I Successfully Meal Prep Using These 12 Recipes, and Here’s Why It Works
Meal prep isn’t for everyone. I grew up with a mother who did the opposite of meal prep—She stared at her fridge every morning and went to the grocery store every evening to try and get some kind of dinner on the table. It worked for her, but I’m a diehard meal prepper. I like to plan everything that’s coming my way that week, head to the grocery store, and spend an afternoon making sure everything is in order for the week to come. It just makes sense to me.
Since I began routinely meal prepping, I have found a handful of go-to recipes that just work. Even if you’re not an experienced meal prepper, I’ve laid out how to take a recipe and have it ready for the week. Breakfast recipes are assumed to be just for you, lunches are made for someone bringing their lunch out during the week, and dinners require a little bit of cooking before serving. Here are 12 easy meal prep recipes I love, and how you can make them work for you.
Bulgur and Greens Mini Quiches
When I finally jumped on the muffin-tin egg bandwagon, it was a real game changer. The bulgur in this recipe makes for a super filling breakfast, and these mini quiches are way tastier than trying to zap some microwave eggs on your way out the door. Once I bake off a batch on Sunday, I use four medium-sized, lidded containers to package two mini quiches each. Then in the morning, all I have to do is warm them for a few seconds in my microwave or toss the container in my bag to enjoy at work. But, the best thing about these mini quiches is how customizable they are, so there’s zero breakfast fatigue. The recipe calls for curly kale, thyme, and feta cheese, but I mix up the veg, cheese, and herbs as I go. It all depends on what I have on hand that week.
Get the Recipe: Bulgur and Greens Mini Quiche
Blueberry-Sour Cream Muffins
Before this recipe, I thought a totally decadent blueberry muffin under 250 calories didn’t exist, but then I found these... and everything changed. The muffins take only 15 minutes to throw together, and once they’ve baked and cooled completely I lay them flat in a gallon-sized, zip-top bag to freeze. Then, when I’m running out the door I can snag one from the freezer and warm it up for a fresh-baked blueberry breakfast. Plus, I can always switch up the fruit so I’m not stuck eating the same muffin every week.
Get the Recipe: Blueberry-Sour Cream Muffins
For mornings I have a little extra time on my hands, I’ll throw together this unbelievably delicious frittata. Whenever I’m meal prepping, I’ll peel and cut a large butternut squash into cubes and roast according to these instructions. Then, I’ll wash and chop a head of lacinato kale and portion one cup of squash and one cup of kale into medium tupperware containers. When morning comes, all I have to do is make the egg mixture, put everything in a pan, and top it with avocado once it’s cooked.
Get the Recipe: Butternut-Kale Frittata
Chocolate-Tahini Banana Bread
Every time I make this bread I’m reminded of how delicious the combination of chocolate, tahini, and bananas are. I generally bake the bread as instructed and let it cool completely. Then, I’ll cut the bread directly down the center to make two squares and two more times to make eight equal pieces of bread. I’ll wrap each slice in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil, and pop them into the freezer. The night before I’m ready to eat, I’ll take one piece out to defrost on the counter. By morning, it’s room temperature and ready to be enjoyed, or I can unwrap one and pop it in the microwave to let the chocolate melt a little.
Get the Recipe: Chocolate-Tahini Banana Bread
Romaine, Celery, and Parmesan Salad
If I had to eat one salad for the rest of my life, it might be this riff on a classic Caesar. I fill lidded containers with romaine lettuce, celery, red onion, capers, and Parmesan cheese. Then, I’ll hard boil five eggs (or one for however many of these salads I’m making for the week) and let them cool before storing them in the fridge. Lastly, I use mini salad dressing containers to store the dressing in advance. When I’m packing lunch in the morning, I peel an egg and top off the salad with it and a crack of black pepper. The salad holds up well during the week, and I can mix up the vegetables, cheese, and protein if I want a little more variety.
