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. 

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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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Recipe Rating


  1. You are now my go-to for everything nutrition and recipes. I am so happy I came across your YouTube channel, randomly. I just want to thank you soooo much for sharing. My son and I really appreciate it! Keep up the great work.5 stars

  2. We, my wife and I, love your informative site and love the youtube videos that you have posted. I do not do the other social media sites and love that I can get to you to review all of your great input at my convenience. Thank you for all you are doing. God bless you and your family.5 stars

    1. Thanks so much James! Happy to hear you and your wife are enjoying all my content so far, and continue to do so :)

  3. As an avid meal prepper for a few years now (off and on), I have never heard of just prepping ingredients. I love this idea! Now that I’m living with my boyfriend I’ll be prepping for two and I for sure know he will not tolerate repeated meals. This idea makes it where we can still eat healthy, have prepped meals for the week, and the bonus is that I’m not slaving away in the kitchen! I would love to see more weekly ingredient ideas and what meals you could make using selections from those ingredients! 5 stars

    1. Happy to hear I can bring some meal prep inspiration for the two of you Ashley! Stay tuned for more meal prep news coming soon :)

  4. Hi Lisa – I’m new to meal prepping and I am single so thank you so much , I’m obsessed with your videos. I suffer from bloating and am lactose intolerant and am trying to get a hold of my diet. I do have a question though about your vitamix. I have a pretty new blender so I’m really not ready to get a new one, would a mini food processor suffice for things like the humus, almond butter, or the protein balls for instance?

    1. Hi Dana – I’m happy you’re enjoying my videos! Yes, for those recipes you could use a food processor as well. Just keep in mind that for the almond butter, it could take significantly longer to achieve that smooth butter consistency.

    1. Hi Lora – thanks for spreading the word! If you subscribe to my email list, you can receive all the meal preps :)

  5. Hi Lisa
    I love your meal preps and healthy meals because I suffer with Lupus disease and many other auto immune problems.  I’ve suffered now for 30 years and now I’m battling with side effects from all my medications .
    You are a breath of fresh air  your channel has inspired me not to give up and your so good at teaching about gut health and anti inflammatory foods that is wonderful 😊
    I’ve only just found your channel a few days ago and I’m loving all your information on being calm and learning to relax your body and mind from stress and pain.  Can’t wait to learn more as I’m going down a path of a natural approach to improve my health and learning more about herbs and microbiome. Also trying to get my body in better shape which I need desperately. 
    From Cassandra, Australia 5 stars

    1. Hi Cassandra – I’m happy to hear you came across Downshiftology and that I’ve been able to provide some inspiration in the kitchen :) Be sure to also follow me on Instagram if you haven’t already as I’m always giving insights to my day-to-days on stories and ways to improve your health and body!

  6. You are a lifesaver for me. I have been driving myself crazy trying to make the prep thing work for me. Hallelujah this makes perfect sense.5 stars

  7. I have really enjoyed your meal preps. I don’t like cooking, and I’m a slow nature person, this will really help me a lot.
    I look forward to preparing my meals now.

    Thank you
    Naomi5 stars

  8. A very reliable and informative channel/website Lisa.

    You caught my attention when I realised you don’t seem to use commercial bread from the supermarket.

    How often do you send out emails to your subscribers out of interest? I’m already loaded with tons of emails weekly!5 stars

    1. Hi Matthew – I am gluten-free so I can’t eat bread. Which is why I sometimes make my own tortillas or buy Canyon Bakehouse (which is a gluten-free brand). And I normally send out one email per week along with a new Youtube video :)

  9. I live this and your seasonal meal prep videos! I wish you’d make more! Maybe you could do a budget one, a vegetarian one etc.

    1. Hi Gabriela- You can receive this if you subscribe to my mailing list or through the video descriptions on Youtube :)

    1. Hi Angie- I don’t have a separate recipe for it on the website. But I do have a crispy baked chicken thigh recipe that uses a similar seasoning :)

  10. I am also a lover of celery and use it for snacks, soups, just about everything.
    Many years ago (I am old) someone told me to wrap the celery in alfoil (which I assume is aluminium foil) and it will keep a long time. It does. I have kept it in the frig for months!
    I buy the full bunch, cut off the leafy part and fully wrap in alfoil, unwashed, and place in the frig. Every time I need celery, I unwrap, pull off a stick or two, rewrap and put it back in the frig. It’s crisp every time. The reason I know it lasts a long time is I went to our beachhouse for over a month and when I came back, discovered I had left the celery in the frig. It was still crisp!5 stars

  11. I did everything apart from the sweet potato toast
    Want to know If I could use chicken drumsticks instead of breast for a cheaper option.5 stars

    1. Hi Yvette- Of course! You can always tweak these ingredients to whichever works best for you :)

  12. This is so inspiring! thank you, I enjoy these meal prep videos the most! where are the white plates from that you put your completed meals on? Love them!

