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meal-prep-recipeA few weeks ago, I asked the Youtrition community what time of day is the most difficult for creating balanced, nourishing meals. I got a lot of great replies, and the majority of people said lunch is the hardest. While breakfast and dinner can both have their challenges as well, lunch seems to be the sticking point for most people. It’s hard to find time to pack a lunch every day, and many people feel at a loss as to what to bring to work that would actually taste good and be balanced. Plus, it’s just too easy to get fast food or pizza instead of planning a great lunch. 

But lunch is important. A healthy, balanced lunch can prevent the 3 pm slump that leads people to munch on snacks and candy bars. A healthy, balanced lunch can keep your mind sharp and your body fueled for a more productive, energetic second half of the day. 

For many people, a key factor in getting a balanced lunch is preparing it ahead of time. Many of my premium coaching clients have found this strategy useful, and it is something I do too. On the weekends, I plan one meal to cook for lunches for the week, and cook a four serving batch (knowing one day I will likely eat something else) this helps me get through my busy work and mom-ing week with a good, balanced meal in the middle of the day. 

Today I want to share with you one of my favorite make-ahead lunches. This vegetarian recipe is packed with 20 grams of protein per serving and  will leave you feeling satisfied and energized until dinner time. Personally, I tend to need a little more food than this bowl alone, so I pair it with Greek yogurt and fruit. 

Prep-ahead lunch: Rainbow Quinoa Bowl


  • 2 cups quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 carton of vegetable stock
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 carrots, grated or spiralized (spiralized is better)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • green onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 oz Feta cheese


  • 1. Mix chopped kale with olive oil and garlic, salt and pepper to taste and set aside. The kale will soften slightly in this mixture.
  • 2. Bring 4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock plus one bay leaf on high to a boil. Rinse quinoa then add to boiling water and turn heat to medium. Boil on medium – medium high heat for 15-18 minutes until quinoa is soft and liquid is fully absorbed.
  • 3. While quinoa is cooking, drain and rinse beans (ok to mix together) and chop and prepare the rest of the veggies.
  • 4. Once quinoa is fully cooked, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Mix in kale mixture, vegetables, and beans. Mix in juice of 1 lemon and salt and pepper to taste.
  • 5. Divide into 4 even containers then sprinkle with feta.

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Ashley Palmer
Ashley is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition. Ashley loves her son, her husband, and lifting heavy things then putting them back down repeatedly. She is a nutrition, fitness and weight loss coach and blogs at


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