When life gets hectic, one of the first things to fall apart is how well we feed ourselves.
We grab whatever we can find – which is often unhealthy and overpriced.
Instead of that, what if you had some simple food prepped and ready to go?
It’s actually much easier than you’d think!
Here are some super easy meal prep ideas for the week. We’ll call it meal prep for beginners. Anyone can do this!
Take 30 minutes to 1 hour over the weekend. You’ll really simplify how you eat all week long.
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How to Meal Prep for the Week
What is meal prep?
Meal prep is simply the concept of preparing some foods in advance. That way they’re ready to eat when you need them.
It can include preparing breakfasts, lunches, snacks, or even dinners ahead of time.
You can make entire meals, or just get components of meals ready to assemble later.
What are the benefits of meal prepping?
- Saves you time – By having one prep session a week, you’ll dirty fewer dishes and save time by multitasking.
- Saves money – Eating food at home is ALWAYS cheaper than buying convenience foods, hitting the drive-thru, or ordering takeout. None of the easy meal prep ideas below include expensive ingredients. In fact, they’re perfect if you’re trying to eat on a tight budget!
- Food is ready to eat when you’re hungry (and tired) – You won’t wait until you’re starving to figure out what to eat.
- You’ll eat healthy – You have complete control over the ingredients you’re using and the portion sizes. Meal prep can definitely help with your weight loss or clean eating goals!
- Reduces food waste – Since you’ll have a plan of what to buy and prepare, much less food will be thrown away.
- Reduces temptation – You won’t be tempted to stop at the vending machine or gas station for a snack (or go out to lunch) when you have food with you.
- Lowers stress – Knowing ahead of time what you’re going to eat takes away the stress and anxiety of trying to figure it out at the last minute. (Or worrying about it all day.)
How do I prep food for a week?
Make a game plan:
- Decide what you’re gonna make – Use the list below for easy meal prep ideas. Or come up with your own, based on your favorite things to eat.
- Be realistic – Think about how much time you have and how much food you’ll actually eat.
- Start small – Especially if you’re a beginner.
- Schedule it – Figure out which day works best for you. And if you’ll shop and prep on the same day or on 2 different days.
Turn on your favorite playlist, podcast, or audiobook
You’ll enjoy the process so much more if you have a fun distraction.
Have everything ready
Get out everything you’ll need to do your meal prep for the week – That includes the food, any pots or pans, and containers to store your finished prep.
Combine hands on and hands off tasks. You can hard boil eggs while veggies roast in the oven and you make a salad, for example. It might take a couple weeks to get your exact system down, but it’ll become a new habit quickly.
Use the proper containers
You will definitely need containers to store your meal prep. You can totally use whatever you have on hand, or try the meal prep containers below.
Glass Meal Prep Containers
These are durable, and microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe. Great for storing ready to eat meals.
Ball Wide Mouth Mason Jars
Great for storing salads, or making overnight oats or parfaits.
Bento Box Meal Prep Containers
If you want to store several different items together, these 3-compartments containers make it really easy.
Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags
Save money (and the planet) by using these silicone storage bags. They're reusable, and fridge, freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe.
What food is good to meal prep?
Here are 10 quick and simple ideas for meal prepping healthy foods you can eat all week!
1. Roasted vegetables
Roasted vegetables are the most delicious kind, in my opinion. You can use them as side dishes, an easy snack or lunch, or as an ingredient of a main dish (such as an omelette, casserole, or pasta dish).
You can also roast chickpeas (great for vegetarians) or spaghetti squash, or bake sweet potatoes or Russet potatoes.
Some of the best veggies to roast are:
- Bell peppers
- Brussel sprouts
- Green beans
- Squash – zucchini, yellow, or butternut
Related: Grab my Seasonal Produce Buying Guide to see which veggies are in season during every month of the year. When in season, they’re at their most tasty and nutritious. And least expensive!
2. Breakfast food
Prepping breakfast is super convenient and smart!
It saves you time in the morning, and you’ll feel so much more organized. Plus, you’ll eat something healthy, instead of hitting the drive thru or vending machine.
Easy breakfast meal prep ideas:
- Scrambled egg ‘muffins’ – Like these.
- Sausage (or ham), egg, and cheese on English muffins – Great for the freezer!
- Yogurt parfaits – You may just want to wait to add anything crunchy til you’re about to eat it.
- Overnight oatmeal jars
- Healthy muffins
- Breakfast burritos
3. Easy lunches
To save time, money, and sanity, meal prep yourself some lunches.
Whether you go to work, school, or stay at home, having some things ready to eat for lunch is SUPER helpful.
I personally like to make a big batch of something (usually egg salad or chicken salad) to have throughout the week.
Other easy lunch meal prep ideas are:
- Soup or chili – Here are 61 soups you can make in your slow cooker.
