Healthy meal prep is an excellent way to maintain healthy eating habits all week, despite your busy schedule. To get started with healthy meal prepping — or maybe you just want to streamline your process or improve the nutritional value of your meals — you’ll want to follow the best practices used by experienced meal preppers and nutrition experts. That’s why we’ve curated this list of healthy meal prep ideas and tips, such as:
- Double Dark Chocolate Bites
- Matcha Latte Bites
- Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Bites
- Snickerdoodle Bites
- Gut Happy Cookies® Sunflower Butter with Vanilla and Chia
- Fresh Fruit Salad
- Nuts and boiled eggs
- Sheet pan meals
- Roasted vegetables
- …and more
Before we get to these and other ideas and tips, let’s quickly review what healthy meal prep is.
What Is Healthy Meal Prep?
Healthy meal prep is purchasing all the ingredients you need for a week (or two weeks) of meals, whether you’re just prepping dinner in advance, healthy lunches for the workweek, or even all three meals for the day. There are several approaches to meal prep, such as making a larger batch of a meal and saving the extra portions for lunch through the week.
There’s no right or wrong way to meal prep; the only thing that matters is finding a method that works for you and is something you’ll stick to. It’s great for those trying to lose weight, those who follow a special diet like keto or vegan, and those who want to enjoy wholesome, nourishing meals every day instead of turning to fast food and other quick fixes.
It involves purchasing your ingredients, preparing meals, and storing them in individual containers for daily grab-and-go healthy eating. Generally, you can expect to spend a day or two on healthy meal prep, depending on whether you’re including cooked meals or if most of your meals are easy to put together. Like any healthy meal, aim to choose whole, unprocessed foods from various food groups such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein-rich eggs, yogurt, or fish.
What Are Some Healthy Meal Prep Ideas?
The great thing about healthy meal prep is that many convenient options cater to dietary needs and preferences like vegan, keto, paleo, and high-protein. For example, choose some delicious snack bites from Revol Snax. They’re pre-packaged, so they make a great addition to your healthy meal prep, and they come in several tasty flavors like Dark Chocolate Almond Butter, Snickerdoodle, Double Dark Chocolate, and Matcha Latte. They’re keto, paleo, and 100% plant-based, so they’re suitable for a variety of diets — and they’re the perfect healthy lunch idea for kids, too.
Add some Gut Happy Cookies® Sunflower Butter with Vanilla and Chia or Gut Happy Cookies® Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate and Coconut from Uplift Food to your healthy meals. They’re keto-friendly, grain-free, and they include a proprietary blend of prebiotics and probiotics to support gut health.
Whether you’ve forgotten your breakfast or lunch, short on time, or simply craving something fabulously fruity, stop by your local Edible® Store for a Fresh Fruit Salad cup and other in-store only treats, such as mouth-watering smoothies.
More Healthy Meal Prep Ideas & Tips from Health Enthusiasts & Meal Planners
For more healthy meal prep ideas and tips you might want to try, we put out a call for ideas and curated responses below. (Note: Edible Arrangements® is not endorsing any of the companies or ideas discussed below, but we asked for suggestions to get some different perspectives.) Keep reading to find out what the contributors who responded to our query had to say about their favorite healthy meal prep ideas and tips.
Matt Claes is the head coach and founder of Weight Loss Made Practical, a personal coaching company that helps busy people lose weight and keep it off.
“My more general tips for healthy meal prep is that you want to look for things that are a combination of nutritious, easy to take with you, and convenient to prepare in large batches.
For example, I could not imagine my healthy meal preps without nuts and boiled eggs.
Nuts are so easy because you simply have to buy a bag of peanuts, for example, and you already have an important part of your healthy meal.
Examples like peanuts contain amazing amounts of vitamins and minerals and great amounts of fiber and protein.
These things will not only be good for gut health, preserving muscle, building muscle, weight loss, and general health but will also keep you full until your next meal.
Boiled eggs are not as great as peanuts, but they still contain nice amounts of nutrients, are easy to take with you, and can be prepared in a big batch for the next few days.
Besides these things, you can start considering what vegetables and protein sources you find easy enough to take with you.
