Quick and Easy Lunch 1

Serves 2 | Difficulty: Easy

Share this

This series is all about the perfect blend of speed, simplicity, and incredible flavors. It’s so effortless that you can easily fit it into your lunch break (shoutout to all you WFH peeps)! And guess what? These dishes are equally great for dinner. No judgments here!

Eating tasty food has always been a big passion of mine, but let’s be real, whipping up a feast every week can get overwhelming, even for someone like me who’s all about cooking up a storm.

I’ve been playing around with different recipes to help make those crazy weeks a tad more manageable. And this series is one I can’t wait for you to dig in.

I’m thrilled to share my very first meal plan with you, and I can hardly contain my excitement.

These recipes have been a game-changer for me during those crazy weeks when time feels like it’s slipping through my fingers. They’re not only delicious but also quick and easy to prepare.

If you follow the plan through to the end, you’ll not only savor every bite but also find yourself with an empty fridge by the end of the week! This is exactly what I mean by my motto of “more taste, less waste”.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned home cook or just getting started on your culinary journey. This meal plan is here to make your life a little more flavorful and a lot less stressful. It’s got your back!

First time here?

Check out my Getting Started guide to learn how to use this meal plan.

Prep Summary

  • 2 stalk cilantro roughly chopped (optional)
  • 6 clove garlic minced
  • 3 stalk scallions thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 large Hass avocado thinly sliced
  • 1 medium shallot thinly sliced
  • 1 medium tomato sliced for sandwich
  • 1 medium tomato sliced into wedges
  • 4 large egg hard boiled
  • 2 stalk cilantro roughly chopped (optional)
  • 2 stalk scallion thinly sliced
  • 2 clove garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 medium tomato sliced into wedges
  • 4 large egg hard boiled
  • 1 large hass avocado thinly sliced
  • 4 clove garlic minced
  • 1 stalk scallion thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 medium shallot thinly sliced
  • 1 medium tomato sliced for sandwich

Blanching vegetables serves 2 purposes: (1) It prevents loss of flavor, color, and texture—extending the “life” of the vegetable throughout the week, and (2) it gives us a head start in the cooking process for stir-fries. Stir-frying generally only takes 5 minutes. If you start from raw, some pieces won’t cook as evenly as others (especially hardy vegetables like broccoli). Blanching pre-cooks each piece of veggie so you will have a consistent tasting stir-fry every time. This is a well-known technique used in many Chinese restaurants!

Here’s how:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil (about 6 cups) and add 1 Tbsp kosher salt. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl on the side.
  2. Blanch vegetables for the time indicated on the recipe/prep summary. The countdown starts when the water comes back to a boil, so don’t overcrowd! Once done, immediately transfer the vegetables with a sieve to the ice bath for a few minutes to stop the cooking process.
  3. When vegetables have cooled, drain well and transfer to a storage container or Ziploc bag. Use a salad spinner to remove excess water for leafy greens or use clean hands to squeeze out remaining water.
  4. You can repeat this process with all the vegetables using the same pot of water. Bring water back to a rolling boil before starting a new batch. Replenish ice to ice bath as needed to keep water cold.

Chopped Aromatics

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge to keep maximum freshness. Use them within 7-10 days. If you suspect it has gone bad – the color has changed (e.g. turns brown), there is visible mold, the texture is mushy – toss them. Always err on the side of caution to avoid food poisoning.

Chopped Veggies

Store in meal prep containers or in the bags they come with in the crisper drawer. If a vegetable has a high-water content and tends to go limp quick, wrap it with a paper towel before storing it in the fridge. The paper towel absorbs excess liquid that will prevent it from wilting or turning mushy.

Meat and Seafood

As a general guideline, vacuum seal seafood if you won’t be using it within 2 days of purchase. For this reason, I always place recipes with seafood earlier in the Meal Plan Menu. For meat, vacuum seal if you won’t be using them within 4-5 days of purchase or the product’s “best by” date. Vacuum seal ASAP to keep maximum freshness. Vacuum sealed meat and seafood keep for over a week without any issues. However, if you know you won’t be able to use it within the week, date them and pop them in the freezer for later use. They are good for up to 6 months before their flavor and texture start to lessen.

If you do not have a vacuum sealer, wrap fish and meat tightly with saran wrap, then wrap tightly with aluminum foil. Store in a Ziploc bag, squeezing as much air out as possible. Date them and pop them in the freezer for later use.

