Let's talk about some of the most important things I consider for meal prep and some of my favorite meal prep recipes! A lot of people say how intimidating meal prep is and I agree, it's a lot of work and a lot of planning! But the main thing I hated about the meal prep idea was that it seemed so.. boring! Chicken, rice and broccoli, on repeat, for the rest of my life? It's a no from me, dawg.
When I started on my meal prep journey years ago, I thought about what was going to be
most important to me when it came to prepping meals. What is going to be the top things that keep me motivated, excited about meal prep, and how will I create this into a habit for years to come. All of these boiled down to three main things:
1. FRIDGE LIFE: I decided that the quality and flavor of the food after being reheated or stored in the fridge for a few days was probably most important! If it doesn't taste good, I won't eat it and my money, time and goals for the week will all go to waste. We all know there are foods that reheat perfectly and sometimes even taste better after being reheated (soup and chili, I'm looking at you!). We also know there are some things that just aren't good unless it's made fresh (hello, anything crispy). If you always plan something that you know will be good leftover, you'll be more inclined to eat it for the week! If you don't like potatoes heated in the microwave then maybe decide to use rice or pasta instead! Easy swaps can make all the difference in your prepped meals.
2. PREP TIME: There are some weeks I have more time (and motivation) to prep a fantastic week of breakfast, lunch and snacks! BUT... more often than not, I am in a hurry, feeling lazy, or just too busy to drop everything and hangout in the kitchen for a few hours. This is why planning ahead makes a world of difference, if you know you have a busier weekend or just aren't in the mood, it's important to plan something quick and easy that you can throw together and still get that meal prep done! Meal prep for me really is a form of self care. I have a better week when I don't have to throw together lunch before running out the door or spend $15 on some takeout that throws off my whole day. Even if you don't want to dedicate hours to an intricate meal prep, jot down some easy meals you can throw together in a pinch that help you reach your goals!
3. COST: I would love to be the girl that shops at specialty food stores each week, buying all of the new items I saw on Instagram that week.. but lets be real. That can get expensive really dang quick! There are a ton of money-saving tips for meal prep out there and I could probably create an entire blog post on that topic alone, but for now lets cover the basics. I like to keep my proteins for meal prep super cheap, usually chicken or ground beef (or ground turkey), frozen chicken is also great especially in the crock pot! Frozen vegetables are frozen at their peak of freshness, so don't hesitate to go this route! You'd be surprised how many dishes you can hide frozen veggies in and don't hold back on your favorite seasoning. Canned good are also a staple: beans, corn, green beans and carrots are some of my go-to canned items for meal prep! You don't even have to cook them first, straight from the can to your meal prep container- done!
Here are some of my go-to easy meal prep recipes that taste great all week and helped me
reach my goals!
These high protein lettuce cups are so packed with flavor and go great on a crisp crunchy lettuce! I serve mine with my cauli-flower fried rice for the perfect meal prepped lunch! Store your lettuce in a separate air-tight container and assemble your wraps after heating everything else up. This may be a lower carb lunch but it does not disappoint and tastes fresh all week long!
Soups and chili's always reheat well in my opinion, and this Green Chili Chicken Soup is delicious reheated and very budget friendly! I love to serve mine with a side of corn bread and I always add extra tomatoes! This is a great soup for the chilly months ahead and is a quick dump-and-go meal prep recipe!
These Mini Italian Meatloaf muffins are so easy and so delicious! It's basically a large meatball covered in a flavorful marinara sauce! These are great reheated and you can also serve them in many different ways! I like to serve mine with a big serving of green beans (canned, of course!) and an Italian side salad. This meal prep keeps me full all afternoon and you could even add some pasta to really take this dish to the next level.
4. TURKEY CHILI
Back to the soup and chili idea, you really can't go wrong here! It's the perfect reheated lunch and you can get creative by serving it over a baked potato or adding some sour cream to the top. My Turkey Chili recipe is a fall and winter staple in our house! Meal prep or weekend crock-pot meals, this will be enjoyed multiple times throughout the season! This is also a great dish to get in some extra veggies, try adding zucchini, peppers and carrots, you'll hardly know they're there!
5. RAMEN BOWLS
These Ramen Bowls take less than 20 minutes to throw together and will taste great all week long! I add chicken, zucchini and mushroom to mine but add in any of your favorite veggies and bulk up this simple meal prep! Some red pepper and shredded carrot would be a great addition to this meal and you'll get in plenty of vegetables! You can also adjust the spice level on this recipe by adding some red pepper flakes or sriracha to the sauce! Ramen doesn't have to be boring!
While this recipe may not be the most photogenic, it is one of my favorites that I circle back to often! I love burrito bowls because you can change up the flavor daily depending on what you add. Somedays I'll serve with some sour cream and taco sauce, other days maybe some salsa and avocado! These reheat well and being a crock pot meal, its simple to throw together while you're getting things done around the house!
This is one of my favorite meatball recipes and let me tell you, meatballs are a great meal prep idea! These are packed with spinach and feta and perfect along side some veggies and rice or over a pasta dish with your favorite sauce. Meatballs are great in the fridge all week and you can even freeze them for a later date!
This recipe is one of my most-liked on Instagram, and I can see why... I'm drooling just thinking about this pita! The perfect balance of spicy blackened chicken and fresh crisp veggies served over a Josephs pita bread! I love this as a meal prep because you keep the components separate until you're ready to eat and it really keeps that fresh flavor all week long. You can use any dressing or tzatziki with this but the southwestern spicy ranch is a favorite of mine!
I know we talked about soggy reheated potatoes already but truly, it doesn't bother me! If you're not a weirdo like me, then serve this with some rice or pasta to bulk up this amazing chicken dish! Fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic come together to give your lunch a fresh kick. This meal prep would also be great over some mushrooms and zucchini, yum!
10. TURKEY BURGERS