For example, washing some carrots and cutting off the ends is relatively simple and offer a nice amount of nutrients to your healthy meal.”
Jennifer Kropf is the expert and chief blogger at HealthyHappyImpactful.com. Her work helping women connect and take care of themselves has been featured in Psychology Today, We Are Teachers, and Forbes.
“There are two tips that make a huge impact on how healthy my family eats.
Double a Dinner
Do you want to eat healthier meals without the work? Do you wish you were reaching for frozen pizza less? This is the way! You are already making your dishes dirty when you cook, so double the recipe for leftovers or freeze for another night.
Prep 3 of the Same Thing
I know I should eat more salads. But during the week, it’s never going to happen. So, each Sunday I meal prep three small salads. They always get eaten because they are ready and waiting. This tip could apply to anything you’d like to consume more of. Prep 3 smoothies or 3 lunch sandwiches instead.”
Joe is a qualified fitness instructor (15+ years) and runs his own Online PT and Nutrition coaching business, 9 To 5 Nutrition.
“Here are a few of my favorite healthy meal prep tips.
1. Always include a portion of lean protein and a portion of vegetables.
This will ensure that you’re meeting both your fiber and protein goals. Fiber and protein are essential for overall health, especially if you’re dieting. Protein helps to increase the feeling of fullness, helps maintain muscle mass, and requires more energy to digest than carb or fat sources (this means you won’t store as many calories from protein). Fiber is essential for a healthy gut, and also helps to boost feelings of fullness
2. Cook and season meat properly
If you throw a chicken breast in the oven, it will be bland in terms of taste and texture. If you’re not enjoying the flavor of your prepped meals, you will be more likely to ditch them for less healthy, higher-calorie meals or snacks.
When you cook meat, sear it in a griddle pan first, before finishing in the oven on a lower heat, this will give you a crisp outer edge and a moist, tender center. Also ensure you season it with salt and pepper (or your seasoning of choice) to give it extra flavor, for no extra calories. Taste is everything!
3. Opt for lean cuts
Lean meats like chicken and white fish are always going to be lower in calories than red meats like beef, pork, or lamb. If you are on a calorie-controlled diet, you’ll be able to eat lean meat or fish for fewer calories.
Picking the right cut is essential, too. Chicken breast will be lower in fat (and therefore calories) than thighs and legs.
4. Pick sauces wisely
If you’re dieting, or just trying to eat healthily, there’s no reason you can’t drizzle some sauce on your pre-prepped meals, but choose wisely.
Cream-based sauces like mayo or ranch can be very high in fat and calories, but there are plenty of other options that pack a flavor punch for a fraction of the calories. Both hot and sweet sauces tend to be lower in calories than their cream-based counterparts; think ketchup, BBQ, or Sriracha.”
Mika Tomada is a PR specialist from PlantSumo, a London-based meal prep service.
“Healthy meal prep requires mainly three things:
Healthy nutrients, a low prep time, and of course, delicious taste.
One tip for creating a healthy prep meal recipe is to aim for a simple dish with few ingredients and little to no prep time. Sticking to a consistent schedule is another healthy meal prep tip. Create a routine that works best and is convenient for you in order to attain successful meal prepping.”
Jessi Holden, MS, RDN is a culinary-driven registered dietitian who helps improve beginners’ cooking skills, health, and flavor side up, one delicious recipe and podcast at a time at The Kitchen Invitation.
“Find your meal prep style, it doesn’t have to be putting meals in a ton of little containers clogging up your fridge.
Below are various meal prep styles for individuals to try out and see what works best for them.
- When just starting out, pick one meal to prepare. Keep the goal incredibly small and simple. Decide if you need breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks prepped.
- Component prep is when you prepare large quantities of a single food item such as ground meat, chicken, black beans, pancakes, or even breakfast burritos and freeze it.
- The night before prep is when you look at what you’re having tomorrow and ensure the ingredients are ready. Meat is thawed, vegetables are chopped, spices measured even, etc.
- The weekender prep style could be when you pre-chop all of your produce for the meals the following week. It could also be preparing a full meal to be ready for cooking, or you cook it and warm it up.
