Meal prep is a fantastic way to make sure that you stick to eating healthily. There are lots of benefits such as time-saving, helping to avoid cravings, creating less stress and cost benefits from bulk buying.
Planning your week’s meals ahead and having healthy meals and snacks ready to eat during the week will help you to avoid the temptation of fast food or unhealthy snacks when you are tired and hungry. For more ideas take a look at the meal plans on our site whether you want a healthy meal plan, a keto meal plan or a meal plan to lose weight.
It is so easy to reach for crisps or chocolate when you have a craving but if you have already prepared some vegetables you can snack on them with ease. Spending one day at the weekend prepping your meals and creating a meal plan can take away all the stress of having to think about what to cook during the week. Buying your groceries in one go means you can cook in bulk and freeze the extra meals for another week. This will save you money and time.
We have listed here some of the best foods that can be prepared at the weekend and stored in the fridge or freezer ready for you to grab as a snack or use as part of a healthy meal plan.
1. Overnight Oats
Many kinds of cereal contain a huge amount of refined carbohydrates and sugars. They can raise your blood sugars and start your day off badly. Oats are tasty and keep you feeling satisfied for longer because they contain plenty of fibre. They help make a great start to your day. The prep is easy. You add half a cup of raw oats into a mason jar or other sealable container. Top up with your favourite milk and let it sit overnight in the fridge. By morning the oats will have soaked up the milk and swelled up giving a creamy texture. It will keep for several days and there is no need to cook. You can flavour the oats with your favourite berries or some banana or nuts and simply eat. It is very portable to eat on the go if you are in a hurry.
A hard-boiled egg has only 78 calories per serving and is one of the most nutritious low-calorie foods. It is also a great source of protein. They can be cooked in advance and stored in a container in the fridge. Boil your eggs for between 8 and 10 minutes depending on the softness you prefer. Put straight into the fridge. They will keep longer if you leave them in the shells and only peel them when you are ready to eat them. They are great as a healthy snack between meals. You can also use them as an addition or topping in rice dishes and salads.
Quinoa is considered a real superfood and an essential part of a vegan meal plan. Half a cup will provide 12 g of pure protein and it is also full of amino acids and fibre. It only takes about 15 minutes to rinse, boil and simmer quinoa and it can then be stored in the fridge. It will last up to 7 days in the fridge and even longer in the freezer. It can be added to salads, soups and oats or used as a base to add chopped vegetables to make a healthy dinner.
Cheese is particularly good if you are on a keto meal plan. It provides a healthy snack that is filling and satisfying. Simply cube or chop some cheese that you like such as cheddar, gruyere, gouda, brie, mozzarella or feta. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. This makes a great snack on its own or add it to fruits like apples and grapes to make them more satisfying. You can also eat with tomatoes and celery to create your own cheeseboard.
5. Yoghurt dips and sauces
Yoghurt made from whole milk is a great source of protein and is delicious eaten on its own for breakfast or as a snack. With a little prep, it can also form the base for dips and sauces to add flavour to your snacks and meals. Greek yoghurt makes an excellent base for Tzatziki by adding cucumber, lemon juice, salt and garlic. You can add herbs such as mint or dill to give extra flavour. You can experiment with different herbs and additions to create your own recipe. Stored in the fridge it will last all week and add protein and flavour to your chopped vegetables.
6. Black Beans
Black beans are pulses that are very high in protein and leave you feeling full. You will need to soak dry beans and boil them before rinsing and storing them in the fridge to be used all week. They can be eaten in a variety of ways which means they are versatile and will help to keep your meals interesting. You can mash into refried beans and add some cumin and garlic for flavour to make a great side dish. You can also add them to salads and rice dishes.
Chickpeas are another pulse that is an excellent source of protein and fibre. They are a great addition to any healthy meal plan. They are especially important to anyone following a vegan meal plan as they can be an essential source of protein. They are great as they are but if you want to add some crunch and texture to your meals you can try roasting them in the oven with spices of your choice. You can consider any combination of cumin, garlic, paprika, curry powder or cayenne pepper depending on your taste. After 40-50 minutes in the oven, they will develop a delicious crunch which you can add to salads and rice dishes.
Lentils are another pulse that is an essential part of a vegan meal plan or a vegetarian meal plan but they are also delicious for anyone wanting to be healthier. They are another super source of protein as only ¼ cup will give you 12g of protein. They are also excellent for improving digestion as they contain a good amount of fibre. You can choose from different varieties which offer different textures such as red, puy, yellow and black-eyed peas. You can prep a filling soup or Indian style Dal or even just cook in advance to be used with salads and rice dishes.
