If you’re just dipping your toe into meal prep, or need some new ideas, you’ve come to the right place! Meal prepping is a great way to save time by simply dedicating part of your weekend to making a big batch of food. Portion it out, and you’ve a healthy breakfast, easy lunch, or quick dinner ready to eat!
But meal prepping has other great benefits, too. It helps with portion control, letting you have a delicious meal while still being able to stick to a healthy weight loss meal plan. Since everything is pre-measured, you won’t fall into the trap of eating impulsively. Best of all, since you’re cooking what you like, there’s less food waste, which saves you money.
Rather than a list of meal prep recipes, we’ve got a compilation of ideas and tips that you can incorporate into your meal prepping. Check out this list of our best meal prep ideas!
The Best Meal Prep Foods To Help Save Time
1. Roasted Veggies
Roasting your vegetables on a sheet pan in the oven is not only a great way to give them a unique flavor, but it’s an easy meal prep shortcut! The vegetables can roast away while you work on other ingredients. There are a ton of options, too. Try roasting broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers or sweet potatoes during your next meal prep session. (Roasted veggies are great when added to a salad or used for family fajita night!)
Chickpeas are legumes popular in Mediterranean cooking, and can be prepared in a number of ways. Hummus is the most well-known use, but chickpeas can also be sauteed, oven-roasted, fried, or made into a chickpea salad! Try chickpeas in a different way for a healthy, easy vegetable-based protein.
3. Chicken Breast
Chicken: the workhorse of the American kitchen. Chicken breasts are great when meal prepping, because it’s such a versatile food. Besides being lean and packed with protein, chicken breast pairs up with anything! Chicken meal prep is easy – grab the slow cooker (or even the instant pot) for easy chicken taco bowls or salads throughout the week.
4. Overnight Oats
If you’re meal prepping for breakfast, oatmeal is the way to go. Fill up mason jars with oats, milk, and fruits or nuts of your choice, and you’ve got a simple but hearty breakfast that you can grab on your way out the door.
If you’re out of healthy lunch ideas, why not meatballs? Nearly every cuisine in the world has a version of meatballs, and they’re a fantastic way to cut down on prep time. Make a batch of meatballs, bake them in the oven, and they’re ready for the lunch box or dinner! The possibilities are endless – instead of italian meatballs, try greek or swedish style, or even asian pork meatballs.
If you’re going low carb, pair meatballs with some zucchini noodles and parmesan! (Meatballs also freeze well – make a large batch, freeze and use throughout the coming months.)
6. Sauces and Dressings
A sauce or dressing is a fun way to add some flair to a dish or salad. Salads can’t be dressed in advance because greens can become waterlogged and mushy, so package sauces in individual cups, or use dedicated meal prep containers.
The sky’s the limit, so feel free to experiment. Maybe a black bean and corn chipotle salsa? Sundried tomato pesto? Or maybe you’d prefer just a simple olive oil vinaigrette. It’s up to you!
7. Soups and Chili
Soup and chili are the ultimate prepped meal options. You can make a big pot in advance and portion it out for the entire week, or freeze it and just reheat when you need it. Plus, making soup, stew or chili is a great way of using up vegetables, cutting food waste and saving you money!
8. Peanut Butter
Don’t forget the power of an ingredient that multi-tasks! Peanut butter is a delicious way to add more nutrition to any meal. A spicy peanut butter sauce pairs up nicely with grilled chicken. Or you can whip up a healthy dessert like a protein-packed chia seed and peanut butter pudding! Looking for something to make the mornings a little easier? Make peanut butter, oat and chia seed protein bites for mornings on the go!
9. Rice and Quinoa
Rice can be made in a large quantity and used throughout the week – throw in some vegetables, eggs and teriyaki sauce and start stir-frying some scrumptious fried rice. For added benefits as well as a rich flavor, try using brown rice or jasmine rice. You can even make cauliflower rice for even more healthy vegetable goodness in your prepped meals!
Quinoa is another item that moves seamlessly from side dish to main dish. For those wanting a grain that’s high protein, low carb, and gluten-free, quinoa has got you covered! It can be the base of a grain bowl, or you can dress it up with lemon and herbs for a delicious quinoa salad.
Salads come in a few different forms, but they make excellent time savers when you’re meal prepping. A salad made of greens is easy and fast to portion out.
Potato salad or chicken salad, on the other hand, requires a bit more assembly time, but will save you time in the long run. Again, it’s all about being able to make a large quantity that can be split up for the week. A great tip to save time on your chicken salad: instead of cooking raw chicken, buy a cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shred it yourself!
By now, we should all know that lentils have an army of health benefits. They also come in different varieties with their own subtle flavor differences. Lentils are great as a side dish or main course, and pair wonderfully with vegetables and other flavors.
Tools and Tips for Easy Meal Prep
1. Meal Prep Bowls
When in doubt, combine it! You don’t have to be fussy about presentation when you’re meal prepping. Just toss it all together for a cuisine-themed bowl. Taco and burrito bowls are gaining popularity these days for those who want all the flavor from a burrito while ditching the tortilla. Bowls can come in any form, so be creative!
2. Your Slow Cooker
Use every tool at your disposal to save time! Combine your ingredients in the slow cooker and let it do the work while you work on other parts of your meal prep – and every time you eat one of your prepped meals, you’ll be able to savor that all-day cooked flavor.
3. Meal Prep/Prepared Meal Services
Choices abound in today’s world that make life MUCH easier when it comes to prepping and preparing healthy, delicious meals every single night. Do some research about the meal prep and prepared meal services that are available. There are options for every lifestyle.
What’s Even Better Than Healthy Meal Prep Recipes/Foods?
If you want to save even more time off of your weekly meal prep, why not let us do the work for you? At YoFresh, we prepare yummy, nutritious meals that are perfectly portioned and individually packaged. We make all of our meals with fresh ingredients and no junk – just pick your favorite proteins, veggies, and starches from our monthly menu and we’ll do the rest! We even have vegetarian and vegan options!
You can pick up your meals at our kitchen or have them delivered to you anywhere in Mahoning, Trumbull, or Columbiana Counties for a small additional delivery fee. Sign up today and try all of the healthy recipes at YoFresh!