- The planner prep is for someone who wants to combine meal planning and prepping. This way we know what’s coming in the week and can prepare ingredients ahead of time. Especially if we’re already using the cutting board and knife for tonight’s dinner, we might as well prepare Friday’s dinner!
Any way you look at meal prep, it takes time, patience and practice. Don’t let anyone tell you what it should look like. Find the method that works for you, be flexible, and stick with it.”
Isla Zyair is a nutritionist, plant-based nutrition expert, and health blogger at Obesity Controllers Association.
“One of my favorite healthy meal prep ideas is to put together a bowl of oatmeal with a side of berries and almond milk.
I like to eat oatmeal with berries in the morning because it gives me energy and makes me feel less hungry. The berries are a great source of antioxidants, and they are also very filling and so easy to eat. For a tip, I would say to start with a smaller portion of the meal and add more as you go along. You could always make a smoothie if you didn’t allow yourself to eat a bowl of oatmeal in the morning.
Protein shakes in the morning are another healthy meal prep idea when I feel sluggish and need a pick-me-up. This is a great way to get the protein, vitamins, and minerals you need in the morning.
I like to make a big batch of protein shakes and keep them in the fridge for a quick breakfast or snack.”
Dr. Kasen Somana
Dr. Kasen Somana is a Cosmetic Dentist and Founder of Signature Dentistry.
“The key to great meal prep is the ease of cooking and longer shelf life.
This is why my favorite meal prep idea is sheet pan chicken fajitas. Everybody loves fajitas, no doubt! But cooks love them even more because they are so easy to prepare. All I do is throw some tender chicken, bell peppers, and onions together with fajita seasoning and cook them up. It’s the easiest recipe with just a few ingredients.”
Lisa Richards is a nutritionist and author of the Candida Diet. She has been featured on Today, US News, Women’s Health
magazine, Huffington Post, Healthline, the San Francisco Chronicle, Reader’s Digest, Lifehack, Insider, and Well+Good, among others. Through her website, she explains the benefits of a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet.
“My favorite healthy meal prep idea is Sheet Pan Meals.
These all-in-one meals are among the easiest to meal prep ahead of time and are often nutrient-dense. Simply cut up all the vegetables and animal proteins you’re wanting and place them in a gallon-size freezer bag. When you are ready to prepare the meal, place it all on one sheet and within the hour you have a complete meal.
My Sheet Pan Chicken recipe can be prepped ahead of time or the day of depending on your preference.
Sheet pan recipes are an excellent way to get in a variety of nutrients from every food group without taking up a lot of space or dishes. Ideally, it is best to use a larger sheet pan, 9 x 13 inches, to allow for space for the foods to cook and be stirred on occasion if necessary.
Layering food can cause uneven cooking and not allow all foods to be seasoned properly. Most all food types can be added to the pan at the same time, especially if you are cooking low and slow. However, you can add foods that do not need as much time to cook later in the process.”
Thomas Wright is the CEO of The Lipo Group.
“There are a few things I always make sure to do when I’m meal prepping for the week ahead.
First, I try to cook with lean protein sources like chicken or fish. I also make sure to include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in my meals. I always cook my food from scratch using healthy ingredients. And finally, I make sure to portion out my meals so I’m not overeating.
Some of my favorite healthy meal prep ideas include making a big batch of roasted vegetables to eat throughout the week, cooking a bunch of chicken for quick meals, and prepping some healthy snacks like hard-boiled eggs or veggie sticks. I always find that meal prepping makes it easier to eat healthily and stick to my nutrition goals.”
Sarah Holt is a Freelance Food Photographer, Videographer, and Recipe Developer at Real Food with Sarah, LLC.
“Here are a few of my top healthy meal prep tips.
- Cater to your cravings. Is there anything that you’ve been wanting to make or eat? Is there a particular cuisine you’ve been craving? If so, plan to make something that helps you beat this craving. The worst is making a dish and wishing you were eating something completely different.
- Check your fridge and pantry. Do you have anything left over from last week that needs to be used? Do you have an overflow of rice in your pantry or chicken that’s been in the freezer for a few weeks? If so, utilize things you already have before buying more and adding to your stash. This helps with organization and also can save you money!
