Sure, meal prep is a chore, but break it down to its most basic, and getting the right nutrients into your body is an essential part of living healthily. Whether you’re aiming to build your body, training for a sporting event, or generally living with wellness in mind, prepping what you eat is a surefire way of ensuring you get maximum results out of your diet.
Meal prep goes hand in hand with that, reducing the risk of go-to snacking, and making sure you’re fuelling your workouts and recovery as efficiently as possible. And you’ll probably save some money, too.
To help you start cooking with gas, we assembled a crack team of PTs and nutritionists to talk us through the meal-prepping recipes for success.
- How Much Effort Is Prepping A Week’s Worth Of Meals?
- How To Choose Which Meals To Prep
- Best For Everyday Eating
- Overnight Chia Seed Pudding
- Chicken Fajitas
- Quinoa Salad
- Best For Muscle Building
- Tuna Steaks
- Best For Weight Loss
- Chicken Sausage And Vegetable Stir-Fry
- Best For General Health
- One-Pan Salmon
- Best For Vegans
- Tofu And Chickpea Curry
- Bonus Round: Container Tips
- What does it mean to meal prep?
- Where can I buy food prep containers?
- How long can I keep meals in the fridge?
- Can you freeze meal prep recipes?
- How to make meal prep burrito bowls
- 1. Healthy Roasted Chicken and Veggies
- 2. Chicken Shawarma and Sweet Potato Fry Bowls
- 3. Healthy Greek Chicken Meal-Prep Bowls
- 5. Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Cauliflower Rice
- 6. Jerk Chicken Meal-Prep Bowls
- 7. Fiesta Chicken Rice Bowls
- 8. Meal-Prep Southwest Chicken Burrito Bowls
- 9. One-Pan Healthy Chicken and Veggies
- 10. Tex-Mex Chicken Meal-Prep Bowls
- 11. Asian-Style Chicken, Veggies, and Rice Meal Prep
- 12. Chicken Butternut Squash Pasta
- 13. Chicken, Apple, and Pecan Salads in a Jar
- 14. Italian Chicken Meal-Prep Bowls
- 15. Harvest Chicken Salad
- 16. Teriyaki Chicken Stir-Fry Meal-Prep Lunch Boxes
- 17. Meal-Prep Slow-Cooker Chicken Teriyaki Quinoa Bowls
- 18. Baked Chicken, Broccoli, and Sweet Potatoes
- 19. Pizza Chicken Meal Prep
- 6 Best Fat Loss Breakfasts
- Related Posts
- 3 Easy Protein Pancake Recipes
- 3 Healthy Chicken Breast Recipes
- High Protein Low Carb Dinner Recipes
- 5 Quick and Easy Pre-Workout Snack Recipes
- 6 Best Fat Loss Breakfasts
- Disclaimers & Disclosure
- Смотрите видео: 4 EPIC CHICKEN MEAL PREP RECIPES
How Much Effort Is Prepping A Week’s Worth Of Meals?
The short answer is, once you’re used to it, prepping your meals is less effort than you think.
“Most people believe it’s a time-consuming process, but the reality is, if you batch cook food in advance, not only do you save money but actually, you save having to take time to go out and buy stuff all the time too, you actually get that time back,” says Castle-Mason.
And it needn’t cost the earth to get set up, either. As Castle-Mason points out, there is an initial and unavoidable outlay in plastic tubs. But don’t get carried away, just get five containers that are large enough to fit a suitable lunch.
Of course, if you’re planning on prepping your breakfast for the week, and dinners too, you’ll need to scale up accordingly. But, then again, you need a little joy in your life, and leftovers from last night’s dinner make for great lunches. Five should be fine.
But isn’t buying food in bulk expensive and, well, a bit boring? Surely you can’t do it when time and money are limited? Sandwith has no time for your whining:
“As someone who is living on a budget, with a very busy lifestyle, I can confirm that meal prep is completely possible and actually a lot simpler and easier that you might think,” she explains. “Personally, I love variety, and wouldn’t enjoy eating the same meal everyday, so I batch cook a variety of different foods from baked potato to a large portion of quinoa that I can keep in the fridge to make up different meals throughout the week.”
So we’ve demolished a few common misconceptions already: you can meal prep on a budget, it saves time rather than consumes it, and you don’t have to eat the same thing every day. Time to get prepping.
