I’ll say it again and again- Meal prep is the best strategy for eating healthier and losing weight. In my opinion, both are near impossible without having foods available and ready to eat. I truly believe in meal prep and I want you to believe in it too. Here are my simple meal prep ideas to make life easy and enjoyable!
We’re all super busy, and for most us, changing our eating habits requires effort and does not easily fall into our daily routines. If it were easy, I don’t think I would be writing this blog or you would be reading it.
Changing any habit, specifically eating habits, requires a plan. That plan needs to include meal prep.
The problem with meal prep is it can get complicated and time-consuming…if you let it.
But it doesn’t have to be.
I like to keep things in my life simple and meal prep is no exception. Once, something gets complicated, I move on – it doesn’t matter if it helps me drop 10lbs.
If I can’t find a way to fit a new habit seamlessly into my life, I find one that will. By no means am I afraid of a challenge or hard work but I have no desire to make my life any more complicated than it needs to be.
You get me? I know you do 😉
Simple Meal Prep Ideas To Try During The Week
When I first started to introduce meal prep and healthy eating into my daily routine, I knew I wanted to keep things as simple as possible. If I made it too complicated, I knew I probably wouldn’t;t have stuck to it and I really wanted to have it my all.
So, through trial and error, I was able to accumulate a list of simple meal prep ideas that really worked for me and my family.
And I figured these tips and ideas could really help you too.
Okay, I’m too excited to share these with you. Let’s get to it!
1. Eat The Same Meals Every Day For Breakfast And Lunch
Do I consider this boring? No. I consider it smart. If I had to meal prep a different breakfast, lunch, and dinner every week, it’d never happen.
I don’t have that kind of time. Who does? That’s like 21 different meals a week and doesn’t even include snacks! Uh no- that’s not gonna work for me.
Eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch keeps meal prep simple.
Then, I only need to meal prep for 2 different meals. Meaning I prep a different meal for breakfast and lunch.
To give you guys an example, I will plan a detox smoothie for breakfast all week and then a Greek chicken mason jar salad for lunch. It would take me about 1 hour to prepare both of those meals for the entire week.
I told you it was that simple!
If I do get bored, then I will switch things up. Most of the time, I have eggs in the fridge or cereal in my pantry so if I need variety, I can get it.
But, for the most part, I try to keep breakfast and lunch as simple as possible by preparing one recipe for each meal a week.
Simple Breakfast Recipes
Here are some of my favorite make-ahead breakfast recipes:
- Overnight Breakfast Casserole With Sausage
- Vegetarian Breakfast Burritos
- Peach Raspberry Superfood Smoothie
- Baked Oatmeal Cups
- Kale and Bacon Quinoa Bowl
- Strawberry Cheesecake Overnight Oats
Simple Lunch Recipes
Here are some of my favorite make-ahead lunches:
- Steak Salad In A Jar
- Easy Detox Salad In A Jar
- Greek Chicken Bowl
- Grilled Cheeseburger Wrap
- Turkey Bacon Ranch Wrap
2. Plan For Leftovers
I can always count on leftovers. Sometimes it’s a lot and other times, not so much. It depends on the recipe.
For example, if I make soup, I know we will eat it for a couple of days. Same with chili or basically any crockpot recipe like this Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili.
If I’m not feeling leftovers, then I will freeze the soup or chili for an easy healthy meal later on. Often, I use the muffin tin method to freeze soup and/or chili into individual portions.
You can see how I did this with this Healthy Creamy Chicken And Rice Soup!
3. Plan For Double Dip Recipes
This is somewhat similar to leftovers but a little different. Basically, I plan to use a part of a recipe in another recipe later in the week.
Let me explain.
If I prepare tacos one night, I will save a cup of taco meat to use on a taco pizza later in the week. I do the same thing with meatballs. We can eat meatballs with pasta or I can serve meatball subs. We’ve even put meatballs on a pizza or in a calzone before.
Another great example is when I make shredded buffalo chicken. Buffalo chicken is a favorite in my house!
First of all, it’s made in the slow cooker and only includes a few ingredients. After the chicken is prepared, I can use it in Buffalo Subs one day and Buffalo Mac and Cheese later in the week. I even used it in these mason jar salads.
If you’re not sure what to do with the leftovers, then portion it out into 1 ½ – 2 cups servings and freeze the buffalo chicken to use in a future recipe.
Planning recipes this way lets me cook once and eat twice. It’s the best!
Simple Double Dip Recipes
Here are some of my favorite double-dip recipes:
4. Stock The Freezer
Freezer cooking is when you cook a bunch of meals to freeze ahead of time. Basically, you prepare foods when you have the time so you can eat healthy meals when you don’t.
Depending on the amount of freezer space, you could prepare meals and snacks to last a couple of months if you chose. Sometimes, when I have the time and motivation, I will prepare 1-2 months worth of meals. This does take effort and a plan but it will make life so much easier!
Once your freezer is stocked, then preparing a weekly meal plan requires just taking a peek into the freezer and deciding on meals to eat for the week. Most likely, you’ll just need to purchase fruits and vegetables.
If you don’t want to prepare meals every week, then stocking your freezer is a good option.
Simple Freezer Meals
Here are a few of my favorite freezer cooking guides and recipes to try:
- A Beginner’s Guide to Freezer Cooking
- Get Started with Freezer Cooking with These 10 Recipes
- Overnight Oats Meal Prep Freezer Kits
- Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos
- 3 Homemade Spaghetti Sauces To Stock Your Freezer
5. Fill Your Refrigerator With Basics
Recently, this has become my new favorite way to meal prep!
I used to be big on preparing full recipes ahead of time and while I still do that, I also see the benefit of having just basics in my fridge too. This way, I’m not married to a specific recipe and can get creative with the food I have in the fridge.
Here’s an example of the basics I like to keep in my refrigerator…
I’m a HUGE quinoa fan and always have a bowl in my fridge. If I don’t use it in time, then I will portion it out and freeze for later.
Again, chicken can be used in a variety of recipes. I can prepare a wrap for lunch or toss some chicken in a salad!
Just having the chicken ready to eat in the refrigerator opens up many healthy recipe options.
You all know I’m a mason jar salad lover.
I include them in my menu plan frequently! Anyway, sometimes I don’t want to commit to the same salad every single day. In this case, I’ll still prepare the salad ingredients but will store them separately in the refrigerator. The food is still ready to eat but I can get creative and have variety.
Those are the 5 things I do to keep meal prep simple. Some weeks, I do them all, and other weeks, I do one. Ultimately, my weekly meal prep depends on my schedule.
Meal prep is essential to living a healthy lifestyle but it doesn’t have to be complicated and time-consuming. Find what works for you and keep doing it!
What meal prep tips do you have? I would love to answer your questions too so if you have any meal prep questions then list them below. Share a picture and tag me on Instagram or Facebook if you decide to try any of these simple meal prep ideas!