food

Just 7 healthy meal-prep lunch ideas you'll actually be excited to eat.

Fact: meal prepping is a guaranteed way to eat healthier and save money. Also fact: meal prepping gets really boring, really fast.

To help you out, we asked meal prepping Instagram guru Katie Lolas to share seven of her tastiest lunch recipes you’ll actually look forward to eating. Enjoy!

1. Spinach and Tomato Ravioli Bake.

 

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This quick and wholesome recipe uses four main ingredients including ravioli, passata sauce, spinach, and parmesan. The sauce is rich and nourishing and this recipe makes an excellent prep or dinner option. It’s also perfect for a family and freezes well if double batching is your jam!

Serves: 4.

Prep time: 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag (630g) of fresh ravioli (I used spinach and cheese)
  • 1 700g bottle of passata sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 tbsp mixed Italian herbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 60g shaved parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 200ºC and grease baking dish. Cook Ravioli according to packet instructions, strain once done and set aside.

2. Sauté baby spinach leaves in splash of olive oil, then set aside.

3. In a medium-sized bowl add the passata sauce, tomato paste, crushed garlic, 3 tbsp mixed herbs and mix together until well combined. Spread 1/3 of the sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

4. Arrange the ravioli in a single layer over the sauce. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and the sautéed spinach. Repeat the layers starting with what’s left of the ravioli. Finish by topping with the remainder of the sauce and parmesan and the final tbsp of mixed herbs. Sprinkle salt and pepper in between the layers, to taste.

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5. Cover the baking dish and bake for 20mins. Remove the foil and continue baking for an additional 2mins or until the cheese is golden brown.

6. Garnish the spinach and tomato ravioli bake with basil, and serve with a salad or side of veggies.

Notes: Use 2 tbsp of garlic-infused olive oil if you’re intolerant to fresh garlic.

2. Chilli and Lime Chicken Tacos.

 

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These chilli lime chicken tacos are easy and full of flavour. Serve them avocado chunks, beans, and drizzle with some lemon and lime yoghurt dressing!

Serves: 4.

Prep time: 25 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet soft taco tortillas

Chilli and lime chicken marinade:

  • 500g chicken breast, diced
  • 1 lime juice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Taco filling:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 400g can corn kernels, rinsed
  • 1 400g can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 400g can red kidney beans, rinsed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional garnishes:

  • Avocado chunks
  • Coriander
  • Lime wedges

Dressing:

  • 8 tbsp plain yogurt
  • Coriander to taste, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

1. Cook chicken.

In a medium-sized bowl, add the chicken and all marinade ingredients, mixing until well combined. Set a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add a splash of olive oil and add the chicken, cooking for 5 minutes, or until golden brown on one side. Flip chicken and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-8 minutes or until chicken is golden brown on each side and cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Combine filling ingredients.

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In a medium bowl, combine drained and rinsed beans, corn, olive oil, adding salt and pepper to taste.

3. Make dressing.

In a small bowl add the yoghurt, lemon juice, lime juice, coriander, and mix well, adding salt to taste.

4. Assemble.

Place chicken and filling in soft taco tortillas. Garnish with avocado chunks, dressing, and serve with lime wedges.

Notes: If meal prepping, to preserve avocado, lightly spray with olive oil.

3. Beef Koftas, Tabouli with a Lemon Yoghurt Sauce.

 

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Juicy, fragrant beef koftas served with a side of tabouli and a lemon yoghurt sauce – Middle Eastern-inspired perfection!

Serves: 4.

Prep time: 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

For the beef koftas:

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 2 green shallot stems, finely sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

For the lemon yoghurt:

  • 150 ml natural greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Salt to taste

For the tabouli:

  • 1/3 cup burghul (cracked wheat)
  • 3 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 4 cups of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 4-5 green shallot stems, finely sliced
  • 2 large cucumbers, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:

For the kofta:

1. Place all the kofta ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.

Divide into eight portions and shape each portion into a long sausage shape. (Preheat oven to 200°C if you’d prefer to bake your koftas).

2. Place the koftas on the lightly oiled, hot pan. Cook on medium-high heat for 4 minutes on one side, turn over and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until cooked through. Alternatively, if baking, add koftas to a lightly oiled non-stick baking sheet and place into the preheated oven for 15 mins or until cooked through.

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For the tabouli:

1. Place burghul in a bowl of hot tap water for 15 mins or until it has softened.

2. Strain burghul to remove excess water. Add tomatoes, lemon juice. cucumber parsley, mint, shallots and olive oil to burghul mixture. Stir until combine. Add salt to taste just before serving.

For the lemon yoghurt:

1. Mix the yoghurt and lemon juice together. Season with salt to taste.

Serve koftas with a side of tabouli, lemon yoghurt and an additional wedge of lemon to squeeze over the top of everything before eating.