How To Choose Which Meals To Prep
This depends on your training or lifestyle goals. Wiener, for example follows a high-protein diet, which also requires complex, wholegrain carbs, and healthy fats. Thomas, on the other hand, focuses on natural, paleo ingredients and recommends choosing 80-90% ‘whole’ foods. Castle-Mason likes to focus on counting calories in order to control portion size. Another option is to count macros, in which you allow yourself X amount of fat, carbs, and protein per day, depending on your goals.
Ultimately, your nutrition is as individual as you are and influenced by a range of factors including your weight, activity levels, age, budget and so on. There are rules that can apply across the board, however.
“Keep it as simple as you can,” says Sandwith. “When planning a meal, include a source of protein, a carbohydrate, as many veggies as you like, and a little bit of fat (whether that’s the oil used in cooking, a handful of nuts in your porridge or avocado in your salad). Utilise your leftovers as much as possible, and try and use up all your leftovers in the fridge before going out and buying a load more ingredients.”
And, if macros or calories are your focus, remember that it’s the dry weight of foods that count. So, measure your pasta, for example, before it’s cooked and has taken on water. Apps like MyFitnessPal can help you monitor portion sizes.
Best For Everyday Eating
As long as you’re hitting your dietary requirements (a PT can help with this if you’re not sure how to work it out) there’s actually a lot of leeway when it comes to what you eat. Here, Wiener explains three of his favourite recipes that can be adapted for most training plans.
Overnight Chia Seed Pudding
This can be made with your choice of milk (almond, hazelnut, hemp, even cow) and topped with fresh berries just before eating. You can make this in five minutes before you go to bed, giving you a delicious, quick and healthy breakfast to look forward to either at home, work, or on the go.
– 2 jars of almond milk (or any milk you’d like)
– 2 tbsp of chia seeds for every half cup of milk
– Honey (or any other sweetener you’d like – you can also leave out the sweetener if you prefer to sweeten it only with toppings like fresh fruit, dried fruit or chocolate chips)
Mix the chia seeds and milk until all the seeds are covered. Then wait a few minutes for the chia pudding to settle and mix again. This will ensure it doesn’t separate in the fridge. Check to make sure there are no clumps and don’t refrigerate it until it’s clump-free.
Close the jars, place it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 7 days. The chia seeds will absorb all the milk and sweetener and be ready to eat then.
High in lean protein, and full of colourful vegetables, fajitas are an easy way to spice up meal prep. Opt for either a wholemeal wrap, whole grain rice, or wrap-free if you’re trying to limit your carb intake.
– 4 large chicken breasts, finely sliced
– 2 red onions, finely sliced
– 2 red peppers, sliced
For the marinade
– 1 heaped tbsp smoked paprika
– 1 tbsp ground coriander
– pinch ground cumin
– 2 medium garlic cloves, crushed
– 4 tbsp olive oil
– 1 lime, juiced
– 4-5 drops Tabasco
Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot and add the chicken and marinade to the pan. Keep everything moving over a high heat until the chicken is cooked through. Keep the mix in containers and when you’re ready, serve inside warm tortillas.
Not the most exciting lunch you’ll ever eat, but a good meal prep staple nevertheless. You can have it for lunch or dinner, but make sure you use veg that keeps for more than a few days like olives, peppers, sweetcorn and chickpeas. You can then pair this with different proteins like chicken or salmon so that you don’t get bored.
– 2 cups cold cooked quinoa
– 2 cups fresh spinach leaves chopped
– 1 cup chopped cucumber
– 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
– 1 large avocado pitted, peeled, and chopped
– 2 green onions sliced
For the Dressing
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 clove minced garlic
– 2 tbsp lemon juice 1 large lemon
– 1 tbsp golden balsamic vinegar or champagne vinegar
– 1 tsp pure maple syrup or honey
– Salt and black pepper to taste
Combine the quinoa, spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, and green onions. Then combine the dressing ingredients and keep separately. Drizzle the dressing as you’re ready to eat each batch.
If mixing it up sounds like too much work, it’s fine to stick to something plain every day like chicken, spinach and sweet potato. They’re your tastebuds.
“My go-to meals are simple,” laughs Castle-Mason. “I am a bit of a repetitive eater, I stick to the things I enjoy. I like to lump things into categories, and then assemble what I fancy that day e.g carbohydrates such as pasta, oats, rice or potatoes, proteins like chicken, tuna, or cottage cheese. Each day I just look for what’s quick, easy, and tasty.”
Best For Muscle Building
That’s the basics of meal-prep down, now let’s get specific. Many of us hit the gym to try and build muscle, so which Tupperware-storable treats will help us achieve our goals?
