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Quick healthy lunch ideas

Posted by on Apr. 19, 2012 at 7:40 PM
  • 9 Replies
I need ideas! Here's my situation: I am a new mom (4 week old baby boy) and cooking is not my thing. I am nursing and need to be eating healthy meals. I also want my husband to have healthy meals. He works 2 jobs right now and works very late at night so lunch is his big meal for the day, not dinner. I need ideas for quick, healthy meals that I can easily cook while taking care of my son. Also remember I am NOT a good cook, so don't get fancy on me! :)
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by on Apr. 19, 2012 at 7:40 PM
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by on Apr. 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM

 Just make extra dinner for leftovers. Today I had a salad (bagged lettuce with extra veggies in it) and threw some cooked turkey on top.

by on Apr. 19, 2012 at 9:13 PM

I'm not a cook either so some things I make are boneless chicken breasts or pork chops in the oven. I just put them on a cookie sheet with a few spices (ok, pepper and garlic powder, or whatever you have) with just a touch of cooking oil on top and bake them for maybe 45 mins or an hour, I check them a couple times since I'm not a cook, at 350 or 375. Plus when I make chicken I throw on an extra breast or 2 so I have left overs. I cut them up and either throw it in tortillas with lettuce and cheese OR on top of a salad OR in pasta sauce with some pasta for a quick easy chicken parm. I boil some potatoes for mashed potatoes for the original chicken or pork chops. Simple jarred gravy and your done. Pretty easy plus you're not really standing over the stove "cooking". The potatoes are boiling and the meat is baking, so easy while taking care of the baby. That's about my cooking know how. Oh maybe a lasagna, that's easy to throw together and pop in the oven.

by on Apr. 20, 2012 at 7:41 AM

Congratulations on your new family member!

I have a huge list of bagged lunch ideas, that I have collected over the years. Send me a message if you would like a copy.

Frozen chopped vegetables are a busy mom's best friend! They can go in so many dishes, like stir-fries, stews, chili, etc. If you don't have a slow cooker, get one! Throw in a bunch of stuff, and you get a great meal. A rice cooker is another awesome timesaver; I use mine for rice, quinoa, other grains.

Here are a few simple, healthy meals that my family enjoys:

I serve this it over broccoli (and I make double the sauce).

Pasta with Finger-Licking Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup low or no sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter (I use smooth)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons chile paste with garlic (add to taste, it is pretty spicey)
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces uncooked whole wheat angel hair
1 pound firm tofu, drained and cubed (optional)
1 cup (2-inch) sliced green onions
1 cup shredded carrot
Combine first 8 ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until smooth, stirring frequently (this can also be done in the microwave; use a tempered glass bowl, like pyrex, cook for 20 seconds, stir, repeat until smooth). Remove from heat. Cook pasta in boiling water 8 minutes, omitting salt and fat. Add tofu, onions, and carrot; drain. Place pasta mixture in a large bowl. Add peanut butter mixture; toss gently. 

Kadee's Pot Pie, great for lazy cooks like me! You can sub whatever and I'm sure it'll still be good.
Crust (double this if you also want crust on the bottom, I like it better that way):
1 c. flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. shortening (I use earth balance sticks)
3 tbsp. ice water
Mix all but the water with a fork until shortening is the size of small peas. Add ice water and mix to pastry consistency. Refrigerate while you mix the filling.
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can vegetable broth
1 small potato, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 carrot, sliced
1 large mushroom, sliced
1 small can corn (I use frozen)
1 small can peas (I use frozen)
about 1/4 tsp. each: sage, thyme, & oregano
Mix all these things together (you can use more or less broth to make the sauce the consistency you want). Cover the bottom of two loaf pans with crust (if you doubled the crust). Pour in the filling, and top with the rest of the crust. Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour


Canned Mushroom Soup Substitute

2 Tbs (30 ml) butter
1/2 cup (125 ml) sliced mushrooms
3 Tbs (45 ml) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A grating of fresh nutmeg

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the flour and stir until the mixture had formed a paste and the flour and the butter are thoroughly incorporated. Add the milk and stir with a whisk or spoon until the paste is completely dissolved. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring frequently. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Makes about 1 1/2 cups (375 ml).

1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed
8 ounce can tomato sauce (or home made)
corn tortillas (for fun, use a mix of white, yellow and blue)
1 packet dry taco seasoning mix (or make your own with the recipe below)
handful of textured soy protein, optional (I leave this out)
lettuce (shredded)
cucumber (seeded, peeled, sliced)
tomatoes (chopped)
lemon or lime wedges (optional)
Cover the lentils with water in a large saucepan. They expand tremendously so use a large pot. Add tomato sauce, textured soy protein, and taco seasoning. Bring to high heat until boiling. Simmer at low heat until the mixture thickens. Add more water if necessary and stir often so that the bottom does not burn. This process will take about an hour. You want to cook it until it's about the consistency of cooked oatmeal. Taste the mixture and add more seasonings if necessary. Add more textured soy protein if you want more texture and continue to heat until the textured soy protein is fully hydrated. In the meantime, heat the corn tortillas in the oven, directly on the oven rack for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees.
Assemble the tacos as desired. Squeeze the lemon wedges over the tacos... yum!!
This recipe makes a large quantity and is very flexible with the garnishes. Experiment by adding chopped avocado, cilantro, onion, etc. I prefer these without salsa since the taco filling has so much flavor on its own. Enjoy!!
Taco Seasoning:
4.5 tsp. paprika;
1 tsp. cumin powder;
0.5 tsp. oregano;
1 tsp. chili powder;
1 tsp. onion powder;
0.25 tsp. lemon powder (optional, I've never used it);
1 tsp. salt;
1 tsp. sugar;
0.5 tsp. garlic powder;
1 tsp. flour;
0.5 tsp. cocoa powder
Mix all together and store in airtight container. Makes approx. 4 tablespoonful - the equivalent of 1 package of seasoning (enough to season 1 pound of meat or a substitute). This mix is very mild, I add cayenne

