Are you just getting started with Meal Prep but need help with meal prep ideas? Here is the why and how to help you get started on your meal prep journey plus an easy template to think about when you’re grocery shopping or planning meals for next week.
NOTE: Do you know your TDEE? How about your BMR? One of the things that could be discouraging is not knowing some of the most popular terms for meal prepping. Take a minute to review our Library of Terms to familiarize yourself with common language for health and wellness.
- Step 2: Create your Meal Prep shopping listed based on the meals you planned
- 87 Comments on "Meal Prep 101 For Beginners"
- What is meal prepping?
- How much does it cost to meal prep for a week?
- Free meal prep planner printable
- How do you meal prep for the week?
- A simple meal prep method
- Sunday meal prep hacks for the week
- How to use your crock-pot to meal prep
- Seasonal meal prepping
- BPA free bento box
- Meal prep burrito bowls
- Learn how to meal prep and save your week
- EASY AND HEALTHY MEAL PREP IDEAS THAT YOU CAN COOK FOR THE WEEK IN LESS THAN 30 MINUTES
- 1. Make a Plan
- 3. Use Mason Jars
- 4. Don’t meal prep too many meals
- 5. Use the right containers
- Need a hand meal planning? Just download my free templates!
- My Top Choice For Healthy Meal Prep Recipes
- 1. 5 Make-Ahead Fruit & Greek Yoghurt Parfait Ideas
- 2. Overnight Chia Seed Pudding With Almond Milk
- 3. Superfood Instant Pot Oatmeal in a Jar
- 4. Greek Couscous Salad
- 5. 5 Awesome Lunch Box Ideas Perfect For Work
- 6. 10-Minute Chickpea Curry
- 7. Spicy Chicken Meal Prep With Rice And Beans
- 8. Meal Prep Chicken Fajitas
- 9. Italian Couscous Salad
- 10. The Ultimate Veggie Sandwich
- 11. 15-minute Meal Prep: Sesame Noodle Bowls
- 13. Greek Orzo Salad In a Jar
- 14. Roasted Cauliflower Tacos With Chipotle Romesco
- 15. Loaded Caprese Grilled Cheese
- 16. Meal Prep Vegetarian Quinoa Burrito Bowls
- 17. Spicy Chickpea Quinoa Bowls
- What You Need to Meal Prep
- Vegetable Green Curry
- Tortilla Soup
- Garlic Cauliflower Rice
- Balsamic Roasted Beets
- Baked Spaghetti Squash
- Prepped Zucchini Noodles
- Roasted Carrots
- Parsnip Fries
- Chia Seed Bread
- Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls
- What’s on my Grocery List?
- Putting It All Together
- Here are some ideas on creating meals:
- Vegan Meal Prep Ideas for Breakfast
- Vegan Meal Prep Ideas for Snacks
- 18. Santa Fe Low Carb Chicken Meal Prep
- 19. Salad in a Jar
- 20. Protein Power Mason Jar Salad
- 21. Honey Sriracha Glazed Meatballs
- 22. Easy Vegan Red Lentil Dal
- 23. Cold Sesame Noodle Meal Prep Bowls
- 24. Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowl
- Meal Prep Lunch Ideas
- Italian Chicken Meal Prep Bowls
- Chicken Salad Mason Jar Salads with No-Mayo Dressing
- Meal Prep Vegetarian Kung Pao Quinoa Bowls
- Turkey Sausage & Sweet Potato Lunch Bowls
- Turkey Spinach Pinwheels Meal Prep
- Greek Chicken Meal Prep Bowls
- Healthy Thai Coconut Quinoa Bowls
- Thai Chicken Wraps Meal-Prep Bistro Boxes
- 25 Healthy Meal Prep >
- Food Ready To Eat Whenever You’re Hungry
- Eat Healthy Meals Every Day
- Save Money on Food
- Is Meal Prep for you?
- SOME MORE MEAL PREP >
- Смотрите видео: Healthy Family Meal Prep for the Week! — Mind Over Munch
Step 2: Create your Meal Prep shopping listed based on the meals you planned
You don’t want to be mid-prep and missing an ingredient! Check what ingredients you already have on hand and then add what you are missing to your list. Check out our resource page for multiple checklists, grocery lists (low carb, whole30, paleo, gluten free, etc) , and calendars.
87 Comments on "Meal Prep 101 For Beginners"
So I can meal plan for a whole week with 5 meals a day
Hi Ariel – When I meal prep, I make 10 meals on Sun night, that will be eaten Mon-Fri. During the week, my meal schedule is a 5am (protein shake), 9am (meal 1), 1pm (meal 2), and dinner at 5pm. I only prep meals for my 9am and 1pm meal, so I don’t have to worry about cravings or going out to eat when I’m working.
What is your schedule like? It’s possible that you would only want to prep for 1 meal per day, if you’re able to accommodate your other meals. You should definitely be eating a breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the least
For the 9am meal, what do you usually eat?
Each person would have a different meal based on their personal food preferences, fitness goals etc.
For me (Sarah) I do not eat a 9am meal. I eat 3 big meals a day. As long as you include a balance
of carbs, protein and healthy fats you should be good!
Quinoa is not a carb. It’s a protein.
Hi Susan! Quinoa is actually both a carbohydrate source and a complete protein source. One-half cup of cooked quinoa contains about 30g of carbohydrates, 3g of fat and 5g of protein. Because of this nutritional profile, it falls under something called “starchy proteins.” We hope that answers your question! Have a great day!
I just write out my plans to reach my goal.I suppose to work accordingly to execute my plans properly.My diet plans are really simple and the list which you mentioned in the post is cool.
I’ll share this post with newbies that recently joined our gym.
Can you give an idea of serving/amounts of each that you place in the container? I have been using 1/4 cup to 1/2 cups on some things when I meal prep. I also under stand portions but I think it would be easy if you included that in your guide as examples. Great blog!
