Everyday Cooking

Between busy schedules and a family full of picky eaters, the dinner struggle is real. Finding inspiration for quick, budget-friendly and (at least somewhat) healthy meals can challenge the best of home cooks, never mind those whose plates are already heaped pile-high.

That’s where meal planning becomes a lifesaver—if you can take the time to actually do it. If you don’t have the means to sit down weekly and plot out your favourite fare, we’ve got your back with this simple guide that will help you plan your meals and grocery list, too. These meal ideas and recipes (one for every night of the week, plus two bonus ideas to swap in and out) makes preparing a weekly meal plan or menu easy while helping you to create dishes that are anything but routine.

How to Start Meal Planning? Try These No-Fail Meal Planning Ideas!

Get the recipe for Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

1. Start with Pasta

Pasta is an affordable universal favourite, so why not make it a weekly thing? Having a designated pasta night is genius because you can essentially pair any kind of pasta with whichever sauce, protein and veggie you feel like, and then you can do something completely different the following week.

Looking for some inspiration other than another plate of spaghetti and meatballs? Try these recipes instead:

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

15-Minute Three-Cheese Spring Pasta with Peas

Sweet Potato and Zucchini Noodle Pasta with Garlic Scapes and Grilled Shrimp

Anna Olson’s Beef Stroganoff

Ina Garten’s Bow Tie Pasta with Broccoli and Peas

Get the recipe for Korean-Style Marinated Skirt Steak

2. You Can’t go Wrong with Protein and Veg

A barbecued, baked or even pan-fried cut of meat or fish always pairs well with some steamed or baked veggies. Switch up your marinades and cooking methods for even more variety, and then throw in some rice, lentils or potatoes for a complete meal.

Want some new ideas? Check out these simple-to-prepare recipes:

Giada De Laurentiis’ Ginger-Soy Chicken Wings

No-Mess Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Pork Tenderloin with Chipotle-Maple Mop

Flank Steak with Chimichurri

Bobby Flay’s Korean-Style Marinated Skirt Steak

Baked Fish Packets

Anna Olson’s Horseradish Grill-Roasted Salmon

Get the recipe for Portuguese Chourico and Kale Soup

3. Soup and Salads are Your Friends

There are so many hearty salads and filling soups out there these days that it’s easy to make either one a meal in itself. If the weather is nice, plan on eating an elevated salad one night of the week with some fancy ingredients to make it interesting. Or, for those weeks when you need something a little more comforting, plan on having a hot soup and some crusty baguette to go with it.

Get started with these recipes:

Immune-Boosting Bone Broth, Chicken and Vegetable Soup

The Pioneer Woman’s Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

Portuguese Chourico and Kale Soup

Asian Noodle Salad with Sweet Ginger Dressing

Marinated Artichoke Salad with Prosciutto and Parmesan

Grilled Turkey, Brie and Pecan Salad

Get the recipe for Instant Pot Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich

4. Make Use of Your Slow Cooker or Instapot

Who doesn’t love a meal that you can throw together and then forget about until it’s ready? That’s the beauty of slow-cookers and Instapots—they do all of the heavy lifting for you. Figure out which night of the week will be your busiest, and then plan to use either tool to help pull dinner together in a breeze.

Need a new Crockpot or pressure cooker recipe? Check out any of these delicious dishes:

Instant Pot Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich

Instant Pot Chicken Adobo

Alton Brown’s Pressure Cooker Chili

Slow-Cooker Enchiladas Two Ways

Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs

Slow Cooker Shrimp Boil

Get the recipe for Spicy Shrimp and Pineapple Fried Rice

5. Stock up on Easy-to-Assemble Ingredients

Having a well-stocked pantry is always key when it comes to throwing together last-minute dinners, or figuring out how to use up fresh ingredients that have been sitting in your fridge for a few extra days. Make sure to keep things like canned tuna, crab or chicken on hand, as well as lots of stock, tomato sauce and a few protein-filled grains and legumes.

Check out these simple ideas to elevate your basic pantry staples:

Crispy Tuna-Cake Sliders with Citrus Slaw

Stuffed Mozza Peppers

Classic Crab Cakes with Pea Puree

One-Pot Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Farmer’s Market Quinoa Salad

Spicy Shrimp and Pineapple Fried Rice

Get the recipe for Giada de Laurentiis’ Lasagna Rolls

6. Find Your Freezer Meals

Remember those freezer meals you made a few months ago that have been sitting in your freezer just waiting to be eaten ever since? Well, make use of them already, especially if you know you have an evening coming up where preparing dinner is just going to be another thing to worry about. And if you haven’t gotten on the freezer meal train just yet, you may want to think about starting. Whether it’s doubling up on your next pasta sauce or cobbling together a second lasagna or tray of enchiladas, there are plenty of freezer meals that you can make ahead of time to enjoy on those hectic nights when cooking is the last thing you want to be doing.

Get the recipe for Guy Fieri’s Turkey Burger Patty Melts

7. Have an Eat-With-Your-Hands Night

Whether it’s a burger, pizza or taco, it’s always fun to eat with your hands. That’s probably why these are the same fast-food items we tend to usually order throughout the week. If you want to save money, use better ingredients and still have a meal in a matter of minutes for a well-deserved Eat-With-Your-Hands night!

From pizza and tacos to sloppy joes and charcuterie boards, there are plenty of hands-on dishes to choose from here:

Bobby Flay’s Shredded Chicken and Tomatillo Tacos

Southwestern Sloppy Joes

Ina Garten’s Cheese and Bread Platter

Guy Fieri’s Turkey Burger Patty Melts

Get the recipe for Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Crispy Cauliflower Crust

8. Make One Night a Meatless Night

We’ve heard of Meatless Mondays, but really any night of the week is a good excuse to go meatless—especially when you incorporate foods like whole grains, quinoa and barley that fill the tummy and soul. Stir yourself up a creamy risotto, build a yummy Buddha bowl with all the things, or stuff an eggplant or squash with some whole grains and nuts. Keep it simple and hearty, and before long, you won’t even remember a time when you didn’t incorporate a meatless dish into your meal planning.

Check out these 20 easy vegan weeknight dinner recipes to get you started.

Get the recipe for Leftover Turkey Chili

9. Plan a Designated Leftover Night

Last but not least, it’s always a great idea to make one night an evening of no planning. That’s right, we’re talking leftovers. Once a week, throw whatever leftovers you have in the fridge on the table for everyone to enjoy, or reimagine them into a creative, brand new dish that requires very little effort.

Check out some of our favourite ways to use up leftovers here:

Leftover Steak and Potato Salad with Bold Tomato Dressing

Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

Sweet Arancini with Leftover Rice

Leftover Turkey Chili

Leftover Chili Mac and Cheese

Looking for more meal planning tips? Try these hacks that will help you plan like a pro.

