When you take one day to prepare all your meals for the week, it’s a grown-up move that’s more than just convenient. Meal prep saves you time and money, and helps you eat healthier, too. If you’ve got some simple staples already waiting at home after a long day, then you’re less likely to splurge on questionable takeout. The key to easy weekday meal prep is all in the planning, and we can help you slice and dice a sensible approach.
Basically, you’ll want some key ingredients already made. Then, it’s just a matter of putting them together into different combinations every day. We’ve pulled some ideas to get you started.
First, grab your groceries: Successful weekday meal prep depends a lot on having the right ingredients to work with all at the same time. Take the weekend to visit your local farmer’s market for some fresh, seasonal produce. You’ll surely see some mixed greens, tomatoes, avocados, herbs, squash and strawberries at your stands this season. Maybe even some early eggplant. We included recipes with these key ingredients, but feel free to improvise based on whatever looks good. You’ll also want to have some lentils, beans, chicken (or not if that’s not your thing), goat cheese, almond or cashew milk and tortillas.
Sunday prep school: Separately cook some fast lentils, beans and chicken (or not). Wash and hull your strawberries and roast your veggies using these easy directions. Hardier vegetables like broccoli will keep longer than squishier ones like tomatoes. Spiralize some squash or zucchini with a mandoline, processor or peeler and wash and pat dry your greens. Put them all into separate containers so they’re sealed and ready to go for the week.
Monday: Zoodles marinara
Prepped ingredients: spiraled zucchini or squash, roasted veggies, possibly chicken
Squash and zucchini make excellent, healthy bases for pasta-like dishes. Mix in a few extra ingredients like that roasted eggplant or tomatoes and olive oil for this easy weekday recipe.
Tuesday: Strawberry zucchini noodles
Prepped ingredients: spiraled zucchini or squash, strawberries
This is an easy, creamy, light dinner that lets you use those veggie noodles before they get too squishy later in the week. It’s the kind of thing that tells you summer is on the way, and it tastes like you worked harder than you’ll have to.
Wednesday: Lentil bowl
Prepped ingredients: roasted veggies, lentils, beans, chicken
We found this do-ahead-friendly recipe for rice and beans with ginger chile salsa and swapped rice for high-protein lentils. For another twist, you might throw it all into a tortilla and make a tasty burrito, or wrap up any extra that way for lunch tomorrow.
Thursday: Chicken salad w/strawberries and goat cheese
Prepped ingredients: strawberries, chicken, greens
It’s a healthy but hearty dinner using a different mash-up of those other ingredients. Throw in some extra avocado or a boiled egg if you’ve got it, and some vinaigrette.
Friday: Stuffed eggplant
Prepped ingredients: lentils, eggplant
It might be a bit early for eggplant, but if you find some, close out the week with another high-protein option that’s a simple weekday recipe.