Use different cutting boards for your proteins and veggies. Always wash and disinfect knives when switching from meat to veggies to prevent cross-contamination. It goes without saying that you should clean your produce before consumption and preparation.

During prep, always start with food cooked at the lowest temperature first, working your way up. For example, chopped scallions are often used as garnish and will be consumed raw, so chop them before potatoes (which you will cook so the risk is lower). Likewise, you would prepare salad greens first.  

The same principle applies when keeping them in the fridge. Don’t stack raw chicken above fish – any juices from the chicken that trickle into the fish would pose a risk. Should the chicken be contaminated with salmonella, the time and temperature at which you would cook fish to perfection is not enough to kill the bacteria.  

Meal 1

plate of noodles cooked in red chili oil topped with ground pork and chopped scallions

Mondays tend to be hectic, so this dish is a perfect choice to kickstart your week! If you’ve prepped your aromatics (garlic, scallions, and cilantro), this meal can come together in only 15 minutes.

If you’ve also followed the shopping list (if you did, go you!) and bought exactly a pound of ground pork, just eyeball half the amount, then store the remainder in an airtight container for Meal 4. No need to whip out scales for pinpoint accuracy. Enjoy!

plate of noodles cooked in red chili oil topped with ground pork and chopped scallions
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Chili Oil Noodles*

Savor the bold flavors of Chili Oil Noodles, an Asian classic easy meal with silky noodles and a spicy, tangy, and savory chili sauce base.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Keyword: 30 minute recipe, easy noodle recipe, Lao Gan Ma, noodles, quick lunch, Spicy Chili Oil Noodles
Servings: 2
Calories: 531kcal

Ingredients

  • 0.5 lb ground pork
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 7.5 oz fresh noodles uncooked
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil for cooking

Sauce Base:

  • 2 stalks scallions thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks cilantro roughly chopped (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 Tbsp chili oil preferably Lao Gan Ma brand
  • 1 Tbsp chinkiang vinegar
  • 2 tsp sweet soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook noodles according to package instructions. Meanwhile, combine sauce base ingredients in a large bowl (to toss noodles in) and set aside.
  • Heat a wok over medium-high heat and add 1 Tbsp of cooking oil. Swirl the oil around to coat the wok evenly. Add minced garlic to the hot wok and stir-fry for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Add the ground pork to the wok and season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking it apart with a spatula, until the pork is no longer pink, which should take about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to the same bowl as the sauce.
  • Once the noodles have cooked, drain, and immediately add it to the bowl. Do not rinse noodles. Toss the noodles vigorously until well coated and the sauce begins to thicken and stick to the noodles.
  • Garnish with additional sliced scallions if desired. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Feel free to adjust the level of spiciness by adding more or less chili oil according to your preference.
  • Skip the ground pork if you prefer a meatless version.
    You can also customize the garnishes with additional cilantro, crushed peanuts, or sesame seeds for added flavor and texture. Enjoy your meal!

Nutrition

Calories: 531kcal

Meal 2

An egg salad sandwich cut side up with a side of spring mix salad and tomatoes

Tamago Sando is a delightful Japanese sandwich that features creamy egg salad sandwiched between slices of milky soft bread. It’s a simple yet satisfying treat that perfectly balances sweet and savory flavors – an ideal choice as either a meal or snack!

I’ve paired it with a side salad to create a complete meal. Make sure you don’t miss the recipe just below it!

If you have access to a Japanese bakery or market, I highly recommend getting your hands on shokupan, a type of Japanese bread. Since this recipe relies on such simple ingredients, the quality of those ingredients plays a significant role in making this dish truly stand out.

If you don’t live near any Japanese bakery or market, you can also use Chinese or Taiwanese bread. They are prepared in a similar style to shokupan.

As for the salad, it’s meant to serve as your greens throughout the week, so make sure to save some for Meal 5!

An egg salad sandwich cut side up with a side of spring mix salad and tomatoes
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Tamago Sando*

Tamago Sando is a delightful Japanese sandwich featuring creamy egg salad between milky soft bread slices. It's a simple yet satisfying treat that balances sweet and savory flavors, perfect for any meal or snack.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: easy meals, quick lunch
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 slices shokupan Japanese milk bread, preferably thick slices
  • 4 large eggs hard boiled
  • 1 Tbsp butter softened

Mayo Seasoning:

  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp hot mustard
  • 3 Tbsp Kewpie mayo
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Peel the hard boiled eggs and mash 3 eggs in a bowl with a fork. Combine with mayo seasoning and mix well. Set aside. Slice the remaining egg in half lengthwise and set aside.
  • Butter one side of each bread slice. Arrange the slices with the buttered side up. On one slice, place one half of the sliced egg in the middle. Spread 1/2 of the egg salad mixture over and around the egg on the same slice. Place the other slice of bread on top of the egg salad, butter side down.
  • Repeat the same process for the second sandwich.
  • Place a heavy plate on top of each sandwich and press down lightly to compress the sandwich. Cut away the crusts if desired. Then, slice the sandwiches down the middle. Serve with a simple side salad and cut fruit if desired for a more balanced lunch.
  • Serve your Tamago Sando with a simple side salad like Sesame Balsamic Spring Salad and cut fruit if desired for a more balanced lunch.