28 Day Healthy Meal Plan

Looking for a healthy weekly meal plan? Here’s a 28 day healthy meal plan with recipes for healthy meals throughout the week.

Are you overwhelmed by what healthy food to cook but don’t know where to start? Alex and I were there when we first got married! But over the last 10 plus years, we’ve invested a huge amount of time and energy into a system of eating healthy meals that actually works. Since then, we’ve become authors of the cookbook Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018 and best vegetarian cookbooks. We’ve cooked everywhere from our home kitchen to the TODAY Show with the message that healthy eating can be “pretty simple.”

Healthy eating is more than just making a recipe here and there: it’s finding a sustainable practice of healthy meals in the long term. The goal of this healthy weekly meal plan is to help you find a handful of favorite healthy recipes that you can make again and again! If you’d like, subscribe to our newsletter for new weekly recipes.

Is this healthy meal plan right for you?

This healthy meal plan is right for you if you eat a variety of foods, but want to eat healthier and eat more vegetables! This meal plan includes fish, shellfish, vegetarian, and vegan recipes.

This 28 Day Healthy Meal Plan is our main meal plan. If you eat exclusively vegetarian and vegan, choose from one of the following meal plan options:

  • 28 Day Vegetarian Meal Plan
  • 28 Day Vegan Meal Plan
  • 28 Day Plant Based Diet Meal Plan

If you have a very specific diet or health condition, consult a medical professional to understand whether these recipes are right for you.

The problem with meal planning calendars

For Alex and me, the problem with meal planning calendars and healthy weekly meal plans is that they offer no flexibility. Most meal plans we’ve found call for cooking something new every day of the week. They’re overwhelming with the amount of food prep that they call for! They also don’t account for your schedule: what if Monday nights I have a weekly meeting where I eat dinner? Or this Friday night I’m going out with friends?

Here’s what makes our healthy meal plan different:

  • Spotlight dinner ideas. For us, dinner is our main meal where we cook and get the majority of our nutrients for the day. Our approach is to go big on dinner, and then do super simple things for breakfast and lunch. That’s what works for us! At the bottom of the meal plan you’ll find lists of healthy breakfast ideas, snack ideas, and lunch ideas. You can use these, or find others that fit your tastes.
  • Pick 3. Each week, we offer 3 healthy meals for dinner. You can make them on any day that week! This encourages you to customize the ideas based on your schedule and particular tastes. It also encourages eating up leftovers.
  • Repeats. Since we only offer 3 dinner ideas, this also encourages you to make dinner ideas you liked from previous weeks.

What if this meal plan doesn’t work for me?

It’s possible this healthy weekly meal plan might not work for you–and that’s ok! This meal plan might provide too much flexibility for you and not motivate you to make the recipes. Or, you might not like the style of these recipes. (If you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, you’ll want to use our 28 Day Vegetarian Meal Plan and 28 Day Vegan Meal Plan). We know healthy meal plans are not for everyone, but this is an outline of how Alex and I cook on a weekly basis.

What if I run out of dinner recipes? Choose a few more from our hundreds of healthy dinner ideas!

Related: Looking for workout plans too? Try our 28 Day Home Workout Plan.

Download: Healthy meal plan spreadsheet

To make our Healthy Meal Plan tangible, we’ve created a downloadable meal planning calendar for you! It’s our Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet, where you can copy in your meal planning ideas for each week. Simply download the spreadsheet and then copy in the links to the recipes for each week below. Here’s the download!

Healthy Meal Plan

Before you start: here’s how to use our Healthy Meal Plan!

  • Pick at least 3 dinner ideas. Confession: Alex and I don’t cook every night! We make enough for leftovers and eat them throughout the week too, sometimes re-purposing them in new ways. For this meal plan, pick 3 days that you want to cook dinners. Fill in the other days with eating leftovers, doing “clean out the fridge” meals without recipes, and allow for meals out. If you end up needing more healthy meals for that week, skip ahead to the next week and try one. (Or, pick one of our other Dinner Recipes!)
  • Fill in breakfast, lunch, and snacks ideas. We focus on dinner as the main daily meal, so we keep breakfast, lunches, and snacks SUPER simple. If possible, we love things that don’t use recipes (like English muffins with peanut butter, yogurt with fruit). That way, we save our cooking energy for dinner.
  • Copy the links into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet. Using a spreadsheet makes things much more tangible than just using a list! Once you’ve taken stock of what your week holds and what nights you’ll have time to cook, fill in your dinner ideas accordingly. We suggest filling out the meal plan on the weekend (Sundays seem to be good for many people).
  • Read the meal prep planning notes. Below each week of healthy dinner ideas, we’ve included some meal prep planning notes to help with ways to make ahead or prep in advance.

Veggie Burrito Bowls with Cauliflower Rice

Healthy Dinner Ideas Week 1

*Pick at least 3 dinners to cook at home and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet on the days for Week 1! On days you’re not cooking, use up leftovers or do “clean out the fridge” meals, and allow for meals out.

  1. Quick Garlicky Shrimp Couscous (15 minutes)
  2. 15 Minute Gnocchi with Romesco (15 minutes) + green salad with Super Simple Salad Dressing
  3. Chipotle Black Bean Tortilla Soup (35 minutes)
  4. Veggie Burrito Bowl with Cauliflower Rice (40 minutes*)
  5. Leftovers from above*

*Meal Prep Plan Notes

  • The Shrimp Couscous doesn’t require any advanced prep: it’s super quick!
  • For the Gnocchi, the Romesco sauce can be prepared in advance. You also may want to serve with a green salad; the vinaigrette is perfect to mix up in advance. Make sure to bring it to room temperature before serving.
  • The Tortilla Soup takes about 20 minutes of hands on time. If desired, you can make the tortilla strips in advance or use crushed tortilla chips (just find chips that are minimally processed, with a few ingredients like corn, oil and salt). You can make the entire soup in advance and refrigerate: the flavor gets better over time!
  • The Veggie Burrito bowl has a few components that are easy to make ahead: the peppers and onions can be sliced and cooked in advance. For the sweet potatoes, you could also bake in advance and reheat. If you can’t find cauliflower rice frozen, you can make it from raw cauliflower: you could also cook that in advance and reheat. The eggs are best to make the day of. While it takes a while to prepare the components, this meal is SO delicious and great for leftovers!

Loaded Quinoa Tacos

Healthy Dinner Ideas Week 2

*Pick at least 3 dinners to cook at home and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet on the days for Week 2! On days you’re not cooking, use up leftovers or do “clean out the fridge” meals, and allow for meals out.

