This week for our normally recipe post, the focus will be on our old friend, meal prep. While meal prep ideas are in theory very easy to have, the fact is every Sunday when I get ready to meal prep, I have to dive back into my recipe books and blog posts to find some ideas for something quick and easy, while being delicious. Honestly, it’s harder than expected. With that in mind, this post will have three meal prep ideas: one protein, one complex carbohydrate, and one vegetable suggestion. All of these can be made with five ingredients or less, and all require less than 30 minutes of effort from you.
First, a little confession: in my house, we don’t meal prep for the entire week at once. We meal prep for lunches, and that’s it. My wife and I like being able to have a fresh-cooked meal for dinner every day, and we’ve found a routine for making that happen. Is it a little longer to get done with dinner than it would be if we had it meal prep ready? Yes. However, it’s what gives us some time together in a busy day, so it’s worth it. The point is to find what meal prep ideas work for you by trying different meals prepared each week. These three meal prep ideas are a great place to start.
Meal Prep Ideas:
1. Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Meat:
This recipe could not be any simpler. Add everything to a slow cooker, and turn to low for 8 hours (overnight works great). When it’s done, shred the chicken and serve on rice for taco bowls, in corn tortillas for classic tacos, or wrapped in lettuce for a low-carb option.
- 3 Pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
- 1 Large Jar of Salsa (not fancy, store brand works great here)
- 1 Cup Frozen Corn
- 1 Can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 Packet Taco Seasoning (be sure to find one without added sugar…or ingredients that look more like chemicals than food!)
2. Spiraled Zucchini Noodles:
Preparing vegetables has actually been the hardest thing for meal prep – many of them become soft and mushy (read: gross) as they sit in the fridge, and tougher vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower get boring after your third week of meals in a row. My favorite way to have prepared vegetables? Pre-chopped but still raw. Enter the zucchini noodle. As someone who doesn’t love pasta but does love classic Italian flavors, the zucchini noodles are a great way to get those flavors but skip the pasta. Tossed with some pesto or marinara sauce and topped with roasted salmon or chicken thighs, these are a great base for a weeknight meal.
- 3 Large Zucchinis
- Spiraling tool (we use the KitchenAid attachment, but they sell various devices to make this easy at home)
Follow directions for using your spiraling tool, and then put the zucchini in a large plastic bag. Poke holes in the bag to allow moisture to escape in the fridge, and keep until using.
3. Rice/Quinoa Blend Salad:
Generally speaking, there aren’t a ton of meal prep ideas out there to enhance your grains. Typically it’s make the rice/quinoa/potatoes and immediately divide into meal prep containers for storage. However, like the vegetables, that becomes very boring very quickly. By throwing in a couple spices/herbs with your grain of choice, you’ll enhance the nutrition of your grains while also making them more tasty. All you have to do is cook the grains according to package directions, then toss with the additional ingredients and allow to cool.
- 4 Cups Cooked Rice or Quinoa (or blend of both)
- 1 T Olive Oil
- 1 T Balsamic Vinegar
- Salt, Pepper, and Red Chili Flake to taste
- Juice of 1 Lemon