If you’re like most people, the weekdays are a mad dash to get out the door on time. You’re juggling work, errands, and maybe even kids. The last thing you want to think about is what you’re going to eat.
That’s where meal prepping comes in.
Meal prepping is a technique you can use to save time and money, as well as improve your overall health. The basic idea is to cook large batches of food in advance, so that you have meals ready to eat throughout the week.
This is a great way to stick to a healthy diet, as you can control the ingredients and portion sizes of your meals. Meal prepping can also save you money by reducing food waste and preventing you from buying unhealthy convenience foods. And, of course, it can save you time by eliminating the need to cook every day.
If you’re interested in trying meal prepping, there are a few things you’ll need to get started.
First, you’ll need some good storage containers for storing your cooked food. You’ll also need some recipes that can be easily made in large batches. And third, you’ll need to be willing to spend a little extra time cooking on the weekends. Here are some healthy meal prep ideas to get you started.
Idea #1: Traditional Meal Prep
The first (and most popular) way to meal prep is to cook all your meals for the week at once.
This works well if you know exactly what you want to eat and enjoy eating the same thing every day. It also works well if you have the time to cook all your meals on the weekend.
To make this type of meal prep as stress-free as possible, choose simple recipes that don’t require a lot of ingredients or cooking time. For example, large quantities of baked chicken, roasted vegetables, and quinoa are easy to make.
A Week of Planned Meals
Most people find meal planning intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! By planning your meals for the week, you save time and money and eat healthier because you have significant control over what goes into your meals. Here’s an example meal plan for a week.
- Breakfast: Omelet with veggies
- Lunch: Garden salad with chicken
- Dinner: Grilled salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts
- Snacks: Fruit and yogurt
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with toast
- Lunch: Leftover salmon from dinner
- Dinner: Chicken stir-fry over brown rice
- Snacks: Veggies and hummus
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries
- Lunch: Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread
- Dinner: Spaghetti and meatballs
- Snacks: Apple slices with peanut butter
- Breakfast: Pancakes with bacon
- Lunch: Caesar salad with chicken
- Dinner: Grilled cheese and tomato soup
- Snacks: Celery sticks with cream cheese
- Breakfast: smoothie
- Lunch: Leftover spaghetti and meatballs
- Dinner: pizza night!
- Snacks: Popcorn
- Breakfast: Waffles with syrup
- Lunch: Egg salad sandwich
- Dinner: BBQ chicken
- Breakfast: Blueberry muffins
- Lunch Grilled: chicken wrap
- Dinner: Hamburgers
- Snacks: Carrot sticks
Idea #2: Freezer Meals
If cooking all your meals from scratch isn’t your jam, try prepping freezer meals instead. This is a great way to meal prep if you only have a little time on the weekends or if you prefer more variety in your diet.
To make freezer meals, cook a large batch of a recipe (or several recipes) and portion them into individual servings. Then, pop them in the freezer and thaw them as needed during the week. So easy! And when you’re ready to eat, reheat and enjoy.
Dishes You Can Cook in Bulk and Freeze for Later
If you’re looking for some recipe inspo for your next bulk cooking session, you will want to add the following nine dishes that can be cooked in bulk and frozen for later.
- Quinoa bowls with veggies and hummus – Cook up a big batch of quinoa and mix it with your favorite chopped veggies. Add some store-bought or homemade hummus, and you’ve got a delicious and healthy meal that will last you all week.
- Chicken soup – There’s nothing like a warm bowl of healthy chicken soup when you feel under the weather. Make a big batch and freeze it in individual portions to have it on hand whenever needed.
- Chili – This is one of those meals that gets better with time. So make a big pot of chili, portion it into freezer-safe containers, and enjoy it all winter long.
- Veggie lasagna – This dish is packed with veggies, so it’s delicious and nutritious. As a bonus, it freezes really well, so you can always have a yummy meal on hand.
- Curried lentils – Curried lentils are healthy, hearty, and perfect for meal prep. Just cook up a big batch and freeze it in individual portions for an easy weeknight meal.
- Tomato sauce – Homemade tomato sauce is way tastier than anything you’ll find at the store. Plus, it freezes really well, so you can always have some on hand for pasta night.
- Sloppy joes – Sloppy Joes are always a hit, whether you serve them to kids or adults. And they’re even better when made in bulk and then frozen for later. Simply thaw and reheat whenever you’re in the mood for a tasty sandwich.
- Enchiladas – These enchiladas are super flavorful and make for a great freezer meal. Just assemble them as directed, then freeze them before baking. When you’re ready to eat, simply thaw and bake as directed. Easy peasy!
- Banana bread – This banana bread is moist, delicious, and freezes well. So make a double batch and enjoy one now while freezing the other for later . . . because let’s be honest, banana bread is always a good idea.
Idea #3: Snack Prep
If cooking isn’t really your thing at all, no worries! You can still meal prep without ever turning on the stove. Put together some healthy snacks that will last throughout the week, and have them ready to grab and go when you need them.
Cut up some fruit, hard-boil some eggs, make a trail mix — whatever sounds good to you!
Having healthy snacks prepped and ready will help keep your energy up and stave off unhealthy cravings later in the week.
Meal prepping is a great way to simplify your life during busy weekdays. By taking a little time on the weekends to prepare your meals or snacks, you’ll have one less thing to worry about during the week. And with these healthy meal prep ideas, it’s easier than ever to get started.