Healthy Meal Prep Ideas: Easy Meal Planning Tips

Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - S'well

These healthy meal prep ideas will keep you eating nutritious and tasty food well throughout your hectic work week. Utopia will show you what this new meal prep health trend has in store and how you can bring your own ideas for homemade meals to life.

What is Meal Prep?

Healthy Easy meal prep ideas for everyone
Meal prep saves time and money. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Alyson McPhee)

Healthy meal prep is the biggest new trend in all things health and fitness. You may have come across newly minted terms such as “Meal Prep Sunday” and “clean eating” as alternative staples to a weekly routine of eating expensive and unhealthy food on the go.

The whole idea behind meal prep is to cook healthy meals in advance. This way, you’ll be able to eat homemade food, even if you have a busy schedule. Meal prep also saves money and ensures you have a healthy meal at the ready even when you’re on the fly.

Overall, pre-preparing your meals can help to reduce stress throughout a hectic work week and is more sustainable than ordering food to-go. In this article, Utopia will show you how to make use of this new method – with a collection of healthy and easy meal prep ideas.

How Does Meal Prep Work?

Easy meal prep ideas
Meal prep is easy: Plan, buy and you’re off to work. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Katie Smith)

Meal prep has a lot to do with planning and organization. Before you head out to the store, think about exactly what you want to eat in the next couple days and gather a couple of tasty recipe ideas. Once you have your ingredients, put them straight to use in prepping your meal.

Healthy meal prep is a great idea for weekends – or any other day on which you have a good chunk of time on your hands. How much time you need, depends on the dish you plan to make. Some recipes will be done in no time, others may take up to a couple hours.

Spending just a bit of extra time in the kitchen on the weekend can save you loads of cooking throughout the week. All you need to do is warm up your favorite healthy meal prep dish whenever you get home from work. Meal prep also simplifies your afternoon break as it offers an endless number of healthy lunch ideas – take any healthy dish into work, avoid long lunch lines and enjoy your break.

Just keep in mind that dishes containing uncooked foods only stay fresh about a day or two. Cooked or fried foods usually last a day or two longer in the fridge and soups can be frozen and thawed whenever you like.

Since you’ll be cooking for a couple of days in advance, it’s important to make sure you have enough room to store your pre-prepped meals. Utopia’s recommends storing your food in resealable glass jars or similar containers in order to save space in the fridge. It’s important to store sauces separately – e.g. in reused small glass jars – so your food doesn’t get too mushy.

The Advantages of Meal Prep

Easy and healthy Meal prep ideas
Healthy meal prep for on-the-go or at home: You decide what goes in. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - S'well)

When you cook healthy meal prep dishes yourself, you’ll know exactly what ingredients go in. This way, you avoid processed foods with conservatives and get to add all the sustainably-sourced regional and seasonal fruits and vegetables you wish.

In addition to this benefit of healthy meal prep, you also have complete control over portion sizes. Planning your correctly portioned lunches ahead eliminates the need for last minute runs to the restaurant around the corner and saves you money.

Meal prep puts an end to emergency stops to the store at night for pre-packed processed snacks and encourages healthy eating – that is, mindful and conscious eating. Mindfully consuming food means taking your time when eating instead of scarfing down a meal-to-go.

In the end, putting in an hour or two of easy meal prep on the weekends leaves you with more time to spend with your friends and family instead of running back and forth to the grocery store every other day.

Tip: Buy seasonally and regionally produced foods and put these to proper use in the kitchen. This will save on your grocery bill in the long-run.

Healthy Meal Prep Ideas

Healthy meal prep ideas ingredients
Buy colorful, healthy ingredients to use in meal prep. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Jason Jarrach)

When it comes to easy and healthy meal prep ingredients, veggies should be at the top of your list. Add any number of protein-packed sauces to your dishes for an additional protein kick.

The following foods are quite popular in a large number of health meal prep recipe ideas:

  • carrots
  • avocado
  • edamame
  • quinoa
  • zucchini
  • broccoli
  • potatoes 
  • rice
  • tofu
  • legumes (chickpeas, lentils and beans)
  • hummus

Here are some easy meal prep ideas you can eat at home or on-the-go:

There are plenty of healthy meal prep ideas. However, if you’re not to sure what to dish to prepare, here’s a good rule of thumb to buy by: The more color, the better. When it comes to shopping for a healthy meal for the week to come, pay attention to the mix of colors of the foods you buy. Do things look a bit dreary or monotone? Mix it up! Have a look over at the seasonal produce section at your local grocery store and add a bit of life to your kitchen assortment of organic ingredients.

Easily combine these healthy and tasty picks for next week’s meal plan with the five-a-day rule: Five portions of fruits and vegetables a day. That’s three handfuls full of vegetables and two of fruit – and that as colorful as possible at best.

Healthy Meal Prep Ideas: Easy Meal Planning Tips
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This article was translated from German to English by Evan Binford. You can view the original here: Meal Prep – mit Vorkochen Geld und Zeit sparen.

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