Sweet Potato Burritos
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups canned kidney beans, drained (I use home cooked black beans; you can use any bean)
2 cups water
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
4 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
12 whole wheat tortillas, warmed
shredded cheese (whatever you have)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a medium skillet, and saute onion and garlic in until soft. Stir in beans, and mash. Gradually stir in water, and heat until warm. Remove from heat,
and stir in the chili powder, cumin, mustard, cayenne pepper and soy sauce. Divide bean mixture and mashed sweet potatoes evenly between the warm flour tortillas. Top with cheese. Fold up tortillas burrito style. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, and serve. NOTE: I put the cheese inside and freeze burritos wrapped in wax paper in a big zipper bag; they can be microwaved safely in the wax paper.


Southwest Falafel

1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans (drained and rinsed) (any bean, canned or 1.5 cups home cooked)
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
1/4 cup finely crushed baked tortilla chips
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
Spread - I don't use this part; I mash an avocado with salsa and fat free yogurt (Greek-style is best)
1/4 cup mashed peeled avocado
2 tablespoons finely chopped plum tomato
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 (6 inch) pita's, each cut in half crosswise - I use 4 whole wheat tortillas
To prepare patties, place pinto beans in a medium bowl; partially mash with a fork. Add cheese and next 5 ingredients (through egg white) stir until well combined. Form into 4 (1/2 inch thick) oval patties.
Heat oil in a lg nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties; cook 3 min on each side or until patties are browned and thoroughly heated.
To prepare spread, while patties cook, combine avocado, tomato, red onion, sour cream, lime juice, and salt. Place one patty in each pita half. Spread about 2 tablespoons of spread over patty in each pita half.


Snobby Joes (from Veganomicon)
1 cup uncooked lentils
4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard (wet mustard)
4 to 6 whole wheat buns
 Put the lentils in a small sauce pot and pour in 4 cups water. cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside. About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, preheat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute a minute more. Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the maple syrup and mustard and heat through. Turn the heat off and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can meld, or go ahead and eat immediately if you can't wait.

Super Quick Stir-fry

Here is a quick dinner recipe, adapted from Vegetarian times. It takes less than 15 minutes (if the rice is cooked)

Heat a few chili pepper flakes in olive oil, along with a sliced garlic clove and sliced ginger. Remove the garlic and ginger before they burn. Add onion saute for 1 min. Add 2 diced up baby eggplants and saute for 5 mins (I have used zucchini and broccoli, too; really, any fresh or frozen veggies will do). Add red/yellow peppers & mushrooms. Add 2 tbsp each of brown sugar, soy sauce or tamari & vinegar, and saute 2 more mins. Add fresh basil. Serve over rice (you could use room temperature leftovers) or rice noodles (they are super quick in a pinch). You can also add cubed tofu before serving.

I have more! Send me a message if you would like them.

by on Apr. 20, 2012 at 9:01 AM

 If you don't have one already I would suggest you get a crock pot.  There are so many healthy, simple recipes for the crock pot.  And makes your life easier especially with a baby in the house.  Congrats on being a new mom by the way!!

by on Apr. 20, 2012 at 5:54 PM

 Not sure if you are a member, but Sams club have pretty large rotesserie chickens for $5.99. That fed 3 adults and 1 child for lunch (with some mac and cheese and veggies), then i take all the rest of the chicken, chop it up, placed half in a freezer bag for later and half went in my pot pie for dinner tonight. Thats a way to make 1 meat go a long way!

by on Apr. 21, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia


  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • teaspoons paprika
  • tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • tilapia fillets (about 1 pound total)
  • lemon, cut into wedges


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees . In a shallow dish, combine the cheese with the paprika and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the fish with olive oil and dredge in the cheese mixture. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the fish is opaque in the thickest part, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve the fish with the lemon wedges and/or jarred tartare sauce.
by on Apr. 21, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Marinated Flank Steak


  • 1/2 cup bottled  teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • cloves garlic, chopped
  • pounds flank steak
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard


  • In a baking dish, combine the teriyaki sauce, soy sauce and garlic. Make 1/4-inch-deep cuts about 1/2-inch apart on both sides of the steak, cutting diagonally across the grain. Rub both sides with the mustard and place the steak in the marinade. Refrigerate for up to 3 hours, turning occasionally. Preheat the broiler and line a shallow pan with foil. Broil for 6 minutes on each side for medium-rare, basting once on each side with remaining marinade. Let rest before slicing across the grain.
by on Apr. 21, 2012 at 4:43 PM

  • Southwestern Chicken and White Bean Soup

  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast 
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning 
  • Cooking spray 
  • (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
  • (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup green salsa
  • Light sour cream (optional) 
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)


  1. 1. Combine chicken and taco seasoning; toss well to coat. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken; sauté 2 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned. Add broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
  2. 2. Place beans in a small bowl; mash until only a few whole beans remain. Add beans and salsa to pan, stirring well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thick. Serve with sour cream and cilantro, if desired.
by on Apr. 22, 2012 at 2:36 PM

I know you've got your hands full, so do a search for 5-ingredient recipes or quick-and-easy recipes.  Cooking Light has a lot of good ideas that are healthy.

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