Here are all my clean eating meal prep ideas and recipes to help make it easier to consume healthy recipes and use real ingredients during the busy week.
I started my weight-loss journey way back in 2010, and some of the first changes I made with food were to lean more towards a clean eating style.
Of course, I focused on calories and portions because I needed to control them. But, once I started to learn more about the benefits of clean eating and its role in weight loss, I focused more on swapping out and adding more whole foods and real ingredients to my diet.
Even though clean eating isn’t as complicated or restrictive as following the Keto, Paleo, Whole30, or other similar diets, if you’re used to fast food and don’t know how to cook, then it can be a little more difficult to transition to a cleaner style of eating. Learn more about how to eat clean in this beginner’s tutorial I put together.
The good news is clean eating doesn’t need to be complicated, and it’s a lot easier than you might think. I’m going to share some of my favorite clean eating swaps, the simple guidelines I use, along with my favorite clean eating meal prep recipes so you can easily fit healthier eating habits into your busy schedule.
What Does Eating Clean Mean?
When it comes to eating styles and what goes explicitly into your diet, there will always be different levels of clean eating.
Some people go all the way to one side and only eat organic and natural things; they tend to shun anything processed.
Others are a little bit more flexible and will eat some organic, some conventional, and try to eat clean recipes most of the time.
So it’s really about what will work for you and how you live your life.
Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to overhaul everything in a day when you’re changing your eating habits. It’s OK to start small and make changes gradually, and I have found that is the best way to make changes and sustain those changes.
When I started to eat clean, I was in the busiest time of my life. I worked 40+ hours a week (many nights and weekends), and my girls were very young. At that time, my meals consisted of processed food from a vending machine, frozen pizzas, boxed macaroni and cheese, and anything quick and easy.
So if I can adopt a healthier lifestyle, I believe anyone can do it.
Clean Eating Swaps
When trying to substitute cleaner foods, the best thing you can do is read the label. Don’t be fooled by marketing. Turn the box around and read the label to figure out what is in the food you’re purchasing.
That being said, here are just a few of the clean eating substitutions that have helped me over the years!
- Substitute high-sugar Greek yogurt with a low-sugar yogurt such as Siggi’s Fage.
- Substitute anything you’re purchasing light or low fat with natural or full-fat products. For example, instead of purchasing light sour cream, buy regular sour cream. Instead of light mayo, substitute avocado, Greek yogurt, or even hummus.
- Instead of store-bought, use fresh herbs, lemon, and oils to make homemade dressings.
- Substitute organic whole grain pasta for white.
- Substitute brown rice, quinoa, or other whole grains for white rice.
- Instead of pasta or rice, use zoodles or cauliflower rice instead.
- Purchase organic fruit and vegetables instead of conventional.
- Substitute Rao’s marinara sauce for other jarred sauces. This sauce isn’t made with sugar and is about as clean as you’re going to get for a jarred sauce. However, if you have the time, your best bet is to make and freeze homemade spaghetti sauces.
- Instead of purchasing granola or granola bars, make your own! See this list of homemade clean eating snacks.
Check out this list of healthy pantry staples to help you put together tasty, nutritious, healthy meals fast.
The good news about clean eating is that many grocery stores and brands have gotten on board with cleaner food products, so it is not as difficult to find clean ingredients as 10-12 years ago. Check my post on clean eating on a budget for more tips and tricks.
This is where I go to purchase organic, clean foods!
The first one I’m going to start with is BJ’s Wholesale. Over the last five to seven years, they have offered more clean organic foods, fruits, and vegetables at bulk prices. I can also purchase organic meats and fish from BJ’s Wholesale.
So, if you have a wholesale warehouse store in your area, I suggest checking them out to see what clean food you can purchase from there.
Thrive Market is an online Whole Foods. They offer organic and natural grocery items. I became a subscriber in 2015, and I order from them every single month.
They offer many of the same brands as Whole Foods but for a lesser price.
Thrive Market prices are super competitive and often much lower than Whole Foods and Wegmans. If anything, they are the same price but cheaper because you don’t have to leave your house and everything gets delivered to your door.
They offer a Thrive Market brand which has made many organic items very affordable.
Is Thrive Market worth it? Yes, I think so, especially for clean eating brands. Also, if you eat gluten-free, Thrive Market is a wonderful resource, and they offer the top brands at very affordable prices. If you’re ready to give Thrive Market a try, you can sign up here and get 40% off your first order.
In the last few months, when I either couldn’t get to the grocery store or there were no organic meats in the grocery stores, I turned to Butcher Box Meat Delivery to purchase meat and seafood.
The prices at Butcher Box are more similar to Whole Foods and more expensive than getting food from BJ’s Wholesale or Costco.