Thank you for the feedback Dana! Portions vary based on person and goals, but we are actually working on piece right now to help calculate those portions based on your goals. =)
1- For how many days can we store cooked chicken?
2- What is the best way to cook chicken so it can be used for next 5 days?
1 – 4-5 days and you should be good with fully cooked chicken.
2 – We typically bake chicken, but the key for cooking chicken is to have it cook through consistently. Try flattening the chicken out to get a consistent thickness for the whole chicken breast.
How long does it keep? Is it advisable to keep the veggies, carbs and protein in one container? Wont that spoil by day 5? Should you put in ref or freezer? Thanks 🙂
Would also like to know this..Refrigerator or freezer?
Hi Carrie – Which meal are you asking about specifically? Some can be frozen, but most we recommend only refrigerating.
Could you give me some idea for meals,I work a new shift pattern which are nights days & evening and i am finding it hard to prep and eat the right meals for the right times. I am 54yrs and don’t seem to be able to loose or keep my weight down , this may be due to eating the wrong meals at the wrong time.
Hi Kevin. Thank you for reaching out! We’ll get some ideas together for you and send them over asap. Do you have access to a microwave or will you primarily be eating cold meals?
Love this page . Just corm across in the daily mail. Please can you suggest meal ideas., I don’t eat fish . Most diet meal plans contain Fish . I have access to microwave at work
Hi Lisa! Welcome to our website! We are so happy you found us! If you check out our recipes section here: https://mealpreponfleek.com/category/meal-prep-recipes/ you can find lots of delicious ideas! Or we share other inspiring ideas on our Instagram account here: https://www.instagram.com/mealpreponfleek/ and our Pinterest page here: http://www.pinterest.com/mealpreponfleek/
We hope that helps! Have a great day!
Can you please more specific on the amount each meal and snack should contain? I’m assuming this plan includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks?? I appreciate the great information 🙂
Hi Anica! We do not give our specific amounts since each person requires a different number of calories, carbs, protein and fats each day. We recommend finding out what your custom macronutrient needs would be and then creating a plan off of that! We will be sharing an article soon on how to calculate your own macronutrient needs! Or you can reach out to Sarah here: http://sarahkesseli.com/coaching/ if you are looking for a more customize plan!
Hello, I am new to all of this, but it looks like a good way to live. My husband will be harder to bring on board.
We wish you the best of luck Rosalinda! Hopefully you can find some inspiration here on MealPrepOnFleek! Once your husband sees how much easier the week is and how much better he feels we are sure he will jump onboard!
Can I use canola oil? I did not see it on the list of good fats?
Hi Sunny! That is a great question! While canola oil isn’t the worst choice, it is also not the best. Canola oil is usually genetically modified thus containing lower essential nutrients. We would recommend sticking with the oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, grass fed butter, avocado oil, etc.
Hi just had gastric sleeve surgery and an still on the liquid diet but in 3 1/2 weeks will be on foods again. It will be a 15 carbs, 60-80 protein and 500 cal per day diet. I want to be able to meal plan and assemble meals over the weekend for my m- f work week. Can you give me pointers? No beef or pork for the next 6 months at least. Thanks
Hi Marcie – Thanks for reaching out. Given your situation, it would be best to follow the recommendations of your doctor with those macronutrient goals. Unfortunately, we do not have any meal plan recommendations that would fall into such a low calorie range at this time. We are sorry we couldn’t be of more help, but we wish you the best of luck with your journey!
Such an easy 3 category system to mix and match. I have been have a REALLY hard time shedding weight, I work out 5 times a week, and I’ve recently been eat prepped meals, 5 times a day roughly 3 hours apart. I know things take time and I’m sticking to this routine, but getting help on ideal measurement/qty of each thing in the categories would be tremendous help!!
Where do you buy these great containers? They are the perfect size!! Please let me know!! Thank you!!
The containers in this pic are from FitMark.
Finally, some real help with healthy meals! I can’t wait to get started.
I love this sight. I will prepare my meals for the optimal meal management. Thsnk you.
Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Dannice! Have a great week!
Great information, thanks! Where’s the best place to buy reusable containers?
Tons of info to find the best meal prep container. Personally, we use the OXO Snap Plastic containers. They seal the best, stack the best, but they are a little on the large size… so watch your portions.
Hi, I am a high school teacher and new mom. It’s so hard to get the time to make meals during the week so I would love to start meal prepping. I would love some ideas on great combinations or recipes to make meal prep a little easier. THanks!!
Wowo, this is a really nice article for meal prepping ideas. Thanks for sharing this.
We are so happy you enjoyed the article, Lara!
I love to be healthy and live longer. Healthy and delicious meal is part of my daily life. Looking at this pictures your meal combo looks great:) Like it a lot!
Glad you found it helpful Julia! Have a great week
Do you think it’s okay to replace breakfast with just a protein shake? and just have lunch and dinner (snacks in between) after that? Also could you tell me which protein shake’s you use and where to get them?
It really depends on your body Ellie. I (Nick) personally do a protein shake for my first meal of the day. I’ve been using the Nutrex Protein for my morning shake. Just FYI… If you order from them online, you will receive 30% discount with Coupon Code: MPOF =)
Okay, Awesome! Thanks a lot!
Hi! What a great idea for menus. I will be making meals for 6 days. What should I freeze and what would be ok in the fridge?Or is it ok to freeze it all?
Thanks for your time,
Hey Charlotte! Thanks for asking. Different ingredients vary, so we made this handy graphic to help you identify what items should be refrigerated and which could be froze. Hope it helps: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/68187381841996233/
Hello I’m Brea and I’m about to start working two full-time jobs and a part time job so my question is can I freeze the food once it’s in the individual personal containers because some nights I will need them and others i won’t because sometimes my parents will cook. Will the food still be okay if frozen?
Can you freeze the food?
