Get a jumpstart on tomorrow's meals and snacks by doing meal prep tonight. These 30 no-stress ideas will help your family eat healthfully and deliciously.

By Katie Sullivan Morford
September 21, 2017

We all want to feed our families—and ourselves—healthy, delicious meals. But when the kids are starving at 5:30 and the odds and ends in the fridge just look… odd, ordering a pizza seems like the responsible thing to do. Happily, there's a solution: meal prep. Even just 15 minutes of prep can help make healthy choices so much more doable. Chock-full of easy ideas, our 30-Day Meal Prep Challenge will help you take control of your family’s meals by getting a head start on the next day’s food, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, a snack, or dinner. Follow along and share your make-ahead wins using the hashtag #MealPrepChallenge.

  1. Cut crunchy vegetables, such as carrots, cucumber, fennel, and bell peppers into snackable slices. Store right at eye level in the fridge to make healthy choices easier than ever. While you're at it, whip up a simple DIY hummus.
  2. Load up your slow cooker insert with the fixings for your family's favorite crock pot meal. Refrigerate overnight and pop into the slow cooker in the AM. 
  3. Hard boil a pot of eggs to slice onto salads, eat with breakfast, or enjoy as a protein-packed snack.
  4. Measure the ingredients for a vinaigrette into a jar with a lid. We like 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar, a 1/4 cup olive oil, and a 1/4 tsp. salt. Shake well and store in the refrigerator. Double the recipe so you have enough for several salads throughout the week. 
  5. Give yourself a break and opt for some pre-made help, like Quaker Overnight Oats. Just add milk, steep in the fridge overnight, and breakfast is done and done.
  6. Wash, stem, and chop a bunch of kale to toss into salads, saute as a side, or add to soup.
  7. Cut a cantaloupe or other fresh melon into cubes and refrigerate in a covered container. Serve with breakfast or eat as a snack.
  8. Season a whole chicken (or 2 chickens) with salt, pepper, and favorite spices, set in a baking pan, and refrigerate uncovered overnight. When the dinner hour approaches, remove from the fridge while the oven preheats, then roast until golden and cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. 
  9. Roast a batch of root vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and onions, to use for tomorrow's dinner (put a fried egg on it!) and throughout the week.
  10. Mix up the ground turkey, seasonings, and other ingredients for meatballs. Shape into balls and refrigerate for easy baking tomorrow.
  11. Layer yogurt, berries, and granola in single-serve jars for breakfast. (Here are more quick and easy breakfast ideas.)
  12. Use any leftover chicken for a classic chicken salad to pack into school and desk lunches.
  13. Stir together a spice rub for meat or chicken. Cover and keep at room temperature. 
  14. Make, season, and chill hamburger patties ahead of time. They'll be grill- or pan-ready at the dinner hour. Just add buns, condiments, and a veggie side.
  15. Make a pot of applesauce on the stove or in the slow cooker to eat for snacks, breakfast, or alongside pork chops for dinner.
  16. Divide trail mix, pretzels, or favorite nuts into single-serve baggies for snacking on the go.
  17. Season and broil several chicken breasts. Slice them for salads, sandwiches, or chicken quesadillas.
  18. Brown ground beef or turkey with taco seasoning mix and store in the fridge. When dinner rolls around tomorrow, reheat your meat and set out with all the fixings for taco Tuesday.
  19. Pile the ingredients for your favorite smoothie -- fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, protein powder (everything but the yogurt and liquid) -- into resealable bags. Freeze until ready to blend in the AM.
  20. Make a big batch of tuna salad for school and work lunches.
  21. Cut a head of broccoli or cauliflower into florets to steam, blanch, or roast before tomorrow's dinner for a healthy side dish.
  22. Pour 100 percent fruit juice into pop molds and freeze for an icy treat.
  23. Whisk together pancake batter in the evening. Remove it from the fridge at breakfast and treat everyone to a quick stack of hotcakes.
  24. Pull grapes off of the stem, put in a covered container or bag, and store in the freezer for a sweet, refreshing snack.
  25. Make a pot of lentils for side dishes, to stir into soups, or use as the foundation for a lunch salad. They're also tasty under a fried egg at breakfast.
  26. Thread beef, pork, or chicken along with vegetables onto skewers and toss in a bag with your favorite marinade. Refrigerate overnight and grill or broil the next day.
  27. While you've got the oven going and dinner prep is in the works, make a batch of muffins for the next day.
  28. Prick holes in several sweet potatoes and roast at 400 degrees until tender. Remove the flesh from the skin and refrigerate. Tomorrow reheat the sweet potato and mash with olive oil and seasonings for a healthy side.
  29. Layer your favorite salad ingredients into a Mason jar for a healthy lunch to go. Be sure to include a source of protein (such as hard-boiled egg, chickpeas, tuna, or chicken).
  30. Cook a pound of dried black beans. Store half in a sealed bag in the freezer. Use the other half for burritos tomorrow or as the base of a hearty soup. 


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