Healthy Meal Prep Ideas That Make it Easy to Cook on Weeknights

Meal prep to save yourself time, money, extra calories, and frustration!

Anything that you can do ahead of time to make the upcoming week a little less stressful is definitely worth it, right? Right! These healthy meal prep ideas will simplify the way you think about food. By removing excess stress and simplifying your diet, you will set yourself up for success!

Meal prepping has become popular in today’s fitness world for a good reason! It makes sense that we’d want to find ways to optimize our precious time. With early morning workout routines, late nights at the office, and everything in-between, meal prepping has become a non-negotiable tool for maintaining your healthy eating habits.

What is Meal Prepping?

When we say meal prepping, we mean making your meals ahead of time. Some people choose to meal prep for three days at a time while others have figured out how to prepare the entire week’s worth of food on a single day. While it may sound like a good idea to cook up a huge batch of something on a Sunday and eat it for 4-5 days in a row, it won’t be long before you’re dreading your next meal.

Healthy Meal Prep Ideas That Make it Easy to Cook on Weeknights

We figured out how to keep things fresh and delicious while still adopting and applying the healthy meal prep ideas to your lifestyle. Get ready to keep your diet exciting and kick your fitness progress into overdrive!

Plan the Week Out Ahead of Time

One of the biggest mistakes that newbie meal-preppers make is trying to cook a new dinner every single night. Instead of making beef tacos one night, fish the next, and chicken the day after, focus on meals with similar ingredients. Keeping the menu specific will eliminate unnecessary work and stress. It also keeps your grocery bill low and provides you with lots of variety to prevent you from getting bored.

What do we mean by “focus on meals with similar ingredients?” An example would be using chicken as your base. You can make the following recipes and enjoy them all week long:

If you choose salmon as your base, another example might be:

Cutting down on the number of groceries you need to buy will save you money and time!

Buy in Bulk

Since you’re trying to stick to just one or two types of protein each week, you’re going to need quite a bit of it (especially if you’re feeding your family, as well.) Purchasing meat in bulk will save you a considerable amount of money. If you don’t use everything, don’t worry about it! Freeze it and use it at a later date!

You should also focus on buying foods like nuts, seeds, oats, rice, frozen fruits for smoothies, and frozen vegetables in bulk since they’re usually much cheaper that way. These foods also typically last quite a while, so it’s perfectly acceptable to buy them in larger quantities!

When it comes to buying fresh fruits and vegetables, we recommend purchasing no more than you’ll need for the week. Keep in mind that organic produce goes bad faster than non-organic options due to a lack of preservatives.

Stock Up On Kitchen Essentials

Now that you have all of the food that you’ll need, there are several kitchen appliances and other essentials that will make meal-prepping easier than ever!

The first appliance that you’ll want to have in your arsenal is a slow-cooker. You will find hundreds of delicious and nutritious slow-cooker recipes on SkinnyMs. Better yet, you’ll be able to cook your dinner all day and come home to a fresh, ready-to-eat meal! It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Try meal-prepping these fantastic slow-cooker recipes:

Chicken is delicious no matter how it’s prepared, but it’s even better when it’s grilled! If you don’t have an outdoor grill, don’t worry. The T-Fal Grill not only makes perfectly grilled chicken, but it can also cook fish, pork, steak (to any temperature), and more! If you grill your food ahead of time, all you’ll have to do is warm it up when you’re ready to eat!

When it comes to meal-prepping, you’ll obviously need containers. These containers should be microwave safe and reusable in order to save you money! Consider trying these Freshware Meal Prep Containers.

Mason jars are great to have on hand for pre-made salads, overnight oats, and smoothies. These containers are compact, so you can fit several in the refrigerator at once. They’ll also keep your food fresh and delicious!

Last but not least, you might want to think about getting yourself some reusable silicone sandwich bags. These will save you money and are better for the environment. You can use these for your cleaned and chopped fruits and vegetables as well as your pre-blended smoothies.

Prepare Ingredients Ahead of Time

Choose a day where you’ll wash, chop, and divvy up fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and any other snacks that you’ll eat this week into the proper portions. This will make packing your lunch for the next day a breeze!

You can prepare the week’s meat sources as well by trimming excess fat, separating portion sizes, marinating, or combining them with any other ingredients. Remember, you can also make smoothies, overnight oats, mason jar salads, casserole, and crock-pot dinners ahead of time to keep your weeknights stress-free!

Consider trying out these make-ahead recipes:




Cook Extra and Freeze Individual Portions

Trust me: it’s better to have too much than not enough! Don’t hesitate to cook extra whenever possible. You can either bring last night’s dinner for lunch today or freeze the leftovers to eat next week! If you choose to freeze your leftovers, remember to freeze them in individual portions. Once you thaw something, you shouldn’t refreeze it.

Give yourself the option to just take one serving out at a time so that nothing goes to waste! Thaw your pre-portioned meals in the refrigerator while you’re at work, and all you’ll need to do when you get home is warm it up!

Related: How to Pack Your Freezer Meals Like a Pro

If you have fitness goals in mind that you want to achieve, you must apply these healthy meal prep ideas to your daily routine! Getting home from a long day of work and realizing you have nothing to eat for dinner is a terrible feeling. By having breakfast, lunch, and dinner prepared ahead of time, you will set yourself up for success.

An empty refrigerator will make you reach for something fast, and probably unhealthy. Do yourself a favor and meal-prep this weekend! It’ll be one of the best decisions that you’ll ever make!

Do you currently meal-prep? If so, are there any tips that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them! Let us know in the comment section, below.

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Erin Miller

Erin is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist. She is also a Performance Nutrition Coach, certified through the Clean Health Fitness Institute. Some of Erin’s favorite hobbies include hiking, kayaking, and hanging out at the beach, although weight lifting is her greatest passion. She says, “Weight training is one of the most empowering things a person can do. Not just seeing, but feeling yourself transform… There’s just nothing else like it.”

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