Very helpful article. We are new to meal prepping and this definitely makes it seem easier.
Oh good!! So glad you found it helpful! If you have any questions about meal prep, please let us know
Hi, I am new to this. How do I know how much to eat in each food. Example: how much grams of rice, noodles, veggies, meat, etc. Everyone is different, I think, but how do I know mine?
Hi Diana – Great question! Yes, everyone is different and unfortunately, we do not offer macro programs at this time. However, please read our Ultimate Guide To Macros article: https://mealpreponfleek.com/ultimate-guide-to-calculating-macros/
You will be able to find the links to some resources that may be able to help you!
Meal prep is such an important thing for people who are tying to get in better shape and/or build some serious muscle. I’m surprised it’s not discussed more. Great post!
It definitely is! We hope you try some of the recipes!
The fact that you have bacon on here under healthy and ‘weight loss’ completely discredited this site for me. Bacon is not healthy and clogs arteries. Maybe once a month is okay. Also for ‘weight loss’ one should be focusing on PLANT BASED carbs and protein not consuming mass amounts of animal fat and protein. I gaurentee that if someone just switched to a plant based diet for a month they’d see better results than with this outline and there are plenty of meal prep ideas that are plant based. Shame on you telling people to eat bacon to loose weight .
Hi Ann – We appreciate your feedback. Although we do not recommend eating bacon every day, it can very easily fit into a weight loss diet. There are plenty of whole30 compliant versions of bacon such as this one we use: http://pedersonsfarms.com/2017/02/01/uncured-smoked-bacon-non-gmo-project-verified-no-sugar/ that contain no added sugars and are only 30 calories per slice.
We fully support all types of meal plans from meat-based, to plant-based, to whole30, keto and beyond. It is important to find what works best for YOU.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us! Have a great weekend.
I have been trying to work on the Mediterranean diet lifestyle and plant based meals. I’m having a difficult time pulling everything together. I think that this system might help me out.
Its really great and informative article for meal preparing…
Wait for the more interesting article from you…..
Thank you for this article! i’m down to 225 pounds from 500 pounds but have been unable to get in the groove of meal prepping and this just helped me a ton!!
That is incredible, Gary! Congratulations!! We are so happy we are able to help you on your journey! All the best!
As a born Italian and DEVOUT follower of the Mediterranean diet, I will NEVER “meal prep.” EVERY meal should be FRESH… EVERY time.
Hello, I’m wanting to lose weight, I eat quite healthy however I either maintain my weight and soon as I go out for a meal or two for a celebration or something I can easily gain 4-5lbs in a week, which then takes me around a month to lose again. Ive just stared going to the gym where a PT has gave me a programme to follow, I was just wondering on some meal ideas for breakfast and lunches. I like most food however would like to keep the cost down as much as possible. thank you
Hi Gemma – You have come to the right place! If you check out the recipe section on our website we have quite a few breakfast and lunch meal prep recipes that you can choose from! We try to keep most of the meals under $4 each. We also list the nutrition facts so you can see if the recipe would fit your macros/nutrition plan! Let us know if you have any other questions!
Hi. I was wondering how you reheat the food so it doesn’t get dry and rubbery?
Hi Marianne – Which food type are you referring to specifically? Some meals we recommend not reheating, so if you could let us know exactly which you are curious about we can help you out 🙂
Hi. I wondering especially about salmon, chicken and beans/lentils. Thank you! 🙂
Hello! I was wondering on the proteins… Should you slightly under cook them so when you re-heat for consumption your meats are not over cooked.
Hi Tim – great question! Some people, including myself (Sarah) do slightly undercook the meat. However, some also eat it cold, so you would want to fully cook it when prepping.
Great info. I love meal prepping.
Hello! I am struggling with finding seasonings to accompany these meals…I know for weight loss you should try to limit your salt consumption but then what are alternatives? Specifically, seasoning chicken or steak, and vegetables in general.
Hey Laurel. That’s a great question… flavor is so important for maintaining your meal prep. Our favorite seasonings come from Caribeque. Check them out here: https://www.caribeque.com/collections/all
Island Thyme and AP Rub have been our two favs so far. Lemon / Garlic is really good too..
Am new am trying to 40 pound its hard i love to eat junk what could i do helllppp
You’re in the right place. Here is a great place to get started as well as grab a copy of our ebook: https://mealpreponfleek.com/mid-week-meal-prep/
hi im new to meal prep so would love some advice. i am doing to lose weight and so that my carer can just heat up a healthy meal my mum is doing the ooking. id like to know how i can meal prep the right things as im diabetic on incerlin. my normal meal times are 9.30am test sugars then breakfast and incerlin is given. 11am test sugars if low i have some juice or a glucose tablet or a apple with fat free yogurt. 1.pm test sugars lunch and incerlin is given 4 pm test sugars if low have a low calorie cookie. 6.pm test sugars dinner this is my main meal and incerlin is given. how can i do all meals and snaks for a few days and keep them fresh do you have to freeze them when you have done them.
Hello! I am recently in my journey to weight loss by eating healthy. I work overnight 11pm-7am, have two children and go to school, my life is a bit hectic as you can read. I wanted to know what would be my ideal meal prep having my hectic schedule. Thank you
Hi Stephanie – Unfortunately, we can not say what your “ideal” meal prep would be. You would need to figure this out based on dietary needs, food likes/dislikes, caloric intake, exercise level, medical background, etc. There is no “one size fits all” nutrition plan. Please take into consideration your macronutrient needs as well and plan your meals around that.
My name is Stefanie and 10 years ago I had gastric bypass and although I lost a lot of weight , sadly I have gained about 45 pounds back. I still get full fast but I’m new to meal prep and would love to get back on track, is there any recipes you can help me with?
Hi Stephanie! Have you already checked what your macro intake (how much fat, carbs, proetin) should be? We always recommend starting with where you are (understanding your current macro intake) then setting a goal for where you want to be. Do you know what your current macro intake is?
