Nutritious meal prep recipes
Whether you prefer meal prep or takeout, this new year is a new opportunity to switch things up and make lunchtime more enjoyable. We’re thinking lunch boxes — an easy way to avoid unhealthy additives, save money and reduce disposable packaging!
Here, we’ve got the best and easy-to-prepare dishes to include in your lunch box for 2023. Be inspired by ideas for mains that can be a meal on their own, plus sides to add on if you’ve got space for more. No matter how you mix and match, these nutritious lunch box ideas will give you the energy to power through the day:
– Mains –
1. Ginger Fried Rice
It’s nice to be greeted by the fragrant and inviting aroma of ginger, all the more so in the middle of the workday. Our Ginger Fried Rice recipe is tasty, fuss-free, and works with overnight rice for a convenient fry-up.
Plus, if you’re working in a cold environment (say, a freezing office or bad weather), dried ginger (or Zingiber) is believed to expel coldness, improving blood circulation and keeping you warmed up for the day ahead.
Read more about dried ginger here
Prep Time: 20 mins. Serves 2 to 3
2. Longevity Noodles
Try our Longevity Noodles recipe for a simple and hearty lunch box meal that’ll keep you going. It’s a beginner-friendly recipe where you can simply stir-fry all the ingredients together, including the classic and tasty trio of main ingredients (pork belly, chinese mushrooms and chives).
For extra nourishment to the liver and stomach, go heavy on the Chinese chives — in TCM, it’s known to be anti-bacterial, good for gut health and promote energy circulation.
Prep Time: 1 hour. Serves 4
3. Yam Rice
One pan, and one rice cooker. That’s all you’ll need to get this delicious Yam Rice out of the kitchen and into your lunch box. This is a dish filled with umami, from dried mushrooms, shrimp, shallots and Chinese sausage.
The fresh yam (or Huai Shan) itself is tasty and sweet, shallow-fried and steamed for the perfect texture. The recipe works with any yam of choice, but we recommend Chinese Yam for its nutritional qualities. It’s rich in fibre, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is said to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Read more about Chinese Yam here
Prep Time: 45 mins. Serves 5 to 6
4. Cha Soba Noodles
To siam a food coma, nothing beats Cha Soba as a light lunch! Paired with any side of your choice, this lunch box meal is as easy to make as instant noodles — just without the judgement or guilt. We also have a scallion oil minced meat soba recipe, if you’re looking for a stand-alone dish.
Not many veggies go particularly well with cha soba, but we’ve found that boiled seaweed fits seamlessly into the dish. On top of adding protective antioxidants to your lunch, seaweed is also recommended by TCM practitioners for relieving lower back pain and fatigue.
Prep Time: 30 mins. Serves 4
5. Lotus Leaf Rice
Lotus Leaf Rice is an auspicious dish and definitely tastes like one! Indulge in the addictive flavour of rice and meat, infused with the aroma of fresh lotus leaves which you can find at any herbal or speciality store. Simply fry cooked rice with shrimps, shallots, mushrooms and a protein of choice, before wrapping and steaming for about 30 minutes.
For added health benefits, wrap each of your lunch portions in its own lotus leaf. Not only will it look stunning, but it’s said to boost metabolism and promote healthy liver functions.
Read more about lotus leaf here
– Sides –
6. Orange Chicken
This Orange Chicken recipe is an easy homemade version of crowd-favourite sweet and sour pork. Besides switching out pork for bite-sized chicken chunks, there’s another twist — adding orange peel and juice for a refreshing hit.
For an added health boost, you can also use dried tangerine peel thanks to its numerous TCM benefits. From reducing phlegmy coughs to relieving indigestion, it’s a simple (and tasty) way to inject lunchtime with the nutrition you need. And, since tangerines are smaller and easier to peel than oranges, you can save precious prep time.
Prep Time: 15 mins. Serves 3 to 4
7. Stir-Fry Pork Liver with Scallions
You’ll find this in our recommended confinement recipes, so that’s a stamp of approval for how good this Pork Liver with Scallions dish is. Your lunch will have plenty of nutrients from the pork liver, which is packed with Vitamin A for sharpening vision and boosting your immune system.
An added plus is the generous amount of wolfberries (or Goji Berry). Wolfberries are packed with Vitamin A and C, and also full of fiber, iron and protein to protect you against heart disease. In the longer term, it’s also believed that regularly eating wolfberries can naturally enhance your immune system — not to mention, it tastes great too.
Read more about wolfberries here
Prep Time: 30 mins. Serves 3 to 4
8. Steamed or Pan-Fried Fish
As an ingredient, fish is a powerhouse for nutrition and goes well with many cooking styles. Here, our pan-fried cod fish recipe steals the show with flakey goodness, topped with a unique sweet and sour sauce.
Steaming the fish is also a great way to get tender fish meat. We recommend steamed fish with plenty of nutritious herbs, including Dang Gui, Chuanxiong, red dates and wolfberries. If you’re prone to headaches, Chuanxiong (or Szechwan Lovage Rhizome) may be just what you need for relieving migraines and neck pain.
Whether you’re frying or steaming, easily fit the fish into a lunch box by portioning it beforehand, or packing it into a separate container with the sweet or savoury sauce. Best served with rice.
Prep Time: 15 mins. Serves 3 to 4
9. Steamed Cabbage Rolls with Scallop Sauce
Get your daily dose of Vitamin C and K with this Cabbage Rolls recipe. The filling is made with minced chicken and prawns, wrapped up with cabbage leaves that encases all the sweetness. In TCM, cabbage is also known for promoting recovery from sickness and preventing heart disease, making it an even sweeter deal.
We steam the veggie to retain all this nutritional value, while allowing it to absorb the flavours of dried scallop and chicken stock. Perfect to go with both rice and noodles!
Prep Time: 20 mins. Serves 4
10. Honey Chicken and Couscous Salad
Lunchtime is healthier and more exciting with a Chicken and Couscous Salad. It’s a failproof pairing as the fluffy couscous provides a perfect base for a light and healthy salad, while the chicken complements with protein to keep you full.
As a dressing, top off the salad with feta cheese, mint leaves and a drizzle of raw honey for collagen production, protection of throat health and a boost in energy. It’s a quick and easy dish that will leave you feeling energized for the day ahead!
Read more about raw honey here
Bring lunch to work ideas
Lunchtime is an important part of our daily routine, and a nutritious and tasty meal can make a big difference in our energy levels and overall well-being. And it doesn’t have to be a hassle! With these 10 easy and tasty lunch box ideas, you can take control of your diet and upgrade your lunch game.
This includes reaping the benefits of TCM herbs in your everyday meals. It’s so easy to incorporate and fuel your body with essential nutrients through TCM ingredients, which you can read all about here.
Click here to shop featured TCM ingredients
This article was brought to you by Eu Yan Sang (Singapore).
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