Meal Prepping 101: Your Guide to Saving Time in the Kitchen

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The biggest complaint about healthy eating is a four letter word: time. Weeknights are crazy and getting a healthy dinner and vegan salad recipes on the table can seem so time consuming! Additionally, everyone wants to save time and money by packing a healthy lunch from home… except that it takes up 20 minutes of an already-busy morning! So how do people do it? If you talk to successful healthy eater’s you’ll find that they don’t have any extra minutes in their day, instead they simplify their lives by participating in weekly “meal prep”.

So what is meal prepping?

Choose one day out of the week to menu plan, grocery shopping, and get all your basic meal prepping out of the way. Meal prepping is all about creating shortcuts to healthy meals.  Having things on hand when you need to throw something together for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, helps you create a healthy meal in a cinch! This means pre-cooking a few vegetables, washing and prepping lettuce for the week, cooking chicken breasts or whole grains to use later in the week…you get the idea. This simplifies how much time is required to assemble a meal later on. In fact, some meals can be completely assembled ahead of time! Try making big batches of breakfast muffins or quinoa salad then refrigerating them in ready-to-go portions for when you need a healthy meal in a pinch!

10 easy prep ideas

Here are 10 great recipes to get you thinking about how to shave some time off of your weekly meals! The extra bonus of making a bunch of recipes at once? Getting all of the dishes done at once!

1. Hard boil some eggs to throw on top of salads, in a sandwich or wrap, on top of a piece of toast, or even just as a snack with salt and red pepper flakes. Don’t know how to get a perfectly hard-boiled egg? Use this recipe.

2. Cook a week’s worth of chicken breasts. Make sure you use mild seasonings so you can still add them to many different meals. Try pre-cooked chicken thrown into a teriyaki stir-fry, a pita layered with hummus and cucumber, or tossed with a little taco seasoning and piled on top of a microwaved tortilla with cheese, beans, and plenty of fresh salsa. Need more ideas? Check out this recipe to jazz up a boring chicken breast.

3. Pack smoothie bags! There’s nothing easier than dumping and blending for a great post-workout meal. Try stuffing an assortment of fruit, vegetables, protein powder, yogurt, or other favorite smoothie ingredients into freezer safe bags. Freeze until you crave a smoothie, then dump them in your blender, add some liquid, and you’re ready to go!

4. Roast a few sweet potatoes using this recipe! Once cooked, these delicious tubers are easy to throw into a breakfast hash with eggs and green onion, or even rewarmed in the microwave and eaten as a side dish.

5. A quick and healthy breakfast is only a muffin away! Try this recipe that’s packed with fruits and veggies for healthy breakfast muffins. These can easily be frozen until the morning you want to take them with you on your commute!

6. This salad stays great in the refrigerator for up to a week so it’s a great thing to make on Sunday and take to work on Thursday and Friday without a hitch!

7. Peel, grate, and spiralize a bunch of colorful vegetables for quick snacking, adding to salads, wraps, rice dishes, or even a quick zucchini noodle pasta!

8. Another time saver is a “fix it and forget it” meal assembled ahead of time, frozen, then thrown into a crockpot when you leave for work in the morning. By the time you’re home, dinner is ready to go! Here is a fajita recipe that is delicious and easy that can be made far in advance and saved for one of those busy nights!

9. Precook a few staple grains. Brown rice is time consuming and often takes so long, you opt out for white rice or pasta instead. Quinoa, wheat berries, wild rice, barley, buckwheat, and other grains can easily be cooked ahead of time then refrigerated until using.

10. Sauces, dressings, and other condiments can also be made in bulk ahead of time. Here is a dish that is best the longer it sits! This salsa can be made ahead of time and used throughout the week on nachos, burritos, scrambled eggs, or even with those pre-cooked sweet potatoes with a little black beans, corn, and cheese.


Have any other meal prepping ideas? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Hayley is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist, a part-time yoga teacher, and full-time mother. She is passionate about health, nature, and empowering others to reach their full health potential. She works as a health coach, nutrition writer, recipe developer and group fitness instructor. She is energetic and passionate about delicious food and promoting health of the body, mind, and spirit. She hopes to inspire others to eat closely to the way that nature intended, capitalizing on the amazing benefits of whole, unprocessed foods. Follow her posts for nutrition advice and delicious recipes!

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