If so, head over to hear and see where your macros should be: https://mealpreponfleek.com/macro-calculator/
From there we could make better recipe recommendations. =)
Hi this is Stefanie so I did a review of the macros like you suggested but do not understand it .
What is meal prepping?
Meal prepping is simply the art of setting aside a day (a lot of people like Sundays) to prepare all or most of your meals for the week and store them.
As you can guess, the next time your stomach is rumbling but you don’t feel like making anything, or worse yet have to run out the door in a few, all you have to do is grab a quick meal and go!
Super simple right? To be able to do meal prep week after week successfully and incorporate it into your lifestyle you’ll want to learn some meal prepping pointers first.
So, if your looking for a complete guide on how to meal prep for beginners look no further…here we go—
How much does it cost to meal prep for a week?
Hands down, meal prepping for the week is always going to cost you less than eating out or even making dinners every single night.
For an average of $6 – $8 per meal, you can make sure you’re eating food that is GOOD for you, that doesn’t have added chemicals or fats or an overdose of sodium, and that will fill you up until your next meal. The secret is in planning ahead. It all starts with a plan!
Free meal prep planner printable
Your meal prepping isn’t complete without a set of gorgeous meal planner templates. That’s why I’ve designed a set just for this meal prep guide. Enter your email below to get your weekly meal prep printable planner right to your inbox!
If you want a broader overview of your meals for one week then this is the perfect meal prep sheet for you! Once you download them, you can print them again and again. Better yet, you can even laminate each sheet and use a magnet to stick it to your fridge!
How do you meal prep for the week?
So, how exactly do you go about meal prepping for the week? There are a few general guidelines.
In the end, it’s all about finding out what works best for you! All you’re doing is creating make ahead meals, so there is plenty of fun you can have with this in terms of how creative you get with the foods you cook.
The biggest tip for beginners is to start small. Seriously.
And keep it to: One grain + One protein + One veggie.
Starting small will make sure you aren’t overwhelmed with trying to create five recipes at once and cleaning up afterwards. You can reserve that for when you get to ‘pro’ meal prep status. For now, make sure you start with 2-3 basic meal prep ideas and recipes that are easy to prepare.
A simple meal prep method
You might be asking yourself, ‘what should I meal prep this week?’ Which is probably right up there with the question, ‘what is the easiest meal prep method?’ Well, there is no one way to do all your meal prep.
But there are definitely ways you can go about it that makes it easier on yourself. Hands down, the easiest way to do meal prep is to plan it around a staple ingredient or two.
For instance, if your meal prep includes rice, you can make that the focus of each meal prep and dress it slightly differently each day. Maybe for one or two meal preps you can make asian fried rice and supplement it with noodles.
And maybe for another meal or two you can make it mixed beans and rice, along with veggies or grilled chicken breasts. It’s all about dressing up your main ingredients differently and getting a bit creative with your foods.
So, step 1: Decide on a main staple ingredient that can be your focus.
Step 2: Find different ways to dress it up, different combinations of complimentary ingredients, and different spices. To help with this meal prep strategy, here is a great list of healthy foods that last all week:
- Ground Beef
- Chick Peas
- Rice/Brown Rice/Wild Rice
It might take some practice for your first few meal prep times, but once you get it down, you will LOVE your meal prep results! Not to mention, you’ll love the change you’ll see in your personal health, and how much more energy you’ll have. Getting in the habit of meal prepping can definitely be life changing.
Sunday meal prep hacks for the week
If you aren’t really about creating complete meals all ahead of time, but still like to save time throughout the week come meal time, there are a few things you can always do on Sundays before the week begins or whenever you do your grocery shopping.
Here are a few meal prep hacks and tips I use when I want to make the most out of my meals throughout the week:
- Create smoothie bombs for quick early morning breakfasts
- Make a ton of meatballs you can freeze and use later
- Make Frittatas that you can portion and freeze and then only unthaw what you need daily
- Cut up all your veggies and fruits and store them in air tight containers
- Cook all the rice you’ll use for the week, portion and freeze
- Cook all the legumes you’ll use for the week e.g. beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc. in one go
- Bake wheat flour muffins for a filling breakfast option
- Hard boil all your eggs for the week to use in salads and breakfast
- re-purpose leftovers into new meals that you just pop in the oven during the week
- Use your pressure cooker to create make ahead mash potatoes
How to use your crock-pot to meal prep
Crock-pot meal ideas are a great way to create make ahead dinners for your meal prep sessions. They primarily speed up the cooking process for things such as beans and can help you finish your meal prepping faster. Here are other ways to use a crock-pot that will help make your meal prepping faster:
- Slow cook ground beef for one of your staple ingredients
- slow cook chicken that you can pull apart and use later
- create slow cooker mashed potatoes
- Make crock-pot cherry cobbler for a few dessert snacks throughout the week
- Slow cook just about anything at the beginning of your meal prep day to have it ready to portion out when you prepare your meals
Seasonal meal prepping
There are different foods that are in season during different times of the year. Thankfully there are lots of ways to meal prep ahead of time that can help you freeze and preserve certain ingredients that you can use at a later time. You can freeze preserve things like fruits and veggies and use them later for certain recipes.
Meal prep hack: Check out the Seasonal Food Guide site to learn what is in season and available in your area.
BPA free bento box
Bento boxes have always been a cool way to prepare a lunch for work or school, but they can also be used to prepare your fresh meal prep for the week to be store in your fridge (or even freezer). They’re less heavier than glass and a bit more flexible.
Meal prep burrito bowls
These meal prep burrito bowls are almost too nice to dig into! If you don’t want to end up with a soggy tortilla for your burritos then try creating these delicious bowls. Same burrito concept, except prepared for meal prep convenience. A pretty perfect creation from Free Your Fork.