  13. I’ve been doing this kind of meal prep for a while and I didn’t know it was a thing!! I’m excited to have discovered you channel for more ideas and inspiration. Love it!5 stars

  14. I was starting with batch cooking and found your video on Youtube. Soooo inspiring (video / article) ! Thank you ! :)

  15. As long as I have been cooking I never thought of this.  You are amazing.  You are correct about the “stress” of what should we have for dinner.  I will try this this weekend. Thanks a lot. TC5 stars

  16. Hi Lisa, I’m hooked on your videos! I might not be looking hard enough, but do you have pdf’s that we can download, print out and stick to our fridges, to complement your videos like this ‘ 9 meal prep ideas to save time in the kitchen’ video?
    It’d be great to have it right there until it becomes routine and I’m sorting this prep and putting together meal combinations together, from memory?
    Thanks Lisa and no problem if not, just a question.
    Take care and please keep doing what you’re doing.
    Di Russell – London, UK

    1. Hi Di – You can actually download all my meal prep PDF’s if you subscribe to my email list :) Once that’s done, you should get a follow up email with links to all the downloads. If you have any questions along the way, feel free to email lisab@downshiftology.com

  17. Love love love!  And thank you!  Very inspirational.  I’m vegan … Any inspiring ideas for using Quorn mince?

    1. Thanks Esther! I’ve actually never eaten quorn mince, but it looks like you could use it in any of my recipes that use ground beef. :)

  18. Love your meal prep and would like to get them inside of a book.
    Regarding the meal prep, it looks that it is dangerous to keep rice in the fridge more than one day, what do you think about this it seems that it makes salmonella after one day even if we reheated it.What do you think about it ?

    1. Thanks Manon! I’m hoping to have a cookbook in the future. :) I’ve never had any issues with rice stored in the fridge. Salmonella usually arise from rise that has been left out at room temperature for a while (i.e. from Chinese takeout), then refrigerated. If you cook the rice, and immediately refrigerate, you should be fine.

  19. Love this post! The recipes, meal prep and everything looks so effortless! Meal planning and prep is so helpful for that.

    1. Hi there – Glad you learned a few new things from this meal prep :) Definitely comes in handy when you have tons of ingredients that can be mix and matched.

    1. Hi Jean – I have few special meal prep ideas coming later this year :) But definitely take a peek through my seasonal meal prep videos as well!

  20. Finally making sweet potato toast . I’ve watched and implemented so many of Lisa’s meal prep videos over the years but havent done the sweet potato toast. Love Love her meal prep style!

  21. Can we have a new round of seasonal meal prep videos for 2020? I loved the ones from last year and would like to see you post more. 

    1. Hi Karna – I’m so glad you loved the seasonal meal prep videos! I have a few new meal prep ideas that I will be creating later this year so stay tuned :)

  22. Hi Lisa- I was wondering about the size of the Le Parfait jar that you are storing the carrots & celery in. I have never thought to store them in water and would love to try this out.
    Thank you for all of the wonderful ideas/information you share!

    1. Hi Kate – You’ll definitely need to try it! Helps preserve the celery too and great way to store them :)

    1. Hi Erica – If you subscribe to my mailing list, you will receive an email with all the downloadable PDF’s :) You can subscribe on my website!

  23. You’re Your Tube videos promote a downloadable PDF of your Winter Prep. I’ve signed up for emails. been sent numerous emails to confirm my email subscription, email preferences and NO PDF! Can’t find it on your site…why the false and misleading information??

    1. Hi Keri – I just checked our mailing list and it looks like you are already subscribed and was sent the email with the downloadable PDF’s in a separate email this morning. Please check your spam or junk folder as sometimes it can fall into there. If you do not see it in any of your inboxes, please do email me at lisab@downshiftology.com and will help you from there to re-send you the email – Thanks!

  24. I just discovered you today. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful helpful recipes and tips for a healthier me in 2020! Thank you!

    1. Hi Verna – So glad you discovered Downshiftology :) Can’t wait for you to try all my recipes in this new year!

  25. Hi Lisa, firstly you may just be my favourite YouTuber / blogger. I just love how you do things and i love how clean and organized all of your editing and such is. Really nice work. 

    Im sure you have been asked this millions of times, i do apologize i have gone through some comments and the pdf guides etc, how do i adapt this for a family of 5 for the week? 2 adults and 3 kids. Is what you have made in the videos based on 1 adult I’m assuming so should i x by 3 (my kids usually split an adult meal they’re small lol)

    Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi Lana – Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m happy you’re loving my channel and my videos :) As for the meal prep, this is good for 1-2 people, so I would probably multiply the recipes by 3 to make sure you have enough throughout the week! Having leftovers isn’t always a bad idea either.

