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Whether you’re heading to the office or telecommuting, social distancing regulations have ensured that lunch time isn’t the same as it used to be. Gone is the group rendezvous with coworkers at your local taco stand, and in its place is an opportunity to begin a new habit. These easy meal prep tips will get you started.

Start With a Protein. Ensure there is enough protein in each meal to keep you satiated—after all, you won’t save time or money if you end up visiting the vending machine for snacks throughout the day. Avoid this by starting with a protein base to plan a nutrient-dense lunch. Choose an animal-based protein such as chicken or beef, or opt for a plant-based alternative like lentils or chickpeas.

Mix and Match Your Sides. A few simple sides such as rice, steamed or sauteed greens, sweet potato or quinoa can all be mixed and matched with the protein source of your choice to create new and unique dishes. Make a couple larger batches of two or three sides to mix and match with your protein options for the week.

Swap Out Sauces and Spices. If you force yourself to eat unseasoned rice and chicken for lunch, you’re going to be pining for those street tacos more than ever. To keep your meals interesting and appealing, swap out spices and sauces for added variety. Taco seasoning with chicken and rice proves to be an excellent base to a taco bowl, while adding pesto to that same chicken the next day can create a hearty and completely different meal using the same protein base.

Meal prep doesn’t have to be complicated or boring. Finding a happy medium simply requires getting creative with your sauces and sides to add variety while ensuring an easy week ahead. Whether you’re heading into work in-person, or you’re facing back-to-back Zoom meetings, there’s nothing better than having a delicious home-cooked meal waiting for you at lunchtime. 

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