Learn how to meal prep and save your week
There are tons of meal prep ideas and recipes out there, so there’s really no excuse to get started! All you need are a few ingredients, actually learning how to meal prep, some cooking tools, and an evening or afternoon to take care of all your meal prepping for the week. Any meal prep hacks and tips you wouldn’t mind sharing? Share it below!
EASY AND HEALTHY MEAL PREP IDEAS THAT YOU CAN COOK FOR THE WEEK IN LESS THAN 30 MINUTES
Preparing quick and delicious meals 3 times a day might seem impossible with everything else you have going on in your life! But by using some simple tips, and by planning ahead you’ll be blown away by how easy cooking delicious food can be.
Make-ahead meals will save you money and time plus you’ll be able to keep your diet under control and avoid eating unhealthy food.
And to help you get started, I put together an inspiring list of meal prep ideas that you can cook in less than 30 minutes on a lazy Sunday.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be amazed at how easy this is, and you’ll just ask yourself why you didn’t do this sooner!
1. Make a Plan
Decide what you are going to cook ahead of time. Pick all the recipes you want to cook for the week, and put together a grocery shopping list. I would suggest you start with 2-3 recipes per week. It’s nice to have variety, but it also takes a lot more time to cook different meals, especially if you are just starting out!
3. Use Mason Jars
First of all, they look very pretty (I know, I do love pretty things!), but they are also very practical. They are cheap, microwave safe (remove the lid!) and perfect for storing salads. Put the dressing on the bottom and the leaves at the top, so nothing gets soggy and your salad will remain crispy for hours.
4. Don’t meal prep too many meals
Don’t meal prep more than 5 days worth of food. Most of the food you will prep won’t last more than 3 days in the fridge, so make sure you freeze the rest.
Remove the meal from the freezer the night before you are going to eat it and leave it to defrost in the refrigerator. This will avoid germs and bacteria getting in your food.
5. Use the right containers
My favorite containers for healthy meals are made of glass. I prefer them to plastic containers for several reasons:
- You can see what’s in them easily.
- They can be used in microwaves.
- They won’t alter the taste of food, even if it’s left in there for a few days.
- When warming up your food, glass containers won’t release any chemicals with the hot temperature as plastic containers can.
If you do pick plastic containers, make sure they are BPA-free.
Need a hand meal planning? Just download my free templates!
How awesome would it be not to have to think about what’s for dinner for an entire week? Weekly meal planning can do that for you! Just download my free weekly meal planners in two beautiful designs to kick-start your meal planning journey.
If you plan your meals for the week, you’ll stop panicking about what to eat for dinner every night. And you will finally start developing healthy eating habits that will help you to start enjoying your food every day and save money!
My Top Choice For Healthy Meal Prep Recipes
And here you can find my favorite quick and easy meal prep recipes! All these meal prep recipes will be ready in 30 minutes or less and are perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
No matter what you love, there are some simple and yummy ideas for you: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and some for meat lovers!
1. 5 Make-Ahead Fruit & Greek Yoghurt Parfait Ideas
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
Found on Project Meal Plan
If you love fruit and granola, this is the perfect breakfast for you. These parfait ideas are super delicious and they are much cheaper to make than buying them at Starbucks. Prepare these in the evening, and grab them on your way out of the door!
2. Overnight Chia Seed Pudding With Almond Milk
PREP TIME: less than 5 minutes
Found on The Worktop
This is the perfect healthy vegan meal prep recipe for breakfast! It’s ready in pretty much a couple of minutes and only requires 2 ingredients. Just mix chia seeds and almond milk before going to bed, put them in the fridge and you will have a tasty breakfast to enjoy in the morning! Add whatever fresh fruit you love, and you are ready to go!
I love this with fresh berries in the summer or warm apple compote in the winter! Delicious!
3. Superfood Instant Pot Oatmeal in a Jar
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
Found on Cotter Crunch
A healthy breakfast meal prep recipe that you can bring to work with you! This 10-minute oatmeal recipe is filled with superfoods: gluten-free rolled oats, apples, walnuts, flaxseed, goji berries, and more. You can make this with a slow-cooker, but it’s easily prepped on a stove too!
And the great thing about these oatmeal jars is that they last up to 5 days in the fridge. You can meal prep these a few days in advance and just take them out of the fridge in the morning. I normally prep them on Sunday evening, and they are ready for the week!
4. Greek Couscous Salad
PREP TIME: 25 minutes
This colorful and healthy Greek couscous salad is so delicious, your co-workers will envy you as soon as they see it! It’s the perfect healthy meal prep option for a work lunch. It’s also very cheap to make!
If you want to go for a meaty option, you can simply add some grilled chicken on top!
5. 5 Awesome Lunch Box Ideas Perfect For Work
PREP TIME: 5 to 25 minutes
If you are after some simple lunch ideas, you can try these awesome lunch boxes. They only take between 5 to 25 minutes to prepare. They are healthy, perfect if you are in a hurry, and will satisfy everyone.
Delicious! They are my go-to lunch at the moment!
Found on Gathering Dreams
6. 10-Minute Chickpea Curry
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE, DAIRY FREE, NUT FREE
Found on Gathering Dreams
I have a bit of a problem with this chickpea curry. I cook it ALL THE TIME! And Dan is getting a bit tired of it lol! But I love it: this is my go-to weeknight meal, for many reasons!
It’s rich, spicy but not overpowering, filling and ready in only 10 minutes. Plus, it’s the perfect meal prep recipe. You can cook a big batch and put it in the fridge or freezer and be done for the week. And it’s really cheap to make: a portion comes out at less than $2.
7. Spicy Chicken Meal Prep With Rice And Beans
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
Found on Pinch Of Yum
This spicy chicken with rice and beans is very filling and packed with proteins. If you are a fan of using an Instant Pot, this is the perfect recipe for you. But don’t worry, you can meal prep this even without an Instant Pot. It will just take a bit longer and you can use a crockpot or a simple pan.
