gouda apple croissant

Moms Need Lunch Too! – 5 Easy Midday Meal Ideas for Mom

Written by Katie of Good Life Eats

I‘ve already written about Balanced School Lunches for Picky Eaters, but what I really struggle with is making my own lunch. I’m not saying that I don’t eat during the day. I just don’t eat lunch like I should. This past year has been worse because my kids are getting to the age where they’re away from home for lunch more than they’re at home, which leaves me finding myself alone quite often.

I tend to snack on whatever it is that I’m cooking or photographing that day around lunch time because I spend much of my alone days testing recipes and photographing dishes for GoodLife Eats. And you should know that I am easily bored with food.

I know that what I really should be doing taking the time to sit down, take a break, and eat a balanced meal.

Aimée already talked about her Intentional Food Goals for 2012. Taking a midday break to eat a balanced afternoon meal is one of mine. I decided that it was high time I sat down and made myself a list of easy to prepare lunch ideas.

Because I’m alone and busy working, lunches need to be: something that requires little thought and effort and doesn’t create a lot of extra mess.

Note: Often when I express this frustrating dilemma people suggest that I eat leftovers for lunch, however we actually eat our leftovers for dinner because I don’t cook every night of the week

Moms Need Lunch Too! – 5 Easy Midday Meal Ideas for Mom


Salads are an obvious simple solution that is often forgotten in my home. I like big, loaded salads and they often seem time consuming to prepare.

Photo by Shaina

My resolution for simpler salads for lunch: prepare in advance. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to chop extra vegetables, wash and dry extra lettuce, and reserve a portion of the evening’s lean protein while I am preparing dinner.

Such items can be stored in individual containers in the fridge. When lunch rolls around the next day the ingredients are already prepped and just need to be assembled.

Recipes I want to try:
Asian Chicken Salad with Honey Sesame Dressing
Winter Detox Superfoods Salad

Quesadillas or Tacos

Quesadillas and Tacos are great because you can put almost anything between a tortilla and call it a Quesadilla or Taco without needing a recipe.

Just take a look at what vegetable, meat or bean, and cheese options are available in your refrigerator and get creating! I love The Flavor Bible for flavor inspiration.

One of our favorite fast, vegetarian taco recipes is this Sweet Potato and Black Bean Taco. I’ve also experimented with using the sweet potato and black bean filling with pepper jack cheese inside a quesadilla. YUM!

Recipes I want to Try:
Greek Quesadillas
Quinoa Salad Soft Tacos

Easy Gourmet Sandwiches

Allison from Some the Wiser recently featured this delicious Gouda and Apple Croissant with Baby Spinach on her blog. I immediately bookmarked it and made note to purchase gouda and croissants next time I hit the grocery store.

gouda apple croissant

Photo by Allison

What I love about this recipe: It tastes special, but it’s no fuss. And it doesn’t add a ton of extra items to the grocery list. We always have spinach on hand since our resident picky eater recently decided that fresh baby spinach is one of the vegetables that he will tolerate. Apples and nuts? Check…got those too!

For even quicker preparation, prepare the candied pecans or walnuts in a larger batch ahead of time. Store them in an airtight container for use as needed.

No croissants? No problem. Put the ingredients between two slices of whole grain bread and toast in a panini press.

Get the recipe: Gouda and Apple Croissant with Baby Spinach

Pasta Dishes

We eat pasta for dinner once a week (and it’s always available in the house), so I figured it would make lunches easier if I prepared more pasta than we needed for our dinner meal and saved it in the fridge for me to use with lunch.

Photo by Katie

I can quickly chop up a medley of vegetables from what we already have in the fridge, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in the toaster oven. Toss the vegetables with the leftover pasta and some cheese and call it lunch.

No recipe needed!

Egg and Vegetable Scramble

I’ve finally figured out what the rest of the world already knows: eggs make a super fast meal. Lately I’ve been enjoying eggs for more than just breakfast. Scrambled up quickly with vegetables and cheese make a filling and healthy meal.

photo by: Katie

I prefer scrambles over omelets because they’re no-fuss to prepare. As witnessed before, my attempts at omelets often turn into scrambles anyway.

Tips for preparing Egg and Vegetable Scrambles

  • Saute the vegetables first
  • Whisk the egg(s) in a bowl until lightly beaten.
  • Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the pan and scramble until cooked to your preference.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper
  • Top with cheese, if desired.

Simple Combos I Like:

  • Chopped Baby Spinach, Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Feta cheese
  • Black beans, Diced Green Chili, Red Bell Pepper, Cilantro, Cheddar Cheese
  • Ham or Bacon, Onion, Red and Green Pepper, and Cheddar Cheese
  • Diced Tomato, Bacon, Sliced Green Onions, Avocado (added just before serving) and Swiss Cheese

More Lunch Ideas for Mom and Kids

Pressed Sandwiches | Simple Bites
A-B-C Frittata | Simple Bites
New Year, New Lunchbox: 9 Cures for the Mid-Day Blues | Simple Bites
Finger Foods for Toddlers | Simple Kids

What are your favorite, easy lunch solutions?

About Katie G

Katie’s lifelong interest in food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. Katie Goodman is the cook, recipe developer, and self-taught photographer behind GoodLife Eats. It is there that she shares what she finds good in the kitchen and in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week.

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  1. I’m with you on this one. I would not be happy if my children’s ‘lunch’ looked like mine does when they are at school! When I’m on task, soup is my mainstay. I freeze in single portions and it’s easy to accompany with oatcakes/wholewheat crackers, then some fruit and maybe a yogurt.

