Even though there are so many reasons to meal prep (save time, save money, eat better — the list goes on and on) we know that the thought of planning and cooking so much food all at once can be overwhelming. The good news? It’s so worth it. And, there are plenty of ways to make it easier! Learn a handful of pro meal prep tips, master a couple of shortcuts that make prep easier and gather up the right recipes and, before you know it, you’ll be settled into a routine that allows you to turn one simple ingredient into a myriad of delicious dishes. (Don’t believe us, just check out our ideas for prepping chicken!) Whether you take a structured approach and plan out concrete meals or lean towards an ingredient-prep strategy that allows you some flexibility throughout the week, we’re confident you’ll be glad you took the time to plan ahead. All of the recipes in this roundup will come in handy but start with this versatile sesame chicken. You can just as easily toss it into a salad for lunch as you can a stir-fry for dinner.
Get the Recipe: Meal Prep Sesame Chicken Breasts
Meal Prep Steamed Vegetables
When it comes to prepping for the week ahead, we love cooking off lots of veggies so we can reach for them instead of something less healthy in the scramble of making a weeknight meal. Blanching a vegetable in boiling water and then plunging it in an ice bath is great when you're making just one kind. But for a large-scale production, our go-to method is steaming. You can use the same water for multiple batches, steaming one vegetable after the next. The result: a rainbow of perfectly cooked vegetables at the ready for grain bowls, pastas, salads, frittatas and more.
Get the Recipe: Meal Prep Steamed Vegetables
Quinoa is packed with protein and lentils are a great source of fiber — which means this easy salad is sure to keep you full and fueled all week long. Top with roasted veggies for a hearty grain bowl or portion into microwave-safe containers along with some meal prep chicken for ready-to-reheat lunches.
Get the Recipe: Lentil Quinoa Salad
Meal Prep Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
Cook a couple of pounds of chicken at the start of the week, shred it up, and you have the base for an infinite number of quick and easy meals. This version of the meal prep staple (usually so bland, so blah) is so flavorful, you don't need to do much — or really anything — to dress it up. But if you want to, we have plenty of ideas.
Get the Recipe: Meal Prep Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
We've turned the classic spinach and mushroom omelet into a delicious breakfast sandwich that you can enjoy anytime. The trick is to bake the "scrambled" eggs in the oven, and then cut out rounds for each sandwich that you can then freeze.
Get the Recipe: Make-Ahead Spinach and Mushroom Breakfast Sandwiches
Wheat Berry Salad
Delicious and filling on its own or topped with some of your meal prep chicken, this healthy salad is one you can keep going back to, all week long.
Get the Recipe: Wheat Berry Salad
The idea of cooking ahead of time to have dinner or lunch ready to go all week is grand and all if you don't mind eating the same thing over and over again. There's another way: Make these juicy thighs, stow them in the fridge, and then use them to serve up grain bowls, salads and more.
Get the Recipe: Meal Prep Roasted Chicken Thighs
Meal prep pros know that it’s always good to have a bean salad on hand. Beans are loaded with keep-you-full fiber and make a great vegetarian protein. Plus, bean salad is easy to portion out for ready-to-eat meals — or add to your favorite green salad.
Get the Recipe: Chickpea Salad
The trick to making un-boring rice? Cook it in vegetable stock so that the grains soak up all the flavor. We add a strip of citrus zest too, for a nice pop of brightness. Perfect for burritos or rice bowls.
Get the Recipe: Simple Short-Grain Brown Rice
Meal Prep Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder
This make-ahead pork shoulder recipe has endless uses. Cook it on a weekend and you'll be set for easy-prep meals throughout the week. By roasting the pork until tender, and then covering it to braise for 30 minutes, you get a beautifully browned piece on top that you can slice for a hearty dinner plate or sandwiches, and also a shreddable juicy portion on the bottom--perfect for tacos, BBQ sandwiches and salads. We kept the seasoning simple so you can add your favorite herbs and spices the second time around.
Get the Recipe: Meal Prep Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder
Wake up your veggies with a flavorful homemade harissa. It’s easy to can control the spice level — simply include the seeds from the chiles if you want a spicy seasoning instead of mild.
Get the Recipe: Moroccan Harissa Roast Cauliflower
Instant Pot Egg Casserole Bites
These bite-size Instant Pot® egg casserole bites have everything that's in your favorite breakfast casserole, tater tots included. Make a few batches and stash them in your refrigerator so you’ve got a quick, microwave-ready breakfast when you’re in a hurry.
Get the Recipe: Instant Pot Egg Casserole Bites
These noodles are the perfect make-ahead lunch because they’re served cold. After you mix all the ingredients, portion the noodles into lunch-size containers and refrigerate. Wait to top them with the peanuts, cilantro and sesame seeds until you’re ready to eat.
Get the Recipe: Cold Peanut-Sesame Noodles
Herbed Farro Pilaf
If you’re a regular meal prepper and cook a big batch of grains every week, you’re probably looking for ways to mix things up. That’s why we created this herbaceous farro pilaf. The grains are cooked in stock — and combined with toasted pasta pieces — for extra flavor.
Get the Recipe: Herbed Farro Pilaf
Roasted mushrooms bring a delicious umami flavor to any dish and can easily stand in for meat in lots of recipes. So having a big batch on hand gives you freedom to riff all week. Don't worry about overcrowding the pan. As the mushrooms cook, they will release all their water, shrink and then finally crisp up in the olive oil. To keep this recipe versatile, we seasoned with only salt and pepper -- but chopped garlic or shallots and fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary are delicious additions.