And aren’t these meal prep containers super-cute? I hate microwaving in plastic, and these glass containers, not only are very durable and reusable but will keep your food organized too, with all those dividers. You can find them on Amazon by clicking here!
8. Meal Prep Chicken Fajitas
PREP TIME: 25 minutes
These meal prep chicken fajitas are made on one (or two) sheet pans, making for a super easy prep and even easier clean up! Serve them in tortilla bowls for a no-mess lunch.
9. Italian Couscous Salad
PREP TIME: 25 minutes
I never seem to have enough couscous salads! This is another variation, with an Italian twist on it. This healthy meal prep recipe is perfect for lunch or dinner: it’s fresh and light tasting while still being filling and satisfying. The dressing is packed with spice/dried herbs and the vinegar and honey make it tangy and sweet at the same time.
10. The Ultimate Veggie Sandwich
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
Found on I Am A Food Blog
This veggie sandwich is truly epic! Not only it’s beautiful to see, it’s delicious too! Main ingredients are romaine lettuce, carrots, cucumber, red cabbage, avocado, sprouts, red onion, and tomatoes. Yummy!
11. 15-minute Meal Prep: Sesame Noodle Bowls
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
Found on Pinch of Yum
These meal prep sesame noodle bowls are made with delicious noodles, an easy creamy sesame sauce, perfect browned chicken, and all the veg!
13. Greek Orzo Salad In a Jar
PREP TIME: 35 minutes
Found on How Sweet Eats
Ok, this salad will take an extra 5 minutes over 30 to prepare, but it’s absolutely delicious. And if you chop veggies fast, you’ll be able to make it in half an hour. It’s the perfect meal prep idea doe lunch when you are in a hurry but still want to eat a healthy meal.
14. Roasted Cauliflower Tacos With Chipotle Romesco
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
Found on Minimalist Baker
These smoky, roasted cauliflower tacos with a spicy chipotle romesco sauce are super delicious! A healthy plant-based meal that’s ready in under 30 minutes and easy to pack, and so satisfying!
15. Loaded Caprese Grilled Cheese
Found on Pinch Of Yum
I am not sure if you know this, but I LOVE pesto!
And this Caprese Grilled Cheese is loaded with basil pesto, a thick and chunky garlic butter tomato sauce, and fresh mozzarella cheese, all on grilled sourdough bread. This is the perfect vegetarian lunch sandwich!
16. Meal Prep Vegetarian Quinoa Burrito Bowls
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
Found on Simply Quinoa
These easy vegetarian quinoa burrito bowls are the perfect recipe to meal prep for a healthy lunch or dinner. It makes 5 days worth of food in less than 20 minutes, is packed with nutrients and tastes delicious!
17. Spicy Chickpea Quinoa Bowls
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
These super flavorful meal prep bowls are gluten free, dairy free, vegan and perfect for your weekly meal prep! Easy to assemble and even easier to make!
What You Need to Meal Prep
Before I start, I take a look in the fridge and pantry to see if there are any staples I need to add to my grocery list, or anything that needs to be cleaned. After that, I’d recommend sitting down with a pen and paper, maybe perusing Pinterest or your favourite cookbooks and writing down what you want to make for the week, creating a grocery list as you go.
After you’ve finished creating a rough meal plan for the week and corresponding grocery list, it’s time to get groceries! Once you’ve shopped, you’re ready to go.
The only other thing you’ll need is some food storage containers. Replacing all my plastic containers with some nice, glass ones is on my to-do list but for now I’m using just plain, old Tupperwear-style containers. What kind you use is up to you but it does help to have a good selection of sizes on hand before you start, especially some larger ones for main dishes.
Vegetable Green Curry
I didn’t use a recipe for this but it’s so good I’ve been making some variation of it for the last few weeks. It’s very easy to make, is low fat and carbohydrate and tastes amazing. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand but my favourites for green curry are broccoli, peppers, bamboo shoots and peas. I couldn’t find bamboo shoots this week so I used broccoli, peppers, carrots and peas.
To make vegetable green curry, add some minced garlic and ginger to a pan and cook in a bit of water for a few minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and 1 can of light coconut milk, a few tablespoons of green curry paste, a bit of sweetener and simmer until the veggies are tender. I also add about 1 cup of vegetable stock just to make it go a little further. I also add red pepper flakes for some spice. If you don’t have fresh garlic and ginger on hand, garlic powder and ground ginger are ok too.
If you’d like a little more guidance for this dish, base this off of my Vegetable Red Curry recipe and just use green curry paste instead of red. I’ll eat this with cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles and may add tofu or seitan for extra protein.
I make a soup almost every week for food prep. I love big, filling portions and soup is so high-volume that I can fill up without going overboard on calories. Healthy soups are also a good way to sneak a ton of vegetables in to your diet. Over the past few weeks I’ve made Broccoli Soup, Kale and Caulifower Soup and Red Curry Squash and Cauliflower Soup. They’re all easy to make, keep well and taste amazing.
For this week’s soup, I made this Tortilla Soup recipe with some added chopped Mexican salad I had leftover from last week. During the week, I’ll eat this topped with avocado, cilantro and lime.
Garlic Cauliflower Rice
I made a batch of garlic cauliflower rice by adding 1 crown of riced cauliflower to a pan with a generous amount of garlic powder and a dash of soy sauce. Cook this up for about 5 minutes and you’re done. You can use this in all sorts of meals during the week, basically anywhere you’d use rice!
Balsamic Roasted Beets
These are super easy to make and take just a minute to prep. I don’t usually peel beets, I just wash them well before using. If I’m grating them to eat raw I’ll peel them, but I couldn’t be bothered today. I diced 4 large beets, placed on a roasting pan with a few splashes of balsamic vinegar and they went in the oven at 400 degrees until tender.