Notes

  • Shokupan, or Japanese milk bread, is a soft and fluffy bread commonly used for this sandwich. You can find it at Japanese or Asian grocery stores.
  • Feel free to adjust the level of spiciness by adding more or less hot mustard and black pepper according to your taste preference. Enjoy your meal!
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Sesame Balsamic Spring Salad*

Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Asian, Fusion
Servings: 4 (as a side)

Ingredients

  • 10 oz spring mix salad bag
  • 1 medium tomato sliced into wedges

Sesame Balsamic Dressing:

  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil or neutral-tasting oil like canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp shallot oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Instructions

  • In a bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients (balsamic vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, shallot oil, and sesame oil) until the oil and vinegar are well mixed.
  • To serve, drizzle some of the Sesame Balsamic Dressing over the spring mix salad and tomato wedges.
  • Toss the salad right before serving to evenly coat it with the dressing.
  • Store any remaining dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Shake well before use.

meal 3

Two onigirazu rolls with tuna salad and avocado topped with red sauce on a pink plate

Consider this the BEST tuna salad recipe, even if you’re not a canned tuna fan.

Onigirazu, aka “Onigiri Sandwich”, falls somewhere between a sushi roll and onigiri (Japanese Rice Ball). The best part? It’s 10x easier to make because you won’t need to wrestle with a sushi mat to roll it up or worry about crafting the perfect triangular onigiri shape.

You’ll notice that I specifically call for “tuna in oil” rather than “tuna in water” for this recipe. If you happen to fall into the category of canned tuna skeptics, this simple swap might just win you over. Tuna in oil tends to be much more tender and flakier in texture.

If you only have tuna in water available to you, simply add more Kewpie mayo to the mix to get the right consistency. Kewpie mayo is a must; regular mayo won’t cut it. Get it if you can!

Important Note:
Half of the tuna salad you prepare will go towards Meal 5! This technique of preparing now and enjoying later is a common feature you’ll find in many of my upcoming meal plans.

Two onigirazu rolls with tuna salad and avocado topped with red sauce on a pink plate
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Tuna and Avocado Onigirazu*

Onigirazu, aka "Onigiri Sandwich", falls somewhere between a sushi roll and onigiri (Japanese Rice Ball). The best part? It's 10x easier to make because you won't need to wrestle with a sushi mat to roll it up or worry about crafting the perfect triangular onigiri shape.
Prep Time15 minutes
Total Time13 minutes
Course: Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Fusion, Japanese
Keyword: 15-minute meals, bento recipe, canned tuna, easy meals, quick lunch, tuna onigiri
Servings: 2

Equipment

  • saran wrap

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets nori seaweed
  • 1 large Hass avocado thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cooked short grain rice Medium grain rice has more starch and sticks better than Jasmine rice
  • Furikake optional

Tuna Salad (reserve half for Tuna Melt Sando):

  • 10 oz canned tuna in oil excess oil drained
  • 6 tbsp Kewpie mayo
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp Tonkatsu sauce
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • Freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  • In a bowl, combine the Tuna Salad ingredients. Reserve half for another meal. Store the reserved portion in an airtight container in the fridge.

How to Assemble Onigirazu

  • Lay a large sheet of cling wrap. Place one sheet of nori rough side up (shiny side down) on the cling wrap with a corner facing toward you (in the shape of a diamond). Spread 1/4 cup of cooked rice evenly over the nori, leaving a border around the edges.
  • Top the rice with half of the prepared tuna salad, and then arrange 1/4 of the avocado slices on top. If desired, sprinkle with Furikake for added flavor.
  • Cover the fillings with another 1/4 cup of rice.
  • Fold the bottom corner of the nori sheet toward the center to encase the fillings. Press it into the rice.
  • Repeat with the remaining corners. Do the same with the cling wrap, folding it to tightly wrap the onigirazu.
  • Draw a mark perpendicular to the direction of how the avocado slices are placed. For example, if the avocado slices are laid vertically, draw a horizontal line in the center of the onigirazu where you'll slice it in half later. Set the onigirazu aside for 3 minutes to set while you prepare the second one.
  • After the setting time, use a sharp knife or serrated knife to slice each onigirazu in half along the marked line.
  • Drizzle more Sriracha on top if you prefer it spicier. Serve!

