Back-to-school is the perfect time to give meal-planning a whirl. To get you started, we have one week’s worth of lunches planned out with instructions for batch-cooking the ingredients and assembly. Click the photos below to see what’s in each lunch, and check out our downloadable menu and grocery list to make the whole process even easier.
5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup sour cream
2 bell peppers (red, orange or yellow), cut into slices lengthwise
two handfuls fresh cilantro, chopped
2 whole wheat pita pockets
½ cup yellow corn kernels from can, rinsed and drained
½ can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 carrot, cut julienne style
2 tablespoons pesto
¼ cup unsalted peanuts
2 cups brown rice (6 cups cooked)
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
½ tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ tablespoon lime juice
Cook the chicken and vegetables all at once. Here’s how we did it:
For the chicken: Coat 4 chicken breasts in olive oil, salt and pepper. Coat the remaining chicken breast in cajun seasoning. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken breasts in skillet and cook each one on one side until golden brown, then flip. When other side of chicken breasts is golden, cover skillet and reduce heat to medium. Allow chicken breasts to cook until done, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from skillet, cut into 2-inch pieces and set aside.
For the vegetables: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set aside carrots and 1 cup cherry tomatoes. Toss all other vegetables in olive oil, salt and pepper and put them on a large cookie sheet (or two smaller cookie sheets, if needed). Bake for 25 minutes or until done and set aside. When done, the sweet potatoes and broccoli should be tender and slightly browned on the edges. The peppers and cherry tomatoes should be soft and beginning to char.
Then, assemble your lunches, label and refrigerate. That’s it!
Assemble the lunches in five plastic or glass containers. Line three of the containers with cooked brown rice, creating a bed in each for the other ingredients to rest on. Divide chicken and vegetables between each lunch according to the recipes above.