- Ingredients for wraps – Just prep the ingredients, and then quickly assemble in a tortilla, pita, or lettuce wrap each day.
- Bento boxes
- Pasta dishes
- Salads – Without the dressing, of course.
- Rice bowls
- Pinwheel ‘sandwiches’
💡Quick tip: If you want to prep entire lunches in one container, here’s a simple formula I found for deciding what to include:
- Typical Meal = Protein + Grain + Vegetable
- Low Carb Meal = Protein + Vegetable + Vegetable
- Vegetarian Meal = Legume + Grain + Vegetable
Pre-cooking meat for the week is super helpful when it’s time to make dinner every night.
You can keep the cooked meat in the fridge for about 3 days. Otherwise just put it in the freezer. Don’t worry, it stays good!
Here are some ideas for meal prepping meat:
- Ground beef or turkey – Perfect for making chili, tacos, spaghetti, or one of these 30 delicious ground beef recipes.
- Chicken – You can bake chicken breasts or thighs, or a whole chicken in the oven, or let the slow cooker do all the work. (Here are some great 4-ingredient chicken recipes!)
- A roast – The meat can be eaten as is, or put in hot sandwiches, shepherds pie, beef stroganoff, etc.
- A whole ham or turkey – For sandwiches, soup, or to use in tons of different lunches or dinners. (Here are a bunch of different uses for leftover ham.)
5. A big batch of something you can eat all week
Making a big pot of chili, soup, spaghetti, etc. really helps out on busy weeknights.
You can eat some of it on the night you meal prep, in case you don’t feel up to cooking anymore.
And then eat the leftovers for lunch, or on a night you’re out late or too busy (or tired) to make something.
Looking for more meal ideas? Grab my FREE Meal Planning Kit below! It’s 12 pages to help you organize your meals, including 100+ dinner ideas and 50 side dish ideas!
6. Precooked rice, pasta, or beans
If you don’t want to meal prep entire freezer meals, you can make dinnertime easier by pre-cooking the components of meals.
You can have rice, pasta, or beans ready to assemble into easy main dishes. Especially if you already cooked the meat too.
They also make great side dishes!
7. Chopped fresh ingredients for easy meals
Similar to pre-cooking your meat and starches, you can pre-chop any ingredients you might need for the week.
Having onions, bell peppers, and other veggies ready to add to soups, stews, casseroles, and other dishes means that you can throw together dinner in a jiffy.
8. Snack prep
When you’re meal prepping for the week, don’t forget to include snacks!
Healthy snacks help you stay satiated between meals so you don’t get starved and overeat.
Some snack ideas to prep ahead are:
- Hard boiled eggs (I love to use my rapid egg cooker to quickly cook eggs – without having to boil a big pot of water!)
- Put nuts, trail mix, pretzels, etc. into individual portions
- Veggie dip
- Chopped fruit or veggies
- Energy bites or bars
- Individual baggies of fruit and spinach for quick smoothies
9. Baked goods
Making a loaf of zucchini or pumpkin bread or muffins can really help that after-dinner sweet tooth.
Baking your own bread, rolls, or pizza dough honestly isn’t that difficult. Especially if you use frozen dough or a bread maker.
Does a salad a day keep the doctor away? I’m guessing it works quite like apples.
Meal prepping a big salad for the week means that you can easily add it as a side dish to lunch or dinner.
Or turn it into an entire meal!
Here are some things (that keep well in the fridge) to include in your salad:
- Fresh greens (romaine, butter lettuce, arugula, spring mix, etc.)
- Bell peppers
- Red onions
- Cooked meat
- Hard boiled eggs
When you’re ready to eat, just add your favorite dressing, something crunchy (like croutons, tortilla strips, nuts, or seeds), and avocado if you want.
Ready to try meal prep for the week?
As you can see, there are a ton of different ways you can start meal prepping. Even for complete beginners!
These easy and healthy ideas will help you stock your fridge and freezer with ready-to-eat food that can last all week.
What are your favorite ways to meal prep?
Be sure to also check out
40+ Dirt Cheap Meals to Make When You're on a Budget
30 Delicious Ways to Use a Pound of Ground Beef
25 Delicious and Easy Foil Pack Dinners (perfect for the grill, oven, or campfire!)
Summer Entertaining: 13 Cheap BBQ Ideas for Hosting an Awesome Cookout on a Budget
How to Make a Cheap Grocery List: A Step-by-Step Guide (+10 Money Saving Tricks!)
35 Super Easy & Cheap 4 Ingredient Chicken Recipes
Meal Planning on a Budget (+ cute weekly meal planner!)
How to Use a Master Grocery List (to save your time and sanity!)
Ultimate List of Cheap Easy Side Dishes for Dinner (+ printable!)
Genius Uses for Leftover Ham: 59 Delicious Ham Recipes