As much as we'd like to enjoy an elaborate, decadent home-cooked meal every day, it's not exactly the most practical way to spend our time. That is, of course, if we don't meal prep ahead of time. If you're someone who likes to procrastinate when the goal at hand seems too lofty, or if you've never used "easy" and "meal prep" in the same sentence, the recipes and foodie tricks ahead might prove otherwise. In fact, the key is to make sure you only have to make one trip to the grocery store to stock up on fresh produce that can be used in several different meals.
The trick is to look up quick, yummy recipes beforehand that call for a few of the same ingredients/ This way you'll minimize the time you have to spend with raw meat (or other more involved ingredients) and get it out of the way before you're too busy later in the week. We made sure to include a few vegetarian and vegan options, as well as easy chicken and salmon-based dishes, in our roundup so you can fill your grocery carts with whatever fits your lifestyle needs and cravings. Click through the nine recipes for easy preps below to start planning for a week of healthy, quick, and delicious eating.
You can have all the comforting, cheesy goodness of a pizza while also squeezing in some veggies thanks to this recipe from Mitzy at Home. Either try her easy pizza-dough recipe if you want to make everything from scratch (you can save the extra in the freezer to enjoy on another busy night later this week) or simply use a store-bought option, like this delicious cornmeal crust from Whole Foods. Then just choose your favorite vegetables—any will work as long as they're thinly sliced. This sheet pizza in particular features corn, bell peppers, and zucchini, which we included in several of the other recipes on our list so you can use it a few times.
One-pan dishes are a huge time-saver in the cooking and cleaning departments. But they can also taste (and look) fancier than they sound. Case in point? This chicken and zucchini casserole recipe from Half Baked Harvest. It only takes about 45 minutes to make, and it's packed with all your major food groups, so you don't have to worry about serving it with anything extra side dishes or add-ons. Just slice it and share it with family and friends, and pack the extra for lunch the following day. If there's extra extra, stick it in the freezer.
This flavorful plant-based recipe is brought to us by Minimalist Baker and only takes about 30 minutes to make, so you probably won't even have to worry about making it ahead of time. Though it doesn't need much else to be a satisfying, healthy, and interesting meal, you can serve it with some cauliflower rice or a slice of naan.
Like we mentioned, it's super quick to make, but there are quite a few ingredients necessary. So if your kitchen is already well-stocked or you don't want to spend a ton of money on spices, this is probably better for a night when you have plenty of free time and want to show off your cooking skills to some dinner guests. That being said, if you do choose to make the curry sauce, you can use on a few different dishes throughout the week.
This recipe from Food Faith Fitness was designed with meal prep in mind, so it's super practical. Also, if you're also cooking with kids in mind, these chicken satay bowls are a game changer. And even if you're just cooking for yourself, this perfect combination of light and hearty will hit the spot for a desk-side lunch at work.
The best part is that it only takes a total of 25 minutes to make, including that delicious nut-butter dip. If you make enough chicken during this cooking session, you can reuse it throughout the week in other recipes rather than having to start from scratch with raw meat on a busy weeknight.
This wrap recipe from Salt & Wind is refreshing, light, and incredibly healthy. It's also really easy to eat on the go if you're running around between meetings. Complete with split peas, cucumbers, carrots, avocado, and kale to meet your nutritional needs; Greek yogurt and a cilantro-mint chutney for a dose of saucy texture; and scallions, onions, and garlic for some oomph all wrapped up in lavash, this wrap will ensure that you thoroughly enjoy your lunch break (even if it only lasts a few minutes).
Chicken tacos are a go-to meal on hectic weeknights since they don't take much effort to make, you probably already have the ingredients lying around, and they always hit the spot. Yes, always. This recipe from Stuck in the Kitchen calls for corn, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and a blend of spicy, flavorful ingredients to make a gourmet hot sauce to add a little pizzazz to the chicken. Simply roll up the fillings with a flour or corn tortilla (or even lettuce cups if you want to cut back on carbs), add a squeeze of lime, whip up a margarita. Then you're set for a not-so-average laid-back Taco Tuesday at home.
Do you prefer salmon to chicken? Or maybe you just want to switch things up midweek? This chili-lime broiled salmon salad recipe from Hola Jalapeño is the perfect midday meal to enjoy at your desk (or to send to school with your kids). It's also healthy, thanks to an abundance of fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. If you make enough, save the extra salmon fillet for dinner, and switch things up by serving it with some cauliflower rice or a bowl of noodles for a heartier finish to the day.
If you're on the lookout for a healthy alternative to your go-to Chinese takeout order, this is it. From Half Baked Harvest, this three-cup zucchini chicken recipe is super easy to make, and it promises all the comfort you'd expect out of this classic dish. Enjoy it with cauliflower rice—you can get the frozen version from Trader Joe's to save yourself some time—or a bowl of brown rice. In fact, it only takes a total of 30 minutes to make, and it yields four servings, so you can enjoy it throughout the week with different side dishes to switch things up. It also has the two common dinner ingredients: chicken and zucchini (proving just how versatile they are).
For a light and fresh vegetarian option, opt for this fiber-rich farro recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon. It's packed greens like peas and ribbons of zucchini (hello again, vegetable hero of the week), as well as sweet corn. It's the perfect thing to bring to work for a quick, light lunch, or pair this farro risotto with some leftover chicken for a simple, super-easy dinner when you need something fast or you're running low on ingredients as the week winds down.
Do you have any easy meal-prep ideas or advice? Share them with us in the comments below.