9 Meal Prep Ideas to Save Time in the Kitchen

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

4.90 from 19 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 5 mins
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
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag @downshiftology and hashtag it #downshiftology.

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

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229 comments on “9 Meal Prep Ideas to Save Time in the Kitchen”

  1. Thank you so much for your videos.You have a lot of imagination. Why don’t you make a book about meals prep ? I am sure that it would be a great success ! I would be one of the first to buy it !

  2. Lover your channel. You make it all seem so easy. Thank you! 

  3. hi ~ love all your channels!
    The chicken in meal prep came out super dry for me. How long in the oven and how long please? Thank you

    • The cook time will vary depending on the size of your chicken breasts. I usually cook mine at 425F for 20-25 minutes. But you can use a thermometer as well and cook to 160F.

  4. hi! love watching your meal prep videos but i don’t know how you reheat it. can you microwave these meals? 

    • Hi Caitlyn – yes, many of the meals I microwave when reheating. And sometimes I’ll use the stovetop or oven as well. It really does just depend on what I decide to whip up. :)

  5. These meal prep ideas are super and the recipes are nice too. Many thanks for the help that I need.

    • You’re more than welcome! I’m glad you love the recipe and meal prep tips. :)

    • Thank you for such an amazing content!
      How long will the meal prep last in the fridge? That’s always my biggest problem when it comes to meal prep, I get worried that it won’t make it through the week.

  6. This is exactly what I do every week now. The first thing I do after coming home from grocery shopping is to prep & store fresh produce, make HB Eggs, and portion out proteins and breads to freeze. I’ll cook a container of Orzo or Rice. Then all week long, I’ll make Mix & Match Meals from all the different containers.

  7. Where is the recipe for the Baked Chicken and fresh herbs recipe you mention in the video? I’m trying to learn to actually use the 12 herbs in my garden and would love your fresh herb recipe :-)

  8. Hello! This video was so helpful! I didn’t even realize it, but this is how I meal prep as well! I get bored with the same meal, so using individual ingredients that are versatile is GENIUS! I’d love if you made another video like this! 

    • I’m happy you loved the video Katie! And that’s great you meal prep in a similar way. :) I actually have 3 other meal prep videos on my website and YouTube channel. Just do a search for them!

  9. Totally enjoyed the video. I am starting meal prep and look forward to following you.

  10. Hi Lisa! I have a question, but firstly I want to say thank you so much for all the time and energy you put into your videos and blog! Just started following your meal prep videos and PDF guides a few weeks ago and can already feel a big difference inside and out! I’m so grateful for your videos and recipes! 

    My question is about rice. Is there a special technique or measurement you use to keep your rice moist for a few days? My rice always seems to come out on the crunchy side the very next day. Sometimes I add water before warming it up in the microwave, hoping the steaming effect will soften it up but it doesn’t make a huge difference. I use plain jasmine rice most often if that makes a difference. Sorry if this is a silly question! 

    • Hi Anna – thanks so much for your kind words! I’m happy you’re enjoying all my recipes and videos. :) For the rice, I typically use a plain long-grain rice but it shouldn’t be much different to the jasmine rice. My only tips would be to make sure you’re not leaving it out after it’s cooked (I put mine in the fridge after it’s cooled just a couple minutes) and that you’re cooking it long enough to be tender. As long as it’s in a tightly sealed storage container you should be good, so it sounds like it might have just been a bit undercooked to start with. Hope that helps!

  11. Thank you very much for the work you do! :) I signed up for the email list but have not received the PDF for the 9 meal prep ideas is there a link to download it?

    Kind regards,


  12. how can i dowload the pdf??

  13. Where can I find all 3 or 4 of your meal prep plans?

  14. *Fewer* dirty dishes, not less.

    Great article otherwise! Thank you for the tips.

  15. Thank you for your meal prep inspiration. My husband and I make it our Sunday routine and we about love it!

    I could have sworn You had a video out that you spoke about fridge organization but now I can’t seem to find it…. help! Thank you.

    Warm regards

  16. Hi Lisa,
    I was able to download the meal prep pdf files however, they were not legible when I printed them. Very blurry. Could you send them to me at the email address below and I’ll try again.

    Thank you, Fawn

  17. Love your meal prep! I was wondering how long and at what temperature to cook the Herbed Chicken.

  18. How can I get this meal prep’s PDF?

  19. Hi Lisa, thanks so much for your YouTube channel, I started boiling my eggs your way and they come out perfect every time. Thanks to your roasted broccoli, red onion and brussels sprouts I now enjoy eating brussels sprouts. Next I will be making your hummus recipe and almond milk recipe.

