9 Meal Prep Ideas to Save Time in the Kitchen


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With just 1-2 hours of meal prep every weekend you can save countless hours in the kitchen during the week. Today, I’m showing you 9 ingredients that I’ve prepped and several meal prep ideas. It’s easy to combine these ingredients for healthy recipes that take less than 5 minutes to make.

Meal prep and save time in the kitchen. Here are 9 ingredients to meal prep and several meal prep ideas for healthy recipes.

Meal Prep Ideas & Planning Ahead

When it comes to healthy eating, there’s one strategy that works time and again – planning ahead. Because when do we most often throw our healthy eating goals out the window? When we’re busy, right? And when that cookie, cupcake, slice of pizza or burger sounds easy, cheap and well….easy (it bears repeating).

But what if I were to tell you that you could meal prep several healthy ingredients in 1-2 hours on Sunday to save time in the kitchen all week long? Yep, that’s the beauty of meal prep.

Meal prep and save time in the kitchen. Here are 9 ingredients to meal prep and several meal prep ideas for healthy recipes.

The way I do meal prep may be different from most meal prep advice that you see or read about. Most website will have you preparing the same meal over-and-over for 5 days of same same. For instance, chicken with white rice and veggies. Those are your simple meal prep recipes.

Don’t get me wrong, I like chicken with white rice and veggies (in fact, you’ll see it below). But I don’t want that exact same meal five nights in a row. Because let’s be honest, palate fatigue is real my friends.

And if the meals you prepped on Sunday start to sound boring, unappetizing or less than desirable by Thursday or Friday, that’s when you make those previously mentioned poor food choices. Yep, even when you have a healthy meal sitting right there in your fridge.

Meal prep and save time in the kitchen. Here are 9 ingredients to meal prep and several meal prep ideas for healthy recipes.

My Approach: Meal Prep Ingredients Over Full Meals

Instead of prepping the same meal over and over, I recommend prepping ingredients over full meals. Sure, you’ll have to do a little more work than popping something in the oven or microwave. But in most cases we’re talking less than 5 minutes. And that’s just for a little last-minute slicing and assembling, to maintain the flavor and freshness of certain produce items.

The three main benefits of meal prepping ingredients:

  1. You’ll save time in the kitchen
  2. You’ll have far greater food variety
  3. You’ll reduce the stress of “what should I make?”

With plenty of ingredients prepped in your fridge, all it takes is a little creativity to combine them (along with other items you have on hand) in delicious, innovative ways.

The end result: you’ll have greater nutrient variety throughout the week, your tummy will be happy and you’ll spend far less time cooking. A winning combo.

Meal prep and save time in the kitchen. Here are 9 ingredients to meal prep and several meal prep ideas for healthy recipes.
Meal prep and save time in the kitchen. Here are 9 ingredients to meal prep and several meal prep ideas for healthy recipes.
Meal prep and save time in the kitchen. Here are 9 ingredients to meal prep and several meal prep ideas for healthy recipes.

How to Do Healthy Meal Prep

My meal prep changes weekly and based on the seasons (again, food variety). But there’s 5 things I prep every week:

  1. Protein: this could be roasted chicken, shredded chicken, baked salmon, slow cooker pulled pork, baked halibut, etc.
  2. Veggies: this could be a sheet pan of roasted veggies, spiralized veggies, fresh veggies or any combination of those.
  3. Starch: this could be rice, sweet potato, quinoa, lentils, fingerling potatoes and many other things.
  4. Snacks: this could be hummus, spinach artichoke dip, trail mix, crisp vegetable sticks, etc.
  5. Breakfast: this could be egg muffins, sweet potato toast, hard or soft boiled eggs, chia pudding, homemade yogurt, almond butter, homemade granola, etc.

Of course, I’m not prepping all of those items, but maybe just a couple from each category, depending on what I’m craving in any particular week.

Again, the goal is not to have all meals set and done, but to have enough healthy ingredients prepped that we can assemble most of our meals quickly. And leave room for that unexpected dinner date, lunch with a girlfriend or afternoon matcha latte break. Because, that’s life, right?

In addition to the ingredients I prep, I always have a few key items in my fridge that can easily be combined with virtually any meal. That includes avocado, fresh garlic, tomatoes, baby spinach, fresh fruit and other produce and a variety of nuts and seeds.

Meal prep and save time in the kitchen. Here are 9 ingredients to meal prep and several meal prep ideas for healthy recipes.
Meal prep and save time in the kitchen. Here are 9 ingredients to meal prep and several meal prep ideas for healthy recipes.

Watch How I Meal Prep for the Week

Instead of me telling you how I meal prep, I thought it would be better to show you how I meal prep. Here’s a video below that walks you through my process step-by-step and the 9 ingredients I meal prepped this week.

You can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel for weekly cooking videos!