    2. Thanks for the video. Wow someone who thinks like me. I love the idea of ingredients instead of meals. I just never knew how to put it together. More meal prep videos please. I also bought that spiralizer. I will be meal prepping tomorrow. Thanks again.

      1. Hi Lisa !

        I love all the creative healthy ideas! Thanks for sharing.

        I do have a question, the food that we bring out from the fridge, can we reheat them in microwave before being served?ie : the rice, the roasted vegetables

        Thank you.

        Karen5 stars

      2. Hi Karen – Yes! I normally pop everything in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes to reheat.

  26. Words cannot express how thrilled I am to have found you on the internet!! I am middle-aged, overweight, exhausted, stressed out woman. Prioritizing work over myself, has resulted in all sorts of health-issues,  food intolerances, allergies. And all I keep on doing is popping pills, which then produce unpleasant side effects that need to be dealt with. And all I keep on saying is ‘I really must prioritize my health and wellness’. So as I was looking up GERD, having had a really bad episode of acid reflux, and I mean baaaad, I came across your website and videos, and next thing you know I feel hopeful and motivated that I have found the help that I am so in need of. Buying healthy ingredients? I can do that. Preparing the ingredients on the weekend? Sure! I’d rather do it then, rather when I’m too tired and lazy after a long day at work. Putting them together to make a beautiful, delicious meal? Yes to that too, thanks to you! Thank you Lisa. You are my 2020 New Year’s Resolution, starting now. 

    1. Hi Ina – I am so thrilled that you have found me as well, and that you have begun to include Downshiftology in your journey to a healthier lifestyle. I completely understand what it feels like to be stressed out and what it can do to your body physically and mentally. After all my autoimmune issues started flaring up, I knew it was time to make a change – hence why I downshifted :) I hope you continue to enjoy all my recipes and lifestyle tips and can’t wait to show you what I have in store for the new year!

  27. I used to hate oven baked chicken since it was always flavorless and dry until I tried Lisa’s version of herb chicken and it was a huge success!! she gave simple and precise instructions, such as the cooking time and temperature, making this so easy to make and a sure-hit. It was delicious, juicy, flavorful, and topped my kale quinoa salad perfectly! Thanks Lisa! Will definitely be making more recipes! 

  28. I am excited to try your version of baked chicken breasts. I often have difficulty eating white chicken meat if it is even a little dry. However, I watched meal prep video twice and searched through site for this recipe. I just am looking for temp, oven time, and removal temp. Is there somewhere else I need to look. BTW, I truly enjoyed your cookware favorites video. Have a great day! Brenda

    1. Hi Brenda – I have a few chicken recipes on my website such as my crispy baked chicken thighs or shredded chicken. You can find these under my recipes – and then the ingredients section: Chicken. If you have trouble finding them, let me know!

  29. Loving you meal prep videos I first found you when my nutritionist suggested I do Whole 30. I am curious what is the average cost to a meal prep week shop?

    1. Hi Danielle – I’m happy you’re loving all my meal prep videos! It’s hard to say the average cost as each person may eat a different quantity of food. :)

    1. Hi David – I currently do not have a grocery list for my meal preps, but I hope to do that for my future ones!

  30. I went to put a meal prep video on in the background while I worked so my toddler would have something to watch and realized after clicking your video that I DEFINITELY needed to look into your content more. I’m not a subscriber, just got my meal plan PDF’s, and am currently working on a grocery list for tonight’s shopping! I am SO excited about how easy and simple you make all of this seem despite clearly focusing on healthy foods in a variety of ways. My family is going to be thrilled… and this mama of 2 under 2 is going to be SO happy to regain some time in her day (and stop UberEat ordering because I’m too overwhelmed to cook). Consider me one happy follower who will be raving about you from here on out!

    1. Hi Alexis – I am so happy you’re getting onto this meal prep! It really is a timesaver for later in the week as these meals come together in just a few minutes with all these ingredients :) I hope you and your family enjoy the recipes!

  31. On my third set of glass storage containers.  I really like these and the company offers free replacement plastic lids for the life of the product.  Where else do you find that?

    1. Hi Beatriz – I’m so happy to hear you loved my Meal Preps! Stay tuned for a Fall Meal prep coming next week :)

  32. I’m loving your channel. I’m wondering how I can do something like this for a family of 7. Cooking healthy meals for this many people 3 times a day is overwhelming, and I’ve been eating healthy for many many years. Thanks for amazing delicious recipe ideas. I’m loving your blog.

    1. Hi Hope – Thanks for following along with Downshiftology! Wow, a family of 7 is a lot of people, but still doable! Just make sure you double the serving for each ingredient, or depending how much each person eats.

  33. Hi Lisa,

    I subscribed but can’t download the PDF recipes for the meal prep guides. Is this something that will be automatically sent?