Baked Spaghetti Squash
I bake a spaghetti squash most weeks for food prep because it’s such a flexible and filling ingredient to have on hand. Follow my post on How to Cook Spaghetti Squash or try one of these recipes: Low Fat Pesto Spaghetti Squash or Spaghetti Squash Marinara.
Prepped Zucchini Noodles
I go through zucchini noodles so fast, I’m constantly using my spiralizer to try to keep up. Every week I’ll prep a large container of zoodles that I’ll use for salads and recipes throughout the week.
For quick meals, I’ll eat zucchini noodles with store-bought pasta sauce and seitan, ground round or tempeh. I takes about 2 minutes to make, tastes great and is low in fat and carbs so I can dig in to a big, satisfying portion. I often eat zucchini noodles raw but my Quick Cheesy Zoodles and Roasted Red Pepper Zoodles are also favourites.
Whether I eat them raw in salads or use them to make zoodle recipes, I include a big batch of zucchini noodles in my food prep every week.
I made a batch of carrots roasted with ginger, cinnamon, cumin and coriander. These are delicious on salads, as a side dish or a healthy, sweet and savoury snack. To make roasted carrots, just chop them up, add any spices you like and roast at 400 degrees until tender, about 30 minutes.
I’ll eat these on top of salads, as a side or for snacking. You can follow my recipe for Garlic Parsnip Fries and switch up the spices to your liking. This week I just used garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper.
I make a batch of seitan or seitan protein bread almost every week. There are a lot of different ways you can make it but I just mix the vital wheat gluten with nutritional yeast and a bit of soy sauce to form a dough, then simmer it in a pot with vegetable stock until firm. Seitan isn’t for everyone but it’s almost pure protein so I love it adding to meals during the week as a low fat and low carb protein source.
Chia Seed Bread
I was working on a recipe for chia seed bread a while back and kind of forgot about it. I gave it another try today and it’s really good but not quite ready for sharing. I’ll eat this for snacks and for breakfast with nut butter, tahini, avocado or hummus.
Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls
I made sweet potato breakfast bowls for breakfast on Monday and Tuesday. They have ingredients like coconut, peanut butter, hemp seeds, blueberries and strawberries. I had some leftover baked sweet potato from last week that needed to be used up and this is the perfect way to use it! I usually bake a couple of sweet potatoes as part of food prep but I d />
What’s on my Grocery List?
My grocery lists don’t change much from week to week. I always make a list before shopping but basically it’s load up on vegetables, herbs, fresh and frozen fruit, almond milk, some canned foods like coconut milk, beans and diced tomato, and a few nuts, seeds and grains. Other than that it’s just any specially items I might need for recipes. For example, I needed adobo peppers in chipotle for the soup and green curry paste for the curry.
Putting It All Together
Now what? You’ve got all this food in the fridge, how do you put it all together to create meals? Well, I simply mix and match throughout the week, depending on what I feel like. This is more of a “food prep” method as opposed to actual “meal prep” where you might portion out 5 days worth of complete meals in individual containers. I don’t like doing meal prep this way because I like variety throughout the week but both routes are good options. If I have an extra busy week, sometimes I will prepare 5 day worth of individually packed lunches and breakfasts ready to go.
Here are some ideas on creating meals:
- Green Curry with Cauliflower Rice and Baked Tofu
- Green Curry with Zucchini Noodles and Edamame
- Salad with Chickpeas, Edamame, Roasted Beets and Carrots
- Store Bought Veggie Burgers with a Side of Parsnip Fries and Roasted Carrots
- Tortilla Soup topped with Avocado, Black Beans and Cilantro
- Zucchini Noodles with Pasta Sauce, Seitan, Diced Peppers and Onions
- Chickpea or Tofu Scrambles with Spinach, Diced Peppers and Onions
- Zucchini Noodles with Low Fat Peanut Sauce
- Cauliflower Rice with Peanut Sauce, Edamame and Peppers
Vegan Meal Prep Ideas for Breakfast
I’ve been really fortunate lately in that I’ve had time to come home after the gym and make breakfast each day. However, when it’s straight to the gym then straight to work, I always prep breakfast the night before.
My go-to’s for breakfast meal prep are:
Vegan Meal Prep Ideas for Snacks
I didn’t actually prep any snacks this week but snacks are easy. This week I’ll snack on fresh and frozen fruit, protein powder, nuts, chia pudding, smoothies and hummus and veggies, as well as the edamame and other veggies I prepped. Some other good ideas to make ahead are vegan muffins, homemade energy bars and protein bars and healthy baking.
If you’d like to see what I’m making each week in action, follow me on Instagram and watch for food prep stories every Sunday. I’d also love to see what’s cooking for your food prep! Tag me @runningonrealfood and use #runningonrealfood so I can check it out!
18. Santa Fe Low Carb Chicken Meal Prep
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
This yummy lunch meal prep has cilantro lime cauliflower rice and bell peppers topped with taco-seasoned chicken breast and cheese! 8 g net carbs but still fills you up.
19. Salad in a Jar
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
I love Salads in a Jar: they look so pretty in these Ball Mason Jars and it’s an easy way to pack your lunch. You can make this ahead of time, and you’ll be ready for lunch on the go!
This veggie version is light and quick to prep: main ingredients are corn, chopped carrots, peppers, cucumbers, cabbage, spiralized zucchini and leafy greens of your choice.
20. Protein Power Mason Jar Salad
PREP TIME: 29 minutes
This Protein Power Salad Jar has the perfect combination of nourishing, filling and hydrating ingredients for a tasty and balanced meal. Pack and store in your fridge until ready to eat. Delicious!
21. Honey Sriracha Glazed Meatballs
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
Found on Eat Yourself Skinny
This recipe is super easy. You can serve these delicious turkey meatballs with brown rice, quinoa or even cauliflower rice. Carrots add a good crunch and everything is topped with green onions and sesame seeds. This is a delicious and filling meal, easy to prep in advance and to warm up in the office!
