dried chickpeas and cooking them. This allows me to control the sodium. Place a cup of dried chickpeas in a bowl with four cups of water and allow to soak overnight. Transfer the chickpeas and water into a pot and add an additional four cups of water. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer until the chickpeas are tender. I cooked mine about an hour. For a shortcut, substitute a 15oz can of chickpeas. Just drain and rinse them before adding to the salad.

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Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Soak Time 8 hrs
Total Time 9 hrs 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 3

Equipment

  • Mini food processor

Ingredients
  

For the Salad

  • 1 cup Chickpeas dried
  • 9 cups Water divided
  • 1/2 cup Quinoa
  • 5 oz Tuna drained and flaked
  • 3 cups Arugula
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata Olives
  • 1/4 cup Feta

For the Dressing

  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning Blend
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

For the Salad

  • Place the chickpeas and 4 cups of the water in a large bowl. Allow to soak overnight. Transfer the chickpeas and water to a large pot. Add an additional 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook the chickpeas until tender, about 1 hour. Drain and allow to cool.
  • Place the quinoa and the remaining 1 cup of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook 15 minutes, or follow package instructions. Allow to cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine the arugula, olives, tuna, cooled chickpeas, and cooled quinoa. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Top with feta cheese and portion into containers for meal prep.

For the Dressing

  • In a mini food processor, combine the dressing ingredients and process until incorporated.
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