40+ Best Meal Prep Ideas and Recipes
Updated Oct 15, 2023
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Get organized for the week with these easy and healthy meal prep recipes! I’ll give you tips to strategize your meal plans, and help you choose which recipes to batch cook or freeze. And don’t forget my seasonal meal prep plans, which give you tasty ideas to enjoy year-round.
LET’S MAKE MEAL PLANNING EASY
I know the thought of planning out a week’s worth of healthy meals can be daunting. But after years of perfecting my meal prep ideas and strategy, I can tell you this – it all starts with meal planning. So how does one do that? Well, the best way to approach this is to ask yourself a few questions…
- How many people do I need to prep for? Are you just one person? A family of four? Keep in mind how many servings you’ll need to make of each recipe to get you through the week. Then jot that down.
- What’s in season? Try to center your meals around in-season produce. Not only is it fresh and tasty, it’ll challenge you to be creative and add variety throughout the year. Bonus – seasonal produce is usually cheaper and often on sale!
- What types of meals do I want to prep? There’s two ways to look at this. You can create building blocks (separate ingredients) to get creative throughout the week or make fully cooked meals that you can easily reheat. Your schedule for the week might lead you one way or the other. There’s no right or wrong choice, meal prep is meant to suit you and your schedule!
From there, you can jot down your grocery list (after double checking what’s already in your fridge, freezer, and pantry), and head to the market!
DO YOU HAVE MEAL PREP CONTAINERS?
Now that your meal plan is out of the way, it’s time to think about how you’re going to organize all the food. I recommend keeping a selection of small, medium, and large containers, to accommodate everything from a large batch of zucchini lasagna to a small jar of lemon vinaigrette.
You can read all about my favorite meal prep containers, but here’s a quick glance at my top choices:
- Weck Jars: These rounded glass jars come in a variety of shapes and sizes, are 100% airtight and freezer-safe.
- Le Parfait Jars: They’re very similar to Weck jars and are great for canning or preserving ingredients.
- Glasslock Containers: These are your typical meal prep containers that’s great for larger food items. But the best part is that they’re durable in the fridge, freezer, and microwave.
- Stasher Bags: For sustainable reusable ziplock bags, opt for these silicone ones!
Easy Breakfast Ideas to Have on Repeat
For those early mornings when you need something quick and easy, grab n’ go breakfasts will be your savior. Choose from a variety of sweet and savory breakfast ideas to keep you fueled throughout the week!
- Overnight Oats: The champion of breakfast meal prep recipes! Just mix the night before, place in the fridge, and enjoy the next morning.
- Loaded Breakfast Casserole: An egg casserole loaded with the most scrumptious flavors. Bonus – it’s freezer friendly!
- Oatmeal: Pre-make a batch of oatmeal to enjoy through the week with different sweet and savory toppings.
- Sweet Potato Toast: This is the perfect way to start your day with extra veggies. Layer it with spinach and a poached egg for a quick and easy healthy eggs benedict!
- Breakfast Egg Muffins: These are the perfect grab n’ go option. And feel free to get creative with filling flavors.
- Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash: Can’t beat this veggie-heavy hash that reheats beautifully.
- Paleo Pancakes: Did you know you can freeze these pancakes? Just pop them in a toaster, drizzle with maple syrup, and you’re done!
- Paleo Banana Nut Muffins: Sometimes, a warm muffin is just what we need in the morning. This one’s perfectly sweet and freezes well.
Meal Prep Snacks and Munchies
Avoid buying processed snacks with these healthy snack ideas. These options are so easy to make, and will give you that extra boost of energy when you hit your mid-day slump.
- Chia Seed Pudding: This is one of my go-to snack or breakfast options. Plus, you can freeze them ahead of time with fruit on top.
- Trail Mix Granola Bars: Homemade granola bars couldn’t be any easier to make! Get creative with nuts, seeds, and superfoods for a variety of flavors.
- Vegetable Chips: Make a batch of kale chips or zucchini chips to satisfy those salty cravings (in a healthier way).
- Energy Balls: These bite sized treats are filling, flavorful, and hold up well in the fridge. Choose from my no bake energy balls, banana bread energy balls, mango date energy balls, or matcha pistachio bliss balls.
Durable Salads that Stay Good for Days
The key to meal prep salads that last is avoiding lettuce and leafy greens. These salads are tossed with colorful vegetables, pantry staples, an array of proteins. But the best part? They last for about 3-4 days in the fridge.
- Broccoli Salad: For the broccoli lovers, this one checks all the boxes of crispy, creamy, sweet, and savory.
- Ultimate Chicken Salad: This classic recipe tastes great on it’s own or wrapped in a sandwich for a heftier meal.
- Tuna Salad: Another easy comfort food that works well in a variety of recipes from wraps to sandwiches. Give my broccoli tuna salad a try too!
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad: Fresh, bright, and zesty, this chickpea salad is a real pantry staple MVP.
- Greek Salad: Even though it’s tossed in a dressing, this one holds up extremely well in the fridge!
- Egg Salad: This one’s super easy and can be spruced up to be a curried egg salad or avocado egg salad.
