Quick, easy and healthy meal prep recipes which you can cook this week (and your family will love).
Eating healthy as a whole family doesn’t have to be difficult. With a little planning and some easy prep work, it’s simple to keep your family fed all week long.
It can be so hard with a busy family making sure that dinner makes it on to the table every night. And reaching for a recipe at 5 pm only to realize that it was supposed to marinate overnight is a guarantee that everyone is going to be eating take out that night.
However, meal prepping can help take the drama out of dinnertime. Instead of wondering what on earth you’re going to cook (and if the ingredients you need are in the fridge), you can just pull out the designated meal for that evening and focus on getting dinner on the table.
Planning your meals ahead of time can also be healthier in the long run and save you money. You’ll end up with less unused groceries rotting in your fridge and no unplanned calls to your local takeout spot. That’s what I call a win-win!
I’ve included a variety of meal prep ideas, so you have breakfast, lunch and dinner covered.
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What exactly is meal prep?
Meal prep is when you’ve prepared all or components of your meals in advance. It could be that you’ve cooked the entire dish ahead of time and portioned it out or just that all the ingredients have been prepared and cooked according to the recipe’s specifications ahead of time, ready to assemble quickly for dinnertime.
Incorporating meal prep into your meal planning will save you time, money and make you healthier. By preparing several (or all) of the week’s dishes ahead of time, you’re cutting down on time you need to spend cooking every night. Making several portions of the same recipe for freezer meals often lets you buy ingredients in bulk and saves you money at the grocery store.
And, by ensuring that you’re cooking at home more often and not eating take out you are eating healthier by taking control over the types of food you eat and what exactly has gone into each dish.
How long do meal prepped dishes last?
Cooked food such as chicken can last up to 3-4 days in the fridge. Plan to eat dishes with seafood first. And, keep sauces separate from your prepared meals if you think they’re going to make the dish soggy. I suggest planning out your week so that cooked meal prep dishes are eaten first while freezer meals are consumed later in the week.
Where can I get meal prep containers?
Amazon carries some of my top suggestion for meal prep containers. Before purchasing here are a few things to consider.
Am I going to be preparing entire meals or just individual ingredients?
If you plan to prep ingredients for your dishes but will be assembling them on the night that they appear on the meal plan, then I suggest checking out these Pyrex Glass Dishes. This is what I use in my kitchen and I’ve found them great value for money. I love that they’re glass which makes them dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe. The downsides to these containers are that their lids tend to get small cracks around the rim over time. As well, they’re heavy and not leak proof and therefore not ideal if you plan to take meals into work for lunch.
If you want to prep entire meals, then look for meal prep containers with divided compartments. Consider having two sets, one glass, and one plastic, and use the glass for hot dishes and the plastic ones for the meals which can be eaten cold. Doing this will cut down on the number of times your plastic containers get exposed to the heat.
I like these plastic meal prep containers. They’re a great value and are dishwasher and microwave safe.
For glass meal prep containers I would go with these. I love the divided compartments but make sure to remember that the lids are not safe to put in the microwave.
Healthy Meal Prep Ideas: Tips for Getting Started
Have a Plan
Plan out which recipes you want to prep for the week ahead. Then, once you have your recipes create a shopping list for your ingredients. Make sure you have time to make your meals otherwise your groceries will go to waste. Also, start out small and choose 2-3 meals to make. You can fill in the gaps in your week with freezer meals (check out my post for healthy freezer meal recipes).
Use Your Time Wisely
As our house is always busy and time is limited, I find I need to approach my meal prep time with a plan of action. I read all the recipes I plan on making and map out my time accordingly. I’ll prep all the ingredients need at one time. This means that if recipes one calls for two cloves of garlic and recipe two calls for five cloves of garlic I’m not chopping garlic twice. Instead, I’m chopping seven cloves together and then making a judgement call as to how much each recipe needs. Multitask whenever can, if your meat needs to marinate then get it done first so that it can marinate while you prep veggies.
Make sure you have containers available.
These could be divided meal prep containers or just mason jars. However, don’t put effort into preparing your meals if you’re not able to portion them out and store them.
Don’t prepare too many meals
Remember that most of the meals you prepare are only going to last for 3-5 days. I use a combination of prepared meals and freezer meals to make up my weekly menu.