By , YMCA Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

It’s lunchtime on a weekday. You’re sitting at your desk hungry and out of ideas for healthy food. You could always go out, but you only have a small window of time, and nutritious, quick options are limited.

So many of my clients fall into this scenario. They want to eat healthier and save money by packing their lunch, but they feel lost when it comes to meal ideas and how to make it all come together. This is where a little prep makes all the difference.

Meal planning can be easy (and surprisingly fun), but it takes some organization and scheduling. I promise you that it pays off! Check out my tips on how to meal plan like a pro.

Then, put your plan into action with these 5 easy, healthy recipes I’ve curated below. You'll be making delicious work lunches—and more—in no time!

SLIDESHOW: 5 easy, healthy recipes

  • 1. Honey Sesame Chicken Bowls

    This recipe combines juicy chicken breasts with tender broccoli and asparagus, and fluffy rice all tossed in a sweet honey sesame sauce. It’s a healthy take on take-out! These delicious lunch bowls can be ready in under 30 minutes and make enough to last you four days.

    Extra tip: Try swapping out brown rice for cauliflower rice to add more vegetable power, and adjust the level of spice to your liking by adding more or less red pepper flakes.

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  • 2. Turkey Taco Bowl

    Taco Bell no more! Packed full of fresh vegetables, lean turkey, sweet corn, and rice, this is the perfect, healthy fix for your Tex-Mex cravings. Even better? This recipe makes four servings, which can be customized to your liking. Add cheese, a dollop of sour cream, or black beans to make each day something different.

    Extra tip: This is a great opportunity to use leftover vegetables, like cabbage, carrots, or bell peppers. Simply slice them and mix with a small amount of taco seasoning to make them blend seamlessly.

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  • 3. Greek Chicken Bowls

    Greek food is one of my favorites! I love the fresh, creamy Tzatziki sauce, fragrant chicken, and crunchy cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. This recipe combines all of these traditional flavors without the added cost of eating out. Making enough for six servings, this recipe lets you enjoy dinner and then pack the rest as leftovers.

    Extra tip: This dish tastes great cold or warm! If you want to reheat it, simply split the salad and chicken into separate containers to make microwaving easy.

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  • 4. Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Power Salad

    Vegetable power to the max! This recipe is a beautiful mixture of colors, texture, and flavor that proves plant nutrients can keep you satisfied and full. Protein-packed quinoa and chickpeas, combined with crunchy carrots, sweet raisins and dates, nutty pistachios, and an easy homemade, Moroccan style dressing make this the perfect meal package.

    Extra tip: This recipe makes eight servings, giving you the chance to make the most out of leftovers. Pack it as the main dish for your lunch or a side item for another meal!

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  • 5. Mason Jar Salads

    I love a fresh, green salad for lunch when it’s hot outside. The only problem is that I tend to get stuck in a rut when it comes to making a salad fun and different. Enter Mason jars! Here are not one, not two, but FOUR ways to make Mason jar salads that are quick, easy, and packed with nutrients. Whether you’re in the mood for something Southwest, Greek, Thai, or sweet, these recipes are sure to please!

    Extra tip: Wondering how to best fill a Mason jar? First, pour in the dressing, followed by crisp ingredients such as tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, carrots, or peppers. Next, add additional vegetables that are softer in nature, such as mushrooms, zucchini, beans, or corn. Then, put in delicate ingredients such as a hard-boiled eggs or cheese, followed by starchy items like rice, pasta, or quinoa. Top it all off with your greens!

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Each of these recipes is sure proof that prepping your food ahead of time pays off. When you pre-cook starches and meat, assembling these lunches becomes effortless, and you’re on your way to making everyone in the office break room green with envy!

Hungry for more?

These Mason Jar Meals are perfect for work lunches. You can also learn more about nutrition counseling offered by our experienced team of RDs at a Y near you. Let us help you reach your wellness goals!