School is getting back in session and initiatives are ramping back up at work. Time to give meal prep a go, with these easy and healthy plan-ahead strategies. Pack breakfast or a salad in jars and just grab and go! We’re eating well effortlessly and all week long. Take a look at our favorite recipes – once you get the hang of it, you’ll be creating your own lunch and dinner concoctions easy!
Easy Salads Are Meal Prep Staples
Most people are comfortable prepping salads the night before for lunch. Step meal prep up a notch by layering your salad ingredients in a trusty Mason jar. Not only are you saving on plastic; jars are more affordable and tons more fun. This recipe combines ingredients like grilled shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, and as much lemon dill dressing as your little heart desires. (The trick is in the layering. Let the tomatoes and the dressing sit in the bottom to marinate and gather extra flavor.) Skip the lettuce – using chopped veggies is better and much more fulfilling.
Two cups quinoa (or other pasta, quinoa, couscous, etc.)
2 pints of grape tomatoes
2 large cucumbers
1-2 small jars of sun dried tomatoes or peppers (I used DeLallo brand)
1 cup feta cheese
Lemon Dill Dressing
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh lemon juice (to taste)
a handful of fresh dill (to taste)
a handful of fresh parsley (optional)
Click here for instructions and the full recipe. If you are a salad lover and need lettuce, you might also enjoy our yummy Blackberry Chèvre Salad recipe. We’ve never tried it in a Mason jar, but.. there’s a first time for everything.
Easy Burrito Bowls
Pass on Chipotle or Wahoo’s with your own easy-to-make burrito bowls. Meal prep should make passing on fast food easy and also serves your budget goals. Spend a little time on Sunday cooking up a batch (1 1/2 lbs.) of ground chicken and you’re halfway done. We love the homemade chipotle sauce since it’s got healthy Greek yogurt as the base. You can make your own pico de gallo, or just buy a container and portion it out. Try substituting ground chicken with shredded or use grilled fish – it’s up to you!
1 cup brown rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
One and a half pounds ground chicken
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.25-ounces) can whole kernel corn, drained
1/2 cup pico de gallo, homemade or store-bought
Chipotle Cream Sauce
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
One Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
Click here for the instructions and full recipe. Make 4 yummy bowls with 20 minutes of prep time and 40 minutes of cook time. Quick and easy, just like we like our men 😉
Vegan Never Tasted So Good
Our next easy dish is perfect for lunch or in between meals. Ditch the bar and opt instead for Mediterranean meal prep that is high in protein and good fats. This recipe calls for quinoa and hummus, which are both high in fiber, are low-glycemic, and gluten-free. Both are also quite iron-rich, which will give you an added boost in the middle of your day.
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 (19 fluid ounce) can chickpeas drained
2 Persian (mini) cucumbers (or use 1/3 English cucumber) sliced
Handful little tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons red onions, chopped
Kalamata olives to taste
Hummus to taste (1-2 tbsp/bowl)
Olive oil to taste (optional)
Lemon juice to taste (optional)
Click here for the instructions and full recipe. We prefer to drizzle a little lemon juice and olive oil, but it’s pretty flavorful on it’s own. A Mediterranean diet is a good weight-loss option, so keep these yummy bowls in your repertoire!
Did Somebody Say Oatmeal?
As you may remember from our Chocolate No Bake Cookie recipe, we love all things oatmeal. Do meal prep the night before for a yummy breakfast that will stick to your ribs! These overnight oatmeal jars contain a few basic ingredients topped with your favorite fruit of the day. Make different combinations (as you wish) and store them in the refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight. You can eat them cold or stick them in the microwave for one minute and enjoy a quick hot breakfast!
1/2 c. rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/2 c. milk (we like almond milk)
one-half c. chopped fruit or berries
honey to taste (optional)
almond butter (optional)
Click here for full recipe and instructions. We also like these with 1/4 c. Greek yogurt and a little cinnamon and nutmeg. My mom adds 2 teaspoons of brown sugar. Really, just however you like your oatmeal. Mix together and add the fruit on top.
‘Tis The Season For Sweet Potatoes
This quinoa bake is vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Meal prep works wonderfully well for people with particular diets. This is because you can make a generous batch of what you like ahead of time and enjoy it all week long. No more searching out Veggie Grills in the area! Get a big casserole dish and make this yummy Mexican-flavored dish that is also packed with fiber and protein.
4 cups sweet potatoes (1/2-inch cubes)
One (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic salt
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ cup green onions, chopped
Click here for instructions and the full recipe. If vegetarian isn’t your thing, feel free to throw in a little chicken or ground meat. Add shredded cheese and turn one of the already-prepped meals into tacos!
Hummus Where The Heart Is
(Yeah, we stole that line.) If you’ve ever lived on Starbucks bistro boxes, this next meal prep recipe is for you. The main point of meal prepping is to sustain you throughout the week and keep you from wasting money on fast food. Something as simple as a handy sectioned container packed with lean proteins and fresh veggies will suffice. Instant pot, slow-cook, or grill a few chicken breasts on Sunday and eat well Monday through Friday. Done and done.
Click here for ingredient ideas and full recipe. This one gives lots of substitute ideas, so you will never grow tired of them. Get into the habit of grabbing one on your way out the door!
Just like our yummy Vegetable Beef Soup recipe, these recipes are totally customize-able. Once you get into the habit of meal prep, you’ll find yourself eating so much healthier. You will actually be saving time with a little pre-planning. Also, prepping ahead gives you better options when you don’t have the time or energy to cook later. Do it!