- Find inspiration. Check Pinterest, food blogs, Instagram, etc., and see what meals catch your eye if you’re lacking inspiration. You don’t have to follow exact recipes, but they may help spark your interest.
- Start with what you know first. For example, if you plan to hard boil eggs for the week, start that first because it’s simple and something you probably already know how to do. Then, move on to the more difficult recipes.
- Use one appliance at a time. If you need the oven for 3 recipes, preheat and start on those first. Then, move on to others such as the air-fryer, stovetop, slow cooker, or pressure cooker.
- Something as simple as chopping veggies you will use during the week and marinating proteins is also considered meal prep. You don’t need to cook anything for it to be considered prepping. Even this will save you time later in the week.
- If you can, I suggest leaving things such as steaming vegetables or cooking rice until the day/night of. This will make the meal taste better and fresher.”
Mat Rezaei, Pharm.D.
Mat Rezaei, Pharm.D., and Founder & CEO of UPGUYS, a wellness and fitness company that sells ED and hair loss medications.
“My favorite healthy meal prep idea is Chickpea Shawarma Wraps.
Not only is it delicious, but it also serves as a burst of healthy energy. This recipe has various components, so it takes time to prepare meals, but the end result is worth it. You can stuff it with creamy hummus, pickled onions, spiced roasted chickpeas, and more. These satisfying plant-based wraps are a mix of every flavor you can imagine. Add them to your diet and experience a healthy rich goodness of all round taste.”
Heather Kiddoo owns a gym in Bettendorf IA, Live Active 563. She is a nutrition business mentor for Healthy Steps Nutrition, a nutrition coach, and blogger on a mission to make the world a healthier place.
“Proper nutrition is at the top of the list when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, but it’s people’s biggest struggle.
By setting aside a few hours each week in your schedule for meal prep, not only do you stay on track with your nutrition, but you also save money by reducing the need to drive through fast food options weekly.
By following these 5 tips, you will set yourself up for success and not be searching for the next fast food joint for lunch.
- Clean out the crap from your fridge and pantry.
- Pick 3 recipes for the week to prep (seasoned preppers – pick 5).
- Plan your starches, snacks & veggies.
- Make a grocery list using the ingredients from your recipes plus sides & go shop!
- Prep the food!
Here are 3 of my favorite meal prep recipes:
Breakfast: Egg Muffins
- 5 eggs
- 5 egg white
- 1/2 cup onion diced
- 1 cup mushrooms diced
- 1/2 cup bell peppers diced
- 1 handful spinach
- 1 cup broccoli diced
- 6 oz ham
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Dice up all vegetables
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs then add in all the diced vegetables
- Pour mixture in greased muffin pan (should fill about 10 muffins) Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
Lunch or Dinner: Meatloaf Muffins
- 1 pound 99% fat free ground turkey
- 1 pound 90% fat free ground turkey or ground sirloin
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 packet low sodium McCormick Meatloaf Mix
- 1/3 cup chopped veggies (celery, peppers, onions)
- 1/3 cup panko
- A pinch fresh basil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Mix all ingredients together
- Evenly proportion into muffin pan (makes 10-12) and bake for 18-22 minutes
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup quinoa drained and rinsed
- 1 clove garlic drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup cilantro chopped
- 1 tsp. salt and pepper
- 1 lime juiced
- In a large pot, bring the 2 cups broth to a boil then stir in quinoa. Cook until quinoa is tender and broth is evaporated (about 20 minutes).
- Pour quinoa into medium bowl and fluff with fork.
- Stir in garlic, lime juice, and cilantro. Then season with salt and pepper to taste.”
Kevin Harris is the founder and CEO of NANBF, an online business dedicated to helping people become the best versions of themselves that they can be. A former karate teacher and personal trainer, Kevin is also a motivational speaker who believes that everyone has the potential to achieve their dreams.
“I love to prep meals with a lot of protein, so beef, sweet potato, and roast vegetable hash (38 grams of protein) or blackened chicken quinoa salad (37 grams of protein) are some of my favorites.
Tip: What I’ve realized about meal prepping is that if you want to make good, healthy meals then you need to make time to do so. Meal prepping should become part of your routine, just like going to the gym, and it is really helpful in health and fitness because you can plan your diet and ensure you’re getting all the necessary nutrients and minerals. I’ve found it helpful to dedicate a specific time to meal prepping every week, like a Sunday afternoon.”
