It’s too easy to order out, except that it usually takes more time to order out than it does to prep a quick healthy meal at home. Here are some genius meal prep ideas to save time, along with saving your budget and your waistline any night of the week.
Sheetpan meals are a thing. Have an oven? Then you can make dinner in about 30 minutes. The trick to sheetpan meals is prepping everything in roughly the same sizes or textures so they finish at the same time. Bonus trick, cover the sheet pan with foil for the a quick cleanup. Here are three easy combos:
- Chicken breast covered in olive oil and dried crushed rosemary, paired with baby carrots and broccoli florets. Cook at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.
- Tilapia sprinkled with soy sauce paired with halved baby tomatoes. Cook in foil packets, one fish fillet per packet. Serve over leftover or fresh rice.
- Salmon filet and fresh asparagus. Fresh salmon is my fave, but frozen salmon can work, too.)
Burritos and tacos aren’t just for Mexican food anymore. Almost any leftover looks better in a flour wrap. These are particularly versatile, because many combos taste just as good warm or cold. Sour cream and cheese are good toppings for most taco-wanna-bes. No wraps? No problem. We just smother nacho chips, like they do at the restaurants. Here are favorite leftovers in our house:
- Bacon, lettuce and tomato
- Baked tilapia, coleslaw and thousand island dressing
- Shredded chicken, avocado and black beans
Eggs are the secret ingredient. A dozen eggs is cheap, provides a high protein content and easily last a week in the fridge.
- Start with a scrambled egg, and add leftover rice and any frozen veggies for a filling side dish or main course.
- Add a hard-boiled or fried egg to a baked potato, day-old pasta or fresh salad to turn a side into a meal.
- Breakfast for dinner might sound like cheating, but it’s a favorite at our house.
- Hide an extra egg or two mixed into most casseroles or baked goods to increase the protein. It probably won’t change the consistency of your dish, but it will add extra nutrition.
Burgers are back! We take a very loose interpretation of burgers around here. They might be turkey burgers, beef burgers, veggie burgers, or portobello burgers. Any of the above can be broiled in the oven or cooked in just a few minutes in a grill press (aka George Foreman Grill). Buns might be standard buns, wheat buns, thin buns, or even English muffins. Every family member gets to dress them up or down with their choice of cheeses, pickles, and sauces. A baked potato stands in for fries (although fries are fun, too).
Frozen meals have come a long way since HungryMan frozen dinners. You can live large with only a small freezer. You can easily store a week or two of high-quality prepared meals that your whole family will enjoy in a standard freezer. You can often get international dishes from the freezer section of Target or Trader Joes, even if your community doesn’t offer a lot of ethnic restaurants. Pair any of the below with a fresh salad, and you’ve got a well-rounded meal.
- Family-sized lasagne
- Indian dishes like paneer and XXX
- Shrimp stir-fry
Slow Cooker (CrockPot) meals are my favorite.
- slow cooker baked potatoes can be loaded up for a whole meal
- Slow Cooker Turkey and Spinach Lasagne
- Summer or winter soups
Don’t forget to check out my genius hack for fabulous chicken to make your homemade meals even easier and much tastier.