  1. Loaded Quinoa Tacos (30 minutes)
  2. Baked Salmon with Chimichurri Sauce (40 minutes*)
  3. Tuscan Soup with White Beans (30 minutes) + green salad with Super Simple Salad Dressing or Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
  4. Make again! 1 or 2 favorite dinner ideas from Week 1
  5. Leftovers from above*

Meal Plan Prep Notes

  • For the Tacos, you can make the quinoa filling in advance, and then just reheat the filling and assemble when serving, which would make it a 15 minute meal! If you’re serving with pickled red onions, mix those up in advance too: they take 5 minutes to make and you can store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
  • The Salmon is very simple to prepare and bakes in just 10 minutes! If you’re serving with the chimichurri sauce, it can easily be made in advance and refrigerated until serving. If you’d like to serve with the roasted potato rounds, they can be made ahead and reheated in the oven with the salmon.
  • For the Soup, you can slice the fennel and chard in advance and refrigerate until making the soup; in this case we’d make the soup within a day or two of cutting the vegetables. While the soup simmers, you can whisk up the dressing for the salad. We like using boxed salad greens for easy prep.

Thai Sweet Potatoes with Peanut Drizzle

Healthy Dinner Ideas Week 3

*Pick at least 3 dinners to cook at home and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet on the days for Week 1! On days you’re not cooking, use up leftovers or do “clean out the fridge” meals, and allow for meals out.

  1. Chickpea Curry with Rice (20 minutes) + rice or quinoa
  2. Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta (30 minutes) + leftover rice or quinoa, couscous from Week 1, or bread
  3. Thai Sweet Potatoes with Peanut Drizzle (35 minutes)
  4. Make again! 1 or 2 favorite dinner ideas from Week 1 or 2
  5. Leftovers from above*

Meal Plan Prep Notes

  • For the Curry, you can make the chickpeas in advance (though they’re seriously fast to make). If serving with rice, you can make the basmati rice in advance (or in an Instant Pot) and reheat. Tip: To reheat the rice: place the rice in a saucepan with a splash of water and use a fork to break up any clumps. Heat over low heat until warmed through and moist.
  • For the Shrimp, if desired you could mince and dice the onion and garlic prior to serving and refrigerate. Serve with rice or quinoa (see above); you could use leftovers if you have them. Or make the Quick Couscous from Week 1, or serve with pita bread.
  • from Week 1.
  • For the Thai Sweet Potatoes, you can make the peanut sauce in advance. You could also slice the veggies for the slaw in advance and then mix it with the lime and seasoning prior to serving. If desired you can cook the sweet potatoes in advance and reheat: you can bake them or use an Instant Pot and the cook time is around 35 minutes.

Baked Salmon with Chimichurri Sauce

Healthy Dinner Ideas Week 4

*Pick at least 3 dinners to cook at home and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet on the days for Week 1! On days you’re not cooking, use up leftovers or do “clean out the fridge” meals, and allow for meals out.

  1. Greek Quesadillas (15 minutes)
  2. Salmon en Papillote with Roasted Potatoes (40 minutes)
  3. Cauliflower and Tomato Coconut Curry (35 minutes, plus rice)
  4. Make again! 1 or 2 favorite dinner ideas from Week 1, 2 or 3
  5. Leftovers from above*

Meal Plan Prep Notes

  • The Quesadillas require no advanced prep at all!
  • The Salmon en Papillote bakes for just about 10 minutes; the potatoes are what increase the prep time. You could roast the potatoes in advance and reheat in the oven prior to serving with the salmon.
  • For the Curry, you could chop the vegetables in advance and refrigerate until serving: in that case make the curry within about a day or two. Follow the rice and quinoa prep instructions from Week 3.

Cinnamon Pecan Muesli

Healthy Breakfast Ideas Weeks 1-4

Alex and I do really, really simple breakfasts that don’t require a recipe so we don’t have to think too hard in the morning. This frees us up to spend most of our creative energy on dinner. Pick any of these to eat throughout the week and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet (or if you prefer, don’t use the spreadsheet at all). We’ve offered a variety of healthy meals to account for your breakfast tastes and style. Do repeats as much as you’d like!

  • Peanut butter (unsweetened) or Homemade Nut Butter on multigrain toast or English muffin
  • Best Oatmeal with PB&J
  • DIY Instant Oatmeal
  • Toasted Oatmeal
  • Plain yogurt (with a splash of maple syrup) with granola or berries
  • Cinnamon Pecan Muesli (made in advance)
  • Turmeric Egg Avocado Toast (sunny side up egg is quicker)
  • Apple Gluten Free Oatmeal Muffins or Gluten Free Banana Muffins (made in advance)
  • Turmeric Vegan Blueberry Muffins (made in advance)
  • 5-Minute Pesto Arugula Breakfast Sandwich
  • Glowing Green Apple Smoothie
  • Chocolate Blueberry Smoothie

Healthy Snack Ideas Weeks 1-4

Pick any of these to eat throughout the week and copy them into your Healthy Weekly Meal Plan spreadsheet (or if you prefer, don’t use the spreadsheet at all for snacks).

  • Green Pea Dip & crackers (as minimally processed as possible)
  • Dark Chocolate Hummus Recipe & fruit
  • Hummus, Glowing Green Hummus, or Healthy Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip & veggies
  • Cinnamon Yogurt Fruit Dip & fruit
  • Healthy Banana Bread Muffins
  • Healthy Chocolate Snack
  • Plain yogurt (with a splash of maple syrup) with granola or berries
  • A handful of almonds and dried cherries
  • Popcorn (Homemade or purchased without flavoring)

Healthy Lunch Ideas Weeks 1-4

Lunches can be hard, especially if you’re eating at your desk! Again, Alex and my philosophy for lunches are to keep them super, super simple, without a recipe if possible. Pick any of these to eat throughout the week and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet (or if you prefer, don’t use the spreadsheet at all for lunches).

  • Leftovers from any of the dinners!
  • Peanut butter (unsweetened) on multigrain toast or English muffin
  • Simple Chickpea Salad
  • Peanut Butter Dip with green apples
  • Hummus, Green Hummus, or White Bean Dip, veggies and crackers, cheese
  • Healthy Egg Salad with Basil
  • Easy Stuffed Dates
  • Perfect Boiled Eggs
  • Famous Tomato Dip with crackers
  • Easy Chickpea Salad Sandwich
  • Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich
  • Hummus and Veggie Roll Ups
  • Mexican Pinwheels
  • Seasoned Brown Lentils (with Greek yogurt or cashew cream and pita wedges)
  • Avocado and Chickpea Salad with pita or crackers
  • Ricotta & White Bean Fancy Toast
  • Mexican Quinoa
  • Black Bean Salad
  • Any of the Snacks above
  • Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup and multigrain bread
  • Turmeric Egg Avo Toast, if you have access to a stove; omit the egg if not
  • Vegan Italian Pasta Salad (if you have time for prep)

Did you like this healthy meal plan?

We’d love to hear your feedback on healthy meal plans: let us know in the comments below (or click the heart below). And let us know if you have any questions!