Meal 4

Chewy noodles coated in rich, fragrant garlic butter – Asian style. This recipe combines simplicity with umami, thanks to the oyster sauce! Creamy, buttery, garlicky, umami, and utterly delicious. A quick and satisfying dish that’s sure to become a lunchtime or weeknight favorite!

Here’s a tip: When making these noodles, opt for a thick and good-quality egg or wheat noodle for the best texture and taste. Fresh is fantastic if you can find it, but high-quality dried noodles work beautifully too. I used fresh knife-cut noodles for the image above.

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Garlic Butter Noodles*

Chewy noodles coated in rich, fragrant garlic butter – Asian style. This recipe combines simplicity with umami, thanks to the oyster sauce! Creamy, buttery, garlicky, umami, and utterly delicious. A quick and satisfying dish that's sure to become a lunchtime or weeknight favorite!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Fusion
Keyword: 20-minute meals, asian garlic noodles, chinese garlic noodles, easy meals, quick lunch

Ingredients

  • 0.5 lb ground pork
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 7.5 oz fresh noodles uncooked
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 stalk scallion thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes optional
  • Oil for cooking

Sauce:

  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp sweet soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook noodles according to package instructions but reduce cooking time by 1 minute (for more al dente texture). Reserve 1/4 cup of the starchy noodle water. Meanwhile, combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Heat wok on medium high heat with 1 Tbsp of oil and swirl to coat. When the oil is heated through and shimmering, add the ground pork to the wok. Let it brown for 1 minute before breaking it apart. Once browned, stir-fry for another 1 minute until the pork is no longer pink. Season with a pinch (about 1/8 tsp) of salt and pepper each. Transfer the pork to a plate and set aside.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and melt 2 Tbsp of butter. Add in the garlic and let it cook until the edges are golden brown (about 1 minute). Add back the pork, chili flakes (if using), the reserved noodle water, and sauce. Turn the heat back up to medium high and stir-fry to combine the ingredients.
  • When the sauce begins to bubble, add the noodles to the wok and mix with a pair of tongs until everything is well combined and the sauce has thickened. Do a taste test and adjust with more soy sauce or sugar to your liking. Toss in the sliced scallions. Serve with a side of salad to make it a main course!

Notes

  • Getting the right oyster sauce will make huge payoffs with a dish as simple as this. I highly recommend Lee Kum Kee’s Premium Oyster Sauce (the one with a boat on the logo) or Wan Ja Shan Vegetarian Mushroom Oyster Sauce if you (a great vegetarian option or if you’re allergic to shellfish)!

Meal 5

Two tuna sandwiches with tomatoes and a side salad of tomatoes and lettuce on a white plate

This fusion was inspired by a local cafe named Brio Brio in OC. And quite frankly, the inspiration behind this entire meal plan. I missed that sandwich so much I needed to recreate it, and this is a good copycat!

Make sure you use a melty cheese that is milder in flavor so the tuna and shallots shine through. Pair this with your leftover Sesame Balsamic Spring Salad and give yourself a pat in the back. You’ve made it to the end of the week!

If you’re skipping here from another meal, jump back to Meal 3 for the tuna salad recipe.

Two tuna sandwiches with tomatoes and a side salad of tomatoes and lettuce on a white plate
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Tuna Melt Sando*

Don't underestimate canned tuna! This Japanese Tuna Melt Sando transforms humble ingredients into a lunch you'd look forward to eating over and over. The milk bread paired with melted cheese and tomatoes and grilled to perfection. Prepare to be amazed—it's THAT good!
Prep Time8 minutes
Cook Time8 minutes
Total Time16 minutes
Course: Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Asian, Fusion, Japanese
Keyword: canned tuna, easy meals, japanese tuna melt sandwich, japanese tuna sando, japanese tuna sandwich, quick lunch, tuna melt sandwich

Ingredients

  • 4 slices shokupan Japanese milk bread, preferably thick slices
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 1 medium shallot thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp Kewpie mayo for toasting the bread
  • 2 Tbsp butter softened
  • Half of the tuna salad from Tuna and Avocado Onigirazu
  • Oil for cooking