Madalena recommends a lean bulking programme to avoid unnecessary fat gain. Macros depend on your size, but Madalena thinks protein from 0.8 to 1.2g per pound of body weight, fat 20-30g and the rest from carbs might work well.
Over to you in the kitchen, Wiener.
“A good meal to prep for muscle gain is tuna steak and oven baked sweet potato wedges,” Wiener explains, as he dusts down his apron. “This meal contains a good mix of protein, and complex carbs. For a week’s worth, I would recommend cooing 3-4 tuna steaks.”
– 2 tbsp lemon juice
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 2 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
– 4 tuna steaks (6 ounces each)
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp pepper
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the lemon juice, oil, garlic and thyme. Add the tuna, seal the bag and turn to coat the fish. Refrigerate for up to 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
Remove the tuna from the bag and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drain and discard the marinade. Lightly coat the grill rack with cooking oil. Grill the fish for 3-4 minutes on each side for medium-rare or until slightly pink in the centre.
Best For Weight Loss
Not all weight loss happens evenly. Nor should you ever diet just to purely lose weight. If you’re working for aesthetics do it healthily, and with plentiful nutrients and exercise. On the other hand, if you’re a boxer trying to cut weight, your diet will be different again.
“You have to consider what goals you’re setting,” explains Madalena. You don’t necessarily have to know what all of that means, but it’s worth noting that for weight loss, Madalena recommends around 1-1.4g of protein per pound of lean body mass, that fat make up 15-25% of your daily intake, and the rest is made up of carbs, as many in the form of green vegetables as possible.”
Chicken Sausage And Vegetable Stir-Fry
– 1 onion, diced
– 1 clove garlic, diced
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 4 chicken sausages, cut into disks
– 1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
– 1 yellow bell pepper, de-seeded and sliced
– 1 broccoli, cut into florets
– Handful of spinach leaves
– 1 can tomatoes
– Pinch of sea salt
Put everything in a large skillet (beginning with onions and garlic, then adding the sausages, then the veg) and cook until the veg and sausages are browned, and you have a nice thick sauce. This will make two meals that are ideal for a weight loss programme. To up the servings, simply multiply the ingredients by two.
“For a weight loss programme we want to aim for approximately 500kcal less than your daily expenditure,” Castle-Mason says. “For some people – and this includes myself – eating a diet of mostly whole foods is enough to start regulating hunger levels and seeing results.”
Best For General Health
Really, anything we eat we eat should benefit our health in one way or another. Whether it’s protecting against heart disease, fuelling our fitness, or simply getting calories in to keep us ticking over from day to day, it’s all ‘healthy’. What to eat and what not to eat is a whole other article (or encyclopaedia) entirely. So, to keep things simple, we’re going to hand over to Madalena, who has some pretty balanced ideas on the subject.
“Anything that increases your intake of omega 3s – fish, hemp seeds, flax seeds – is great. As are lean protein sources, a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes,” Madalena continues. “Ultimately, your meals need to be quick and easy to prepare but pack a nutritional punch, too.”
Here’s one meal you can cook in advance that ticks all the boxes.
– 500g wild salmon fillet
– 400g butternut squash, cubed
– 400g brussels sprouts, halved
– 2 tbsp avocado oil
– 3 tbsp honey
– 2 tbsp lemon juice
– 3 large garlic cloves, grated
– 1 tsp salt
– Ground black pepper, to taste
Line a baking tray and lay out your squash, salmon, then sprouts. Heat the other ingredients in a saucepan until you have a sauce, then drizzle over the salmon and veggies and cook the lot at 200C for 20 minutes, or until everything looks crispy golden. This should cover you for two meals. Double up for 4 meals’ worth, and so on.
Best For Vegans
As we become more food-conscious, many people are turning to veganism to offset the damage meat production is doing to the planet. There’s no need to get all high and mighty about munching plants instead of a nice burger, though. Likewise, there’s no need to sneer at your plant-aficionado friends if you’re a certified carnivore. Especially with meals that taste like this one.
Tofu And Chickpea Curry
– 1 red onion
– 3 cloves of garlic
– 200g tofu
– 1 fresh red chilli
– 200g spring greens
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– 1 tbsp ground coriander
– 2 tsp ground cumin
– ½ tsp cayenne pepper
– 1 tsp turmeric
– 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tin of chickpeas
– 2 tsp paprika
– 2 tsp garam masala
– ½ a lemon
– 2 tsp cumin seeds
Finely slice the garlic, onion and chilli then brown in a pan. Add the spices, along with 300ml water. Meanwhile, heat the diced tofu in a separate pan, then add along with the drained chickpeas. Add the sliced greens and cook until they’re just tender, and you’re good to go.