Dr. Staci Holweger
Dr. Staci Holweger is the Founder and Dr. of Regenerative medicine at Lifepatches.
“Preparing meals and packing them in containers is a great way to ensure that you and your family are eating healthy.
When packing your meal, ensure you include a protein source, carbohydrates, and a vegetable. You want to do this for every meal for the best balance of nutrients.
When choosing your protein, look for leaner meats and seafood. You want to aim for 1-2 portions of protein per meal.
When it comes to carbohydrates, choose brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, or sweet potatoes to stay away from the highly processed white carbohydrates.
When it comes to vegetables, choose colorful ones that are packed with vitamins and minerals.”
Wendy Lord is a registered dietitian and consultant for Sensible Digs.
“It takes time, energy, and planning to establish healthy eating habits.
To benefit from a healthy diet, it pays to plan your meals ahead of time to ensure they are healthy and make it easier to cook at home every day.
Healthy meal prep all begins with a plan. It might sound tedious, especially if food and cooking is not your favorite thing, but spending just 10 minutes on a Saturday to plan your meals for the week ahead, takes the headache out of deciding what to cook every day. If you are really on the ball, you can make a note of any recipes you plan to use and where to find them.
To get a good split in the type of meals you prepare, I usually advise my patients to plan for two vegetarian meals, two fish meals, two chicken meals, and a meat meal. Obviously, this depends on your personal preferences, but the goal is to focus more on plant-based foods and to eat less red meat.
Most people find that just planning their dinners is enough to keep them on a healthy diet, but there is no reason why you can’t go ahead and plan your breakfasts, lunches, and snacks too.
Once you have a plan, draw up a shopping list that includes everything you need to prepare the meals you have planned for the week. If you don’t have time to go to the shop, use online shopping sites to ensure you have everything you need to cook healthy meals. If the food is already in your kitchen, you have no excuses not to cook.
Cooking dinner every night after a long day at work or running after the kids can be challenging, so preparing as much as you can ahead of time can help you stay on track. If the idea of cooking every day sends you running for the couch with a takeaway, then spend some time in the kitchen just once a week and ensure everything is done ahead of time.
Some things have to be prepared fresh when cooking, but you will find that a lot of the work can be done at least three days in advance. For example:
Salads can be prepped in advance and stored in airtight containers until you are ready to eat them. At one stage, my social media feeds were full of Mason jar salads, so I tried them out. The best thing to do is layer the vegetables starting with the wet ingredients at the bottom, so they don’t make the other veggies soggy. So, put the dressing, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc., at the bottom of the jar, and then keep layering, finishing with the leafy veggies on top. Seal the container and keep it sealed until you are ready to eat it. The best containers are glass jars, food-grade plastic containers, or zip-lock bags. The great thing is the salad can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.
Leftovers are a great way to cook once and eat twice. I always recommend cooking an extra portion or two in the evenings and dishing it up into your lunchbox for the next day. It’s a convenient trick for people who live alone or don’t have time to pack lunch before leaving for work in the morning. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge, in sealed containers, for about two days.
Cooked food can be stored in the freezer for 2 to 3 months before it starts to deteriorate. So, when you cook curries, casseroles, pasta sauces, or stews, make lots! You can then freeze it in single portions to defrost on those nights you really don’t feel like spending time in the kitchen.
Like cooking extra portions, preparing meals in advance and freezing them in portion-appropriate containers takes the stress out of eating a balanced, home-cooked meal every day. Cooking one or two different meals over the weekend can keep your freezer stocked with tasty, healthy, home-cooked meals.
If you have planned a stir fry as one of your dinners during the week, you can slice and chop your veggies and store them in a glass or plastic container or zip-lock bag until you need them. So, when you get home from grocery shopping, prepare your vegetables before putting them away. You can do the same for fresh vegetables for all your daily meals.
Quick, easy meals:
If you prefer to cook every night but don’t want to spend more than half an hour in the kitchen, plan for meals that take less time to prepare and cook:
Grilled meat, fish, or chicken is quick and easy to cook. Air fryers make this even easier. Simply add some steamed veggies or a salad.