I hope you guys enjoyed the video and if you’d like to see more meal prep ideas, let me know in the comments below. You can also join my email subscriber list and receive a handy PDF guide of this weekly meal prep, with tips for prep time and storage. Subscribers are always the first to be notified of new recipes, videos, giveaways and other goodies.

Seasonal Meal Prep Ideas

For more meal prep ideas that feature seasonal produce, check out each of these videos:

Lastly, my favorite meal prep containers are these Glasslock Containers, Le Parfait Jars, Weck Jars, and Stasher Bags.

With all this food prepped and ready to go, you should have a healthy, happy week with very little time spent in the kitchen. Enjoy!

Meal prep ingredients in separate containers.

9 Meal Prep Ideas to Save Time in the Kitchen : Chopped Celery

4.92 from 23 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


You can meal prep so many different vegetables, but one of my favorites is celery. It will last for up to a week when stored this way!



  • 1 bunch of celery
  • water


  • Remove the ribs of celery from the stalk and wash them thoroughly.
  • Remove the ends, then slice them in half or thirds (if they're extra long).
  • Place them in a jar and fill the jar with cold water until it reaches the top.
  • Place the jar of celery in the fridge and replace the water every 2-3 days with fresh water. The celery will remain crisp and fresh for up to one week.


Calories: 1kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 17mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 3mg
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: meal prep, meal prep ideas, meal prep recipes
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Originally posted February 2018, but updated to include new information. 

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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  1. Hi Lisa, I have liked your site for a couple of years now and love the clean fresh food. I have one question….. I have watched your meal prep videos and they look great and easy for 1 or maybe 2 people but wondered how you make them work for a family of 4 adults? I think my fridge would have to be a lot bigger. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thanks :0)

    1. Hi Nicola – For this type of meal prep, I would double or triple each ingredient if possible. Otherwise, I would try batch-cooking meals instead if that’s easier!

  2. Fantastic to help me eat better. But trying to adapt to airfryer cooking. Any tips welcome please. Many thanks from the UK5 stars

    1. I have a category page for air fryer recipes on my website! You can find it in the main navigation under method.

    1. I don’t have an ingredient list for these meal preps – but I will be sure to keep that in mind for future ones!

  3. I found your Youtube seasonal meal prep videos very helpful and was excited about receiving the pdfs you requested. Unfortunately, they didn’t arrive. Do you have them readily available on your website? Thank you for all you do.

  4. Hi there. I’m not so crazy about celery. So for veggies to dip into hummus, is there a good way to prep and keep red pepper slices and cucumber slices fresh all week? Thanks!

  5. Hi Lisa, am so delighted to find your website. You are doing great and I hope to benefit from your recipes to stay healthy and fit.

  6. Maybe I’m doing this wrong? But I only get the recipe for the celery (which is the only bit I don’t like 😂) I can’t see the shopping list as it’s blurry. Can anyone help? 

    1. To get the full PDF (along with all my seasonal meal prep PDF’s), you will need to subscribe to my mailing list :)

  7. Hi Lisa,

    What’s your take on losing weight? Do I need to check my daily calorie intake even though I eat your healthy crafted meal suggestions?
    Bottom line, how can I lose weight, when I eat healthy and I am an over 50 year old lady who apparently needs a much lower calorie intake and am exercising 30 mins daily.

    Thanks a lot for your always smart and healthy advice.


    1. Hi Vera – I cannot provide medical advice, but I will say that watching your calorie intake and portion size is a good start! Try to eat as much whole foods as possible as well :)

  8. Made this for breakfast this morning. We both loved it. This is the perfect Benedict sauce with a zing of mustard flavour. Thank you5 stars

  9. Love everything, just one thing.. you could swap avocado oil for something else like coconut or olive. If you research about how avocados are grown and the damage to the environment, maybe you’ll think twice before buying it. I know is good for us but not for the environment. Xx4 stars

  10. das ist so herrlich! Ich schaue mir so gern deine Videos an – und habe seit längerem ebenfalls nur noch meal prep im Kopf. Danke für die tollen Ideen!5 stars

    1. Welcome to Downshiftology Maria! If you ever have any questions about the recipes, you can always just leave a comment beneath each recipe :)

  11. Love your meal prep ideas. I just have a concern about storing the celery/carrots in water, that the nutrients would be leached out over time? Any research on this?

    1. Hi Debbie – there will be some minimal nutrient loss. But I always say that if meal prepped veggies encourage you to grab veggies rather than cookies or other snacks, it’s still worthwhile. ;)

  12. I like reading your article entitled ” 9 MEAL PREP IDEAS TO SAVE TIME IN THE KITCHEN ”

    I note that this is a highly informative and well-written post. I am certain that this article will be more useful to a group of readers such as myself.

  13. I want to help my family get healthier. This seems somewhat simple for one or two people yet, overwhelming for a family of 8 (6 kids). Any tips?!

    1. For a larger family, I might recommend batch cooking meals. You can reference my post “best meal prep recipes” to see options for freezer-friendly, batch cooking recipes.