Lunch for Grownups: Inspiration and Prep Just for You

A Choice to Elevate Lunch

I made a radical self-care choice a few years ago when I started planning my lunches. MY lunches: the foods that I really want to eat. I had done the stay-at-home mom lunch, eating my kids crusts and leftover pretzels and grazing off their snacks for a good run. But that lazy habit wasn’t nourishing me or fueling me for my busy, active life.

I also felt the frustration of having children {and honestly, a spouse} who weren’t interested in trying the beautiful recipes I was so excited to save. The foods I serve at dinner are great and mostly family-friendly, but where are the meals that are just for my personal enjoyment?


The phrase “meal prep” feels like a diet culture buzzword, but what if we thought of it as simply preparing our meals with the thought and intention we give to the meals we make for our children or partner?

“Meal prep” can be something as basic as buying your favorite fancy bread and cheese and planning to eat grilled cheeses this week. Yum!

I am a person worthy of nourishment and pleasure at mealtime, and having this mindset has really taken the guesswork out of my weekday lunches.

I’m not asking you to perfectly portion, count macros, or buy a food scale with these ideas. Actually, I’m literally telling you that you deserve pasta, creamy soup, or anything your heart delights in at lunchtime because now- that is your time, Momma. Savor it and savor some of these delicious lunch ideas!


What’s your favorite soup to order if you go out to lunch? Start there.

My favorite: cream of mushroom (or any vegetable!) soup

I have tried zillions of different soup recipes over the years, and if you’re a soup lover like me, you should invest in an immersion blender– it’s a game changer in creating creamy soups. My favorite “cream of” soup is cream of mushroom {an ingredient my family doesn’t like, which makes it a perfect lunch recipe!} but you can sub any veggie with this simple recipe:

2 Tablespoons salted butter, diced onion, minced garlic, pinch of dried thyme

Add in your vegetables (2-3 cups). I'm using prewashed and pre-sliced baby bella mushrooms

Diced onion/garlic {as much as you like- I dice one medium onion for about 1 heaping cup}

2-3 cups of chopped raw vegetables of your choice- broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, mushrooms, cauliflower, squash {I used prewashed baby bella mushrooms}

2 tablespoons of salted butter

1/4 cup of flour

6-8 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Pinch of dried herbs of your choice- I like adding thyme or sage

Salt and pepper to taste

1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream {or half and half}

In your dutch oven or sautee pan, add butter, onions, and garlic and dry herbs. Sautee until onions become translucent {about 3-5 minutes} and release their juice. Add in your vegetables; sautee until those are tender {mushrooms also need to release their juices, fyi}. Add in the flour, and stir until combined. Add in the stock. The soup shouldn’t look creamy yet, but kind of gloopy. Cover and let it simmer away for as long as you like, at least 30 minutes. Use your immersion blender to blend into a creamy consistency, leaving some veggies for texture if you like. {You can also pour half of your soup into a blender or food processor for this step, but it’s very hot so be careful!} Stir in the cream. Enjoy!

1/4 cup of flour gets added to the cooked vegetables to make the base for our creamy soup
1/4 cup of flour gets added to the cooked vegetables to make the base for our creamy soup
Add 6-8 cups of broth and simmer for 30 minutes
Use an immersion blender to blend, or pour about half of the soup into a blender or food processor
Stir in 1/3 or 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half. The immersion blending makes it somewhat creamy anyway, and this step takes it next level. Yum!


Think outside the box on this one; some bases like shredded brussels sprouts or kale are easier to make ahead because they can store without wilting, even when dressed or tossed ahead of time. I love to make a simple shredded brussels sprouts salad with crumbled bacon, goat cheese, and craisins with a lemon vinaigrette dressing {I just squeeze a fresh lemon into about 1/2 cup of EVOO, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and shake}. I also love some creamy diced avocado with it!