22. Easy Vegan Red Lentil Dal
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
Found on Simply Quinoa
Using just one pot and ready in under 20 minutes, this easy vegan red lentil dal is a flavorful, plant-powered meal! Serve with quinoa or rice, perfect for meal prep!
23. Cold Sesame Noodle Meal Prep Bowls
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
These cold sesame noodle meal prep bowls are the perfect vegan prep ahead lunch: spiralized vegetables tossed with chickpeas and whole wheat spaghetti in a spicy almond butter sauce.
24. Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowl
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
Found on Minimalist Baker
I love Mexican food! And this low-carb burrito bowl version is simply delicious. Ready in 30 minutes, this burrito bowl is made with seasoned cauliflower rice, black beans, grilled peppers and onions, and guacamole!
Meal Prep Lunch Ideas
If you eat out at lunch time you can save yourself a stash of cash as well as improving your diet by meal prepping your lunch instead.
Here’s our pick of the best healthy meal prep lunch ideas from around the web to get you started!
And a top tip for you, most of these recipes make four portions to see you through Thursday, if you know you’ll get bored eating the same lunch every day then pick out two with common ingredients so you can mix and match instead.
And just in case you’re wondering, yes you can meal prep sandwiches without them going soggy!
Meal prepping requires a little organization so why not get off to a strong start with this fabulous Meal Prep Planner!
Inside there is room to plan out your weekly breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for a whole year, as well as space to jot down the things you need to buy from the store. The planner is 6×9 inches so it’s the perfect size to drop in your purse and take with you when you go shopping.
There’s room in the back to keep track of your goto recipes so they’re always right there in your planner when you need them.
Italian Chicken Meal Prep Bowls
This delicious meal prep lunch option is packed full of yummy veggies and seasoned with classic Italian spices. It’s SUPER easy to make so a good option to try if you have just started meal prepping.
Chicken Salad Mason Jar Salads with No-Mayo Dressing
Some say that you haven’t really meal prepped until you’ve tried your hand at a mason jar salad or two! This one combines chicken with apples and grapes and is topped with leafy greens.
Here’s a mason jar meal prep tip, if you LOVE lettuce then make sure you use 32oz wide mouth jars to make sure you can fit it all in!
If you need some 32 oz Mason Jars you can find some here.
Meal Prep Vegetarian Kung Pao Quinoa Bowls
Quinoa is a great alternative to rice and pasta and can be dressed up in so many different ways you could eat it for lunch all week and still have a different meal every day. This buddha bowl recipe looks totally delicious and could easily be eaten at home or at work.
Turkey Sausage & Sweet Potato Lunch Bowls
If sausage is your thing then you are going to LOVE these sausage and sweet potato lunch bowls. Add in some mixed veggies and you have a wholesome meal to keep you going through that afternoon slump!
Turkey Spinach Pinwheels Meal Prep
If you love sandwiches (or you have kids to meal prep for) then check out these yummy pinwheels. They’re super easy to prepare so a great choice for a weekend when you can’t fit in your full meal prep session.
Greek Chicken Meal Prep Bowls
How about the taste of Greece to liven up your lunches this week? The Greek yoghurt tzatziki sauce is packed full of protein and probiotics to help look after your tummy.
Healthy Thai Coconut Quinoa Bowls
If you’re looking for vegetarian lunches check this one out. It’s packed full of the tastes of Thailand and the protein comes from the sweet potato and peanut butter.
Thai Chicken Wraps Meal-Prep Bistro Boxes
Here’s another Thai lunch option, but this one is packed inside a delicious Starbucks-style wrap. Of course this meal prep version is a fraction of the cost and much more healthy!
25 Healthy Meal Prep >
Avoid packaged food and frozen meals this week by preparing nutritious breakfast, lunches, and dinners ahead of time.
From protein-packed to vegetarian-friendly, we have plenty of recipe inspiration to get you started! These are the perfect healthy meal prep ideas to meal prep on Sunday in less than 30 minutes!
Food Ready To Eat Whenever You’re Hungry
Whether you love to cook fresh meals every day, or you feel like you never have time, meal prep is a great way to have something to eat ready whenever you have no time. If you are late from work, or you are just rushing out of the house at the last minute, have a meal ready to grab can be a lifesaver!
Eat Healthy Meals Every Day
The hungrier you are, the more tempted you get to buy unhealthy food. By cooking delicious food ahead of time, you’ll know exactly what you are eating. You can pick the right ingredients and make sure you add to your diet plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Save Money on Food
By making a meal plan, you’ll be able to waste a lot less food. When you go food shopping, you’ll just buy exactly what you need and won’t be tempted to overspend. Plus by bringing your own delicious lunch to work you’ll save a great deal of money! With an average work lunch costing up to $10-a-day in a big city, you can end up spending over $2,500 a year on work lunches alone!
You don’t have to meal prep every day, but by bringing your lunch from home 3-4 times a week, you can easily save more than $1,000 a year!
Is Meal Prep for you?
Meal prepping can save your life, especially if you have a very busy schedule but you still want to eat healthy food.
Just try it for a week and you will see a big change in your health and in your wallet!
What are your favorite healthy meals to prep? Share them in the comments below!
SOME MORE MEAL PREP >
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Check out all the best resources for your blog! I find all these resources so valuable and I am sure they will help you as much as they helped me.
I Love all these great recipe ideas I’m actually looking forward to preparing and cooking diner tonight !
Thank you for stopping by 🙂
Taylor @ Not Quite an Adult says
I’m obsessed with meal planning because it makes my whole week go so much smooooooooother. These recipes look awesome! Ps. your blog is beautiful and you images on Pinterest are insane, keep up the hard work!
Thank you, Taylor 🙂 You are too kind! It makes me so happy that you like my blog and pins!
Niki @ Toot's Mom is Tired says
Thanks for all of the great ideas! I’m definitely trying the yogurt jars and the salad jars.