Meal prep ideas are perfect for healthy and proactive people. They seldom have time to spend hours cooking but they also want to eat what’s good for their bodies. If you’re one of those people or you’re planning to shift to healthier alternatives, you might need to get an idea of meal prep.
Meal prepping cuts out the guesswork and you don’t have to come back after a tiring day at work to prepare dinner. On the other hand, it also reduces the probability of you taking resort to fast food because that’s quick. Here we give you an idea of what this is all about and suggest five amazing meal prep ideas to try.
What is meal prep?
Meal prepping needs you to organize your kitchen schedule because it makes you cook in advance. You need to take out one or two days of your week to prepare one week’s meal in advance.
Meal prep ideas help you save time because it reduces your hours in the kitchen. You don’t need to cook every day or buy takeout. It allows you to eat healthier and keeps you ready to eat every day. It also saves money as bulk cooking is cheaper than cooking every day. Thus, it is a win-win that you need to try right away.
Things you need to know
Before starting something new, you have to know about a few things that’ll help you start the process. Check them out below:
1. Buying meal prep containers
The best way to prep your meals are to but plastic containers. They are light, inexpensive, and can hold lots of food. You can look out for meal prep containers on Amazon. You can also try out Tupperware plastics as they’re strong and sold in most grocery stores.
2. How long do meals last
Depending on what you’re making, you have to figure out how long a meal can last. People typically cook 3-4 days in advance and store them in the fridge. However, if you’re adding seafood, you wouldn’t want to have it later than three days. Beef or chicken lasts for 3-4 days, so you can plan accordingly. Certain ingredients like sauces are best kept for the time you eat. This prevents the food from getting soggy.
3. Freezing meal prep recipes
You can freeze some of the meal prep recipes but not all. If you have protein like chicken, beef, turkey, they can take up freezing. But starches like pasta will not hold up well and might get mushy while thawing. Rice, on the contrary, are good to freeze and so are potatoes. You can freeze veggies that have high water content like lettuce and zucchini.
Best food to prep meals
Here are some of the best types of food that you can add to your meal prep ideas:
- Frozen veggies: broccoli, peas, cauliflower, sprouts, Brussels, and green beans
- Starchy veggies: cassava, parsnip, potato, taro, yuca, and sweet potato
- Stiff fresh veggies: carrots, celery, cabbage, bell peppers, and radish
- Sturdy greens: green leaves for dressing like romaine
- Whole grains: quinoa, oats, sorghum, and barley
- Pulses: beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas
- Lean protein: canned seafood, Greek yogurt, eggs, shredded cheese, and lean meat
- Fruits: bananas: apples, plums, peaches, oranges, and pears
- Seeds and nuts: walnuts, peanuts, almonds, chia, flax, and pumpkin seeds
Best meal prep ideas
Here are some of the meal prep ideas that you need to try:
Overnight oats idea
To make yourself a healthy breaky, you can try a simple recipe with oats. This one is literally a 5-minute overnight recipe to make oats filled with healthy foods. It includes chia seeds, rolled oats, and tasty toppings to start your day right.
You have to choose among options of berries, double chocolate, peanut butter, coffee & walnut, apple piece, and virgin piña colada. You have to blend them with the make ingredient of oats to create an oat-meal jar. These last for around five days in the refrigerator.
You can meal prep for the entire work week on Sunday and keep changing the ingredients for each day. This will make you have breakfast ready so no rushing to work.
Turkey taco meal bowl
The turkey taco meal idea has been inspired from burrito bowl that includes turkey taco meat, corn, brown rice, and pico de gallo salsa. However, this recipe allows you to be diverse and you can definitely try it with the toppings you like.
Here are the types of things you need to make the entire meal:
- ¾ cup of uncooked brown rice
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- 1 zested lime
Tip: you can replace brown rice with white or quinoa
- ¾ lb of lean ground turkey
- 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning
- 2/3 cup of water
Tip: you can replace turkey with chicken and beef
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes in halves
- 1 finely chopped jalapeno
- ¼ cup of chopped red onion
- ½ lime
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- 12 oz corn kernels drained
- ½ cup of shredded mozzarella
- Prepare brown rice as per package instructions. Add salt and lime zest in the cooking water. Let it cool before you portion it out.
- Add turkey to medium pan and cook on medium heat. Break it up with spatula and wait for it to brown for around 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle taco seasoning over cooked meat and add water. Stir for a couple of minutes to simmer it. Wait for the sauce to become thick.
- Remove it from heat and let it cool before portioning out.
- Mix salsa ingredients and toss it all together.
- Bring all the lunch bowls together in order to distribute ingredients between four 2-cup capacity containers.
- You can store this meal in your refrigerator for four days
- It is best when served cold
Meal prep ideas chicken, broccoli and rice
Here is a healthy and tasty meal prep idea that you can prepare within 20 minutes.
