You might be thinking meal prepping takes way too much time and effort. Well, luckily there are solutions like the $5 Meal Plan that make meal planning for the week easier than ever.
If you are new to meal prepping, check out this beginners guide to meal prepping. It will help you get started. Then come back here to make some of these healthy recipes!
The next section gives you a little look at “how to meal prep” in a nutshell.
Check out MyFreeze Easy for cheap, healthy, and delisious frozen meals.
How to Meal Prep
It really doesn’t take much to get started with a weekly or twice-weekly meal prep routine! Really, this is about all it takes:
1. Storage Containers
First thing’s first – you’ll need some good containers to store your meals in!
This set on Amazon is a great starter kit for beginner meal prepping. You can use them in the freezer, refrigerator, and dishwasher! Alternatively, you could use something like mason jars or definitely Tupperware containers that you already have! #savvy!
(Don’t forget to make sure that you have the room to store all those containers, too, once they’re filled!)
2. Make A Shopping List
Plan out your shopping list, taking it meal-by-meal. This will help you not only make sure you don’t forget anything for your meals, but it will keep you focused so you can better keep your grocery budget in check.
I created an easy to use monthly meal planner that is available for you to use to make meal planning a breeze. You can find a grocery list, sample monthly meals, monthly calendars, weekly calendars and so much more!
3. Consider Buying Time Savers
If you are a beginner meal prepper, you might want to buy frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. The nutritional value is comparable to fresh, you’ll have less prep time involved with no longer needing to wash them before use, AND they’re often cheaper than fresh, too! Something that saves time AND money is a big win!
4.Wash Before Storing
This goes for both foods and containers. Before you start your actual meal prep, do a little pre-work to make sure that your produce is washed and ready to use (clean produce lasts longer than unwashed produce, too!), as well as having the containers washed and ready to go.
Nothing will make your meal prep feel cumbersome quite like these avoidable interruptions!
5. Start Small and Choose Core Recipes
While meal prep is a super easy way to save yourself time during the week, it’s also really easy to get yourself overwhelmed when you’re first getting started.
The last thing you want to do is spend time making a bunch of food only to end up wasting it. Choose a handful of recipes that you know you’ll love and can easily spice up here and there for extra variety.
Don’t underestimate the power of buying a store-made rotisserie chicken either – for just a few dollars you can have half the work of meal prep done for you, which still saves you a TON of money and will help you “get in the groove” of doing weekly meal prep!
6. Make Meal Prep Part Of Your Schedule
It’s too easy to think this is a quicker task than it is. True, while it saves a ton of time to batch-cook multiple portions of a meal at once, it still does require time, period.
So to make sure that you can actually get your meals prepped and your week set up to be smoother, make it a point to block out an hour or two every Saturday/Sunday (or whatever consistent day of the week is best for you) to do all your prepping and portioning.
Set a reminder on your phone if you have to!
How Long Can I Keep Meal Prep Meals in the Fridge?
Don’t think of your prepped meals as anything different than normal leftovers. The standard advice is to only keep leftovers for 3-4 days tops, and more like 2-3 days if they include seafood (think shrimp).
Because of this, the best advice is to start simple with your meal prep, but work your way into doing your prep twice per week if possible, to make sure you’ve got the freshest meals possible.
Is Meal Prep Good for Weight Loss?
Think about it; let’s say you’re working on some of your meal prep ideas for your lunches for this week. You’re super excited about being able to take a “real,” filling lunch instead of just a boring old sandwich or wasting money on to-go food.
You do a bunch of cooking (enough for multiple servings of each recipe), BUT you’re splitting it up into small, ready to grab-and-go lunch containers.
First, there’s a limit to what one of your containers can hold (so make sure they aren’t too big!), but even better is that you can try your hardest to stretch one extra meal per recipe if you really wanted to, and just bring a snack portion of a zero calorie food to help you feel full.
You won’t even miss the small amount you have below the serving size!
Healthy smoothies are one of our favorite meal replacements because they are super yummy and so fast and easy to make!
You can portion out the ingredients each night for your smoothie for the next morning, or you can portion it out for the entire week at once!
Then in the morning you’ll just grab the appropriate containers, dump and blend, and head out the door!
Meal Prep Ideas
Alright, you’ve got enough background and you’re ready to get going. Let’s jump right in with delicious meal prep recipes that are simple, well-balanced, and definitely going to become fast favorite recipes for your family!
Breakfast Meal Prep Recipes
Why not start right at the top?! You might not have known that you can even meal prep your breakfast. But hey, if Jimmie Dean can freeze breakfast sandwiches, you can definitely come up with something MUCH healthier (and cheaper) at home!