Get the Recipe: Romaine, Celery, and Parmesan Salad
15-Minute Chicken Shawarma Bowls
Full disclosure—I don’t eat meat, so this particular recipe I swap in tempeh for the chicken. To prep, make and store the yogurt mixture in mini lidded containers to add when lunch rolls around. I like to measure out the farro, chicken (or protein of choice), and chickpeas into individual lunch containers in advance. Sometimes cucumbers and tomatoes can get a little bit funky sliced in the fridge, so I’ll cut those the morning of and put them in a zip-top bag to-go. When lunchtime rolls around, microwave the farro, chicken, and chickpeas just until warm, then top with veggies and yogurt for a perfectly satisfying lunch.
Get the Recipe: 15-Minute Chicken Shawarma Bowls
Summer Salmon Nicoise Salad
Leftover seafood is almost always significantly less appetizing than when it was freshly prepared (not to mention, it’s impossible to reheat), but when flaked cold over a bright summer salad I promise you’ll be excited to dig in to that leftover salmon. When meal prepping this dish, I prepare the individual salads and store the unpeeled egg, salmon, and prepared dressing separately. I’ll add the salmon and peeled egg when I head out the door, and keep the dressing in mini lidded containers. As a bonus, I’ll make the Parsley-and-Dill Potatoes and keep them packed in a separate container. When it’s lunchtime, I microwave the potatoes and add them right on.
Get the Recipe: Summer Salmon Nicoise Salad
Zesty Kale and Sweet Potato Bowl
Roasted veggies can get really old really fast when meal prepping—but not in this recipe. The veggies hold up really well throughout the week, and all the additional flavors make it something you’ll look forward to again and again. Go ahead and roast the sweet potatoes and bell peppers (and add in any other veg you want), toast the almonds with seasonings, prepare the quinoa, and whisk together the dressing ahead of time on this one. You can either keep all the ingredients individually stored until you’re packing your lunch, or prepare four bowls in advance. If preparing in advance, store the almonds in zip-top bags, keep the dressing in mini lidded containers, and slice the avocado into the bowl right before you head out the door.
Get the Recipe: Zesty Kale and Sweet Potato Bowl
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Spinach
I prepped these using meatless veggie crumbles, but you can use any kind of ground meat you like. These may seem a little bit harder to prep in advance, but there’s an easy trick that makes it surprisingly simple. Cut the squash, scoop them, bake them, let them cool, scrape out all the strands, and drain them. Next, make the spinach, squash, and cheese mixture and the meat sauce. Store these in separate airtight containers. Wrap each empty squash rind individually in aluminum foil with a damp paper towel in the center to keep them moist, and store in the fridge. When dinner time comes around, return to step 5 to fill and bake the assembled squash halves. Keep in mind, because the squash ingredients are now cold, you’ll need to add on a about 10-15 minutes of baking time.
Get the Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Spinach
Fish Tacos With Cabbage Slaw
These are the tastiest and easiest fish tacos I have ever made. To prepare in advance, make the slaw mixture (it tastes even better when it sits a while). Then when it’s dinner time, all you have to do is cook the fish, warm the tortillas, and assemble. It is possible to make the fish ahead of time (I’ve done it before), but like I mentioned earlier, reheated seafood isn’t particularly appealing. That being said, if you’re going to eat reheated fish, stuffing it into a taco definitely helps.
Get the Recipe: Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw
Tempeh Gyros with Tzatziki
You can really use any protein you want with this recipe, but I find the tempeh to be incredibly delicious in these wraps. Prepare the tempeh in advance (yes, even cook it in the marinade) and store on its own in the fridge. Process the Tzatziki sauce in advance, and store in an airtight container in the fridge. When it’s dinner time, all you have left to do is slice the onion and tomato, and assemble. It couldn’t be easier.
Get the Recipe: Tempeh Gyros with Tzatziki
Salmon with Kale, Walnut and White Bean Salad
This is an exceptionally easy recipe to meal prep, because all you need to do is prepare the dressing and rinse and drain the beans. When it’s dinner time, simply cook the salmon and plate. Of course, you can always prepare the salmon in advance if reheated fish doesn’t bother you. I’m a big fan of cooking salmon the day of, and if that means freezing fresh fillets and cooking a new one each night then that’s what I will do. You can also grab a package of already individually wrapped, frozen salmon fillets from a supermarket like Trader Joe’s for a steal of a deal, and thaw each quickly (in a bowl of cool water) as you need.
Get the Recipe: Salmon with Kale, Walnut and White Bean Salad