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Easy Meal Prep Recipes for Beginners
Are you running out of meal prep ideas? Or do you want to get started in meal prep at home? We have you covered with easy meal prep recipes for beginners!
If you are on a diet or just want to eat healthy home-cooked food, you might be out of time or ideas to do so. Check out some of our tips and meal prep recipes to help you out.
Tips for Meal Prepping
First, let’s have a look at some tips to prep meals that can help you.
Cook in Batches:
This is one of the easiest ways to organize some make-ahead meals. If you don’t want to eat the same meal three days in a row, dedicate half a day of your weekend to cook ahead for the week and store or freeze portions. This will make your weekday meals much easier.
Have the Right Tools:
You don’t need much to be able to cook but some kitchen aids can give you a little help. If time is of the essence in your everyday life, consider investing in a rice cooker and/or a slow cooker.
A rice cooker is one of the most versatile kitchen aid: you can of course use it to cook rice but also pretty much all other grains like beans, lentils, etc. You can also steam vegetables, baked potatoes, and more. You will even find rice cooker recipes for bread and cakes!
A slow cooker is helpful for most meat dishes, curries, chili con carne, and most casserole type of dishes.
A lot of people have fallen in love with the InstantPot. An InstantPot can do the jobs of a rice cooker, slow cooker, steamer, and many other things. It really is a versatile kitchen product.
Prepare for Storage:
If you want to save time and batch cook, you will also need some food containers that you can store in the fridge or freeze. For sliced fruits or veggies, plastic ones will do, but you can also use glass jars that you reuse.
If you want to move on from the old-school (although perfectly fine) thin plastic containers, you can check these out. They seal very well, are easy to clean and much more durable than the old-school products.
Make a Meal Plan
Another trick that can help you is to plan your meals ahead for the week. Here is a link to another article we have posted on Meal Prep for Weight Loss – this covers a lot of the foundational information on meal prep.
Meal planning is key to an effective and enjoyable meal prep. Start with a meal plan and then work on stocking up on essentials that make up the core of such a plan.
It is a good idea to stock up your pantry with basic foods that can be stored for a while and that you use often. Maybe that includes grains and beans (such as brown rice, chickpeas, quinoa, red beans), canned vegetables like corn, spices, and herbs and such.
Once again your freezer can also be helpful in that regard. It is easy to store frozen vegetables and fruits that you can use for meal prep. Don’t forget to understand how long you can keep frozen food. Make sure to label food accordingly. Also, keep in mind that you should not freeze food twice.
Once you have done meal planning and have your shopping done for the week, try to cook or prep as much as possible in advance and portion them accordingly.
Without stocking too much, also try to think about a couple of back-up meals that are easy to prepare from dry or canned foods. This way, if one day you are short on time or couldn’t do the grocery shopping, you will have a plan and will not be tempted to order in pizza! For example, you can always have a pack of whole wheat spaghetti and a jar of tomato sauce as your “backup” meal.
Meal Prep Strategies for Beginners
On top of the make-ahead meal, another strategy for good planning is to have veggie or salad bowls as some of your mean meals. Salad or veggie bowls are easy to prepare and healthy, they make for a perfect meal-prep strategy. They are also super easy to pack if having lunch at work is a good option for you.
You can store lettuce, small portions of pre-cooked rice or beans or grains, chopped salad greens such as tomatoes or cucumbers. You can also buy and store some of these to add: sliced ham, feta cheese, hard-boiled eggs. Depending on what you like, just plan the quantities around your meal plan for the week.
Also, don’t be afraid to get creative with salad ingredients. Try zucchini noodles for a healthy crunch. Roasted sweet potatoes provide a nourishing sweetness to a salad. Sweet peas are also a great choice. Nuts and seeds (pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.) provide a great change in texture.
When you are low on time to prep a meal or feel like a salad bowl, just toss some of these in a bowl according to your taste, add some salad sauce or olive oil, maybe a few seeds or nuts…your healthy meal is ready!
Some easy and good Meal Prep Recipes for Beginners
Now let’s have a look at a few easy recipes for healthy food!
Healthy Breakfast to Start the Day:
If you are on the go, this is one of the easiest ways to start the day with energy! Add in a blender: ice cubes, a handful of frozen berries, 1 banana, a teaspoon of peanut butter and half a cup of milk (you can also use almond, soy or coconut milk).
You can vary the proportions or ingredients according to your taste. Having frozen fruits comes very handy if you like smoothies for breakfast. If you use only frozen fruits you can even skip the ice cubes, your smoothie will be cold and ready to drink!
Avocado and Egg Toast:
Another simple meal to put together! Just use 2 slices of wholegrain bread, smash an avocado to spread on with some salt and pepper, then simply fry or soft boil 2 eggs to add on top!
Avocados are good for healthy fats and super easy to incorporate in your breakfast routine.
Granola and Yogurt:
These are easy ingredients to store and make a delicious breakfast with zero prep. You can add some seeds or nut, or a handful of frozen berries to it.
Greek Inspired Salad:
2 tomato, 1 small cucumber, some feta cheese, a handful of black olives, half an onion. Just chop and toss everything in a bowl, add olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar according to your taste!
Chick Peas Honey Mustard Salad:
This is an excellent base for a lot of salad bowls. If you use canned chickpeas, just rinse them off. If you use dry ones, you will have to soak them overnight and then boil them or cook them in your rice cooker. Once done, use the equivalent of one can of chickpeas and toss it with this sauce: 3 or 4 teaspoons of mustard, 2 teaspoons of honey, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and some chopped parsley or coriander. You can keep those in the fridge for a few days and use it as a salad base. Just add salad greens to your liking and your meal is ready!
Make-Ahead Meal Recipes:
For batch cooking and easy meal prep, here are a few ideas. These are easy to portion and store for later.
One of the easiest things to prep ahead and store in the freezer. You can use chicken or a variety of vegetables for a vegetarian dish.
For chicken, dice some chicken breasts (about 500g will be good for 4 portions) and fry them in a pan for a few minutes. For vegetarians, you can use a combination of potatoes, carrots, and broccoli for example. Steam boil them before adding them to the curry pot below.
For the curry sauce: chop 1 big onion, 4 garlic cloves, and fry them for a few minutes. Then put them in a pot on a low fire and add 500ml of low-fat coconut cream, 3 to 4 teaspoons of your favorite curry paste, chopped coriander. You can add curry powder, salt, and pepper to your taste. Finally, add your chicken or vegetables and let them slowly cook for half an hour. If you need more liquid, you can add a cup of water or also some low-fat yogurt.
You can serve with brown rice or a mix of rice and beans.
(more healthy curry recipes here)
Chili Con Carne:
This is also an easy make-ahead meal that you can store in portions. This recipe will give you 4 portions.
Chop finely two large onions and crush 3 garlic cloves. Stir and fry in a pan for a few minutes until softened then put them aside. You will also need about 250ml of beef stock, either homemade or from powder, so prepare that ahead.
In the pan, cook 500g of minced beef with salt and pepper. When all cooked, discard the juice and add back the onions and garlic, as well as a can of chopped tomatoes, seasoning with 1tsp of ground cumin or 1 tsp of paprika powder. Lower the heat and let slowly cook for 20 minutes or so, then add a can of kidneys beans (drained) and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. You can of course adjust seasoning to your taste.
Chili con carne can be served with rice or warm tortillas, corn tortillas chips, or even flatbread.
Now you have plenty of ideas for easy meal prep recipes for beginners. The only thing left to do is…to start cooking! If you want more Eat ideas, check out our category page.