Best Chicken Meal Prep Ideas
Chicken is a key ingredient for many meal prep lovers. But it’s time to look past those boring, dry chicken breasts which unfortunately appear way too often in meal prep. Give your chicken a little extra oomph with marinades and seasonings for a restaurant-quality experience right at home.
- Greek Sheet Pan Chicken: Juicy chicken thighs are coated in the best Greek flavors, and roasted with bright, caramelized veggies.
- Cilantro Lime Chicken: This vibrant flavor combo never fails. Plus, leftovers work well in tacos, salads, or wraps.
- Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs: Crispy baked thighs are my weakness, and this homemade version is ridiculously easy to make thanks to my special seasoning.
- Roasted Balsamic Chicken: If you love easy sheet pan recipes, you’ll love this sticky sweet balsamic chicken.
- Herbed Honey Mustard Chicken: A little bit sweet, and a little bit savory, this honey mustard chicken never fails.
Big-Batch Cooking Recipes
Have a big crowd to feed or planning for leftovers? Say no more. These big batch recipes are quick and easy, and packed with layers of flavor.
- Chicken Fajitas: A batch of these fajitas only takes 30 minutes to make!
- One Pan Chicken and Rice: A complete meal with chicken and rice. You’ll be happy to have leftovers of this one.
- Baked Tuna Meatballs: These do double duty as a snack and complete meal when served with veggie sides. Plan ahead and make a double batch!
- Very Best Lentil Soup: When it comes to batch cooking, having a soup recipe on hand is a must. And this one’s loaded with good-for-you ingredients.
- Chicken Stir-Fry: This stir-fry is perfect for enjoying throughout the week. And if you’ve got a bigger family to feed, just double the recipe!
- Pork and Fennel Meatballs: Just like the tuna meatballs, you’ll want to make two batches for tasty leftovers.
Your Crockpot or slow cooker is also an essential meal prep kitchen tool! Check out these amazing slow cooker recipes for even more big batch cooking inspiration.
Freezer Meal Prep Favorites
No meal prep list is complete without freezer-friendly meals. And trust me, having healthy meals prepped in your freezer is a gold mine for those extra busy days. Just reheat and enjoy!
- Best Ever Chili Recipe: Whip up this warming and comforting chili for those cold, wintery days.
- Stuffed Peppers: This family favorite is healthy, filling, and makes for great leftovers.
- Zucchini Lasagna: I love finding a batch of zucchini lasagna in my freezer, it’s like finding a golden ticket!
- Taco Soup: Enjoy the best taco flavors conveniently in one tasty soup.
- Whole30 Chicken Broccoli Casserole: Casseroles are always welcome in the freezer, and this one is chicken broccoli heaven.
- Salmon Patties: A fun and delicious way to enjoy frozen salmon (or even tuna).
- Zucchini Fritters: Summer calls for these crisp, golden patties. So make sure to cook up a second batch to save in your freezer.
Mix & Match Ingredient Meal Prep
Aside from making full meals, my seasonal meal prep ideas are always reader favorites. Why? Because prepping individual ingredients allows you to get creative with quick mix and match meals during the week. All you need to do is plan easy, adaptable, in-season ingredients that keep well in the fridge (think grains, sauces, veggies, and protein). Then make unique texture and flavor combinations everyday that will get you excited about meal time.
Below you’ll find each of my seasonal meal preps, along with a quick guideline to inspire your ingredient choices. Happy meal prepping!
- Winter Meal Prep: Meals that are hearty and filling with shredded pulled pork, lentils, sweet potato noodles, and vibrant winter vegetables.
- Spring Meal Prep: Fresh and light meals with shrimp spring rolls, shrimp salads, and a batch of chia pudding.
- Summer Meal Prep: It’s all about incorporating fresh fruit, lettuce wraps, salads, zucchini bread, and sweet refreshing desserts into your meals.
- Fall Meal Prep: Cozy meals with ingredients like roasted sweet potatoes and kale to create a hash, a versatile hummus spread, and paleo apple pancakes for breakfast.
- Grains & Roots: Rice, cilantro lime rice, or cassava flour tortilla wraps.
- Vegetables: cauliflower rice, broccoli rice, or spiralized vegetables such as zucchini noodles.
Versatile Spreads And Sauces
- Spreads: Classic hummus, green goddess hummus, or roasted beet hummus, or chia seed jam
- Sauces & Dressings: Lemon vinaigrette, Dijon vinaigrette, Greek salad dressing, or citrus lime vinaigrette.
Fresh and Roasted Vegetables
- Fresh Vegetables: Leafy greens such as spinach and kale, sliced bell peppers, onions, cucumbers, carrots, or shredded cabbage.
- Roasted Vegetables: Roasted sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli, roasted Brussels sprouts, or roasted butternut squash.
- Meat & Seafood: Shredded chicken, slow cooker pulled pork, or garlic butter shrimp.
- Vegetarian: Lentils, chickpeas, black beans, or hard boiled eggs.
If you make any of these meal prep recipes, let me know how it turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.
40+ Best Meal Prep Ideas and Recipes
- Add all of the ingredients to a mixing bowl.
- Pour the lemon vinaigrette into the salad and give it all a stir until combined.
- Transfer the salad to a large bowl and serve it right away or store in the fridge for meal prep.
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