If you have a never ending stream of long shifts and find yourself often begrudgingly picking up takeout on your meal breaks or ordering in overpriced delivery you barely want, meal prepping may be your new food savior. Yes, it’s extra work on your meal prep day, but do it right and you’ll only have to cook your work meals once for the entire week!
A few basic rules of thumb for any meal prep:
- Try to include a grain, vegetable, and protein in any meal you prep. That will ensure that the meal keeps you full for the rest of your shift.
- There are affordable meal prep containers at almost any store and online. These have convenient sections to keep foods separate and make sure they last a few days without getting soggy. For example, if you’re making the fajita meal prep below, having a separate section for the meat and veggies, one for tortillas or rice, and one for other toppings like salsa or cheese will keep everything nice and fresh.
- Not all leftovers are made equally! Think of meal preps like week-long leftovers. Consider what foods you think are less good as leftovers and which are great. That’s a good starting point.
- Keep any sauces or wet ingredients separate until it’s time to eat. For instance, dipping sauces, salad dressings, and other liquid additions should be in a separate section or container until meal time.
A classic meal prep that you’re not likely to get bored of halfway through the week, this one is prepped mainly on a sheet pan and is a piece of cake to put together. You’ll need:
- Chicken breasts
- Veggies to roast, mainly peppers and onions
- Olive oil
- Any other desired toppings, including avocado, cilantro, cheese, salsa, sour cream
Prep is simple: cut the chicken breasts into strips or chunks, cut the veggies, and then toss them all with oil and seasoning on a baking sheet. Then bake for 15-20 minutes. To assemble the meals, put cooked chicken and veggies in one container or section. Then separate tortillas and any other desired toppings. Things like avocado or cilantro are better when cut fresh, so that may be a quick item you add in the morning (or whenever) before heading to work. You can find the full recipe here!
Greek Couscous Salad
Here’s a great healthy and vegetarian option. A lot of vegetarian meals (falafels, salads, pasta salad, and so on) make great meal prep, since some meat doesn’t reheat great. This one is easy and super fresh. You’ll need:
- Pearled couscous (the bigger stuff!)
- Vegetables, including cucumbers, peppers, red onion, cherry tomatoes, olives, and artichokes
- Dressing ingredients, including red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and dijon mustard
To prep, cook the couscous and chop the veggies (fairly small). Mix the dressing ingredients together and store in small containers or a jar; don’t add it right to the couscous until it’s time to eat or it’ll get soggy and lose texture. Combine the couscous, veggies, and feta in one container and bring the dressing separately. Get the full recipe here!
Roasted Sausage and Vegetable Bowls
A great, veggie-packed meal prep that requires only a sheet pan and a small bit of your time (and money). This sheet pan meal features a smoky dressing and can be served with rice or another grain of your choice (quinoa, couscous, and mashed potatoes would all work). You’ll need:
- Smoked sausage
- Veggies of your choice, including broccoli, red onion, and bell pepper
- Rice (or other grains)
- Dressing ingredients, including olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard, sugar, and spices
To prep, slice the sausages and chop the vegetables, then roast them all on a sheet pan. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar, shake, and let sit. To assemble the containers, start with cooked rice, top with the roasted sausage and veggies, and some of the dressing. Save the rest of the dressing and the parsley garnish to add as you heat and eat. For the full recipe, head here.
If none of these meal preps are particularly inspiring, or you’re ready to try something new, consider these ideas:
- Breakfast bowls with potatoes, eggs, meat, and veggies
- Cold peanut noodle salad
- Orzo pasta salad (with cheese, hardboiled eggs, and veggies on the side)
- Quinoa and veggie salad
- Burrito bowls (any meat or beans)
- Turkey stir-fry
- Hummus and falafel bowls
- Roasted chicken and vegetables
- Wraps with side items
- Salsa chicken and rice (in the slow cooker)
- Stuffed peppers
- Overnight oats