Breakfast with Eggs
With great flavor and lots of good protein, a well-made egg breakfast is one of the best ways to start your day off right!
Healthy Egg Muffin Cups
Found on Show Me The Yummy
When I first started meal prepping, these were my breakfast go to! They are packed full of veggies. To put them over the top, I would add chunks of avocado. You can’t beat these for breakfast for around 50 calories a muffin.
Bacon & Egg Breakfast Meal Prep
Found on Damn Delicious
Gone are the days where you’ll need to stop at a coffee shop or McDonald’s for your soggy breakfast sandwich or a boring bagel to eat in the car. Grab one of these hearty containers from your fridge, warm it up while you make your cup of coffee, and enjoy!
Keto Cajun Sausage Breakfast Scramble
Found on Meal Prep On Fleek
If they can sell breakfast bowls at the grocery stores, then you have no excuse why making one isn’t a great idea! Now you can have yourself a hearty scrambled egg breakfast every morning, even when you’re running super short on time!
Sausage Egg and Cheese Bites
Found on Maebells
These might be the ultimate family egg breakfast meal prep idea, because you can easily adjust what size your bites are, making larger ones for adults and smaller ones for little kids. Just put a few of these warm bites in a ziploc bag and your kids can have a great breakfast as they run out the door in the morning!
Eggs not your thing? You can still make excellent meal prep ideas for breakfast, easier than you think! Try some of these oatmeal-based recipes to make your mornings feel less busy!
Baked Banana Oatmeal Cups
Found on The Merchant Baker
Who knew that eating healthy could taste so sweet! I love the combination of chocolate and banana. You will not even be able to taste the oatmeal.
Found on Whole Fully
We are all busy! That is why meal prepping is so perfect for people on the go. These overnight oats can be prepped in mason jars the night before. There are so many different flavors and combinations that can be mixed together. Give these a try!
Strawberry Quinoa Breakfast Bars
Found on My Fussy Eater
If you have not used quinoa in your recipes yet, you need too! I love quinoa and all of the health benefits it has to offer! Make these for the week and portion them out for your work week. They could even be enjoyed as a healthy dessert if you are craving something sweet.
Fruit & Veggie Smoothies
Why not consider starting your day with an incredibly delicious meal, packed with vitamins, minerals, and a few servings of fruits and veggies! We even made a list of our favorite smoothie recipes that you could use for even more easy meal prep ideas!
Green Smoothie Prep Packets
Found on Clean Food Crush
Smoothies are super easy to make ahead, bag and freeze. In the mornings when I was rushed, I would throw a smoothie mix into the NutriBullet and move on with my morning. Such a good decision compared to going to a drive through.
Peanut Butter Green Smoothie Freezer Packs
Found on Smile Sandwich
With a little peanut butter for extra protein and an extra creamy finish, these dump-and-go smoothie preps are the perfect way to start your morning! If you’re lucky enough to have access to a blender during your lunch, then taking one of these with an ice pack would be a great way to get a highly nutritious to-go lunch without spending a fortune at a smoothie shop!
Freezer Strawberry and Greens Smoothie Packs
Found on Berry & Maple
With healthy greens, tons of flavor, and a super easy prep, you really don’t have any excuses to not have a breakfast smoothie every day! These look so delicious as a fresh mixed portion, you might even find yourself having a bowl as a snack or small lunch without blending!
Lunch & Dinner Meal Prep Recipes
These two meals are combined on this list because many people are fairly used to using their dinner leftovers as the next day’s lunch, so any of these meal prep ideas could be used for either meal! For an easy-to-read list, they’re split up into salads, soups, and then by main meat ingredient.
We’ll start light with some salad recipes. Yes, you really can eat healthy if you put just a little effort in ahead of time!
Chef Salad in a Jar
Found on Comfortably Domestic
At work, I like the flexibility to hold my lunch and work at the same time #TeacherLiving. These mason jar salads are perfect for lunch. Great for storage and to hold during lunch time.
Mexican Salad in a Jar
Found on A Zesty Bite
I love Wendy’s taco salad. This is a great healthy alternative that you can easily prep ahead of time. This is a great meatless option for vegetarians as well.
No Cook Meal Prep Chicken Cobb Salad
Found on Everyday Meal Prep
Nothing says “weight loss” like eating a salad for lunch every day, but who has time to make a less-than-boring salad each morning before work? This cobb salad meal prep recipe is sure to taste better than any grab-and-go salad you could buy at a store, too! These are a perfect packable lunch you can do just about every day.
Who doesn’t love a nice warm, healthy bowl of soup in the cold of winter? This is far better for you than any soup you can buy at the store!