If you enjoyed the recipes in this healthy weekly meal plan, you might enjoy our healthy cookbook Pretty Simple Cooking! And remember, if you’ve used this one a few times, we have a few others where you can find recipe favorites:

  • 28 Day Vegetarian Meal Plan
  • 28 Day Vegan Meal Plan
  • 28 Day Plant Based Diet Meal Plan

Baked Salmon Recipe

Short on time? This 10-minute baked salmon recipe is an ultra quick dinner, paired with a bright green chimichurri sauce.

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Loaded Quinoa Tacos

These loaded quinoa tacos are a delicious vegetarian taco recipe, featuring quinoa taco filling, bell pepper slaw, spicy sour cream, and feta!

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Sweet Potatoes with Thai Peanut Butter Sauce

These sweet potatoes topped with a zesty slaw and creamy Thai peanut butter sauce are an irresistible plant based dinner recipe!

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Black Bean Tortilla Soup

This vegetarian tortilla soup is so flavorful and quick! It’s an easy healthy soup recipe from the popular Pretty Simple Cooking cookbook.

Continue Reading Subscribe for free weekly recipes & more!

About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

7-Day Budget Meal Plan & Shopping List

When you’re trying to stick to a budget, meal planning and cooking at home can help you save some serious cash. In this 7-day plan, recipes use cheap and easy-to-find ingredients to create delicious dinners for less than $3 per serving. With Americans spending, on average, $7,023 (or 12.5 percent of income) to feed a family of four annually, making more budget-friendly meals is key to cutting down on total food costs. Combine this healthy meal plan with cheap breakfast and lunch recipes to save even more during the week. Just consider us your own personal weekly meal planner!

Get the Printable Shopping List Here

Don’t Miss: Cheap Healthy Meals for a Week for $3 or Less & Healthy Family Meal Plan on a Budget


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Tomato Bun Tuna Melt

$1.82 per serving

Budget Tip: Budget-friendly canned fish, like tuna and wild salmon, are cheap and convenient options for fast and healthy dinners. At a fraction of the price of fresh or frozen fish, you’ll get the same health benefits from canned options (think healthy omega-3 fats and protein). You can still plan to check out the fish counter when you do your grocery shopping to see what fresh seafood options are on sale. Frozen fish may be the better option as it’s often less expensive, and you can defrost it when you’re ready to use it so you know it’s fresh.


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Vegetarian Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

$2.91 per serving

Budget Tip: Going meatless a few times a week is good for your health, good for your wallet and good for the environment. This vegetarian spaghetti squash lasagna, with 18 grams of satisfying protein and 7 grams of filling fiber, is a great budget recipe you’ll turn to time and time again.


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Easy Chicken Fried Rice

$1.53 per serving

Budget Tip: Fried rice with plenty of vegetables and a little meat is an obvious choice when you want to make a quick and healthy dinner that’s easy on your wallet. If you have a little extra onion or half a leftover zucchini you want to use up, all the better: just throw in whatever veggie odds and ends you have in your fridge. Being versatile and using what you have on hand helps you save money and minimize food waste.


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Roasted Buffalo Chickpea Wraps

$1.53 per serving

Budget Tip: Canned beans are an affordable, healthy and convenient ingredient and add satisfying protein and fiber to your meals. Here, canned chickpeas replace the more-expensive chicken but still deliver satisfying Buffalo flavor. Stock up when beans go on sale and use in wraps, salads, soups, stews and more for a healthy and cheap plant protein.


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Bean & Veggie Taco Bowl

$2.56 per serving

Budget Tip: Canned black beans, precooked rice and whatever veggies you have on hand is all it takes to whip up this fast and flavorful bean and veggie taco bowl. Use pantry staples to whip up this low-cost meal and skip an extra trip to the grocery store.


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Creamy Chicken, Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms One-Pot Pasta

$1.98 per serving

Budget Tip: Chicken often goes on sale, so when it does, stock up and keep it in your freezer. This one-pot pasta uses less-expensive and flavorful chicken thighs combined with veggies, dried herbs and cheese for a delicious and creamy one-dish dinner.


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Slow-Cooker Beef Stew

$2.46 per serving

Budget Tip: Tougher cuts of meat (like the beef chuck used in this easy beef stew recipe) are affordable options that simply need more cooking time to become tender and juicy, making them perfect for the slow cooker.

Watch: How to Make Easy Chicken Fried Rice

A Week of 5-Ingredient Dinners for Under $50

Cheap Healthy Lunch Ideas for Work

Quick Weeknight Dinners for $3 or Less

Healthy Meal Planning Recipes

Easy Recipes

If you are in charge of making dinners for your family, you know this is no easy task. Thinking of different meals to serve that are healthy, won’t break your budget, won’t keep you in the kitchen all day and won’t be met with a scowl can be challenging to say the least.

Well here at Moms Who Think, we feel your pain and we’ve come up with a way to help.

We’ve put together eight weeks worth of easy dinner recipes, complete with recipes for each day’s main dish and side dishes. All you have to do is click on the link for each week to get the full week of easy dinner recipes and the meal plans that go with each day. That way you can forget worrying about coming up with dinner ideas; we’ve done all the hard work for you!

These easy dinner recipe ideas are simple, tasty home cooked meals your family will enjoy. There is a wide variety so they are sure to please different tastes and most take only minutes to prepare. You can please the vegetarians, meat lovers, healthy eaters, spicy eaters…and the list goes on!

Weekly Dinner Menu

And if you need even more weekly dinner menu ideas, you’ll find plenty in our easy recipes section collection.

Now, if you’re watching your weight or just trying to eat healthier, try the Eight Weeks of Healthy Dinner Recipes which we have provided. They are tasty, healthy and just as easy to make as the traditional easy dinners!

Easy, Healthy Meals

Healthy doesn’t mean bland as these easy healthy dinner recipes show, they are all tasty home cooked meals your family will enjoy.

The nutrient list that is at the beginning of each of the easy healthy dinner recipes can help you keep your diet in check. Choosing healthy homemade foods instead of overprocessed supermarket or takeout food is an easy way to begin or maintain a healthy lifestyle for your whole family.

So the next time they ask you, what’s for dinner, you don’t have to run away to hide in the closet. Instead, just run to your computer and click on what we’re suggesting for tonight’s meal. Then, get ready to blush when everyone in your family calls you the chef of the year!

If you are the one who is responsible for making meals for your family, it’s important to provide something healthy that your entire family will enjoy. But the bottom line is, it’s gotta be easy! If you’re a busy parent, you don’t have time to spend slaving over a meal. You just want to get in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible.

If you are looking for easy meals to prepare for your family, Moms Who Think has you covered. We provide recipes that are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner and are guaranteed to have you in and out of the kitchen in the blink of an eye.