Tomato-based pasta dishes take very little time to prepare.
Tray-bakes are trendy and make putting a meal on the table a breeze. All you have to do is heat the oven, place the veggies and meat on a baking tray with the seasoning of your choice and a little olive oil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until cooked. (Cooking time depends on your choice of meat and vegetables).”
Jenna Moran is the CEO of Whimsy and Spice, an online culinary hub dedicated to providing a wealth of knowledge and information for aspiring amateur chefs and home cooks.
“One of my all-time favorite healthy meal prep ideas is homemade instant noodles.
I like to use rice noodles for this meal prep because they are quick to cook with hot water and absorb many flavors — no matter the ingredients you add to your pot. My favorite flavors and ingredients to put with the noodles are chili, lemongrass, shredded carrot, and frozen petit pois.”
Deniz is the Founder of FitnessEquipped.com, a Former Leader of a Governmental Initiative (Cooperation with the Austrian Football Association) and a Student of Molecular Biotechnology.
“Meal prepping is a great way to ensure you have healthy meals ready when you need them.
Here are some of my favorite healthy meal prep ideas:
- Make a big batch of quinoa or brown rice and use it as the base for various meals throughout the week.
- Cook a bunch of chicken or tofu and use it in salads, stir-fries, and other dishes.
- Prep lots of veggies like chopped broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots to add to meals as needed.
- Make a big batch of homemade salsa or guacamole to top off your meals.
- Pack single-serving containers with healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, yogurt, and fruit.
- Have a few staple ingredients on hand that you can use to create quick and easy meals, like canned tuna, eggs, whole grain pasta, and frozen veggies.
- Make a plan for the week ahead so you know what meals you’ll be prepping and what ingredients you’ll need.
The key to successful meal prepping is to choose quick and easy recipes to prepare, so you’re not spending all day in the kitchen on Sunday. These are just a few of my favorite healthy meal prep ideas – get creative and come up with your own recipes and tips!”
Trista Best is a Registered Dietitian at Balance One Supplements, Environmental Health Specialist, and Adjunct Nutrition Professor.
“Taking care to ensure we’re organized in our health routines with a busy schedule doesn’t have to cause negative health consequences.
Meal planning can improve both time management and the health of your meals.
This term refers to the process of pre-determining what meals your household will eat for the week (or multiple weeks) and making a list of all ingredients needed for those meals.
Evaluate your ingredients list for items you already have available and purchase the rest on your weekly/bi-weekly grocery store trip. Many avid meal planners also choose to set aside time for prepping some ingredients ahead of time.
This process quickly becomes second nature for those who create a process that works for them and stick to it. Before long they can develop a list of go-to meals that they can pull from on a regular basis.”
William Rivers is the Founder & Senior Editor of Senior Strong. Senior Strong is where you find the best & reliable information related to Elders & their health, lifestyle, diet, retirement, and many more.
“My favorite meal prep ideas are simple yet healthy and perfect for any time of the day- breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
These will probably take you less than 30 minutes tops to prepare, and they will get you started on your work week free of stress.
Vegan breakfast recipes like this one are healthy and delicious. Only two ingredients are required, and it takes just a few minutes to prepare. Adding your favorite fruits and berries to low-fat yogurt, you can prepare ahead and have a healthy breakfast every morning. Add some nuts, almond milk, and chia seeds before refrigerating them. In the summer, it’s great with fresh berries, or in the winter with warm apple compote! What a treat!
With delicious noodles, a simple sesame sauce, perfectly browned chicken, and a side of veggies, you can prepare these sesame noodle bowls for the next day.
Spicy Chicken With Rice And Beans
The beans and chicken offer a healthy amount of protein. Add to this a side of rice, and you have prepared a filling yet healthy and delicious meal! With an Instant Pot, this will take just a few minutes, but even without one, it won’t take long to prepare this meal. Add some veggies and nuts to the side, and you’re good to go.
Prepare For no more Than Five Days
Prepare food for no more than five days at a time. Even after refrigerating, most prepared foods don’t last more than three days, so you should freeze the rest. Allow the frozen meal to defrost in the refrigerator the night before you plan on eating it. Doing this will prevent bacteria and germs from getting into your food.