  2. Great ideas (for non mom’s too)!

  3. Another easy one- if you have a lean protein and veggies (better roasted, but you could quick steam a few in the microwave) around, just throw them on top of rice/other grain pilafs. Add some cheese or seasoning, and it’s yummy. I often make extra of whatever grains we eat early in the week just for this reason. 🙂

  4. I’m still laughing at this post title…because of how badly I need the reminder! You sure know your readers 🙂

    Salads are my favorite go-to, so thanks for the yummy new topping ideas.

  5. I love the Salad in a Jar!! Have been doing this each saturday for the past three weeks and all the basics for a full meal salad or a salad to accompany a meal are there in the bottom of my fridge waiting for me!

  6. Some of your lunches look like dinners to me (and some of them may well appear on a future dinner menu)! I keep my lunches very simple. In the beginning of the week, I hard boil some eggs. We slice them up in salads or (my preference) make egg salad sandwiches! I also like cheese and crackers with a sliced apple. Otherwise, I don’t see anything wrong with sharing peanut butter and jam sandwiches with my 4-year old. At 46 with three young children, I seriously don’t have the requisite creative energy for both lunch and dinner!

  7. LOVED this!! Now I’m super ready for lunch to get here so I can try one of these!

  8. Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) says

    Leftover soup with homemade bread is my lunch time mainstay, but you’re right, it’s hard when you’re also planning to serve it for dinner… especially when I polish off the last of it.
    I like snacky foods, like olives, raisins, chopped fruit, and a slice of bread with peanut butter or another spread. Simple, healthy, lots of variety.

  9. Yeah this dos not resonate with me at all… (Insert sarcastic smirk)

    This is fantastic, THANK YOU for the ideas!

  10. I do a lot of soup for my lunches. Sometimes I eat the same pot all week and other times I’m more organized and actually freeze several different kinds in single size servings.

    In the summer I do salads. My tip for advanced preparation is to keep a bag of shredded carrots and one of shredded beets in the fridge at all times. (I love my salad shooter. Yes, I’m a dork.) The carrots I add to numerous other dishes throughout the week as well. Soups especially. I know I’m sacrificing some nutritional value by prepping ahead of time this way but it’s more nutrition than if I didn’t eat them at all!

  11. I love the idea of a croissant sandwich. I’ve been making an effort to drink breakfast and lunch lately. It’s severely helped my energy. Previously I would avoid eating until dinner time and then I would feel even more sluggish! There are so many fresh and nutritious ideas here! So refreshing especially in winter when produce isn’t so great.

  12. What a great post! We too eat leftovers at dinner so I try not to eat those for lunch. I definitely find myself snacking while I’m making my little one lunch but realize around 2 that I never actually ate. I have been trying to eat more salads but I love your pasta idea as well!

  13. Great tips! I need to be more systematic about making my own lunch, and so often it really is a question of doing just a little more–not a whole production.

  14. Living the Balanced Life says

    It most definitely helps if you plan ahead, otherwise I’d end up eating PB&J every day! I also sometimes make extra of a dish for dinner that hubby and I can both have for lunch.
    Great ideas and some yummy recipes I am going to have to try!

  15. Especially in the winter I like to have individual servings of different soups frozen for myself for lunch. (especially tomato because no one else in my family likes eating it!)
    But my favorite new combo of late came out of looking in the fridge with that “what am I going to eat today?!” look on my face. I put together couscous (which I usually have leftovers of in the fridge but only takes about 6 or 7 minutes to make), salsa, black beans and cheese. Stick it in the microwave to warm up and melt the cheese and there you have it, yummy filling goodness!

  16. What a great post! Moms often forget their own needs in order to take care of the kids and this is a great reminder for all moms to take care of themselves too!

  17. Emily @ Random Recycling says

    I’m a little hungry after seeing these beautiful photos!
    I’m a sandwich girl and love the ideas presented here. Much more interesting than making the same raspberry preserve and cream cheese sandwich I made for myself and the kids today.

    My helpful hint for making lunches more interesting is to get some of the fixings at the grocery store salad bar. If I just want a little feta cheese or mushrooms for an omelet, it’s more economical than buying a whole pack of each that may not get used up in a timely manner.

  18. Wow,
    amazing post.
    I agree, women usually skip their meals because they have so many things on their minds and so much things they need to do during the day. This is really helpful. Great work!

  19. Thank you for the ideas. I love that they’re easily adaptable into gluten free options as well. Hardboiled eggs are another quick and easy option to get in some good protein.

  20. Love all the suggestions! I also love making wraps — so simple and pack with delicious ingredients to-go!

  21. Brilliant!
    I was into putting a fried egg or slices of avocado on top of whatever rice/bread/pasta bits I could dig out of the fridge for awhile. I really dig the simplicity of some of the foods I prepare midday. This is a great list. Thanks!

  22. yum….all these ideas are delicious—but breakfast is my problem….usually it will be 11 or so before I have more than tea

  23. Edmund David says

    Very intresting post, i like it very much. Thank you for the ideas. I love that they’re easily adaptable into gluten free options as well.

  24. Yes! Thank your for these lunch ideas. While I’m always stressing about what to have since I eat lunch at home 6 days a week. Salads are great. I recently tried a new one with sweet potatoes, green apple, fresh spinach, pecans, and an orange vinaigrette. Delicious!

    I found a recipe that resembles it here:

  25. Mmmm so many great options – that pasta dish looks especially excellent! Thanks for compiling all these great meals – I can’t wait to try some of them out!

  26. Wow – Another great post. You’re definitely right though Moms need lunch too and are often way to busy to sit down and have a balanced one. Sometimes I have a shake because I’m guaranteed to get my nutrients and it only requires one hand while I tackle everything else!

    I’ll have to try some of these next time.

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