If you are looking for a fast and easy recipe for breakfast, try our Green Chili Breakfast Recipe or our Breakfast Sausage Bake. For lunch, try our Philly Steak Sandwich or White Pizza. Easy dinner meals include our Glazed Baked Ham or our decadent Italian Sausage Manicotti.

Each recipe has a minimal amount of ingredients and easy to follow directions that guarantee you will be making great tasting meals quickly and efficiently and getting the results you are looking for!

Who says making great meals for your family every night isn’t easy? Check out our recipes to find out how you can be making meals your family will love that won’t take the entire day to prepare!

We’ve put together easy recipes that even the pickiest eaters will love. Most people are busy, between families and careers and the endless demands of day to day life. These recipes solve the problem of finding the time to make a home cooked meal, or the effort if you’re not an experienced cook.

Our lists give you great tasting meals, desserts, and even eight weeks worth of easy dinner recipes. Instead of an overpriced restaurant meal, make something simple, easy and homemade.

And if none of that is exactly what you’re looking for, before you go to the big list of Easy Recipes below, check out two other categories showing you savory dinners that take 30 minutes or less for the complete meal. And family-friendly recipes with a few ingredients (around 5) that are packed with flavor.

Some of the links below are affiliate links, so we may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Check our disclosure for more info.


If you love these meal prep containers as much as I do, you can get them here!

Preparing quick and delicious meals 3 times a day might seem impossible with everything else you have going on in your life! But by using some simple tips, and by planning ahead you’ll be blown away by how easy cooking delicious food can be.

Make-ahead meals will save you money and time plus you’ll be able to keep your diet under control and avoid eating unhealthy food.

And to help you get started, I put together an inspiring list of meal prep ideas that you can cook in less than 30 minutes on a lazy Sunday.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be amazed at how easy this is, and you’ll just ask yourself why you didn’t do this sooner!


1. Make a plan

Decide what you are going to cook ahead of time. Pick all the recipes you want to cook for the week, and put together a grocery shopping list. I would suggest you start with 2-3 recipes per week. It’s nice to have variety, but it also takes a lot more time to cook different meals, especially if you are just starting out!

2. Multi-task

Cook multiple things at once! You can actually bake chicken while roasting your veggies at the same time. This will really help you to get things done much faster.

3. Use Mason Jars

I love Mason Jars!

First of all, they look very pretty (I know, I do love pretty things!), but they are also very practical. They are cheap, microwave safe (remove the lid!) and perfect for storing salads. Put the dressing on the bottom and the leaves at the top, so nothing gets soggy and your salad will remain crispy for hours.

Recipe found on Little Spice Jar

4. Don’t meal prep too many meals

Don’t meal prep more than 5 days worth of food. Most of the food you will prep won’t last more than 3 days in the fridge, so make sure you freeze the rest.

Remove the meal from the freezer the night before you are going to eat it and leave it to defrost in the refrigerator. This will avoid germs and bacteria getting in your food.

5. Use the right containers

My favorite containers for healthy meals are made of glass. I prefer them to plastic containers for several reasons:

  • You can see what’s in them easily.
  • They can be used in microwaves.
  • They won’t alter the taste of food, even if it’s left in there for a few days.
  • When warming up your food, glass containers won’t release any chemicals with the hot temperature as plastic containers can.

If you do pick plastic containers, make sure they are BPA-free.

6. Keep your goal in mind

I am a big fan of having goals. They really help you to achieve results. Whether you are trying to save money, simply eat healthy food or lose weight, keep in mind why you are meal prepping! You’ll be less keen to opt for a takeout meal!

Need a hand meal planning? Just download my free templates!

How awesome would it be not to have to think about what’s for dinner for an entire week? Weekly meal planning can do that for you! Just download my free weekly meal planners in two beautiful designs to kick-start your meal planning journey.

If you plan your meals for the week, you’ll stop panicking about what to eat for dinner every night. And you will finally start developing healthy eating habits that will help you to start enjoying your food every day and save money!

My top choice for healthy meal prep recipes

And here you can find my favorite quick and easy meal prep recipes! All these meal prep recipes will be ready in 30 minutes or less and are perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

No matter what you love, there are some simple and yummy ideas for you: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and some for meat lovers!


My favorite easy weekly meal prep ideas for breakfast! They are perfect if you are on the run in the morning.

1. 6 Healthy Overnight Oats Ideas

PREP TIME: 5 minutes

Found on Gathering Dreams

A healthy breakfast meal prep recipe that you can bring to work with you! This 5-minute overnight oats recipe is filled with healthy foods and protein: rolled oats, chia seeds and some healthy toppings to help you to kick-start your day.

There are 6 delicious overnight oats recipes to try: berry, peanut butter, double chocolate, apple pie, coffee & walnut, and virgin piña colada. Click here to try them all!

And the great thing about these overnight oats jars is that they last up to 5 days in the fridge. You can meal prep these a few days in advance and just take them out of the fridge in the morning. I normally prep them on Sunday evening, and they are ready for the week!

2. 5 Make-Ahead Fruit & Greek Yoghurt Parfait Ideas

PREP TIME: 10 minutes

Found on Project Meal Plan

If you love fruit and granola, this is the perfect breakfast for you. These parfait ideas are super delicious and they are much cheaper to make than buying them at Starbucks. Prepare these in the evening, and grab them on your way out of the door!

3. Overnight Chia Seed Pudding With Almond Milk

PREP TIME: less than 5 minutes

Found on The Worktop

This is the perfect healthy vegan meal prep recipe for breakfast! It’s ready in pretty much a couple of minutes and only requires 2 ingredients. Just mix chia seeds and almond milk before going to bed, put them in the fridge and you will have a tasty breakfast to enjoy in the morning! Add whatever fresh fruit you love, and you are ready to go!

I love this with fresh berries in the summer or warm apple compote in the winter! Delicious!


Some delicious meal prep lunch ideas. And not all healthy meal prep recipes need to be for boring sandwiches! I picked lots of delicious alternatives for you.

4. Greek Couscous Salad

PREP TIME: 25 minutes

Found on Chelsea’s Messy Apron

This colorful and healthy Greek couscous salad is so delicious, your co-workers will envy you as soon as they see it! It’s the perfect healthy meal prep option for a work lunch. It’s also very cheap to make!

If you want to go for a meaty option, you can simply add some grilled chicken on top!

5. 5 Awesome Lunch Box Ideas Perfect For Work

PREP TIME: 5 to 25 minutes

Found on Gathering Dreams

If you are after some simple lunch ideas, you can try these awesome lunch boxes. They only take between 5 to 25 minutes to prepare. They are healthy, perfect if you are in a hurry, and will satisfy everyone.

Delicious! They are my go-to lunch at the moment!

6. 10-Minute Chickpea Curry

PREP TIME: 10 minutes

You can get these containers here!

