As someone who has made the transition from working at home to back in the office, I will say one of the hardest adjustments was going back to packing my lunches for work. Prepping breakfasts and lunches ahead of time has made it easier to stay on track with my goals and maximize my time throughout the work week.
Meal prepping in advance will set you up to eat healthier, save money, and reduce stress throughout the week. These healthy meal prep ideas prove that eating healthy is anything but boring!
4 Tips for Better Meal Prepping
Meal prepping isn’t rocket science, but each person has to find their own balance of what works for them. I have a few handy tips to help make it easier on those who are newer to cooking meals in advance.
1. Stick to Simple & Healthy
Your meals don’t have to be complicated to be tasty. Choose whole ingredients like fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins to put together healthy meals.
2. Put Leftovers to Use
Not everything you cook for dinner will taste great the next day - but sides like quinoa salad, roasted veggies, or leftover shredded chicken or pork from the instant pot are always great to add to salads, sandwiches or bowls. Make double of some of your favorites to make lunches easier to assemble. Pro tip: soups, and sauces save great in the freezer - double these recipes and freeze half for quick throw-together meals on busy nights!
3. Schedule a Prep Time in Advance
At first, you’ll have to work on adding meal prepping into your routine. Sunday’s are popular since food will stay fresher for longer into the week, and it’s when many people have free time. I’ve always found prepping breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for the next day while I’m making dinner each night works well for me. At first it can feel like a chore, but once you experience the relief of having food ready to grab and go on busy mornings, you may find you come to enjoy it!
4. Find your Favorites
It will take some trial and error, but over time find a set of recipes you know and love. This makes grocery shopping and cooking so easy!
Healthy Meal Prep Recipes
Below are a few of my favorite tried-and-true recipes I make consistently in my own meal prep routine. Of course, feel free to taste and tweak to your own liking.
1. Chia Seed Pudding
1 Cup Non-Dairy Milk (unsweetened)
3 Tbsp Chia Seeds
1 Tbsp Almond Butter
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
½ tsp Cinnamon
1 Pitted Date
- Add pitted date to blender and blend until smooth.
- Add rest of ingredients to blender, blend on high speed for 30 seconds.
- Let sit in the fridge for an hour, or overnight.
- Add granola, berries, and drizzle with more almond butter.
Keeps in the fridge in an airtight container for 5 days.
2. Zeus Parfait
1 cup Greek Yogurt (nonfat)
½ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tsp honey
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl of your choice. Then enjoy!
3. Easy Overnight Oats
½ Cup Almond Milk
¾ Tbsp Chia Seeds
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
½ Cup Rolled Oats
- Combine Almond Milk, chia seeds, peanut butter, and maple syrup. Stir with a spoon.
- Add rolled oats to the mixture and stir.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.
Top with your favorite toppings of choice and enjoy!
COLD LUNCH RECIPES
4. Mediterranean Couscous Salad
1 Can chickpeas, well rinsed and drained
1 tbsp Olive Oil
½ tsp each: ground cumin, ground chili powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
Optional: ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (for spice)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Cup Cous Cous (cooked according to package)
1 ½ Cups chopped cucumber
1 ½ Cups cherry tomatoes, halved
½ Cup Kalamata Olives, halved
¼ Cup Italian Parsley, finely chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
Salad Dressing Ingredients:
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Lemons, zest and juice of
1 ½ Tbsp Honey
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Dried Oregano
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chickpeas in a bowl, ad 1 Tbsp Olive oil, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Mix well, making sure chickpeas are completely covered in spices. Spread chickpeas in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, tossing halfway, and cooked until crisp and lightly browned.
- Prepare cous cous according to package, and fluff with a fork when finished.
- While cous cous is cooking prepare veggies, by chopping everything up if you haven’t already.
- Prepare dressing by adding olive oil, lemon zest and juice, honey, Dijon mustard, and dried oregano. Whisk until combined.
- To serve as a salad combine cous cous, veggies, cooled chickpeas, and salad dressing in a bowl. Toss well and serve with feta cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
If meal prepping to save for later, keep salad dressing separate, as this salad doesn’t save well if already dressed.
