Made Ahead Lunch Ideas

Aug 12, 2022

Is it time to add some fun new ideas to your lunch box routine? Something beyond a sandwich? Think about turning those bits and pieces of leftovers in the fridge into easy-to-pack meals. That carton of rice and sweet and sour sauce packet from last night’s Chinese takeout, half can of refried beans or couple scoops of quinoa can be the inspiration for a noon time meal that will have you looking forward to the breakroom!

Ground Turkey and Pineapple Meatballs

Makes about thirty (30) 1-inch meatballs

Meatballs go Aloha with the addition of pineapple and ginger. They whip up quickly so make a batch and keep them handy in the freezer, they are kid friendly too! Add a few of these meatballs to last night’s left-over rice or noodles, tuck in a packet of teriyaki or sweet and sour sauce, add a piece of fruit or a few snap peas and you have lunch done. Meatballs can be reheated in microwave or enjoyed cold! For food safety, you’ll need to keep them chilled until ready to eat.


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • ½ cup panko
  • ½ cup canned crushed pineapple
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 green onions, minced, white and green parts
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce


  1. Preheat to 400 degrees. For easy clean up, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray wire rack with non-stick spray and place on prepared pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine ingredients and mix until well combined. Roll into 1-inch balls, keeping size as uniform as possible so you have a consistent baking time.
  3. Place on wire rack and lightly coat with non-stick spray or bush with oil. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned and internal temperature with instant read thermometer reaches 165 degrees.
  4. Once cooled, refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. Meatballs can be reheated in microwave or oven, or reheated when incorporated into a sauce on stove top.

Layered Bean Dip and Baked Tortilla Chips

Easy to turn one of your favorite party time dips into a lunch time treat. Plenty of protein with refried beans to fill you up and you can use low fat or fat free refried beans, sour cream, and cheese for a lower calorie version. Add a handful of healthier-than-fried home baked corn tortilla chips for scooping. Get creative with whatever options you have on hand. Add additional veggies such as chopped red pepper, grated carrots or a layer of spinach. Swap out the refried beans for canned black beans tossed with taco seasoning.

Use this as a guide to make your own favorite version. Add whatever other toppings you might want, there’s no hard and fast rules here.


  • 1 cup of refried beans, stir in some extra flavor with taco seasoning, cumin, garlic powder or chili powder if desired.
  • ¼ cup chopped avocado, mashed and tossed with squeeze of lemon or lime juice or 2 tablespoon guacamole
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Mexican style or cheddar cheese
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Pico d Gallo or chunky salsa
  • 1 tablespoon chopped black olives,
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


  1. First, spread the refried beans in an even layer in your take-to-work container.
  2. Add the avocado or guacamole, sour cream, cheese topping with the salsa, olives, green onion and cilantro.
  3. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to eat. Pack a handful of Baked Tortilla Chips and lunch is served.

Baked Tortilla Chips


  • Corn Tortillas
  • Vegetable or olive oil
  • Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick pan spray.
  2. Brush tortillas lightly with oil, the cut into 6 wedges, similar to cutting a pie.  Go ahead and stack 3 or 4 prepared tortillas and cut the pile at the same time. Spread tortillas in a single layer on prepared pan, careful not to overlap! Season with salt. Bake for 5 minutes, then flip them over, bake for another 3 minutes, careful not to burn, you want them just lightly toasted and crisp.   Let cool then store in airtight container.    







Lunch Time Greek Salad for One

For a Mediterranean lunch break, pack this easy to prepare Greek salad and serve on top of prepared quinoa or couscous to make it a meal. Make the night before, giving salad ingredients flavors a chance to blend.   Prepare dressing and salad in your food storage container for easy clean up! Add a slice of pita bread to round it out.



1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon dried Oregano leaves

Pinch of salt


Salad Ingredients

½ cup chopped tomato

½ cup green pepper chopped

½ cup red onion chopped

½ cup cucumber

5 kalamata olive halved

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese.


In a bowl or food storage container add dressing ingredients and whisk to incorporate. Fold salad ingredients into dressing until combined. Cover tightly and refrigerate. When ready to eat, pour prepared salad over quinoa, mixing it up a bit so that every bite is vegetables, dressing and quinoa!

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