9. Vegetable Sticks and Houmous
Chopping and slicing vegetables into handy sticks will mean that you always have a healthy, low-calorie snack to grab. Peppers, celery, cucumbers and carrots make great batons that can be eaten by themselves or dipped in your favourite healthy dip. You can make your own houmous by blending a tin of chickpeas with some garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil. Keep this in a tub in the fridge to add flavour and make your veggies more interesting.
10. Roasted Vegetables
Roasted vegetables are a great way of cooking veggies that helps to develop their flavour and sweetness. By prepping this in advance you will have roasted vegetables all week to add to your rice dishes or to make a tasty side dish to go with some protein such as chicken. Choose vegetables such as pepper, onions, courgettes, carrots, brussel sprouts, and tomatoes. You can even use cauliflower and broccoli although they might take a little longer to cook. To prepare them, chop the vegetables and drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle some of your favourite spices. They will take about 30 minutes to cook in the oven. Keep them in an airtight container and simply reheat them when you need them.
11. Vegetable Slaw
Raw vegetables are an essential part of any healthy meal plan. Prepping your own vegetable slaw in advance is a really great way to create a healthy salad that can be used as a side dish or tasty snack all week. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower stalks, broccoli, carrots and celeriac all make great ingredients. Simply slice and chop into matchstick pieces and then toss with some oil, vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice and spices or herbs depending on your taste. Eating your vegetables raw will keep all the vitamins and minerals intact and give you as many nutrients as possible.
A tin of tuna is a great source of lean protein and low in fat. You can prep tuna in advance so it is ready to be used as a snack with vegetables or a crispbread. It can be also added to rice, salads and pasta dishes or added to wraps. Mix the tuna with some olive oil, lemon juice, chopped onions and your choice of herbs. You can add olives or baby tomatoes for more texture. It can be stored in an airtight container ready to use whenever you need it.
13. Grilled Chicken Breast
Chicken is a lean meat that provides a good source of protein and very little fat. Grilling is a healthier way of cooking chicken than frying and with the right flavours added you will enjoy the taste just as much. You can keep the chicken breasts plain or rub them with a spice mix to add flavour. Consider cajun spices such as cumin and paprika or Indian spices such as cumin and turmeric. You can add chilli or cayenne pepper if you like a little heat. You can marinate in rice vinegar and soy sauce with some ginger for an Asian flavour. Once cooked you can slice and keep in the fridge ready to pick as a snack or to add to salads, veggies or rice as a healthy meal.
14. Broth or Stock
Shop bought stock and broth often contains a high amount of sodium which is not great for your healthy diet. Instead, you can prep your own in advance and use it as a base for stews, soups and other dishes to make them tastier and healthier. Add chicken or beef bones to a large pot along with some onion and carrots. Add some herbs and water and simmer for a couple of hours. Once strained you will be left with a tasty base for your meals. You can freeze the stock in ice cube trays ready to use whenever you need.
Nuts are a great high protein snack and also a good source of protein on a vegan meal plan. You can choose a selection of your favourite nuts such as macadamia, almond, walnut and cashew and mix with some seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin. You can add some sweetness with some chopped dried fruit and even some dark chocolate chips. Once mixed you can store it in small containers ready to be a snack on the go. You can also use the mix as a topping for oats, yoghurt or salad to add some crunch.
One of the best ways to stick to a healthy meal plan is to ensure that you add enough flavour to make up for the lack of fast food and ready meals that contain lots of saturated fats, sugars and salt. Fresh herbs are wonderful for adding flavour and much better than dried herbs but they do not last long. You can prep herbs to be used later by chopping and freezing in an ice cube tray with just a little added water. This way you can pop a cube or two of your favourite herbs into your cooking whenever you need them.
Fresh root ginger is a powerful flavour that can really enhance your cooking. It has great health properties and is known to boost your immunity. Unfortunately, fresh ginger goes soft very quickly. You can prep ginger in advance by grating the whole root, including the peel. Once done, you can store it in ice cube trays. You can add a cube to stews, soups, curries, and Asian dishes to give a gentle kick of flavour. You can also add it to a jug of water along with slices of lemon, cucumber and mint to make an energising drink that will keep you hydrated. Alternatively, you can make it with hot water to create a refreshing tea