Healthy Homemade Instant Noodles
Found on Sweet Peas and Saffron
I am a sucker for Instant Noodles! How easy is it to place the cup of noodles under the Keurig and you have hot soup in minutes! Those soups are so bad for you and the sodium is insane! This is the perfect option to keep your belly warm and your body will thank you.
Veggie-Packed Whole30 Hamburger Soup
Found on Our Salty Kitchen
Here’s a recipe for a hearty soup that’s sure to satisfy any eater! It’s a perfect recipe to experiment and make it your own – tweak it to be taco or chili flavored, or replace the potatoes for pasta and cheese to make it more like lasagna!
Make Ahead Instant Soup Jars with Protein
Found on Cotter Crunch
If you’re in love with those instant soup cups but always wish for a little more flavor and spice with them, then here are three version to make that are anything but copycats of the store-bought cups!
Need some meal prep ideas with turkey? Whether you’re using lunch meat in the summer, or leftovers from Thanksgiving, these recipes will make your week run smoothly!
Turkey is also a great choice for a cheap meat to replace either chicken or ground beef, so feel free to get creative with your recipes!
Turkey Spinach Pinwheels Meal Prep
Found on Damn Delicious
I do not know about you, but why do only kids get to enjoy Lunchables! Create your own Lunchable. The options are endless. Pinwheels are such an easy and healthy lunch option. Have kids? Make these instead of buying Lunchables. #Savvy
Turkey Taco Lunch Bowls
Found on Sweet Peas and Saffron
If you have read other recipes that we have talked about, you know we love to use turkey as a substitute for ground beef. Not only is it significantly cheaper, but it is also healthier.
Baked Turkey Meatballs with Spinach
Found on Home Cooking Memories
Mix it up with different meats. You do not always need to eat chicken every day. You can alternate between chicken and ground turkey to get some variety between your meals.
Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Found on Sweet Peas And Saffron
This is a recipe we’ll definitely have to add to our collection of lettuce wraps recipes! It doesn’t get much lower calorie or lower carb (and tasty) than this!
This is probably the most commonly used meat in meal prep ideas, primarily because it’s a healthy and lean meat, as well as one of the most affordable meats you can buy!
Thai Peanut Chicken Meal Prep Bowls
Found on Valerie’s Kitchen
Valerie over at Valerie’s Kitchen knocked this meal prep meal out of the park. The peanut sauce looks divine! I love the mix of the noodles and salad too. Better than ordering Thai out!
Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry Meal Prep
Found on My Food Story
Can I just say those vegetables look so good! Stir Fry is a weekly meal at our house. We always say we need to make it more often. With meal prepping, we can!
One Sheet Pan Roasted Garlic-Parmesan Chicken Tenders and Green Beans with Fresh Grape Tomatoes
Found on Cooking Classy
I love one sheet pan recipes! How easy is it to cook everything up and divide it between containers. The meal prep process just got easier! Imagine the cleanup for the week is all on one pan and done!
Meal Prep Southwest Chicken Burrito Bowls
Found on Jar Of Lemons
Start getting used to seeing chicken in your meal prep future — it’s cheap, delicious, and incredibly versatile! This is a perfect example of a meal prep recipe where you could cook the chicken with fewer seasonings but modify it later to fit this recipe!
Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta Meal Prep
Found on Budget Bytes
This is another super healthy meal prep recipe, packed with good nutrition yet easy to make! You could definitely swap out the pasta for anything, making this an awesome recipe choice if you’re looking for meal prep ideas to get toned!
Greek Chicken Meal Prep Bowls
Found on Clean Food Crush
Quite possibly the ultimate meal prep idea to lose weight, this is such a tasty recipe focusing on proteins and veggies, with enough flavor packed in you’d think it was a MUCH higher calorie meal!
Honey Lemon Chicken Bowls
Found on Gimme Some Oven
Sometimes it’s the simplest foods that are the tastiest. This is a perfect meal prep idea to take to work, since it’s filling but still light enough that you won’t spend the afternoon feeling over-stuffed and weighed down!
Known as “the other white meat” with good reason, pork is a great meat to use for meal prep ideas. It’s lean but flavorful, usually more reasonably priced than beef, and super easy to cook!
Egg Roll In A Bowl
Found on Sweet Peas And Saffron
You need to add this recipe to your list if you’re looking for meal prep ideas to save money. It’s full of healthy veggies, and it’s so much cheaper than ordering out or buying pre-made egg rolls at the grocery store!
Protein Snack Pack Lunch Meal Prep
Found on The Forked Spoon
Remember eating Lunchables as a kid? Here’s the healthy, grown-up version! It’s ready in a snap, it’s an ideal meal prep idea for weight loss, and maybe the best part is you can eat it 100% on the go — no microwave required!
