Lunch Goals: Soup & Salad
I don’t know about you but now that fall is here, I am motivated to up my lunch game. I am trying to be better about planning ahead so I don’t end up running around in the morning like a crazy woman trying to put a lunch together. The alternative is that I end up buying lunch WAY too much. So I’m upping my lunch game and thought I’d share my plan so you maybe you guys can too. Even though we don’t have kids, I still feel like the beginning of the school year is a good time to tighten up our routine. My plan is to share a lunch plan every other month or so but we’ll see how it goes. If this is something you really like, let me know. If it’s popular I might move it to a monthly feature.
Ok, so this month I am making a Kale salad, my hearty Easy Tomato Soup (recipe below) and roast chicken breast. I like this trio because it can all be made at the beginning of the week and split up throughout the week. We have been trying to make something for dinner that then becomes part of our lunches throughout the week and this tomato soup is perfect for that. My recommendation is to make the tomato soup with Tomato Cheddar Biscuits (or a hunk of bread if you don’t feel like baking) for dinner Sunday night. Then those leftovers, the kale salad and roasted chicken breasts can all be taken for lunches. I also like this trio because it’s easy to mix and match, it’s like a “choose your own lunch adventure”. I don’t mind eating the same thing a few days in a row but I know that drives some people crazy. This helps create variety. You could have kale salad with cold chicken one day, tomato soup with chicken in it another, or some soup and some salad another day. It’s a win win!
So here’s the game plan- I’ll walk you through the most efficient way to make all this and share the Easy Tomato Soup recipe. Let’s get started!
If you are making the Tomato Cheddar Biscuits, get those baking first. At the same time roast your chicken breasts in the oven. To roast chicken breasts, generously salt and pepper the breasts (I made 4 since we had company and I still wanted leftovers) and put them in a glass pan coated with cooking spray. Depending on their size, they will take between 25 and 35 minutes and are done when they reach 160° in the center and are no longer pink. For the biscuits, do not add the tomato slice on top. This will ensure they keep longer and don’t get soggy throughout the week. Since you are cooking chicken in the oven too, the biscuits may take a few extra minutes.
While the biscuits/chicken are baking, we’ll start the soup. This recipe is based on one of Giada De Laurentiis’, but as always I’ve changed it up and made it my own. This soup is one of my favorites and a staple in our house because it’s so easy!
Start by heating the olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large pan over medium heat. Now you’ll add the onions and carrots and sauté about 8 minutes or until they are softened.
Next, add the garlic and sauté another minute (do this last so the garlic doesn’t burn). Now you just pour in everything but the pasta: marinara, chicken stock and beans. If you want to make this vegetarian, you’ll just swap the chicken stock for vegetable.
Bring to a simmer and add the pasta. We like spirals or egg noodles the best. Macaroni would work, but anything smaller than that we’ve found just gets lost in the soup. Simmer 8-10 minutes or until the pasta is done. Season with salt and pepper.
While the soup is simmering, you can get started on the salad. Get everything chopped and then work on the dressing.
Once the soup is done, turn off the heat. It will stay hot while you finish everything else. By this time the chicken and/or biscuits should almost be done. Take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest.
Finish mixing the dressing and put the kale for the salad in a bowl. Now add the walnuts and pecorino cheese, and toss all of that with the dressing. You can store the dressing in a jar if you want to wait to toss it until the day you’re going to eat it. However, I’ve found that this salad doesn’t get soggy until the 4th day or so (kale is amazing that way).
Now that your chicken has cooled slightly, cut it up into bite-sized strips. This tomato soup is also good with chicken sausage. I recommend chicken breasts here because they work in the soup and the salad.
If having the soup for dinner, ladle in the bowls and add the desired amount of chicken.
Whatever’s left after dinner gets stored in the fridge for lunches all week! I like to portion out the next day’s lunch right away and then will do the same thing the night before I go to work, throughout the week. That way I can decide which combo I want to bring. 🙂 The tomato soup reheats wonderfully in the microwave- heat for 2-3 minutes with a paper towel over it in case it spits.
This whole process (including the biscuits) will take a maximum of an hour and a half. That’s time well spent, since you now have lunches ready for the week!
What’s your favorite lunch to bring? What other lunch strategies do you have? I’d love to hear them!
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 24-26 ounce jar marinara sauce
- 2 1/2 cups chicken (or veggie) stock
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, strained and rinsed
- 1 cup spiral pasts or egg noodles
- Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large pan over medium heat.
- Add the onions and carrots ands sauté about 8 minutes or until they are softened.
- Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
- Pour in the marinara, chicken stock and beans. Bring to a simmer and add the pasta.
- Simmer 8-10 minutes or until the pasta is done.
- Season with salt and pepper.