15 Easy Meal Prep Ideas You’ll Actually Use

There's nothing like seeing a refrigerator full of fully-prepped meals and snacks. We've rounded up plenty of easy meal prep ideas that will make your life simpler!

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Make Big Batches of Grains All at Once

When it comes to easy meal prep ideas, this one might be the one to prioritize. A big batch of grains like cooked brown rice or quinoa is simple and has endless possibilities. From hearty lunch salads to quick dinners, a pot of grains will serve you well all week. Grains are often the start of these easy meals in a bowl.

Here are just a few tasty recipes to whip together in minutes:

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Layer Salads in Mason Jars

There’s nothing worse than being stranded at work with nothing but a soggy salad for lunch. Keep the crunch and vibrant flavors by layering your daily salad in a mason jar. First, pour in the dressing to keep your veggies crunchy. Once it’s time for lunch, shake it up and empty onto a plate for a crave-worthy meal in seconds.

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Invest in Good Containers

To get yourself excited about meal planning, Senior Food Stylist Shannon Norris recommends picking up some good containers. “There’s something satisfying about opening your fridge and seeing a neat little stack of meals ready to go,” she says. Some new gear can really inspire you—and starting with a fresh set with all the right lids is always a bonus.

This stackable set of Pyrex dishes is Shannon’s favorite and are just the right size for these recipes:

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Chef cook chopping spring onions on a white board.
Yuriy Golub/Shutterstock

Cut Fruits & Vegetables for the Week

When healthy fruits and veggies are easy to grab, you and your family will be more likely to reach for them. Set yourself up for success by chopping a variety of veggies (this meal prep cutting board is perfect for it) like sweet potatoes, broccoli, onions and peppers. You’ll be able to grab a few bell pepper sticks when hunger strikes and be ready to make easy vegetable dishes like these all week:

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Make a Double Batch

One of the easiest meal prep ideas of all time? Make extra! Next time you’re making a family favorite, double the recipe. Pop half of what you make into individual freezer-safe containers and save for a rainy day. Next time you’re in a pinch for lunch, just grab one of your prepped containers.

The secret here is to make double batches of freezer-friendly meals. Here are a few favorites:

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Assemble Smoothie Bags

What’s easier than grabbing a smoothie in the morning? Grabbing one that’s already been prepped and measured! Assemble small plastic bags with frozen fruit like bananas and berries and keep them in the freezer all week. In the morning, dump the bag into the blender with a little almond milk for a healthy breakfast in no time.

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Make Veggie Burgers

If your usual lunch options have gotten boring, spice things up with a veggie burger wrap. Bake a big batch of healthy burgers and enjoy them on their own or over a salad, grains, on a bun or in a wrap. If you have time to make a double batch, freeze the extras for easy lunches.

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Fruity Baked Oatmeal
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Prepare Baked Oatmeal or Breakfast Casserole

Easy meal prep ideas aren’t just for lunch or dinner. Give yourself a hot breakfast every morning when you prepare a pan of baked oatmeal. You’ll start the day right with plenty of healthy fiber and vitamins from oats and fruit. This is one of our best quick and easy meal prep ideas; one pan should feed your family all week!

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Try Overnight Oats

If heating up a breakfast casserole sounds like a little too much work before you’ve had your coffee, try overnight oats instead. When it comes to easy meal prep, ideas like this are perfect. Just layer in oats, milk, yogurt and honey. Let it sit in the fridge overnight and you’re good to go! Just top with fruit or nuts. Or try one of these nifty riffs:

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Summer Salad by the Lake
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Make a Big Lunch Salad

Once you’ve gotten the kids to bed and cleaned up the kitchen, the last thing you feel like doing is packing lunches for the following day. But what if all you had to do was grab a container of prepped quinoa salad? These vibrant, healthy salads keep well all week and will satisfy you all day.

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Close up photo of a woman chopping vegetables on a cutting board in a white kitchen with blue accents.
jan j. photography/Shutterstock

Mix Together Slow Cooker Ingredients

Slow cooker dinners are perfect for busy weeknights. After a long day at work or school, you get to walk into a cozy house already filled with the smell of comfort food. If you have time over the weekend, place all of your slow cooker ingredients in Tupperware or large plastic bags so all you have to do in the morning is dump and go!

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Package Individual Servings of Snacks

It’s hard to eat healthy when you’re starving and searching the pantry for just about anything. Give yourself the gift of prepped snacks by setting aside individual bags of trail mix, popcorn or other snacks in small plastic bags. Portion control done!

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Marinate Meat

If you’re planning to grill this week, save yourself a step and marinate your meat or veggies now. When it’s time to cook, your food will be juicy and perfectly seasoned. Make your own marinade or grab a favorite salad dressing to save time.

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Roast Veggies for the Week

Once you have your veggies washed and chopped, toss them with a little salt and olive oil to roast them for the week. Store them in a sealed container and serve them for easy side dishes at dinner or over rice for a quick lunch.

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Chicken broccoli rabe soup
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Simmer a Pot of Soup

Make your lunches for the week while filling the house with delicious scents by simmering a pot of soup this weekend. Stick to one of these 30-minute soup recipes to make sure you still have plenty of relaxing weekend time after your meal prepping.

Up Next: I Tried a Meal Prep Service for a Week—Here’s What I Thought

Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.
Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.