A perfect salad should contain enough fat to fill you up and fuel you, so don’t skimp on the dressing or other toppers like cheese, nuts, salmon, or avocado.

containers of brussels sprout salads
Raw shredded brussels sprouts make a unique salad base


If you love ordering trendy grain and veggie bowls at restaurants, try to recreate them at home. I love doing some roasted veggies, a protein like sliced chicken sausage, and a grain like quinoa if I want something warm. Leftovers work great in these! You can make a pot of rice on Sunday to use all week.

I am also a big fan of these “sushi” bowls using imitation crab meat, cucumber, avocado, spinach, and quinoa with a sesame dressing and a drizzle of sriracha mayo. Yum! These can be prepped ahead and dressed when you’re ready to eat, too.

sushi lunch bowl
“Sushi” lunch bowl- build it however you like it!
sushi lunch bowl with dressing
All dressed up and ready to be stirred
sushi lunch bowl
“Sushi” lunch bowl with quinoa, imitation crab meat, cucumber, carrots, spinach and sesame dressing. Drizzled with a little sriracha mayo. I love the blend of these textures and flavors in every bite


Yes, pasta. Because, why not? I love vegetarian dishes with lotsa veggies but my family isn’t as keen. So, I make what I want for lunch and I never have to hear the complaints from them about it!

pasta dish with chicken and vegetables
Warm, cozy, nourishing pasta…your way…for lunch!

You can keep it super simple, like this sauteed zucchini, mushroom and penne in a garlic oil with shredded parmesan on top. But sometimes, I’m feeling a little “extra”, so I’m going to share one of those recipes, too.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Roasted Vegetables, Kale, and Sage Brown Butter

Packaged ravioli, tortellini, any pasta noodle, or grain you like {rice, quinoa, farro} — of course, I found mine at Aldi

packaged ravioli
This is from Aldi

Packaged frozen roasting veggies {or feel free to roast yourself, but buying makes this easier} and pre washed, pre chopped kale.

frozen seasoned veggies on baking sheet
Frozen ready-to-roast seasoned veggies are such a time saver!
veggies being drizzled with EVOO
Toss the kale in a little EVOO and salt. I do this step after I have flipped the other veggies so the kale doesn’t roast into kale chips, just wilts down into the texture I want

Fresh Sage {about 1/2 cup}

pile of fresh chopped sage next to knife on countertop
Fresh sage

2-3 Tablespoons of salted butter

Parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

Start by preparing your roasted veggies; I’m using a sweet potato and carrot blend I bought in the freezer section at Aldi. Root vegetables work well in this dish! When you flip the veggies at the halfway point in roasting them, add a few handfuls of kale to your baking sheet. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and toss to lightly coat the kale; you want to wilt and crisp up some of the leaves, but not all should be crispy. As you’re roasting the veggies, boil water and cook your ravioli, pasta or grain as indicated on the package instructions.

pot on stove with ravioli

To make the sage brown butter: dice the sage and add it to a small sautee pan with 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter. Stirring constantly, keep the butter and sage over the heat until the sage begins to crisp up and the butter begins to brown.

sage in pot with melted butter
Add fresh chopped sage to the melted butter
sage in pot with melted butter
Stir constantly, magic is happening
sage in pot with melted butter
It’s done when sage looks crispy and butter starts to brown

Add the roasted veggies, kale, and sage butter to your ravioli. Toss all together, salt and pepper to taste. I finish it off with some shredded parmesan.

ravioli and sage in pot
Toss it all together in the drained ravioli pot

ravioli and sage in bowl topped with cheese

Voila! Lunch is served- and you deserve to savor it.

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Mary B
Mary B. is a lifelong creative, dreamer, and joy seeker. Born and raised in northern Illinois, Mary attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, receiving her B.F.A. in acting, then worked as a sometimes actress/model, sometimes waitress. Mary and her husband got married in Sept 2012, welcomed a son in 2014, moved to Texas from Chicago in 2016, and welcomed a daughter in 2017, completing their family. She self-publishes her musings on marriage, motherhood, and life on her blog, Accidentally Texan,. In her free time {free time--ha!} Mary loves to read, cook {and eat ;)}, work out, swim, travel, and spend time with her family. Mary believes emotional connection is the root of humanity and our collective purpose in life.


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