Learning how to prep your own meals at home can save you a bundle, plus it guarantees that you know exactly what you’re eating. These 25 healthy meal prep ideas will get you started, so you can meet your goals.
These Mediterranean chicken bowls are a tasty example of what I typically prep for weekday lunches.
Whether you’re searching for healthy meal prep ideas for vegetarians, for chicken, for work, or just to get you through a busy week, I’ve got you covered.
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Meal prep ideas
There are plenty of services out there offering easy meal prep ideas for you to make at home, but they can be costly.
By understanding how to shop for these ingredients and prepare them at home yourself, you’ll build your cooking arsenal and before you know it, you’ll be meal prepping like a pro!
Meal prep FAQ’s
Before we start, let’s talk about a few meal prepping basics.
Meal prepping is setting aside time to prepare meals or ingredients ahead of time to make it easier to maintain your eating goals. Those goals could be anything at all. The goal could be as simple as eating lunch instead of skipping it.
First, we need to identify where we need help. Is it breakfast, lunch, dinner or all of it?
Once you’ve figured out where you have the biggest struggle, that’s where we’re going to start. Lunch is usually the easiest place to start and it’s also where many of us have the most difficulty.
Typically, I set aside two hours per week to do this. You may only need one hour, depending on what you’re cooking.
You may want to chop vegetables and cook a few pieces of chicken to mix and match components during the week instead of making complete meals.
Once you’ve decided whether you’re going to prepare complete meals or cook components and put them together during the week, now it’s time to get a game plan in place.
Healthy meal prep ideas
I tend to gravitate toward Mediterranean meal prep, like these Mediterranean lamb meatballs. Lots of leafy greens, vegetables and lean proteins are the basis for nutrient-dense lunches.
Meatballs make a great option for meal prepping because they make good leftovers. I can toss a few on a salad for some protein, or I can combine them with a scoop of couscous and a handful of raw veggies for a quick and easy lunch.
That’s one of the ways to figure out what to meal prep. Ask yourself if it tastes good after it is reheated (if it is meant to be eaten warm). If the answer is no, it’s probably not something you’ll want to meal prep.
If it is meant to be eaten cold or at room temperature, like this Mediterranean orzo salad, it’s a great option for meal prepping.
- Salmon niçoise salad bowls
- Roasted Delicata squash salad with farro
- Nectarine blue cheese spinach salad
- Spinach artichoke pasta salad
What are good meal prep ideas?
This can mean different things for different people. Tailor this list to suit your particular eating preferences. Vegetarians and vegan will obviously omit animal products. Keto eaters will omit grains, beans and pasta.
I find it helpful to make a list for the week and go from there. That way, I’m able to change things up, so I don’t get bored and I can take stock of what I currently have in the pantry and fridge.
- Grains – farro, freekeh, barley, quinoa and wheat berries are all delicious. Try mixing a few together for texture.
- Hard boiled eggs – cook and peel so you don’t have to do it later.
- Roasted vegetables – I love roasted sweet potatoes, peppers and red onions tossed into grain bowls.
- Steamed vegetables – Steamed broccoli and cauliflower are in the regular rotation.
- Baked chicken – Cook enough for the week.
- Meatballs – Make them bite-sized for easier eating!
- Chopped raw vegetables – Bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots are all great options.
- Leafy greens – Romaine lettuce, kale, arugula, spring mix, dark leafy greens should be in the mix.
- Canned chickpeas and beans – A terrific source of protein, especially for vegetarians and vegans.
- Pasta – A small amount of pasta once in awhile is good for the soul.
Meal prep lunch ideas
Healthy meal prep ideas for the week can be as simple as a bowl of baby spinach, a scoop of quinoa and a hard boiled egg with a splash of salad dressing.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, and if you’re a beginner, I suggest you keep it simple the first few times. It can be overwhelming at first, but after a week or two, it will seem like second nature.
Like with anything, the more you do it, the better you’ll get. Practice might not make perfect, but it certainly improves things over time.
Here are a few vegetarian meal prep ideas that can also be eaten as a side with your favorite protein:
- Veggie cakes
- Mediterranean quinoa salad
- Green vegetable cakes
- Mediterranean couscous salad
- Baked broccoli cakes
- Freekeh salad with fruit and nuts
Meal prep soups
Soups are a fantastic healthy meal prep idea. It’s easy to batch cook and portion for the week. Plus they are filling and good for you.
- Chicken noodle
- Lentil soup
- Crock Pot chicken vegetable
- Wedding soup – a great way to use turkey meatballs in multiple recipes!
Chicken meal prep
Chicken (or turkey) is perhaps the easiest meal prep lunch to make. Buying a rotisserie chicken when you’re pressed for time or overwhelmed with making lunches for the week is a great option.
There is no shame in making life easier for yourself. We all have crazy schedules some weeks and buying a $5 chicken at the store can save valuable time when we need it most.
Here are a handful of my “go to” chicken meal prep recipes:
- Mediterranean baked chicken meatballs
- Low carb chicken fajita bowl
- Moroccan chicken meal prep
- Mediterranean bowl
- Greek chicken meatballs
- Thai turkey meatballs
So now that we have some ideas, how much should you plan to cook? To answer this question, determine how many meals you need to make.
Normal portion sizes for proteins are 4 – 5 ounces. Having a kitchen scale is really helpful for this. If you’re not familiar with what 4 ounces of protein actually looks like, a scale can help you keep your portions in check.
The key to easy meal prep
I have been meal prepping for five or six years and I can tell you one thing that makes all the difference – organization.
Being organized is the absolute deal breaker when it comes to being successful at meal prepping.
So, how do we get organized and make the most of our time?
- Make a list of meals to cook
- Write a detailed shopping list
- Make sure you have enough containers for your meals
- Write a detailed prep list
- Time management – set aside at least one hour
Let’s say you want to make this superfood salad for the week. (this would be an excellent idea, by the way)
The first thing you’d do is make a list of ingredients and determine how much you need. The recipe as written serves 4 people.
If you need 4 lunches, no changes needed. If you need 6 lunches, multiply everything by 1.5 to scale the recipe.
Make your shopping list, take a quick inventory of containers, then write out a detailed list of what you need to do to get your meals prepped.
For example – slice and bake sweet potatoes, portion baby greens into containers, whisk dressing and portion into dressing cups.
Remember, meal prepping is to make your life easier, not harder. Choose your recipes, get organized and allow plenty of time. Before you know it, you’ll be a meal prep pro.
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