I have a bit of a problem with this chickpea curry. I cook it ALL THE TIME! And Dan is getting a bit tired of it lol! But I love it: this is my go-to weeknight meal, for many reasons!

It’s rich, spicy but not overpowering, filling and ready in only 10 minutes. Plus, it’s the perfect meal prep recipe. You can cook a big batch and put it in the fridge or freezer and be done for the week. And it’s really cheap to make: a portion comes out at less than $2.

7. Spicy Chicken Meal Prep With Rice And Beans

PREP TIME: 20 minutes

Found on Pinch Of Yum

This spicy chicken with rice and beans is very filling and packed with proteins. If you are a fan of using an instant pot, this is the perfect recipe for you. But don’t worry, you can meal prep this even without an Instant Pot. It will just take a bit longer and you can use a crockpot or a simple pan.

And aren’t these meal prep containers super-cute? I hate microwaving in plastic, and these glass containers, not only are very durable and reusable but will keep your food organized too, with all those dividers. You can find them on Amazon by clicking here!

8. Meal Prep Chicken Fajitas

PREP TIME: 25 minutes

Found on Sweet Peas and Saffron

These meal prep chicken fajitas are made on one (or two) sheet pans, making for a super easy prep and even easier clean up! Serve them in tortilla bowls for a no-mess lunch.

9. Italian Couscous Salad

PREP TIME: 25 minutes

Found on Chelsea’s Messy Apron

I never seem to have enough couscous salads! This is another variation, with an Italian twist on it. This healthy meal prep recipe is perfect for lunch or dinner: it’s fresh and light tasting while still being filling and satisfying. The dressing is packed with spice/dried herbs and the vinegar and honey make it tangy and sweet at the same time.

10. The Ultimate Veggie Sandwich

PREP TIME: 10 minutes

Found on I Am A Food Blog

This veggie sandwich is truly epic! Not only it’s beautiful to see, it’s delicious too! The main ingredients are romaine lettuce, carrots, cucumber, red cabbage, avocado, sprouts, red onion, and tomatoes. Yummy!

11. 15-minute Meal Prep: Sesame Noodle Bowls

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

Found on Pinch of Yum

These meal prep sesame noodle bowls are made with delicious noodles, an easy creamy sesame sauce, perfect browned chicken, and all the veg!

12. Taco Bowl

PREP TIME: 25 minutes

Found on Chelsea’s Messy Apron

An easy to make taco bowl recipe! This meal is filling, packed with good ingredients, and is a great make-ahead weekly meal prep option.

13. Panzanella in a Jar

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

Found on Gathering Dreams

I love salads in a jar: they look so pretty in these Weck Mason Jars and it’s an easy way to pack your lunch. You can make this salad ahead of time, and you’ll be ready for lunch on the go!

This filling version of Panzanella is light and quick to prep: the main ingredients are tomatoes, stale bread, olives, chickpeas, onions, and basil.

14. Roasted Cauliflower Tacos With Chipotle Romesco

PREP TIME: 30 minutes

Found on Minimalist Baker

These smoky, roasted cauliflower tacos with a spicy chipotle romesco sauce are super delicious! A healthy plant-based meal that’s ready in under 30 minutes and easy to pack, and so satisfying!

15. Loaded Caprese Grilled Cheese

PREP TIME: 30 minutes

Found on Pinch Of Yum

I am not sure if you know this, but I LOVE pesto!

And this Caprese Grilled Cheese is loaded with basil pesto, a thick and chunky garlic butter tomato sauce, and fresh mozzarella cheese, all on grilled sourdough bread. This is the perfect vegetarian lunch sandwich!

16. Meal Prep Vegetarian Quinoa Burrito Bowls

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

Found on Simply Quinoa

These easy vegetarian quinoa burrito bowls are the perfect recipe to meal prep for a healthy lunch or dinner. It makes 5 days worth of food in less than 20 minutes, is packed with nutrients and tastes delicious!

17. Spicy Chickpea Quinoa Bowls

PREP TIME: 20 minutes

Found on Eat Yourself Skinny

These super flavorful meal prep bowls are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and perfect for your weekly meal prep! Easy to assemble and even easier to make!

18. Santa Fe Low Carb Chicken Meal Prep

PREP TIME: 30 minutes

Found on Sweet Peas And Saffron

This yummy lunch meal prep has cilantro lime cauliflower rice and bell peppers topped with taco-seasoned chicken breast and cheese! 8 g net carbs but still fills you up.

19. Greek Orzo Salad In a Jar

PREP TIME: 35 minutes

Found on How Sweet Eats

Ok, this salad will take an extra 5 minutes over 30 to prepare, but it’s absolutely delicious. And if you chop veggies fast, you’ll be able to make it in half an hour. It’s the perfect meal prep idea doe lunch when you are in a hurry but still want to eat a healthy meal.

20. Protein Power Mason Jar Salad

PREP TIME: 29 minutes

Found on Garden In The Kitchen

This Protein Power Salad Jar has the perfect combination of nourishing, filling and hydrating ingredients for a tasty and balanced meal. Pack and store in your fridge until ready to eat. Delicious!

21. Honey Sriracha Glazed Meatballs

PREP TIME: 30 minutes

Found on Eat Yourself Skinny

This recipe is super easy. You can serve these delicious turkey meatballs with brown rice, quinoa or even cauliflower rice. Carrots add a good crunch and everything is topped with green onions and sesame seeds. This is a delicious and filling meal, easy to prep in advance and to warm up in the office!


22. Easy Vegan Red Lentil Dal

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

Found on Simply Quinoa

Using just one pot and ready in under 20 minutes, this easy vegan red lentil dal is a flavorful, plant-powered meal! Serve with quinoa or rice, perfect for meal prep!

23. Cold Sesame Noodle Meal Prep Bowls

PREP TIME: 30 minutes

Found on Sweet Peas and Saffron

These cold sesame noodle meal prep bowls are the perfect vegan prep ahead lunch: spiralized vegetables tossed with chickpeas and whole wheat spaghetti in a spicy almond butter sauce.

24. Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowl

PREP TIME: 30 minutes

Found on Minimalist Baker

I love Mexican food! And this low-carb burrito bowl version is simply delicious. Ready in 30 minutes, this burrito bowl is made with seasoned cauliflower rice, black beans, grilled peppers and onions, and guacamole!

25. Sheet Pan Garlic Ginger Chicken & Broccoli

PREP TIME: 30 minutes

Found on Pinch of Yum

Another take on chicken meal prep: a simple and low-maintenance recipe with huge flavors and no refined sugar in sight! The perfect meal prep idea if you love chicken!

Tired of planning your meals for the week?

Sometimes all you need is an easy no-brainer plan to follow.