Notes: 

  • Feel free to use white or red onion instead of shallots.
  • Use 250g lean beef mince + 250g pork mince for another tasty option.
  • Use quinoa instead of burghul for a gluten-free option. Alternatively, couscous also works well.

4. Beef and Spinach Shepherd’s Pie with Creamy Sweet Potato Mash.

 

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Serves: 4-5.

Prep time: 45 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup milk of choice
  • 100g butter of choice (I use lite Nuttelex)
  • 500g minced lean beef
  • 3 tbsp infused garlic olive oil
  • 1 bunch green shallots, diced
  • 120g baby spinach leaves
  • 2 medium zucchinis, grated
  • 50g or ¾ cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup frozen diced mixed vegetables, thawed
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 190°C and grease a medium baking dish.

2. Add the sweet potato to a medium pot of boiling water and cook for 10-15 minutes or until soft. Drain and return to pot. Add the milk, butter and mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and then set aside.

3. In a large pan, add the infused garlic olive oil, beef, green shallots and cook on high until the beef is cooked through.

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4. Then add the grated zucchini, tomato paste, beef broth, balsamic vinegar, basil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the thawed vegetables and baby spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted.

5. Transfer the meat mixture to your prepared baking tray. Top with the sweet potato mash and spread evenly. Sprinkle shredded parmesan over the top. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and turned a light golden brown.

6. Remove from oven and serve with side of salad or parsley sprinkled on top.

Notes: If you don’t have garlic-infused olive oil, use extra virgin olive and 3 crushed cloves of garlic.

5. Sesame Chicken with Brocollini and Carrots.

 

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This super speedy sesame chicken recipe is going to quickly become your favourite easy prep or dinner option – it’s so much better than takeout.

Serves: 4.

Prep time: 25 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 500g boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips
  • 2 broccolini bunches cut into thirds
  • 2 medium carrots cut into half-moons
  • 3 green shallots thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic minced (I used 2 tbsp infused garlic oil instead)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame black or white sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, oyster sauce, cornstarch and set aside.

2. Add a splash of olive oil to a large pan over high heat, then add the chicken and cook for between 8-10 mins or until golden brown.

3. Add broccoli, carrots, shallots, ginger, and garlic and cook for another 3 minutes stirring frequently.

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4. Pour sesame oil mixture over the top and stir. Add water and stir until the mixture has thickened about one minute. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and serve with a side of rice.

6. Enchilada Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.

 

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Make them ahead for an easy vegetarian meal-prep lunch or dinner.

Serves: 4.

Prep time: 110 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup of corn
  • 1.5 cups light shredded cheese
  • Serve with fresh avocado, natural Greek Yoghurt or sour cream
  • Chilli powder to taste (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Scrub sweet potatoes to clean and pat dry. Using a fork, poke small holes in the sweet potato and arrange on a lined baking tray.

2. Bake sweet potatoes for 45-90 minutes. You will know they are ready when a knife is inserted into the centre and comes out with no resistance.

3. Allow sweet potatoes to cool for roughly 10 or so minutes, before slicing them in half lengthwise.

4. Gently scoop out filling, leaving a small border along the inside of the sweet potato skin.

5. Mash together the sweet potato filling with enchilada sauce, salt, chilli powder (optional) and cumin. Stir in the beans, corn and ¾ cup cheese, and spoon gently back into the sweet potato.

6. Sprinkle with the remaining ¾ cup of shredded cheese.

7. Bake at 200°C for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and melted.

8. Serve topped with avocado chunks, finely chopped parsley and a dollop of light Greek yoghurt or sour cream.

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7. Loaded Veggie Fritatta.

 

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If you have half an hour, then you have time to make this amazing loaded veggie frittata! It would make the perfect breakfast or lunch; packed full of fresh vegetables, cheese, and eggs. It’s the perfect way to fuel your journey.

Serves: 6.

Prep time: 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of roughly diced pumpkin (I used Japanese Pumpkin)
  • 1 cup red capsicum diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms diced
  • 1 cup broccolini florets diced
  • NOTE: adapt pumpkin, capsicum, mushroom and broccolini measurements to ensure you can fill 1/2 of whatever sized tray you are using before adding the other ingredients
  • 200g Danish feta cheese, crumbled
  • 10 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 bunch of green shallots, thinly sliced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease tray with olive oil or line base with baking paper.

2. Place pumpkin in a large microwave-safe bowl, cover and cook on high stirring for 5 minutes or until just tender.

3. Combine pumpkin, crumbled feta, green shallots, broccolini, capsicum and egg. Stir to combine. Add salt to taste and transfer egg mixture to prepared tray.

4. Bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes or until firm.

5. Sit for 5 minutes before serving and that’s it!

Katie Lolas is a Sydney-based high school teacher and the brains behind the popular meal prepping Instagram account @lady.lolas. For more of Katie’s brilliant recipes, visit her website or follow her on Instagram.

Feature image: Supplied/Katie Lolas.

Which meal prep recipes will you be making? Let us know in the comments.

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