Lunch Theme Ideas For Easier Meal Planning

I have been meal planning for years and I love how much it relieves the stress of figuring out what to each each day. However, lunch has been a struggle. It was always hard to come up with good healthy ideas that were simple and easy so that I could throw them together when we were finished with school for the morning.

I decided to make my life a bit simpler and go with a daily theme that would help with planning but give us some flexibility. I will also adjust as needed for field trips and other days away from the house. This just gives me a good basis to start with each week.

Lunch Theme Ideas

Monday: Soup or Salad

I love that soups can often be made ahead of time or thrown into the crockpot that morning. It is also easy to make a batch big enough to have leftovers as needed. Salads are great especially when it is hot because they don’t heat up the kitchen. These simple but filling meals will help us get a good start to the week. These are just a few ideas and recipes that you can use to get you started.

Tuesday:  Mexican (Taco Tuesday)

  • Tacos
  • Nachos
  • Bean Burritos
  • Carnitas Bowls (Super simple recipe: Take 1 plain ham steak or boneless chicken and put into a crockpot, dump one jar or Trader Joes Salsa Verde and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6. Serve over rice, lettuce, or tortilla chips. )

Wednesday: Loaded Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese is always a hit but we like to mix it up to add variety and vegetables. The noodles are quick, easy, and inexpensive,  and a little bit of meat or veggies keeps it interesting. My personal favorite is pizza mac using mozzarella cheese and chopped up pepperoni. The children always appreciate hot dog mac. You can add whatever meat and veggies you have on hand to give it a twist.  I’ve shared some of our favorites below to get you started.

  • ham and broccoli
  • mozzarella and pepperoni
  • bacon
  • ground beef and tomatoes
  • hot dog mac

bagel pizza cropped

Thursday: Cold Plate/Sandwich

We do not eat a lot of sandwiches because of a sensitivity to dough conditioners but sometimes a salad or cold plate lunch is the easiest choice. I love that I can make the pimento cheese, chicken salad, or egg salad ahead of time and have it ready to go in the fridge. I can serve it as a sandwich, lettuce wrap, or on a plate with crackers.

  • Pimento Cheese
  • Chicken Salad
  • Egg Salad
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Bagel or English Muffin Pizzas

Friday: Leftovers or Frozen Meals

By the end of the week, there are almost always leftovers from various meals that need to be used. Most weeks I can just pull out the various containers and everyone can choose from the leftovers. This makes it easy for me, keeps the fridge from being overrun, and helps us be less wasteful. However, if we get to a Friday and do not have leftovers, I always try to keep a couple of frozen meals from Trader Joes in the freezer. They are my fall back plan when I need a quick meal without a lot of prep.

We have been using this plan for a couple of weeks now and it seems to have really helped me keep the meal plan simple but varied. I am sure we will make some adjustments as time goes on, but I am enjoying this format. What are some of your favorite lunches? Do you like to have themes?

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6 thoughts on “Lunch Theme Ideas For Easier Meal Planning

    1. Before my husband began working from home a few years ago, we would snack type lunches more frequently. However, he prefers a regular meal for lunch.

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  1. I worked in a daycare and an early childhood center (helped in the kitchen a few times). We had food guidelines that were based on food groups. I have stuck in my head certain lunch combinations and I rotate those ideas with my kids.

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