9 delicious meal prep ideas that will make your day so much easier

overnight oats and omelet muffins
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Scroll through your social media or turn on the TV and you’ll likely hear something about meal planning and prepping. Taking some time in advance to decide what you’ll eat and even preparing some of the meals early can be a major stress reliever when you get home from work and need to get dinner served quickly to a hungry family.

But, let’s be honest. It can be hard to know where to even begin. Meal prep ideas don’t just fall from the sky — and that can cause some anxiety as well. The goal of meal prep and meal planning is to make life easier. We’re here to give you tips, recipes and product recommendations to get you on your way to mastering meal prep and planning.

Meal Kits Make Dinnertime Simple

Meals available from Blue Apron and Home Chef

Home Chef or Blue Apron

For maximum meal prep convenience, try a home meal delivery kit. Services like Blue Apron and Home Chef create recipes, put together all of the ingredients, and send them to you in a box ready to prepare. Most of the meals can be cooked in about 30 minutes.

Both services have two meal prep options. You can purchase meal kits, which have the ingredients ready to prepare and cook. Some light chopping, mixing and other steps will be necessary. Or, you can get prepared and ready options, which have everything set to put into the oven or a pan.

Both meal delivery services allow customization of how many meals you want each week, the type of cuisine you’re looking for and even allergy and food sensitivity requirements.

Breakfast Meal Prep Ideas

The alarm clock doesn’t go off, the kids are slow getting ready for the school bus, and you don’t have a lot of time to get breakfast together for yourself on the way out the door. Forget about a granola bar or stopping at the drive-thru to grab a bite.

If you can do just a little bit of prep the night before, you’ll have a satisfying breakfast without sacrificing precious time in the morning. See the following ideas.

Smoothies

blender and smoothies

$40 on Amazon

Why spend a lot of extra money buying a smoothie at the drive-thru window when you can take less than five minutes to whip one up yourself?

All you need is a blender like the Power Elite from Hamilton Beach, your favorite milk and/or yogurt and some frozen fruit to make a quick, nutritious and delicious smoothie breakfast.

ice trays

$15 on Amazon

To make it even easier, consider freezing your yogurt ahead of time using ice cube trays. Just spoon some of your favorite yogurt flavor into the tray and pop it in the freezer. In the morning, take one of the frozen yogurt cubes and drop it in with the rest of your smoothie ingredients to blend.

Overnight Oats

mason jar containers with spoons

$19 on Amazon

One of our favorite make-ahead meal ideas is overnight oats. If you’ve never tried them, you simply take a handful of ingredients, put them into a Mason jar, mix them up, put the lid on and stick the mixture into the refrigerator to set up overnight. The containers featured above include lids as well as spoons, so you can take them on-the-go.

Classic ingredients for overnight oats include the milk of your choice, old-fashioned oats, yogurt, fruit, nuts, granola or seeds.

What makes overnight oats a perfect meal prep option is how easy they are to prepare and how versatile they are. We’ve seen everything from berry chia to chocolate peanut butter overnight oats. Whether your preference is sweet or savory, you can find an overnight oats recipe that suits your taste buds.

Lunch Meal Prep Ideas

If the thought of brown-bagging a lunch sounds boring and unappetizing, we have good news! There are a few food prep tricks and recipes that can reduce your drive-thru trips and not even miss them!

Bake Eggs in Muffin Tins

Amazon basics muffin tins and omelet muffins

$16 on Amazon

Eggs are a wonderful source of protein and can be prepared in so many ways. We love recipes that make egg prep quick and easy. We found a couple that use a muffin tin to minimize your prep time and cleanup.

Did you know you can bake a dozen eggs in the oven? Place one uncracked egg in each well of the muffin tin and cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. You get the same result as a hard-boiled egg, without all the boiling and cooling down steps.

MORE: 11 one-bite appetizers you can make in a mini muffin tin

Or, if you scramble eggs with meat, cheese or veggies, you can combine your favorite ingredients into a large bowl, pour the mixture into the muffin tin, and bake for about 20 minutes to get a portable omelette muffin that you can warm up in the microwave for just a few seconds.

Jarcuterie Lunch

jars for jarcuterie and a jarcuterie glass

$23 (15-pack) at Amazon

You likely can’t pack a full charcuterie board to bring to work (although that would make for a fun lunch). But how about using a Mason jar or other glass container to put together a miniature version via the trendy finger-food meal called “jarcuterie?”

It started as a way to serve snacks at parties without needing to make large charcuterie spreads. But why can’t we adapt that to our lunch prep? Imagine taking cheese chunks, cubed meat, veggies, nuts and dried fruit to work!

Instead of using cups, place your charcuterie staples into a Mason jar — this jar set on Amazon is our favorite for jarcuterie. Put on the lid and you’re all set!

Salads

salad storage containers with lids

$16 on Amazon

Salads are a healthy and tasty option, as long as you pack them correctly. You don’t want to open up your lunch to a saggy pile of lettuce and veggies. You can use either a Mason jar (they are so handy!), glass or plastic (BPA-free) container.

Just follow the appropriate steps to make sure you are adding the ingredients in the right order so your salads will stay fresh. Where you add your proteins and veggies does matter!

And, if you hate prepping veggies for salads, you need to get your hands on the viral veggie chopper that will make your prep work super fast and easy.

Dinner in a Dash

Everyone comes home at the end of a busy day and wants to eat as soon as possible. How can you get dinner on the table before the inevitable hangry meltdowns begin? Just a little planning in advance will save your sanity and your growling stomach.

Delicious Slow Cooker Meals

slow cooker pot roast (left) and crock pot on right

$38 (was $50) on Amazon

Not only can a slow cooker save you time by having a hot, delicious meal ready when you walk in the door, but it can help reduce your monthly food budget.

Here are a few of our favorite slow-cooker meals to please any palate in the family:

Instant Pot Time Savers

Instant pot

$100 on Amazon

We have featured plenty of Instant Pot recipes over the years. But, what if you get home and realize the meat you meant to defrost is in the freezer? Don’t pick up the phone for pizza again. Your Instant Pot can tackle frozen ground beef, chicken breast and fish in a flash.

This 3-recipe collection of how to prepare these frozen cuts of meat in less than 20 minutes is one of our most popular posts — and for good reason. Once the meat is cooked, you just need to add a quick side dish and you’re ready to go.

Plus, you can bulk-cook meat and have it ready to add to your favorite recipes without having to fully cook the protein when you get home.

About the Author
Marie Rossiter

Marie is a freelance writer and content creator with more than 20 years of experience in journalism. She lives in southwest Ohio with her husband and is almost a full-fledged empty nest mom of two daughters. She loves music, reading, word games, and Walt Disney World. You can find her writing about her personal health journey at marierossiter.substack.com and connect with her at marierossiter@gmail.com More.


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