Choosing Your Containers
Mason jars are my favorite for mixed meals. Make sure your container size is right for more compact storage and airtight. Glass containers are a healthy option for storing and warming food; they won’t release harmful chemicals on heating them, you can still use them in the microwave, they don’t affect the taste of the food stored in them- even after several days, and you can easily see what is stored in them.”
Jenny Fowler is a certified senior Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) coach with First Mile Care, a Silicon-Valley based preventative chronic care company. Jenny is a nutrition consultant and wellness coach certified in the National Diabetes Prevention Program.
“Here are my three tips to make prepping healthy meals easier throughout the week.
- Choose an easy recipe like overnight oats or chia seed pudding that you literally just mix the ingredients together and put in the fridge. It’s very quick prep time and lasts for days in the fridge.
- Plan at least two meals with the same ingredients. For example, roast a sheet pan of chicken and vegetables for dinner one night, then add leftover chicken and roasted veggies to salad greens or already cooked quinoa for the next day’s lunch.
- Meal prep doesn’t have to follow a recipe! Keep canned goods on hand like beans, salmon, or tuna, and fun salad toppings like artichoke hearts.
You can throw these together and add fresh salad greens or leftover vegetables to complete the meal. While you’re prepping this, open an extra can and make a portion for the next day as well.”
Brian Nagele is the CEO of Restaurant Clicks and former owner of Kings Oak Restaurant in Philadelphia.
“Overnight oats can double up as both a breakfast and dessert for your meal prep.
Overnight oats are packed with fiber from their oatmeal base. But the addition of chia seeds, flax seed, and fruits provide vitamins, minerals, and roughage needed to support healthy digestion. You can choose to have your serving cold as a sweet treat or warm it up in the morning for a satisfying start to the day. The fact that overnight oats can be served at two meals means you save time in your meal prep — there’s no need to plan separate snack and breakfast dishes!”
Emily Zorn is a registered dietitian and health coach. She is the owner of Emily RD Nutrition Coaching, and she helps people learn how to get healthy and reach their goals through sustainable, balanced eating (no diets allowed!).
“Don’t be afraid to use frozen vegetables!
Frozen vegetables can have just as many vitamins and minerals as fresh veggies. Simply microwave the veggies for 5 minutes, and then toss them into a hot pan with some olive oil, salt, and pepper to slightly brown them.
Convenience foods are okay, and that’s coming from a dietitian! To make a simple, quick, and balanced meal, heat up a bag of pre-cooked rice. Thaw some pre-cooked, frozen chicken in the microwave. Heat up some frozen veggies. Mix everything together, add a sauce of your choice, and you have a healthy and tasty meal in less than 5 minutes.”
Christine Kingsley is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) and the Health and Wellness Director of the Lung Institute.
“Glazed chicken breast and potatoes tops my list as not only is it easy to prepare and offers a full meal without requiring many ingredients, but it also makes the perfect combination of complimentary flavors for increased appetite. The chicken breasts serve as a protein supply while potatoes provide me with carbohydrates, giving me the right amount of alertness and energy at work which is critical for surviving long hours. Not to mention, this meal keeps me full for a long stretch of time, minimizing any need for snack breaks and preventing overeating.
Sausage and Zucchini Salad is another favorite. The combination of sausage and zucchini balances the body’s dietary needs since we also need to eat our veggies. It is easy to make a salad with these two ingredients with its preparation process. It can be made on the spot as long as you have both ingredients.”
Brittany Kline is the owner of the blog The Savvy Kitchen, where they are on a mission to help other families Eat Better, Save Money, and Waste Less.
“One of my favorite healthy meal prep ideas is to plan ahead.
When you know what you’re going to eat for the week, it’s much easier to stay on track with your health goals. Take 10 minutes on Sunday night to plan your meals for the coming week, and you’ll be glad you did!
Cook once, eat twice!
Cook a big pot of quinoa or brown rice on the weekend and then use it as the base for a variety of different meals during the week. I’ll either mix in some veggies and protein or top it with a quick and easy sauce.