Instructions

  • Divide the 2 Tbsp of Kewpie mayo for the 4 slices of bread. For each slice, spread mayo on one side only. Spread the softened butter on the other side. The mayo sides will be the outside layers of the sandwich.
  • Lay each slice of bread butter side up (mayo side down). For one half of the sandwich, lay the Swiss cheese, then spread the reserved tuna salad on top. For the other half, lay the Swiss cheese, sliced tomatoes, and thinly sliced shallots. Now, sandwich these two halves together firmly. Repeat the same process for the second sandwich.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 390°F (200°C).
  • Add the sandwiches to the air fryer basket in a single layer. Air fry for 8 minutes until they are golden brown and the cheese has melted. Carefully flip the sandwiches halfway through the cooking time for more even browning.
  • Slice the sandwiches in half (if you like) and serve with Sesame Balsamic Spring Salad.

Notes

You can substitute shallot with red onion. But I recommend the shallot if you can find it!

If you enjoyed this meal plan, please share it on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok or your favorite social media platform!

Shopping List

ingredientquantityunitcategorynoteslist type
balsamic vinegar3Tbspcondiments and spicespantry
chili oil1.5Tbspcondiments and spiceslao gan ma brandpantry
chinkiang vinegar1Tbspcondiments and spicespantry
kewpie mayo0.66cupcondiments and spicespantry
oyster sauce1Tbspcondiments and spicespantry
sesame oil2.5tspcondiments and spicespantry
soy sauce3Tbspcondiments and spicespantry
sriracha2tspcondiments and spicespantry
sugar1Tbspcondiments and spicespantry
sweet soy sauce1Tbspcondiments and spicespantry
tonkatsu sauce2tspcondiments and spicespantry
red pepper flakes1tspcondiments and spicesoptionalpantry
butter0.33cupdairy and misc. refrigerated itemspantry
shallot oil1tspoils and dressingspantry
olive oil3Tbspoils and dressingspantry
shokupan (Japanese bread)8slicebread and bakeryhighly recommend Japanese style breadshopping
canned tuna in oil10ozcanned or jarredshopping
hot mustard0.25tspcondiments and spicesshopping
egg4largedairy and misc. refrigerated itemsshopping
swiss cheese4slicedairy and misc. refrigerated itemsshopping
ground pork1lbmeat and seafoodshopping
nori seaweed2sheetmisc. dry goodsshopping
fresh noodle0.9375lbnoodlesshopping
cilantro2stalkproduceoptionalshopping
garlic6cloveproduceshopping
hass avocado1largeproduceshopping
scallion3stalkproduceshopping
shallot1mediumproduceshopping
spring mix salad bag10ozproduceshopping
tomato2mediumproduceshopping
cooked medium grain rice1cupgrainsor short grain rice (NO long grain)shopping

Other 5-day Meal Plans

Hi, I’m Ariel 

I’m a foodie with a simple philosophy: why should amazing food be reserved for the weekends alone? I’m all about making every meal delicious because, let’s face it, we only have so many meals in our lifetime.

My mission? To take the stress out of cooking with easy-to-use meal plans so you can enjoy mouthwatering recipes any day of week. Join me on this tasty journey and let’s savor “more taste, less waste” in every bite!

Leave a Comment

Rena Sim

This easy lunch meal plan FAR exceeded my expectations! It’s so simple to follow, organized, DELICIOUS, and spells out everything you need to what you can prep ahead of time so that the cooking part throughout the week is so, so quick without me ever needing to think. I just open the meal plan, take it with me to grocery shopping on Saturdays, prep ahead what I can, and boom I have a super delicious and balanced meal laid out on the table everyday of the week. I highly recommend this meal plan to anyone who is looking for a cheat code in the kitchen like me (because some weeks can be exhausting to have to think and plan what to cook/eat and when you’re working or studying full-time). Such a game changer!!

Reply

6 months ago

Ariel | Meal Plan Maniac

Thanks for sharing your experience and glad you enjoyed it, Rena!

Reply

6 months ago

Your email address will not be published. Required Fields are marked *

Hi, I’m Ariel 

I’m a foodie with a simple philosophy: why should amazing food be reserved for the weekends alone? I’m all about making every meal delicious because, let’s face it, we only have so many meals in our lifetime.

My mission? To take the stress out of cooking with easy-to-use meal plans so you can enjoy mouthwatering recipes any day of week. Join me on this tasty journey and let’s savor “more taste, less waste” in every bite!