Bonus Round: Container Tips
Are all plastic tubs created equal? Our experts explain what they look for in durable plastic food containers.
Wiener – “For ease, make sure you use ones that are suitable for the dishwasher and that will not leak, otherwise you could have a disaster on your hands.” Or worse, inside your bag.
Castle-Mason – “Looks for one where the lid clips properly leaving my gym bag smelling like gym kit and not gone-off food.”
Sandwith – “The majority of the containers I use are classic Ikea, but I love using almost-empty nut butter jars for overnight oats – this way you can scrape the nut butter jar clean!”
What does it mean to meal prep?
Meal prep is a once or twice a week large batch preparation of meals to last for 4-5 days. Meal prep is a great way to save time because you only cook a few times a week as opposed to cooking every single day. It’s also a great way to eat healthier – you’ll be a lot less likely to hit the fast food drive through if you have a meal ready to go in the fridge. You’ll also save money because cooking in bulk tends to be cheaper, and it’s way less expensive than going to a restaurant for lunch.
Where can I buy food prep containers?
I like to use reusable plastic containers as shown in the photos. They’re lightweight, inexpensive and hold plenty of food. I purchase these meal prep containers on Amazon. I also like to use the square plastic tupperware style containers that are sold in most grocery stores near the plastic bags and plastic wrap.
How long can I keep meals in the fridge?
I typically plan on making meals for 3-4 days during my meal prep sessions, depending upon the protein I’m using. If I’m using seafood, I never go more than 3 days, and sometimes just do 2 day’s worth. For chicken and beef, I prep for 3-4 days at a time. I keep certain components like sauces separate until I’m ready to eat so that the food doesn’t get soggy in the fridge.
Can you freeze meal prep recipes?
Some meal prep recipes will freeze better than others. Proteins like chicken, turkey and beef will hold up well to freezing. Typically starches like pasta do not hold up well in the freezer as they’ll be mushy when thawed. Rice and potatoes are great candidates for the freezer. Many vegetables can be frozen, but veggies with a high water content, such as zucchini and lettuce, do not freeze well.
How to make meal prep burrito bowls
The first step to making these burrito bowls is marinating your chicken. The chicken gets marinated in a mixture of lime juice, olive oil and seasonings, then grilled to perfection. If you don’t want to fire up the grill, you can cook this chicken inside on a grill pan or in a regular skillet. The chicken is combined with cilantro lime rice, black beans, corn and fresh salsa to make an amazing meal that tastes like it came from a restaurant.
These meal prep burrito bowls are highly customizable. You can add more toppings like cheese, shredded lettuce, sour cream or guacamole right before serving. You can also swap out the rice for quinoa or substitute brown rice instead of white rice. Sometimes I also add sauteed veggies like peppers and onions. The sky is the limit!
1. Healthy Roasted Chicken and Veggies
Photo: Gimme Delicious
Taste the rainbow — the healthier, non-Skittles way — with this super-straightforward recipe. The veggies and chicken are roasted at the same time in the same pan, so there’s minimal prep. Add a cooked grain to round out the meal.
2. Chicken Shawarma and Sweet Potato Fry Bowls
Photo: Half Baked Harvest
Skip the Middle Eastern food truck and make your own shawarma at home, using spices such as paprika and cumin to coat your chicken.
With couscous, olives, and a tahini-yogurt sauce making this portable dish even more flavorful, you’ll be the envy of your coworkers.
3. Healthy Greek Chicken Meal-Prep Bowls
Photo: Ally’s Cooking
Sectioned plastic containers are a must for meal-prep purposes, and this recipe is a perfect example of how useful they are. The yogurt sauce, chicken and veggies, and farro are best kept divided until it’s time to eat.
5. Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Cauliflower Rice
Photo: Fit Foodie Finds
Lime juice and cilantro keep the chicken tasting light and fresh, and the spicier cauliflower rice and black bean combo adds a kick of flavor. And since this dish is equally tasty hot or cold, it’s an ideal option for an on-the-go meal.
6. Jerk Chicken Meal-Prep Bowls
Photo: Food Lovin’ Family
Recipes like this one prove that meal-prepping is totally worth it. While it might be hard to believe, this flavor-packed combo of spicy chicken, sweet pineapple relish, and fragrant Spanish rice really can come together in just 30 minutes.
Plus, it’ll last you through four lunches or dinners.