However, ButcherBox has hands down the most delicious clean organic meat. I’ve tried their steaks, ground beef, chicken breasts, thighs, ground pork, ground turkey, pork butt, bacon, salmon, and other meats, and I absolutely loved everything, and so did my family. Check out my Butcher Box Review and their latest deal for new subscribers.
Wegmans or Whole Foods
Wegmans and Whole Foods are my local grocery stores where I do most of my weekly shopping for fresh organic ingredients. Even though I will grab some ingredients for the week for salads and stuff like that, I prefer to do my overall grocery shopping at Whole Foods, Thrive Market, Butcher Box, and BJ’s Wholesale.
Clean Eating Meal Prep
Meal prep is so important when you are just trying to get your life organized and get meals on the table every day. But, it’s even more critical when you’re changing your eating habits. If you’re starting to eat clean, then it’s likely that you’re not going to have those foods available.
Taking the time to put together a clean eating meal plan and then meal prep for the week assures that you will have healthy foods available when you’re busy.
So, if you want to increase the likelihood of success, I recommend planning out your clean meals and clean eating snacks for the week and making time to prepare meals.
If you’re trying to lose weight, meal prep will hugely impact your success. In addition to eating clean recipes, you’ll want to portion out and pay attention to the calories and nutritional value because a calorie is still a calorie. And if weight loss is your goal, you must burn more calories than you are consuming.
Weekly Meal Prep Tips
These are some of my go-to clean eating meal prep strategies to maintain my diet and stay on the right track.
Keep It Simple
Don’t try to make a bunch of different recipes. Choose one recipe for breakfast and another for lunch, then make enough to grab during the week quickly. Same with dinner!
Stick with a few simple, clean eating recipes for the week. I’ll share some of my go-to’s at the bottom of this post.
Prep Lean Proteins Ahead Of Time
Trim and cut chicken and other meats and put them into a marinade if needed for the recipe. You can even cook and shred it ahead of time (like this Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken or simple Crockpot Chicken recipe.) to use in other recipes during the week.
Make Homemade Marinades and Dressings.
It’s just as easy to quickly make a marinade and dressing as it is to drive to the store and pick one up. Plus, you know what’s in it when you make it at home. These can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator all week.
Make Spice Blends
Make Homemade Sauces
Again, I get it. It’s easy to purchase a jar of sauce. But, most jarred sauces include sugars and preservatives. We love this Thai peanut sauce.
Or make a double batch of marinara or turkey bolognese sauce to freeze for a future healthy meal.
Make Brown Rice Or Quinoa To Use In Recipes All Week
Having foods like brown rice ready shaves about 45 minutes off cooking time during the week. You can quickly throw together a clean stir-fry (like this yummy Beef and Broccoli or one-pot chicken and rice) or rice bake when the rice is ready ahead of time.
If you need sliced onions and bell peppers or chopped garlic, get them ready to cook ahead of time and store in the fridge. Or prepare sweet potatoes to roast later in the week, which will save you a good chunk of time!
Make A Big Batch Of Food
One way I love to get dinner on the table fast is to heat and eat meals I’ve meal prepped beforehand. I do this by making a big pan of Cajun Chicken Quinoa Bake, Italian Stuffed Peppers, or even a Vegetarian Breakfast Casserole.
Make Meal Prep Bowls
Portioning recipes into meal prep bowls makes it easier to stay on track with your healthy eating goals. Recipes are ready to heat and eat. These chicken burrito bowls, chicken, and veggies, To learn more, check out the tutorial I put together on meal prep bowls.
Make Freezer Kits
Freezer kits are one of my favorite ways to ensure I have the ingredients needed for specific recipes.
Some kits I typically put together are:
Clean Eating Meal Prep Recipes
One important thing to understand when trying to eat clean is that all recipes can be made clean in some way, shape, or form. As long as you use clean ingredients to prepare the recipe, it is considered a clean recipe.
So ingredients should be organic if possible! Whole food products are free of any chemicals or preservatives, and this means you can eat pizza and chicken parmesan when you’re eating clean. You need to make sure to prepare the recipes with clean ingredients.
This was very exciting to me when researching clean eating and one of the reasons that I have chosen to continue to eat clean all these years later. I want to eat the foods I want to eat, but I want to eat cleaner versions.
Here are my favorite healthy meal prep recipes made with clean ingredients.
Clean Eating Breakfast Recipes
See all of our healthy breakfast recipes.
Clean Eating Lunch Recipes
See all of our healthy lunch recipes.
Clean Eating Dinner Recipes
See all of our healthy dinner recipes.
Clean Eating Snack Recipes
See all of our healthy snack recipes.
I hope this clean eating meal prep guide helps your healthy journey start a bit easier.