We're going to go ahead and say that these count as a workout.

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane
Updated September 11, 2017
Credit: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Jan Gautro, Laura Martin

Calling all to-do list makers, avid meal preppers, and anyone who gets a high off of intense bouts in the kitchen. For some, weekends are for binge-watching television and sauntering around in your pajamas, but you are not that person. Instead, you use your Saturdays and/or Sundays to get organized and prep food for the week ahead (and even following weeks) because you just can’t put a price on over-the-top readiness, right?

Whether you’re a well-seasoned meal-prep enthusiast who needs a couple show-stoppers to work into the rotation, or you’re just starting to get your toes wet in the meal prep lifestyle, we’ve got some pretty damn loyal (if we do say so ourselves) power cooking recipes that you can bang out while you’ve got some free time this weekend (or even one evening this week if you want to be a real overachiever). After getting through a handful of these, you can rest assured that you’ll be set on all fronts for a while to come.

Whole Roasted Chicken

Simple Whole Roasted Chicken image
| Credit: Time Inc. Video Studio

Simple Whole Roasted Chicken image Time Inc. Video Studio

Okay, so this is obviously the king of all meal prep dishes, but it’s never not worth reiterating just how much better your week of eating will be with a homemade, whole roasted chicken at your fingertips. Use whatever herbs and aromatics you like, and roast that baby until the skin is ultra crispy. Slide some root veggies or mushrooms under the chicken so that they absorb those delicious, fatty chicken juices while they cook. #Pro #Move. Over the next couple days, enjoy your precious chicken in soups, pastas, sandwiches, tacos, or whip up a hearty chicken salad.

Power Granola

Power Granola from Cooking Light

Since you’ve already got your oven on, you might as well take advantage and toss in a sheet of granola for good measure. For a healthy, homemade option that you can grab on the go, toss into yogurt, or crumble over a bowl of oatmeal, a solid batch of granola is never not a good idea. You feel me?

Apple-Oat Energy Balls

Credit: Sara Tane

Sara Tane

While we’re on the topic of sufficient snacking, go ahead and make a batch of protein-packed energy balls. Easy to transport and the perfect solution for those 3 p.m. stomach grumbles, these filling snacks will definitely be your friends over the next couple days.

Big-Batch Chili

Credit: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Jan Gautro

Taking advantage of your freezer’s capabilities is key to a meal-prepping session that you can reap the benefits of way beyond the immediate days ahead. Crank out a big-batch chili that you can enjoy the day of, or seal in an airtight container, and enjoy it weeks down the road when you’re in a pinch. Ain’t no shame in a freezer meal, especially if it’s this luscious bowl of glory.

Cheesy Sausage, Broccoli, and Quinoa Casserole

Credit: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Claire Spollen

Casseroles are good, but casseroles that your kids will love are GREAT. Go ahead and a tuck away an extra pan of this crowd-pleasing, weeknight dinner into the freezer so that you can silence the picky eaters once and for all.

Extra-Easy Lasagna

Credit: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Jan Gautro, Laura Martin

The name of this recipe is not a hyperbole—you really can’t mess this one up. Like a wholesome soup or chili, it’s another great option to toss in the freezer and return to during a busy stretch of days. If you’re feeling like an overachiever, double the batch so that you have one for now and one for later. Present and future you can both rejoice!

Charred Eggplant Dip

Credit: Sara Tane

Sara Tane

If you’re going to go through the trouble of meal-prepping, you better make sure to etch out some time for accouterments. While it might not seem like the most obvious food category to be thinking about for long term cooking, having a couple containers of rich, flavorful sauce-like entities on deck is the no-fail way to keep your home-cooked meals from tasting dull and monotonous. For a nutty, creamy spread that can enhance just about anything, whip together this yogurt-tahini dip for dolloping onto salads, serving over meat/poultry, or snacking on with veggies, and be on your merry way.


Because two condiments are better than one, you might as well brush off the ol’ food processor and give this a whirl. Even the blandest, most ordinary meal can taste like something special with a couple spoonfuls of chimichurri, an Argentinian salsa of sorts. Not to mention, if you’ve got more fresh herbs than you can handle, this is a clever way to put them to good use. When you start to run low on all the delicious food that you’ve made ahead of time, this clutch sauce will brighten up a less-than-exciting meal.