Here are the types of things you need to make the entire meal:
- 2cups of water
- 1 cup of jasmine rice
- ¾ teaspoon of salt
- 4 medium-sized boneless and skinless chicken breasts/thighs – around 4 oz in size
- 1 teaspoon of brown sugar or granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon of paprika
- Salt and pepper according to taste
- ½ teaspoon of cumin
- ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2-3cups of broccoli florets
- Water to steam
1. Cooking the rice
First bring water to boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in rice, cover with lip, and reduce heat to low. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes or wait till the water gets absorbed.
2. Cooking the chicken
Add brown sugar, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, pepper, and salt to rub the chicken. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a big pan over medium-high heat.
Add chicken to the pan to cook for 5-6 minutes on the first side without moving it. You will find the underside to develop dark grill marks. Use tongs to flip chicken breasts let the other side get cooked for the next 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the chicken breasts rest in the pain for around 5 minutes before you chop it down.
3. Steam broccoli
You can cook broccoli in two ways:
- Blanch it on the stove-top: for this you need to boil water in a big pot. Add the florets to a pot and blanch for around a minute. Remove them from the pot.
- Steam in the microwave: add broccoli in a microwave bowl and add 3 tablespoons of water to it. Cover it plastic wrap or a ceramic plate and heat it for 3 minutes.
4. Assemble the meal
You need to chop chicken in slices or create bite size pieces. Next, use a measuring cup of 1 cup to spoon out 1 cup of rice in each container. This recipe serves you four times, so you need to equally distribute in four containers.
Add chicken slices over the rice and then follow up with broccoli florets. Cover it up and refrigerate for around four days. You need to reheat for 2 minutes in the microwave or wait till it starts steaming.
Italian Couscous Salad
If you like have couscous, you got to add this salad recipe in your meal prep ideas.
Here are all the ingredients you need in order to make the salad:
- 2 packages or 4.7 ounces each of olive oil couscous and roasted garlic
- 1 can or 15 oz of drained chickpeas
- 5 oz Genoa salami, chopped coarsely
- 5 oz of mozzarella cheese chopped into small piece
- 1 whole green bell pepper chopped
- 5 oz of black olives – either halved or sliced
- ¾ cup of fresh basil chiffonade
- 2 cups of cherry tomatoes, sliced/halved
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon each of dried parsley, dried basil, and dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flaked
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Follow the package instructions to make the couscous mix and add seasoning mix to it. If you’re not using it from a package, you might want to add a few teaspoons of pepper, salt, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder for taste.
- Let the couscous cook while you prepare for the rest of the salad. Drain the chickpeas or roast them if you like. Chop the salami coarsely, make the mozzarella bite-size, slice pepper in strips, and cut them into thirds. Next, slice the olives and cherry tomatoes. Prepare the basil to roll them tightly.
- Add all the dressing ingredients into a jar and shake them up. Add some salt and pepper for taste.
- Adding the cooked couscous to a large bowl and let it cool. Next, add all the vegetables, chickpeas, basil, and salami. Add some lemon, salt, and pepper as dressing. Make sure you dress what you will enjoy and not more/less of it.
- For meal prep, divide dressing evenly in six small containers. Distribute it among meal prep boxes. Add equal parts of chopped veggies, chickpeas, basil, and salami. Next add lemon wedge and little bit of pepper and salt for seasoning. You can also add some lemon over the food and stir well before eating.
If you don’t have meat, you’re definitely going to need this one.
- 2 slices of bread
- Mustard and mayo for tasting
- Six leaves romaine lettuce
- 1 carrot
- ½ cucumber
- Salt and pepper
- 1/8 head of red cabbage
- 1 avocado
- 3 slices of tomato
- Thin slices of red onion
Start preparing the veggies first. Trip lettuce leaves to fit into the sizes of the bread. Shred carrot or julienne them and thinly slice cucumber and cabbage. Peel and pit the avocado and slice them thickly.
Toast the slices of bread and cool them to not make them soggy. Spread mustard and mayo for taste and make a sandwich. Add ½ lettuce leaves, cucumber, carrots, cabbage, salt, pepper, sprouts, avocado, onion, tomato, and rest of the lettuce on top of the bread slice. Wrap the sandwich tightly in parchment or wax paper and slice in half. Save it to have later or pack one for lunch.
Garlic, parmesan, and kale pasta
Here is a chicken pasta recipe for the ultimate meal prep plan.
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- ¼ cup of lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon of dried oregano
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 5 lbs. of boneless and skinless chicken breasts
- Add olive oil, oregano salt, lemon juice, pepper and salt to a big zip-lock bag or shallow dish. Lock it up and massage to mix the ingredients or stir them in the dish till they combine.
- Filet chicken pieces into thin pieces. Take another bag or dish to make sure it is properly marinated. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. Toss it over at times to make sure it is well coated.
- When you’re all set to cook, place a large skillet on medium. Transfer chicken to the skillet and cook well of every side. Wait it becomes brown and is well cooked. It will take around 5-7 minutes to cook well. Discard excess marinade.
- Add cooked chicken onto a cutting board and let it rest for around five minutes. Slice and serve it later.
You can also use chicken thighs instead of breast pieces. You will need around 4-6 pieces depending on the size.