7. Fiesta Chicken Rice Bowls
Photo: The Girl on Bloor
“Fiesta” is right — brimming with spiced corn, brown rice, salsa, and peppers, these colorful chicken and rice bowls make every meal feel festive. They’re also prepped and ready to go in just 20 minutes. If only all parties were this easy to put together!
8. Meal-Prep Southwest Chicken Burrito Bowls
Photo: Jar of Lemons
Skip the lines at Chipotle but still get plenty of Mexican-inspired flavor. From chicken and corn to rice and beans, this quick and easy combo gives you everything you want in a burrito bowl. Kale and cherry tomatoes add even more nutrition.
9. One-Pan Healthy Chicken and Veggies
Photo: Chelsea’s Messy Apron
This vibrant dish is as tasty as it is good-looking, thanks to seasonings like chili powder, onion powder, and paprika coating the colorful veg. There’s the option to add cheese, but with so much other fun stuff going on, we doubt you’ll miss it if you leave it out.
10. Tex-Mex Chicken Meal-Prep Bowls
Photo: Valerie’s Kitchen
The Tex-Mex flavor in these hearty chicken, rice, black bean, and veggie bowls comes from the easy addition of taco seasoning. They keep well for four days, so you’re set from Monday to Thursday, with the night off on Friday to celebrate your (not so) hard work.
11. Asian-Style Chicken, Veggies, and Rice Meal Prep
Photo: Recipe Righter
Sweet, sesame-coated chicken is a great complement to the simpler steamed veggies here, and brown rice (instead of the usual white) adds some extra fiber. Pack it into separate containers and it’ll look just like something out of your local Chinese takeout place.
12. Chicken Butternut Squash Pasta
Photo: Imma Eat That
Pasta salad is a pretty popular make-ahead dish, but you can make it even easier by portioning it for your weekday meals. This one is a satisfying mix of goat cheese, butternut squash, and walnuts. Nutmeg and basil add some unique flavor.
13. Chicken, Apple, and Pecan Salads in a Jar
Photo: Damn Delicious
Pack your meals in mason jars and you’ll look forward to digging into them every day. This layered salad doesn’t just look pretty — with dried cranberries and apples alongside the chicken in a creamy Greek yogurt dressing, it gives you tons of flavor in every bite.
14. Italian Chicken Meal-Prep Bowls
Photo: Eazy Peazy Mealz
This recipe uses quick-cooking, microwave-friendly rice for when you’re short on time (isn’t that always?). Even better, you can be completely flexible on the types of veggies and seasonings you choose to add to the dish.
So open the fridge and use whatever you have in there. Just treat this recipe as an easy guide to making simple Italian-style dinners that’ll last you all week.
15. Harvest Chicken Salad
Photo: Life Love and Good Food
Buying a salad can be a smart, nutritious option, but it can also get expensive and not-so-healthy. (Can you please add goat cheese, avocado, and bacon? Oh, and eggs… and wow, that fried chicken looks good. I’ll have ranch dressing, please.)
This one keeps things wholesome, but with apples, sweet potatoes, blue cheese, and almonds, it’s nowhere near boring.
16. Teriyaki Chicken Stir-Fry Meal-Prep Lunch Boxes
Photo: My Food Story
This recipe calls for chicken thighs, but you can easily use breasts and get away with it. Whichever you use, it’ll easily soak up the homemade teriyaki sauce, which has a lower sugar content than most bottled varieties.
17. Meal-Prep Slow-Cooker Chicken Teriyaki Quinoa Bowls
Photo: Project Meal Plan
If you have no time to meal-prep, let your kitchen appliances do the work for you. A slow cooker lets the chicken, pineapple, and peppers simmer for three hours in a sweet and tangy sauce while a rice cooker takes care of the quinoa.
All you have to do is scoop everything into containers.
18. Baked Chicken, Broccoli, and Sweet Potatoes
Photo: Recipe Diaries
It’s back to basics with this three-ingredient meal. The combo is the quintessential healthy dinner — and for good reason: It’s easy to prep, it’s affordable, and it doesn’t require a lot of seasoning to be delicious.
19. Pizza Chicken Meal Prep
Photo: Meal Prep on Fleek
Hold off on grabbing a greasy midday slice for lunch.
This recipe, designed to make four individual meals, has the seasonings and sauce of a classic pizza but pairs them with chicken and spaghetti squash instead of bread for a higher-protein, fiber-packed meal that’ll keep you full longer.
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Disclaimers & Disclosure
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