I don't have a great track record of bringing my lunch to work. On Sundays, I'd much rather start a new Netflix series, hang out with friends, or finally make it to yoga class than plan my lunches for the workweek. But then once I'm waiting in line on Monday to drop yet another $10 on a salad I could have easily made myself, I start to feel guilty about how much cash I'm wasting.
For me, the only way to really commit to bringing my lunch is if I don't have to spend a ton of time over the stove on Sunday. So I worked with our food director Beth Lipton to come up with a meal plan that relies on time-saving Trader Joe's buys, like their genius pre-steamed lentils, 10-minute farro, and shredded carrot. The result? A $5-per-day lunch plan that might actually have me changing my ways: not only is it supercheap, but there's minimal prep. (In other words, more time for bingeing Sherlock.) And most importantly, the recipes are packed with good-for-you nutrients: you'll load up on heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids from avocado, olive oil, and Kalamata olives; protein from lentils, tuna, and black beans; and plenty of filling fiber from farro and fresh veggies.
Your shopping list:
1 bag organic arugula ($2.29)
1 English cucumber ($2.29)
2 lemons ($.49 each, $.98 total)
1 bag shredded carrots ($1.59)
1 avocado ($.99)
1 lime ($.29)
1 bag of steamed lentils ($2.99)
1 container crumbled feta ($2.79)
1 jar organic pitted Kalamata olives ($2.99)
1 jar Trader Joe's Sliced Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil ($3.29)
1 bag of Trader Joe's 10-Minute Farro ($1.79)
1 can Trader Joe's Skipjack Tuna in Water ($1.49)
1 can of black beans ($.99)
Items already in your pantry:
Day 1: Greek Farro Salad
Make a batch of Trader Joe's 10-Minute Farro (this is the only cooking you'll have to do all week—promise!). Once it's ready, drain the farro and toss with olive oil to prevent sticking. Divide and set half aside (you'll need it later in the week). Add half the crumbled feta, half the sun-dried tomatoes, and half the Kalamata olives. Chop half the English cucumber width-wise into thin slices; cut slices in half. Toss all the ingredients together and drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Day 2: Tuna and Arugula Salad
Rinse about a third of the arugula leaves. Drain the Skipjack tuna and cut about a third of the red onion into thin slices. Toss the tuna, red onion, about a third of the shredded carrot, and the other half of the Kalamata olives together with the arugula and drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Day 3: Greek Lentil Salad
Toss about half of the pre-steamed lentils together with the rest of the feta, the rest of the sun-dried tomatoes, sliced red onion, and the other half of the sliced English cucumber. Slice up half the avocado and drizzle everything with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Day 4: Southwestern Farro Salad
Mix the remaining farro from day one with arugula, black beans, shredded carrot, and the second avocado half. Drizzle with olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. (You'll have some of the black beans left over; save them for a taco night on the weekend!)
Day 5: 'Leftover' Lentil Salad
Fold in the remaining arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, and shredded carrot into the rest of the lentils. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.
Prices are based on those featured on traderjoes.com and may vary depending on location.