I love to prepare meals in advance. When mealtime arrives, it feels like I have my own personal chef! It is so satisfying. Today I have curated five healthy meal prep ideas for weeknights to make your life so much easier.
I’ve prepared this beginner’s guide because if you haven’t meal prepped before, as I hadn’t until recently, it can seem a bit complicated. I recommend you start small. A great way to start is to meal prep your lunches to begin with.
I’m new to the meal prepping world, but one thing I have always done is to make a double portion and freeze the rest. When we go on holiday, I will save up a whole week’s worth of meals so we can eat really cheaply on holiday without having to do much at all.
Here’s where I think we can all benefit from meal prepping.
If you prefer slow cooking, I also have some super weeknight recipes for you.
Helps to save money
I built this site because I love to save money. Meal prepping fits in with my money-saving mindset perfectly. If you have an upfront plan of precisely what you are going to be cooking in advance, it is much less wasteful on ingredients and your pocket.
Stops you grabbing something unhealthy
When you are hungry and don’t have time to cook, it is far too easy to grab something less than healthy instead. A meal prepping strategy removes the decision process. There is simply no other option available.
Helps with weight loss
Meal prepping forces you to eat whatever you have prepared in advance, regardless of what you fancy at the time. Some might find this to be an annoyance. However, I think that if you are on a weight loss diet, this is very probably a good thing. This couple took meal-prepping to the extreme and lost 200 pounds between them.
I also love to save time because like you, I don’t have much of it these days. The time you spend meal prepping depends on how many meals you need to prepare. If you want to prep every meal for a week, then it might take you several hours.
Cooking several meals in advance means one washing up session, one putting away session, and one shopping session.
The downside – you need to be organised
I struggle most with the ‘organising’ bit, but I’m working on it. If you want to save time, you do need to invest some time planning out what you are going to cook, so you can shop for it and allow some time for the actual cooking. The alternative to not making a plan means having to spend more time cooking and shopping.
How to meal prep
There a couple of approaches and it depends on how much time you have to spare in one block.
Option one – Prepare a double portion of one meal each week and freeze. Each week you will have one meal in the freezer, and you will slowly build it up so that eventually you only have to cook once per week.
Option two – Cook every meal once a week and freeze for use throughout the week. You will need several hours to spare.
The great news is, I’ve done some of the work for you. I have some great ideas for weeknight dinners that work brilliantly when cooked or prepped ahead of time.
Sheet Pan Cashew Chicken
We love Chinese food in our family. This one goes down so well, and I love that you can cook at it all together at once.
Spicy Chicken and Sweet Potato Meal Prep Magic
Low carb high nutrient Yummyness from PinchofYum. This is quite honestly heaven on a plate.
Why not follow SparklingPenny on Pinterest for lots more tips?
Easy Vegetarian Chili
Give me the word ‘easy’, and I’m sold. Deliciousness on a plate, and again with some avocado which I love. You could also serve it with some fluffy rice if you need to fill up some starving tummies.
Instant Pot Or Stovetop Homemade Hamburger Helper
Need a fast-food fix? This is a much healthier option and super easy to do. Just bung everything into an Instant Pot or a pressure cook for speed, or you can cook on the stove. I love that you can add the pasta raw, no need for multiple pans.
One Pan Baked Teriyaki Salmon and Vegetables
I had to include a fish recipe! This is a delicious sheet pan recipe that is so quick to prepare. If you didn’t want to bother making the Teryaki sauce, you could buy a premade sachet from the supermarket, but actually, it isn’t hard to make.
There you have my most favourite weeknight dishes! I will update this post as and when I find some more that I love.
If you have any other suggestions, please do comment below, I would love to hear.