I’ve never been much of a salad eater. This fact has made me feel a bit like a fraud in my quest to eat healthier. I mean salads are the quintessential healthy food, right?
So when Main & Vine asked me to come up with a healthy and fresh recipe for January, I knew I had to think of something other than a salad. What I came up with was this: healthy lunch bowls! While these contain some of the same elements you’ll find in salads (think veggies!), I’ve put them together in a flavorful, appetizing, and filling way.
Since meal prep is always a huge part of your success (or lack thereof!) with meal planning, I decided to make this post more of a process or idea than a recipe per se. You can take inspiration from some of these ideas and tailor them to suit your own tastes, budget, and whatever you happen to find on sale!
I hit up Main & Vine and found so many delicious ingredients for my lunch bowls… fresh, organic greens and veggies, olives & pestos from the Foodie Bar, and grains in bulk! I picked up about a cup’s worth of quinoa and a cup’s worth of farro for just $1 each by buying in bulk. Such a deal.
Check out these prepped veggies I found in the produce department! Roasted Brussels sprouts, fresh butternut squash noodles, stir fry veggies and more. I was happy to pick up a couple packages to save on prep time.
To make this as easy as possible, let me break down the basics for how to assemble my lunch bowls.
Ingredient One: Greens!
The first thing you’ll want to start with is fresh greens. I encourage you to think beyond lettuce. Check out all these beautiful greens I found at Main & Vine: bok choy, radicchio, watercress, kale, and spinach. Try something new! Or mix a couple together.
Ingredient Two: Grains & Proteins!
As mentioned, I picked up one cup of quinoa and one cup of farro (each were about $1). This yielded enough to make several lunch bowls. You can find a variety of other grains in the bulk foods department at Main & Vine. I also found a good selection of uncooked grains down the dry good aisle (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill brand). I also found cans of Simple Truth organic beans on sale for $1. To save on time, I picked up a bag of frozen pre-cooked Simple Truth grilled chicken from the freezer aisle. As you can tell, my bowls include a good mix of ingredients that are conveniently prepped as well as ingredients I prepped myself!
Now, you can easily tailor your bowls to suit your diet. If you’re Paleo? Skip the grains and go for meat and seafood. Vegetarian? Stick with beans like chickpeas, or consider adding tempeh or tofu.
Ingredient Three: Veggies!
I had a lot of fun buying colorful veggies and flavorful herbs! I used my mandoline slicer (like this one, found on Amazon) to get my radishes, cucumbers and peppers sliced up so pretty. As you’ll see from the recipe ideas that follow, I changed up the veggies depending on the theme of the lunch bowl.
While these items comprise the basis for your lunch bowls, you can top with additional salsas, toppings, vinaigrettes, and foods. Now that you’ve got the basic idea, let me share five themed lunch bowls I came up to get you started.
Southwest Chicken Lunch Bowl
For this bowl, I used fresh spinach, cooked quinoa, chicken, avocado, red peppers, black beans, mango salsa from the Main & Vine foodie bar, and fresh cilantro.
Vegan Power Lunch Bowl
For this bowl, I used a mix of fresh spinach and radicchio, chickpeas, cooked farro, roasted veggies, and basil pesto. I topped with Hemp Hearts for some Omega-3s! If you had some extra time, consider roasting the chickpeas for an added flavor depth and a bit of a crunch.
Asian-Inspired Lunch Bowl
For this bowl, I started with bok choy, sliced radishes, fresh butternut squash noodles (I found these packaged in the produce department at Main & Vine), fresh cucumber, and grilled chicken. I topped with fresh mint leaves and some Tikka Masala sauce I found down the International Foods aisle.
Italian Lunch Bowl
For this bowl, I used a mix of Italian kale and watercress. Then, I added cooked farro, chickpeas, and grilled chicken. I added chopped, fresh basil and cherry tomatoes and topped with sliced mozzarella and basil pesto.
Greek Lunch Bowl
For this bowl, I used fresh spinach, cooked farro, roasted vegetables, and a bunch of items from the Main & Vine foodie bar (Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, etc.). I topped with feta cheese and a drizzle of balsamic.
Final Tips for Prepping your Lunch Bowls
When I put together this post, I really wanted to give you some practical ideas for healthy mid-week lunch eating. Particularly for those who work outside the home!
Tip #1: Prep your ingredients before the start of the week, such as on Sunday afternoon or evening. Cook up your grains and protein, slice up your veggies.
Tip #2: Assemble your lunch bowls into containers like this one! That way, you’ll have them all ready to go. You might consider making 2 or 3 variations using mostly similar ingredients to save on cost and prep time.
So there you have it. If you’ve been looking for healthy and delicious lunch ideas, I hope this post has sparked something with you.
I’d love to hear if you’ve made something like these before for work or home. What other ideas and/or ingredients have you worked with? Please leave a comment below!
Disclosure: this post comes as part of a sponsorship from Main & Vine. For more information, please see my Disclosure Policy.