  20. Thanks so much for sharing!

  21. Hi there from Portugal. You are such an inspiration. Love your tips and videos. I will make your hummus recipe. Do you know how long can it be stored in the fridge? Thanks and keep up the good work. Kiss. Susana

  22. Hi Lisa, I am so inspired by your site.  It gives me energy for healthy eating and lifestyle.  I hope that you will soon post a “meal prep” video for fall foods.  I know it is still summer in Southern California, but it’s fall here on the east coast and we have all the wonderful fall produce.   You are beautiful and authentic and I feel joy to see your work in minimalist and simplified lifestyle and planning ahead to support your goal of healthy eating.  You inspire me towards good and healthy goals.  Thank you.

  23. Hello Lisa, thank you for this video! I love it, it’s perfect! I joined your email subscriber list but didn’t get the PDF guide for this meal prep. Is there any other way I could receive it? Thanks a lot!

  24. Thank you! Loved this video :)

  25. Hi Lisa,

    This is perfect but I gotta check first if I can get these ingredients from where I am.

  26. Hi. I love the way you do your meal prep. Problem is some of these ingredients are difficult to get where i stay. Can you help with a meal prep with much simpler ingredients eg zuccini is hard to here

  27. Hi I love your meal prep. But I am a single mom with a 6 year old boy. He loves his veggies but I hardly get time to cook what meals can I meal prep for him during the week.

    Kind Regards


  28. I love this, preparing ingredients instead of complete meals! Please do more posts/videos, I could use more ideas.

  29. You are a genius!! I must say you organize everything nicely!! Thank you so much for your help :)


  30. How long do you cook the sweet potatoe toast and what temperature? Thanks! 

  31. This is absolutely brilliant, and ebb best wat to avoid the dreaded meal fatigue I encounter every week. Thank you for sharing your tips! I’m so glad I found your site. 

  32. Hello there,
    Please can you add shopping list to each meal, so it’s easy to do  grocery shopping  Come Home and watch your videos to cooking. I am 8 months pregnant now and planing to use your meal plan videos for my weight loss plan. Thank you xoxo

    • So glad you enjoyed this meal prep! Unfortunately, it’s a little difficult to add a shopping list as the quantities can vary based on how many people you’re cooking for. But if you watch my recent spring meal prep video, I do have downloadable PDF’s that should help you! :)

  33. Fantastic ideas. Will stay tuned for more! I’m trying to meal prep for my forever hungry and not very patient twin toddlers, some of these ideas are gold. Thank you ever so much.

  34. I loved your meal prep, I can’t believe that some people eat 5 days the same thing. I would love to see more of this kind of meal preps.

    Do you have a link for the recipes that you make in the video?

  35. Do you think red bell pepper slices would last longer with water like the carrots and celery??? Thank you for the idea of only prepping single items! I love it.

    • I’ve heard mixed results on that. Most say that sliced bell pepper is best wrapped in a paper towel then stored in a container (without the water). Looks like I’ll have to try that both ways and see which is best. If you try it, let me know as well! :) x

  36. Oh my gosh!  I loved your video for food prep!! Great ideas And I am getting rid of my plastic ASAP!!
                         THANK YOU 

  37. great video on meal prep!

  38. In the 9 ingredients meal prep video, can you please tell me the recipe for the baked chicken? I do not know the oven temp or how long to cook the chicken breasts for. Thanks 

  39. This is the absolute best!
    Can you tell me how long and at what temp you cooked your chicken breasts at?
    Mine never look that moist!
    Thanks very much!

    • Hi Kathleen – I cooked them at 425F for about 22-25 minutes (depending on how thick they are). One thing to remember with chicken (or any meat) is that it will continue cooking once it’s removed from the oven, so you definitely don’t want to overcook it while it’s in the oven. Hope that helps! :) x

  40. Thank you so much.  Great ideas!

  41. This is one of the most comprehensive posts on meal prep – from technique to the diversity of meal choices/ Most meal prep videos focus on feeding an army of people so I also personally enjoy the smaller portion size you show. Thank you so much! 

  42. These are great tips and yes! to less dirty dishes. This is perfect for our house with teenagers who are always hungry! I’ve just subscribed to your channel.

  43. These meals look so good! I will have to try this ASAP! Yummy!

  44. Such a great tip to prep ingredients over meals because then you can mix and match! I get so bored when I meal prep meals because eating the same thing over and over is lame but this is a great solution. Thanks for the inspiration

  45. I really need to do this, I am always short on time and I need a meal plan too because I tend to graze. This is a great post!

  46. I really do need to get more organized with my food prep, thanks so much for all the good ideas.

  47. This was so helpful and would love be to see more
    prep videos as the seasons change!

  48. I’m definitely doing this meal prep , love your videos 

  49. Love this video!! Meal preps really important to me but i love seeing how others do it. Would love a seasonal variation.