So, while I was looking for a solution for the perfect meal plan, I came across Melissa and her amazing The Fresh 20. For a few dollars a month, Melissa will send you a delicious meal plan for the week. Each plan will require you to buy only 20 ingredients and you can prep a whole week’s worth of meals in 1 hour! And you can try it for free!

Don’t miss out! Try The Fresh 20 meal plan by clicking here and pick the best plan for you.

And if you are craving more weekly meal prep ideas, check out my latest awesome posts!

1. 100+ Vegan Meal Prep Recipes Everyone Will Love ~ 2. 10 Delicious Veggie Sandwich Recipes for your Lunch Box

5 from 11 votes

25 Healthy Meal Prep Ideas

Avoid packaged food and frozen meals this week by preparing nutritious breakfast, lunches, and dinners ahead of time…
From protein-packed to vegetarian-friendly, we have plenty of recipe inspiration to get you started! These are the perfect healthy meal prep ideas to meal prep on Sunday in less than 30 minutes! Cook Time30 mins Total Time30 mins Course: Lunch, Main Course Cuisine: American Keyword: meal prep ideas, meal prep recipes Author: Sara @ Gathering Dreams


  • Vegan meal prep options
  • Vegetarian meal prep ideas
  • Gluten-Free options
  • Chicken meal prep recipes
  • Healthy Meal Prep Recipes


  • Pick one of the meal prep recipes above.
  • Click on the link to find the details of ingredients and instructions.
  • Prep your meal in less than 30 minutes!

Benefits of meal prepping

Food ready to eat whenever you’re hungry

Whether you love to cook fresh meals every day, or you feel like you never have time, meal prep is a great way to have something to eat ready whenever you have no time. If you are late from work, or you are just rushing out of the house at the last minute, have a meal ready to grab can be a lifesaver!

Eat healthy meals every day

The hungrier you are, the more tempted you get to buy unhealthy food. By cooking delicious food ahead of time, you’ll know exactly what you are eating. You can pick the right ingredients and make sure you add to your diet plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Save money on food

By making a meal plan, you’ll be able to waste a lot less food. When you go food shopping, you’ll just buy exactly what you need and won’t be tempted to overspend. Plus by bringing your own delicious lunch to work you’ll save a great deal of money! With an average work lunch costing up to $10-a-day in a big city, you can end up spending over $2,500 a year on work lunches alone!

You don’t have to meal prep every day, but by bringing your lunch from home 3-4 times a week, you can easily save more than $1,000 a year!

Is meal prep for you?

Meal prepping can save your life, especially if you have a very busy schedule but you still want to eat healthy food.

Just try it for a week and you will see a big change in your health and in your wallet!

What are your favorite healthy meals to prep? Share them in the comments below!



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Who says eating healthy has to be difficult? With these 36 easy meal prep recipes, you’ll be covered for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’s everything from stir fries to salmon to pancakes, plenty of ideas to keep you on track to meet your health goals!

Meal prep recipes are the talk of the town when it comes to being healthy and proactive with your foods. Watching what you eat doesn’t have to mean skimping on flavor and your favorite dishes. It may simply mean cutting back to smaller portions.

Meal prepping can help with that and also take the guessing game out of what to make for lunch or dinner on a whim. You’re less likely to make a stop at a fast food joint if you have a meal already waiting for you!

With these 36 easy meal prep recipes I have gathered for you, you are set for lunch, dinner, and some breakfasts for weeks to come. Another idea for prepping ahead is to plan freezer meals. These are great to make one time, meal prep them for later use and pull one out at a time when you are ready for it.

The easiest way to eating healthier is to plan in advance; with all these great meal prep recipes you’ll never get bored!

36 Easy Meal Prep Recipes

  • Ginger Soy Glazed Chicken Bowls
  • Honey Sriracha Glazed Meatballs
  • Baked Lime Chicken Bowls
  • Spiralized Pad Thai Meal Prep Bowls
  • Shrimp Taco Bowls
  • Overnight Oats Five Ways
  • General Tso’s Chicken
  • DIY Starbucks Protein Bistro Box
  • Coconut Mango Chicken Bowls

What does it mean to meal prep?

Meal prep is a once or twice a week large batch preparation of meals to last for 4-5 days. Meal prep is a great way to save time because you only cook a few times a week as opposed to cooking every single day. It’s also a great way to eat healthier – you’ll be a lot less likely to hit the fast food drive through if you have a meal ready to go in the fridge. You’ll also save money because cooking in bulk tends to be cheaper, and it’s way less expensive than going to a restaurant for lunch.

  • Meal Prep Almond Flour Pancakes
  • Healthy Sausage and Veggie Bowls
  • Meal Prep Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles
  • Spicy Chicken and Sweet Potato Bowls
  • Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls
  • Freezer Breakfast Burritos
  • Greek Chicken Bowls
  • Breakfast Egg Muffins
  • Beef and Broccoli Bowls

Where can I buy food prep containers?

I like to use reusable plastic containers as shown in the photos. They’re lightweight, inexpensive and hold plenty of food. I purchase these meal prep containers on Amazon. I also like to use the square plastic tupperware style containers that are sold in most grocery stores near the plastic bags and plastic wrap.

  • Italian Chicken Bowls
  • Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli
  • Lemon Roasted Salmon with Sweet Potatoes
  • Deli Style Protein Box
  • Chicken Rice and Broccoli Bowls
  • Falafel Hummus and Salad Boxes
  • Cashew Chicken Bowls
  • Pork Carnitas Bowls
  • Meal Prep Protein Waffles

How long can I keep meals in the fridge?

I typically plan on making meals for 3-4 days during my meal prep sessions, depending upon the protein I’m using. If I’m using seafood, I never go more than 3 days, and sometimes just do 2 day’s worth. For chicken and beef, I prep for 3-4 days at a time. I keep certain components like sauces separate until I’m ready to eat so that the food doesn’t get soggy in the fridge.

  • Meal Prep Salads
  • Meal Prep Burrito Bowls (recipe below!)
  • Buffalo Chicken Jar Salads
  • Meal Prep Veggies and Dip
  • Thai Peanut Chicken Meal Prep Bowls
  • Asian Chicken Mason Jar Salads
  • Chicken Salad Mason Jars
  • Honey BBQ Salmon Bowls
  • Roasted Chicken and Veggie Bowls

Can you freeze meal prep recipes?

Some meal prep recipes will freeze better than others. Proteins like chicken, turkey and beef will hold up well to freezing. Typically starches like pasta do not hold up well in the freezer as they’ll be mushy when thawed. Rice and potatoes are great candidates for the freezer. Many vegetables can be frozen, but veggies with a high water content, such as zucchini and lettuce, do not freeze well.

How to make meal prep burrito bowls

The first step to making these burrito bowls is marinating your chicken. The chicken gets marinated in a mixture of lime juice, olive oil and seasonings, then grilled to perfection. If you don’t want to fire up the grill, you can cook this chicken inside on a grill pan or in a regular skillet. The chicken is combined with cilantro lime rice, black beans, corn and fresh salsa to make an amazing meal that tastes like it came from a restaurant.