Get the Recipe: Meal Prep Roasted Mushrooms
Slow-Cooker Shredded Chicken
This simple recipe takes only a few minutes to get into the pot, cooks while you go about your day and will reward you with meals all week. Use the shredded chicken as is or in one of the flavorful variations below. Either way, it’s great for salads, sandwiches, pastas, quesadillas, tacos, soups or as a pizza or flatbread topping.
Get the Recipe: Slow-Cooker Shredded Chicken
The method that Ina uses to roast her carrots can be used for just about any hardy vegetable you want to meal prep. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a sheet pan until brown and tender. It’s that easy!
Get the Recipe: Roasted Carrots
Crunchy French Toast Sticks
Stock your freezer full of these easy-to-make homemade French toast sticks and you’ll never have to skip breakfast again!
Get the Recipe: Crunchy French Toast Sticks
Ellie’s healthy chicken salad is a recipe you’ll make again and again. It’s loaded with flavor (thanks to curry powder, sweet red grapes and bright, herbaceous cilantro) and perfect for wraps or lettuce cups.
Get the Recipe: Curried Chicken Salad
Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli
Ellie’s recipe for broccoli and cauliflower makes it easy to prep a week’s worth of veggies at once. And, because she keeps the seasoning simple, you can toss the florets into everything from grain bowls to veggie wraps.
Get the Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli
It never hurts to make a batch of soup on the weekend. It’s easy to portion out and freeze so you’ve always got a wholesome meal on hand. Better yet, this one comes together with the help of your slow cooker, leaving you free to tackle the other things on your meal prep to-do list!
Get the Recipe: Slow-Cooker Bean and Barley Soup
Freezer Breakfast Panini
If you’ve got a lot of mouths to feed in the morning, meal prepping breakfast can help. Take an afternoon to whip up a dozen breakfast sandwiches and store them in your freezer. Then, when you need to feed your family, all you need to do is reheat a few sandwiches in the oven.
Get the Recipe: Freezer Breakfast Panini
These herby nuggets of chicken are delicious straight from the skillet. Or, you can make them on a Sunday and keep them on hand for last-minute meals. They’re great tossed with noodles, slipped into a sandwich and more.
Get the Recipe: Meal Prep Chicken Bites
Quinoa and Rice Pilaf
Here's how to cook quinoa with rice: Put them in the pot together and let them simmer until tender. It's really as simple as that! Use the fluffy grains as a side dish or base for a grain bowl. Or try our favorite way to enjoy them: sprinkled into a salad for a hearty lunch.
Get the Recipe: Quinoa and Rice Pilaf
Beet and goat cheese salad is one of our favorite lunches — and it comes together quick with the help of Ina’s recipe. Bake a batch of beets on Sunday and store them in the refrigerator so all you have to do at lunch time is toss them over some greens.
Get the Recipe: Roasted Beets
Oatmeal-Glazed Breakfast Cake
This hearty cake is packed with oats, flavored with cinnamon and topped with a warm glaze made with more oats, shredded coconut and nuts. We used pecans, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. It's a great way to clean out the pantry and simple enough for kids to help with. Bake one on a Sunday and enjoy it all week long for breakfast or as a snack! It's delicious at room temperature or lightly warmed in the microwave.
Get the Recipe: Oatmeal-Glazed Breakfast Cake
The great thing about this quinoa is that it’s delicious served hot or at room temperature. That makes it perfect for meal prep. Make a big batch and toss it into burritos, wraps, salads and more.
Get the Recipe: Green Spinach Quinoa
Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers
Need a perfectly portioned, ready-to-reheat lunch? Stuffed peppers are the way to go. There are lots of ways to fill them, but we love Ellie’s hearty, Greek-inspired take with veggies, bulgur and ground beef.
Get the Recipe: Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers
If you’re trying to eat more veggies (or less carbs) Ina’s Parmesan cauliflower is a good place to start. It’s great as the base for a homemade, microwave ready meal. Plus, you’ll have enough cauliflower to last for a few lunches.
Get the Recipe: Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower
Black Bean and Corn Salad
One of our favorite things to meal prep is corn and bean salad. If you’ve got some on hand you can easily turn pre-cooked chicken and rice into a burrito or give salad greens a southwestern spin.
Get the Recipe: Black Bean and Corn Salad
With hearty farro and chickpeas, a healthy dose of herbs and veggies and a flavorful sprinkling of feta cheese and olives, Ina’s tabbouleh makes a great vegetarian meal. Add some variety throughout the week by serving over greens or alongside grilled chicken.
Get the Recipe: Farro Tabbouleh with Feta
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon
Roasted sweet potatoes are a meal prep two-for-one. They’re useful at lunchtime in salads and wraps — and just as good in the morning for breakfast. Sprinkle a few over your bowl of oatmeal and top with syrup, cinnamon and some almonds for a sweet and satisfying start to your day.
Get the Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon
Rachel’s no-mayo pasta salad is a must-try. It’s great on its own but also turns leafy greens into a meal on the fly. You can even add some of your meal prep chicken for extra protein.
Get the Recipe: Pasta Salad with Lemon-Pesto Dressing
The Best Tuna Salad
Turn canned tuna into a lunch-ready protein with just a few, simple ingredients. Scoop this classic tuna salad into lettuce cups or tuck it into pita for a quick meal.
Get the Recipe: The Best Tuna Salad
Step up your meal prep game with these breakfast burritos. They are easy to prepare in a variety of flavors — all at the same time. It's nice to have choices!
Get the Recipe: Instant Pot Meal Prep Breakfast Burritos