While the recipe simply calls for “deli meat,” baking a hunk of ham in the oven and dicing it up for this meal would be an even cheaper (and nearly as easy!) way to get the same quality result but with less than half the cost!
Sheet Pan Crispy Cheddar Pork Chop
Found on The Recipe Critic
Sheet pan recipes are some of the fastest ones to make, because it’s a one-dish bake and done kind of deal! This recipe is full of flavor and nutrition, making it a delicious option for either lunch or dinner!
Pulled Pork Pulse Protein Bowl
Found on Eazy Peazy Mealz
This is a high-protein recipe that is perfect if you’re looking for good meal prep ideas for weight loss or for building muscle. Not to mention, it’s super delicious! Like a pulled pork sandwich without the roll, you’ll have a delicious meal that you won’t regret making!
While beef is a slightly more expensive meat, it pretty much can’t be beat as far as protein content per serving goes. If you’re in need of meal prep recipes using beef, we’ve got you covered!
Garlic Butter Steak Bites With Zucchini Noodles Meal Prep
Found on Kirbie’s Cravings
I love that this recipe could just as easily be made with “regular” pasta to make it a slightly heartier dish if you need to, but as-is it’s SUPER healthy and low calorie! This is a great meal prep idea if you need to meal prep for people who have special dietary preferences or needs.
Meal Prep Taco Salad Lunch Bowls
Found on Kristine’s Kitchen
What would a meal prep ideas list be without a classic ground beef taco salad recipe? My favorite thing about this recipe is that it’s a perfect meal prep idea for kids, too! All you’ll have to do is brown the ground beef, chop any veggies, and let everyone craft up their perfect dish (plus you get a little help in the kitchen that way)!
Garlic Butter Skillet Steak Bites and Potatoes
Found on Closet Cooking
Steak is definitely one of those love-it-or-leave-it meats, but if you’re in need of a heartier dish for your meal prep recipes (maybe your husband isn’t feeling salads for lunch!), then you have to give this meal prep recipe a try! Cook it all up in a skillet and portion into containers for a meal that’s sure to make co-workers jealous!
Beef and Broccoli Meal Prep
Found on Life Made Sweeter
Beef and broccoli is pretty much a staple in our house. It’s affordable, delicious, and SO easy to make! Served over some white rice is our favorite way to make a simple meal prep idea that we really don’t tire of!
Although these recipes may have a particular type of sausage called for in the recipe, it wouldn’t take much to swap it out for your favorite type of sausage instead!
15-Minute Chicken Sausage Pasta Meal Prep Bowl
Found on Smile Sandwich
Not only is this meal prep idea a great way to keep your week running smoother, but with such a quick prep time it’s about as close to perfect as you could get!
One Pan Healthy Sausage and Veggies
Found on Chelsea’s Messy Apron
This recipe is a perfect way to work on getting your veggie servings in for the day, and make a gluten-free meal prep idea! You could always skip the rice and double the veggies for a meal that’s just as filling but without the carbs!
Sausage Peppers and Onions Skillet Meal Prep
Found on The Girl On Bloor
Looking for a recipe with a little more spice? This recipe has a little bit of a Cajun feel to it, with spicy tomato sauce and a hearty peppers and onions mix with it! Whip up this quick dish in your trusty skillet, then portion out in containers for an amazing lunch on the go!
Not only is seafood full of good protein while being incredibly lean, but the extra nutrients it offers (like omega fatty acids) are incredibly good for your brain and your overall health!
Lemon Roasted Salmon with Sweet Potatoes and Broccolini
Found on Little Spice Jar
Meal prepping at its finest! Making sure you have a good balance of grains, vegetables, and proteins. Buying the pack of salmon can get you through dinner for the majority of the week.
Super-Easy Shrimp Stir-Fry Meal Prep
Found on Clean Food Crush
If you’re looking for a meal prep idea with shrimp, you’ll definitely want to give this recipe a try. Something about a dish full of colorful veggies always makes it so much more appetizing!
10-Minute Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp With Zucchini Noodles
Found on Eat Well 101
Seriously, how delicious does this one look?! Leave it with zucchini noodles for a super healthy, low-carb recipe, or replace them with regular pasta if you’re looking for something with few more calories. Either way, this is sure to be a meal prep recipe hit, with such a fast cook time!
Always remember meal prep recipes do not have to be boring. You can bring variety into your meals, as easy as just changing what meat you use!
We also love using $5 Meal Meal for creative recipes sent right to our email each week.
When you meal prep once, your life will be changed! If you are overwhelmed with meal planning for breakfast, lunch, and dinner just focus on one!