Don’t forget about salads! Greens are low in calories and packed with nutrients, making them the perfect healthy meal option. I like to pack my family’s salads full of different veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds for a filling and satisfying meal.
Hard-boiled eggs are also a great healthy meal prep option because they’re easy to make ahead of time and can be eaten on the go. I like adding them to salads or eating them with whole-grain toast for a quick and healthy breakfast or snack.”
Lalitha is an owner and physiotherapist at Brentwood Physio.
“Here are the 3 best meal prep hacks I share with my patients:
- Use foods that don’t require any preparation. Fruits like apples/bananas/mandarins, carbs like sourdough bread, and vegetables that don’t need to be cooked like carrots/celery/cherry tomatoes. This cuts down the amount of work involved in prep, saving you time and often money.
- Organize meals around kitchen appliances that make life easy. Rice cookers are amazing for simple rice. A slow cooker will be your best friend. You can easily throw together a simple recipe the night before. When you wake up in the morning you’ll have something deliciously healthy ready to be portioned out.
- Make more than enough, freeze extras. I like to cook one batch of chicken or salmon at a time, then freeze about half of it for quick meal prep the next week.
Here is an example for lunch meal prep: On Sunday night I whipped up a simple chicken masala, threw it in the slow cooker, and went to bed. The next morning I portioned out my delicious masala for 5 lunches. Every morning I’ll add one tortilla, one banana, two carrots, and a handful of grapes to my lunch.”
Michael Fischer is the founder of Elite HRT, an anti-aging and wellness provider since 2013.
“When prepping healthy meals feels a bit daunting, try to focus on working with a quality source of protein and some kind of vegetable.
For example, go for a pan-seared salmon fillet and some green beans rather than stressing out over putting together a complex and presumably delicious recipe. This meal is simple, easy to prepare, and nutritious without the headache or extra ingredients. Meals like these can take some of the stress away from healthy eating without requiring you to skip nutrition.”
Alex Shytsman is a plant-based recipe developer, food photographer, and creator of The New Baguette. Her mission is to demystify vegan food and inspire others to cook more healthy meals at home.
“Making a large batch of soup is one of my favorite approaches to meal prep.
You only need to dirty up one pot! Plus, soups tend to get better over time, so they’re perfect for reheating throughout the week. My Moroccan lentil soup is packed with plant-based protein, earthy vegetables, and warming spices.”
Jordana Tobelem is the RDN Nutrition Specialist at Healthcanal.
“When I prepare food to be meal prepped, I always like to ensure that the dish is something that will reheat and store well.
Another important tip is to include foods from each food group to ensure that the meal is balanced and nutritious.
Idea #1: Healthy Taco Bowls Taco bowls are something that can easily be made in large batches and reheated at a later time. Simply choose a lean protein, such as ground turkey, ground chicken, or even plant-based crumbles, and brown them on the stove with a bit of olive oil and taco seasoning. You can pack each taco bowl in a Tupperware with brown rice, a serving of meat, corn, black beans, tomatoes, and onions. When you are ready to enjoy, you can reheat the bowl in the microwave and serve it with some fresh avocado and light sour cream!
Idea #2: Healthy Chicken Salad An easy lunch idea that can be enjoyed all week long is chicken salad. However, you can make the chicken salad lighter by using other ingredients instead of mayonnaise. Swapping out the mayonnaise for plain greek yogurt and light sour cream are great options. Simply purchase a whole rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store, remove the skins, shred the chicken and place it into a large mixing bowl. Toss the chicken with the yogurt or sour cream, throw in some add-ins of choice, such as craisins, walnuts, almonds, and celery, and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve! You can add a scoop of the chicken salad to a bed of lettuce with a side of crackers or on whole-wheat bread with a side of fresh fruit.”
The key to healthy meal prep is finding a method that you’ll actually stick with, whether that’s prepping healthy meals the night before or prepping meals for the whole week. Fortunately, there are lots of easy additions to complete your healthy meal prep with minimal effort, such as Double Dark Chocolate Bites, Matcha Latte Bites, Gut Happy Cookies® Sunflower Butter with Vanilla and Chia, Fresh Fruit Salad, and many others. Following the healthy meal prep ideas and tips above will help you become a meal prepping master in no time.