Meal prepping is gaining popularity as the healthier, cheaper alternative to preparing daily lunches or going out to eat. Many people have found success with setting up their meals for the week on Sunday night, saying it helps them eat less, frees up their energy to make other decisions, and is much easier on the wallet. But after a while, even the most experienced meal preppers can get bored and need a little inspiration. In case you need to inject a little life into your tired routine, we've compiled some fresh recipe ideas that are sure to shake things up.
Yogurt and raspberries! Unsplash / Milada Vigerova
Planning out your breakfasts in some form is a no-brainer! Whether you struggle to find an appetite in the morning or the time to get a few items together when you're rushing around, having a fridge full of conveniently pre-packed breakfast superfoods to start your day off right is a genius life hack that will save you tons of time and give you those much-needed boosts of energy throughout your morning.
Fill individual containers with ingredients for breakfast smoothies on Sundays and pour the contents into your blender in the mornings instead of having to gather and portion out the ingredients at the beginning of every day. For smoothies you've got two options for preparation: 1) You can set aside the dry ingredients in resealable bags ahead of time, then measure and add the liquid ingredients the morning of, or 2) You can measure and portion out the liquids in containers ahead of time as well if you're used to especially hectic mornings and you want to keep everything as easy as humanly possible while you're heading out the door.
Versatile and very customizable, mix together oats, nuts, seeds, and/or whatever fruits you'd like to create healthy, portable oat-based combinations. Mason jars are a popular container, but plasticware works just as well depending on how much layering you'd like to do.
Similar in concept to the oat packs, pre-portioned containers of yogurt are endlessly customizable and perfect for eating during your commute or at your desk. One of the fun things about meal prepping yogurts is that you can mix up the recipes differently for every day, planning blueberries for one day and strawberries for the next. Yogurt is a great food to start your day - it's high in nutrients and protein, and great for maintaining bone health.
You'll notice big changes in the amount of time, money, and energy you'll save when you pre-plan your lunches for the week on Sunday night. If you've ever struggled with portion control in the past, you'll come to notice that pre-portioned containers can work wonders for your diet. Often by the time lunch rolls around, our eyes are bigger than our stomach and we end up tossing food in the trash or eating past the point we're full. It's important to make lunches you'll actually be excited to eat midway through the day, so find a plan that works for you. Here are some ideas for clever twists on your everyday lunch staples:
A lunchtime classic, salads are a great meal prep option. Not only is making large batches of salad super fun, but you have the opportunity to change up your lunch a bit each day with different proteins. Remember to bring the dressing in a separate container on the side so your salad base doesn't get soggy!
Like salads, pasta offers some variety as different proteins or veggies can be added to alter the tastes slightly from day to day. One word of caution - when meal prepping, watch out for heavy cheese sauces, since they tend to reheat unevenly and chunkily.
For dishes that are filling and easy to make in large batches, consider compiling the contents of wrap-style sandwiches and having those ready to go with you in the mornings. Make a note that you'll probably want to transport your tortilla, taco shell, bread, etc. in a second container so they don't get soggy.
Dinner is a tricky meal to predict, since it's hard to know exactly how you'll feel at the end of the day. The good news is that meal prepping makes you less likely to order takeout when you get home and you're exhausted, since you know in the back of your mind it's faster to defrost a pre-prepared meal in the kitchen than to order in (no matter how quick they deliver). Unlike with breakfast and lunch, dinner tends to be less rushed, so you have more time to build upon meals. For dinner, you can meal prep entire dishes and stow them away, or just make large batches of main entrees and decide on which sides to pair them with later on.
A dinnertime staple, chicken can be prepared many different ways and take on all kinds of flavors and textures. It can also be frozen after it's cooked - a big win for meal preppers everywhere. If you get bored of meals easily, chicken is extremely versatile and great for experimenting. There are tons of different, interesting chicken recipes out there, but here are just a few to get you inspired.
Excellent for dinner prep if you're a seafood lover, fish and shellfish will give you something to look forward to at the end of the day. Keep in mind that fish shouldn't be eaten after four days in the fridge, but can be preserved when frozen.
Famous for how many they're able to feed, casseroles are ideal for dinner prepping for yourself throughout the week or dividing up among family members over a couple of days. Remember that casseroles will last much longer when kept frozen, so be sure to plan accordingly.