These meal prep burrito bowls are highly customizable. You can add more toppings like cheese, shredded lettuce, sour cream or guacamole right before serving. You can also swap out the rice for quinoa or substitute brown rice instead of white rice. Sometimes I also add sauteed veggies like peppers and onions. The sky is the limit!

Meal Prep Burrito Bowls Video

Pin 5 from 22 votes

Meal Prep Burrito Bowls

These meal prep chicken burrito bowls are filled with grilled marinated chicken, cilantro lime rice, black beans and fresh salsa. It’s an easy and healthy meal prep recipe idea that’s quick to assemble and tastes delicious!
Course Lunch Cuisine Mexican Keyword burrito bowls, meal prep recipes Prep Time 30 minutes Cook Time 20 minutes Total Time 50 minutes Servings 4 Calories 418kcal Author Sara Welch

For the chicken:

  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

For the cilantro lime rice:

  • 3 cups cooked rice brown or white, or you can use quinoa
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Remaining burrito bowl ingredients:

  • 1 15 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels thawed from frozen or canned
  • 1 cup fresh salsa
  • To prepare the marinade, pour the lime juice, olive oil and water into a large resealable bag. Add the garlic, honey, salt, cumin, smoked paprika, onion powder and chili powder.
  • Seal bag and shake to combine. Add the chicken to the bag of marinade, seal and place in fridge – marinate at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
  • Preheat a grill, grill pan or skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
  • Chop the cooked chicken into bite sized pieces.
  • Place the rice or quinoa in a large bowl; add the cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste; toss to coat the rice evenly.
  • Divide the rice between 4 meal prep containers. Arrange the chicken, beans, corn and salsa on top. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to heat and serve.


Calories: 418kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 427mg | Potassium: 968mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 520IU | Vitamin C: 9.2mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 3.1mg

Genius Meal Planning Ideas for a Healthy Week

Healthy eating is possible-even for the time-crunched and cash-strapped. It just takes a little creativity! That’s what Sean Peters, founder of the new website, discovered when he first started to experiment with batch cooking, a way of cooking food in bulk and storing some for later. Peters had been working out for years, but knew that he had to change his diet if he really wanted to see results.

About a year and a half ago, he switched his eating habits and began posting photos of a week’s worth of lunches and dinners (two recipes cooked in 5 portions each) to his Instagram account. His tasty, affordable recipes began receiving attention from others trying to eat healthy, so he launched his website and a new Instagram account dedicated to meal prep last month. We tapped Peters for his top tips on getting started with meal prepping and batch cooking, plus the 4 recipes you’ll need to create a week of (delicious!) dinners. (Share your own meal prep photos with these 9 Ways to Take Better Food Photos on Instagram.)

Start Small

Getting into a new routine of prepping all your meals ahead can take time to take some getting used to. Peters suggests starting with a few days’ worth of meals at a time, then slowly building up to making a whole week of meals in one session. “If you try to do a week all at once in the beginning, you will get discouraged and it will be messy,” he warns. Planning ahead also helps to make meal prep a sustainable healthy habit.

Break It Up

To stave off boredom, freeze one or two meals each time you make a new recipe so you can swap in something different throughout the week. If you’re freezing, cook foods that have a low water content. You can also add different sauces to a meal to change the flavor, or plan to eat out one night that week to give your taste buds a refresh.

Enlist a Buddy

Grab a friend or spouse to cook with you. Not only will the process go faster, but you’ll be more likely to go outside your comfort zone with recipes, since you’ll have two palettes to please. You might even think of a new meal idea together and can brainstorm ways to create a healthier version of a favorite dish. (Need ideas? Try these 13 Never-Fail Flavor Combinations.)

Peters shared the recipes to create one of his most popular (and freezer-friendly!) meals, a Southwestern-style feast. True to his food philosophy, this healthy meal contains protein, a complex carb, and a vegetable-and it’s packed with flavor. “I try to use as few processed foods as possible, but my food is never bland. A lot of people think meal prepping has to be basic-there is no color or flavor. But I want my rice to have stuff in it, without having to rely on salt,” says Peters.

Green, Red, and Yellow Rice


1 cup brown rice

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

1 cup frozen corn

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt & pepper to taste


1. Bring water to a boil, and then add rice. When water begins to boil again, reduce heat to a simmer and cover.

2. Cook covered for 40-50 minutes until rice is tender; stir once after about 20 minutes.

3. While rice is cooking, prepare vegetables; heat oil in skillet over low heat.

4. Sauteed garlic for about 4 minutes until flagrant; be careful not to burn the garlic.

5. Increase heat to medium-high, add remaining vegetables and corn and cook for about 2 minutes.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 50 minutes | Yield: Serves 5

Sautéed Turkey with Tomatoes and Cilantro


1/2 tablespoon oil or coconut oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 cup chopped yellow or red onion

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

1-2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno

2 sprigs thyme

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound lean ground turkey

1/4 cup cilantro

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon cumin


1. Heat skillet over low heat; add oil and sauté garlic until flagrant, about 2-3 minutes.

2. Add onions, tomatoes, jalapeno, thyme and pepper flakes; increase heat to medium-high and sauté vegetables, about 4 minutes.

3. Add ground turkey and cook until turkey is fully cooked and brown, about 10 minutes; stir frequently and continuously break large chunks of turkey into smaller pieces.

4. Stir in cilantro; add salt and pepper to taste.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Yield: Serves 5

Steamed Broccoli MBMK Style


3 bunches broccoli

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)

salt & pepper to taste


1. Discard stem or cut into thick slices; cut broccoli into florets.

2. Bring water to boil; add broccoli to steamer and place steamer over boiling water.

3. Steam broccoli for no more than 4 minutes; remove from heat and immediately run cold water over broccoli to stop it from cooking any further.

4. Toss cooled broccoli in the remaining ingredients; add salt and pepper to taste.

Prep: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 4 minutes | Yield: 10 servings

Simply Tasty Black Beans


2 cups dried black beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

2 cups diced tomatoes

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar

salt & pepper to taste


1. Soak beans overnight (or for at least 6 hours) in 6-8 cups of water.

2. After soaking, drain water and rinse beans; heat large pot on medium heat.

3. Add oil and sauté chopped onion, celery and garlic for 2 minutes; add tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

4. Add rinsed black beans, thyme, cayenne pepper, cumin and cinnamon to sautéed vegetables.

5. Add water and honey, increase heat and let simmer covered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours; stirring occasionally.

6. Add more hot water if necessary; add salt and pepper to taste.

Prep: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 35-120 minutes | Yield: 8 servings

  • By Sara Angle

Meal planning meal ideas

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