5. Feta Quinoa Wrap
Quinoa Salad Ingredients:
1 Cup Quinoa
1 Can Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
1 Cup Spinach, Chopped
½ Cup Green Onions, chopped
½ Cup Cilantro, chopped
1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
½ Cup Feta Cheese
2 Limes, Juice of
Tortilla Wrap (Whole Grain, Spinach or Sun-Dried Tomato recommended)
¼ Avocado, sliced
- Prep quinoa salad.
- Assemble wrap, by spreading hummus on tortilla, adding a generous helping of quinoa salad, and topping with sliced avocado.
Wrap it all up and enjoy!
6. Mayo-Less Tuna Salad
1 can Tuna
1-2 celery stalks, chopped
¼ English cucumber, chopped
2 radishes, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
¼ red onion, finely chopped
¼ Cup Kalamata olives, halved
Small handful Parsley, chopped
5-7 Mint leaves, chopped
Zesty Dressing Ingredients:
1 tsp Dijon
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Pinch of Salt & Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes to Taste
- Drain tuna, combine with chopped veggies and herbs.
- Combine dressing ingredients and whisk well. Drizzle over salad.
- Toss everything and enjoy!
7. Greek Quinoa Salad
½ English Cucumber, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes
1 Cup Kalamata Olives
¼ Cup Red Onion
1 Cup Uncooked Quinoa
½ Cup Feta Cheese
¼ Cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
½ tsp Dried Basil
¼ tsp Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper to taste
- Cook quinoa according to package.
- Chop all veggies and put in a large bowl with quinoa.
- Top with Feta Cheese and mix well.
- Whisk dressing ingredients and pour on top of salad immediately before serving. If meal prepping, keep dressing separate as it saves better if kept separately.
Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
HOT LUNCH RECIPES
8. Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Chicken Mixture Ingredients:
1 Lb. Ground Chicken
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
½ Lb. mushrooms (cremini or white mushrooms), finely chopped
½ Cup Water Chestnuts, diced
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Ginger, minced
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
6 green onions, chopped, scallions and green parts separated
2 Heads Butter Lettuce
3 Tbsp Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
3 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
3 Tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Sriracha
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 ½ Tbsp Rice Vinegar
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Tbsp Ginger, minced
- Prep veggies.
- Combine sauce ingredients together, whisk until completely combined.
- In a bowl, mix 2 Tbsp of sauce into the ground chicken.
- In a large pan, heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken to cook, breaking up and stirring until browned and fully cooked, 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Add 1 more Tbsp vegetable oil to pan, add scallion whites, ginger, garlic, and cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently.
- Add mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid, about 3 minutes.
- Return chicken to pan and add water chestnuts, bell pepper, and the remaining sauce. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until it’s cooked through and sauce begins to thicken.
- Stir in scallion greens.
Serve with washed and separated lettuce leaves.
9. Instant Pot Thai Basil Chicken
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Can (13.5 oz) Coconut Milk
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tbsp Ginger, Minced
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Lime, Juice of
1 Tbsp Curry Powder
1 Tbsp Coconut Sugar
1 Jalapeno, diced
½ Red Onion, diced
½ Cup Basil, Chopped
½ Cup Cilantro, Chopped
Handful red onions
- Add chicken ingredients to instant pot. Mix to combine.
- Seal instant pot and set to sealing. Select manual and set for 25 minutes. (It will take around an hour for instant pot to pressurize and cook.)
- Shred chicken and add basil and cilantro.
- Serve over white rice, brown rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice.
Top with extra basil, cilantro, red onions, and lime juice.
10. Chicken Verde Soup
1 Bottle Green Salsa
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
¼ White Onion, diced
1 tsp. Garlic, minced (about 1 clove)
2 Chicken Breasts
6 Cups Chicken broth
½ Cup chopped Cilantro
Red chili flakes
- Add Olive Oil, white onion and garlic to pot. sauté over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until golden brown.
- Chop chicken breasts in half and add to pot to quickly sear each side (2-3 minutes per side), flip to sear other side.
- Add jar of green salsa, stir. Bring heat to medium and let cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove chicken and plate it on a cutting board or plate and shred the chicken. Using 2 forks to shred.
- Add chicken back to pot, along with chicken broth and bring to a boil for an additional 10-15 minutes.
- Uncover, add cilantro, and stir.
Serve soup, topping with sliced avocado, green onions, cilantro, and red chili flakes. Enjoy!