4 min read

Meal Prep Ideas – Cooking in advance has never been so easy!

A stainless steel lunch box packed with hummus, falafel, and a tomato-cucumber salad is one of many fabulous meal prep ideas
Fitness & Nutrition Editor
Undine is currently studying fitness, health, and wellness to become a certified trainer. She writes articles for foodspring about nutrition and fitness. She also creates free food programs.

It doesn’t matter if you’re working from home or in the office: no one has an extra hour to prepare a healthy lunch! Thankfully with just a few meal prep ideas you can start saving time and money, and eat healthier too!

What is Meal Prep?

Meal prep is all about preparing your meals in advance, which is why it’s also sometimes known as precooking.

But don’t worry! Meal prepping doesn’t mean eating the same thing 7 days in a row. With careful planning, you just need a couple of ingredients to create a variety of meals.

Get a balanced, varied diet without spending hours in the kitchen with just a few healthy meal prep ideas!

Meal Prep Advantages

Meal prep not only saves you time, it also saves you money. On average, a meal prep lunch costs €2.50: Good luck finding a meal that cheap at a restaurant or from a delivery service!

Still don’t want to miss out on fresh lunches from your favorite salad bar? Just split the week between take out and cooking in advance!

Plan your lunches in advance and you’ll probably make healthier choices. We tend to go for unhealthy fast food when we’re hungry and don’t have much time. In stressful situations you’re also more likely to make decisions focused on short-term effects. But if you have your meal prep containers handy, it’s much easier to eat healthier and in a more balanced way.

Healthy Meal Prep In Practice

Take a moment to answer these questions before you get started

  • How many meals do you want to precook?
  • Are you prepping breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
  • What recipes do you want to cook?
  • How much prep time do you have?
  • What ingredients do you need?

Use these answers to write your meal plan and shopping list for the week.

Need some help getting started? Download our free Weekly Planner! Track your most important tasks, your workout, and your weekly meal prep recipes all in one place, shopping list included!

Download our free Weekly Planner

Our tip is to start small! Preparing 21 freezer meals for your whole family ahead of time gets overwhelming pretty quickly. And all you really need to start is a few meal prep ideas!

Meal Prep Recipes

You probably have a favorite dish or two, but not all of them can be adapted into healthy meal prep recipes. Anything that can be prepared quickly in a big batch and then frozen, like stir fries for meal prep bowls, is exactly what you’re looking for. Recipes that have a simple base and can taste completely different when you switch out a few ingredients, so they don’t get boring, are also ideal.

Overnight Oats 

Overnight oats are a perfect meal prep recipe because they can be stored in the refrigerator for several days in meal prep bowls or mason jars. Complex carbohydrates, proteins, and good fats: It’s a balanced and healthy breakfast that’s easy to grab and go.

Meal prep tips: Buy lots of different fruits and nuts as toppings for some variety with your overnight oats.

a glass jar of overnight oats topped with fresh blueberries sits next to a single-serving package of foodspring's banana Whey Protein
©foodspring
Click here for the recipe

Wraps

Easy to prepare and still super tasty! They’re also the perfect meal when you have to be ready fast. There’s no limit to what you can make with wraps, but our favorite recipe combines vegetables and tofu in our Vegan Protein Pancakes.

Two Vegan Rainbow Wraps showing their bright insides with a rainbow of colorful fillings
©foodspring
Check out the recipe here

Couscous Salad

Salads with millet, quinoa, couscous, or similar grains are perfect for preparing in advance. Our couscous salad recipe has cinnamon and goji berries to complement roasted tomatoes. And if you need to balance your macros, it’s easy to boost your protein intake with one of our tasty Protein Bars!

A bowl of couscous salad mixed with bright cherry tomatoes, red onions, zucchini, and vibrant green parsley is just one of many meal prep ideas
©foodspring
Click here for the recipe

Falafel Box

Close the box and you’re ready to go! This easy meal prep lunch idea makes it convenient to eat healthy! Make a couple of extra falafels and you also have a perfect wrap ingredient!

A stainless steel lunch box packed with hummus, falafel, and a tomato-cucumber salad
©foodspring
Check out the recipe

Meal Prep Ideas for the Week

Meal prep is all about getting into the habit of prep work. As you establish your meal prep routine, you’ll learn more and more about the benefits of cooking in advance.

Our tip: Prepare individual components for your meal prep 1-2 times a week. Precooking brown rice, quinoa, millet, and other grains in large quantities saves an enormous amount of prep time. Legumes, like lentils, chickpeas, beans, and peas, are also perfect for precooking. No more room on your stove now? No problem! Marinated tofu just needs to be roasted in the oven until crispy.

If you’re planning for a whole week, store the cooked parts individually in meal prep containers in the fridge or freezer. Add fresh ingredients – like salad, fresh fruits and vegetables, sauces, and olive oil or dressings – the night before to maximize flavor and texture.

Check out our sample weekly lunch plan and use it as inspiration for your own meal prep lunch ideas.

Download our free weekly meal planner template

On meal prep day, all you have to do is roast enough vegetables of your choice on a sheet pan in the oven, and prepare 2 servings of chickpeas and one serving of couscous: It shouldn’t take much longer than 30 minutes. Shop for all the other components and throw them together the evening before.

Monday: Roasted vegetables

Tuesday: Roasted vegetables on a green salad, topped with avocado and nuts.

Wednesday: Quick chickpea salad with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, and chopped onion

Thursday: Couscous salad with tuna fish

Friday: Tuna wraps

Meal Prep: Conclusion

  • Meal prep saves you time and money.
  • Creative meal prep recipes help you eat more healthy food with less effort.
  • Planning is key to effective meal prep.
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