Broccoli and Chicken dinner
Learning to Cook

Easy Meal Prep Ideas

You have a pantry list and have done your grocery shopping, but now comes the preparation of that food. How do you tackle this task?

Wood cutting board with pieces of cut up vegetables and chicken.
Title: Easy Meal Prep Ideas

I’ve seen a lot of meal preppers crate whole meals and portion them out into containers ready to go for the week. I’ve tried that and it’s great for those really busy days when I’m so busy I can’t even think about cooking.

However, now that I have the liberty to come home for lunch and spend a little more time in the kitchen, I noticed that I like to be creative. For this reason, I like to prepare parts of meals that I could then quickly transform into different dishes based on how I feel that day.

Here are some food items I prepare and what dishes I make with them:

Boil Pasta and Rice

  1. Top it off with Alfredo sauce and Parmesan cheese
  2. Top off with Bolognese sauce
  3. Any combination of tomato sauce, veggies, and proteins

For me preparing any grain in advance is a saving grace because I hate waiting, especially when hungry. If you think about the amount of time it takes to get water to boil, then the pasta to cook, you’re shaving off about 30 min. of cooking time!

Hard boiled eggs in water

Hard Boiled Eggs

  1. These make for a great quick protein snack. Just enjoy with some salt.
  2. Mash or mince the eggs, add some mayo, green onion, salt, and pepper for an egg salad.

Cut Up Veggies

  1. Wash and chop up carrots, celery, peppers, asparagus, and broccoli. I like to put them into little plastic bags for an easy snack to take on the go. It also helps when cooking with those veggies as they’re already washed and partially prepped.
  2. Chop up peppers and onion and toss into a container. Use this to make yummy omelets without getting messy with washing and choppies the veggies.
  3. Wash, dry, and chop of lettuce so it’s ready for your salads. Store in a container. Alternatively, you could buy pre-washed and chopped leaves but it tends to be more expensive.

Not all vegetables/fruits are good cut up in advance – for example potatoes, apples, bananas, and avocados brown quickly and start going bad. The veggies I mentioned above do pretty well prepared in advance, but feel free to experiment with your favourite veggies/ fruits.

Zucchini sliced up

Cook Your Proteins

  1. Bake or pan fry your chicken (I like using chicken breasts). Store whole or sliced up for easy salads or to add to rice/ pasta.
  2. Minced beef, oh so many things you could do with this! My go to on busy weeks is just to pan fry it with taco seasoning. I then use this to make burritos, Mexican inspired salads, or just as a side to some potatoes or rice.
  3. While making minced beef with taco seasoning, I usually have another pan right beside to which I add a canned tomato sauce to make easy Bolognese sauce.

Cooking meat in advance helps ensure you cook it thoroughly. Usually when I am in a rush to make food, I skimp on the cooking times and then end up having to bring the food back to the stove to finish cooking – the worst when you are super hungry! Another bonus is that the meat absorbs all of the flavours and makes for much more flavourful meat.

Tip: Beef and chicken tend to be the easiest to cook and the least expensive.

There you have it, super easy meal prep ideas to cut down on the time you spend in the kitchen cooking.

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