Meal Prep in Minutes – Meal prep doesn’t have to be long, hard, or crazy. Here are all my best tips for making it fast, easy, and delicious in partnership with Kohl’s!
Big batch meal prep is really popular right now and for good reason. It’s easy to eat healthfully during the week when you’ve done all the work ahead of time!
My only complaint is that often this involves several hours of prep over the weekend or during the week, and I just don’t really have big long stretches of time like that to get it done.
If (like me), you don’t have 2-3 hours to devote to prepping, you can STILL get a lot done and make your life easier with a slightly different approach to meal prep. Here’s how I get it done in small bursts of time to simplify my entire week.
1. Re-Think the Time Commitment.
It doesn’t need to take long and you don’t even need to do it all at once! Even if you don’t have 2-3 hours to devote to meal prep in a single burst, I bet you’ve got 5 minutes here, 10-20 minutes there, etc. There are a TON of simple meal-prep recipes you can get done with just a few minutes of work.
- Make a quick dip, dressing, or hummus in 5 minutes or less, which you could use for veggies, wraps, salad dressing, sandwiches, burgers, and more!
- Wash some grapes and cut them into small bunches (5 minutes)
- Assemble a box of washed and cut veggies (5-10 minutes)
- Cook a batch of quinoa (5 minutes hands-on, 15 minutes cooking)
- Mix up some granola or muffins to pop into the oven (5-10 minutes to make + baking time)
Then, fit it in here and there. I might wash some fruit or get out my knives to cut up veggies while the kids are eating a snack in the afternoon. Or, I might pop some quinoa on the stove or veggies in the oven while I’m loading the dishwasher, helping with homework, or watching a show with kids in the afternoon. It doesn’t need to be a grand production to be effective!
2. Pick Two. Ish.
Don’t worry about having every meal, snack, and treat prepped for the week. Instead, pick a few–maybe 2-4 things–you could get done and go from there.
Maybe you could really use a little extra help in the mornings–breakfast prep would be great! Maybe you’re so hungry in the afternoons that you find yourself rifling through packages in the pantry instead of making more nutritious choices. Sounds like some snack help would be awesome! Pick just a few things that will simplify your life!
Two things that simplify life for me are having a great dip or dressing in the fridge and making a batch of energy bites. I can pull out my food processor (I swear by this one!) and have both jobs done in no time. That dip or dressing can be used for lunches, snacks, or dinner ideas and the energy bites are great snacks or pack easily in lunch boxes for school or work.
- Overnight oats (I prep several days of dry ingredients, then add the milk and anything fresh the night before).
- Smoothie packs for the freezer
- Baked oatmeal or a pot of steel-cut oats
- Easy paleo mini quiche
- A batch of roasted potatoes and veggies
- Bake a batch of muffins or granola
- Hard-boil or steam some eggs
- Make a quinoa salad (like this Greek version or this one with lime vinaigrette)
- Mix up a batch of hummus for veggies or wraps
- Make up some mason jar salads
- Shred a rotisserie chicken for all kinds of chicken salad
- Stir up a salad dressing (like chipotle ranch, or lemon basil vinaigrette)
3. Think Versatility and Shortcuts
Similarly, I like picking a few things that can be multi-purpose. The MOST versatile thing I think you can have in your fridge is a veggie box. Load a container with washed, chopped veggies, and you’ve got the makings of all kinds of things. A few ways to use them…
- Eat them fresh with a dip
- Use them for wraps
- Stir them into salads
- Toss them into a stir fry for a quick dinner
- Roast them with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper
You can also do things like cook a batch of quinoa (use it for a side dish, burrito bowls, or quinoa salad) or roast a pan of veggies (you can serve as a side dish, mix into quinoa, or stir into eggs). Maybe you make a quick batch of pasta sauce one morning, or put your chicken in a marinade before putting it in the freezer when you get home from the store (It’ll marinate while it thaws!).
4. Make it Easy to See
Raise your hand if you’ve ever discovered a forgotten container of something in the fridge and don’t remember quite how long it was in there? (This is me raising my hand.) How did it get lost?
For me, it’s usually because it wasn’t easy to see.
There is NO point in having a fridge full of yummy things to eat if you don’t know (or remember) what’s in there. I switched to see-through containers a few years ago and recently updated my collection with these Pyrex glass food storage and food prep containers from Kohl’s. I picked up the 24 piece set from (it was a great price!), and I’ve loved how easy it is to see just what’s inside.
Those glass containers are amazing. They’re freezer, oven, microwave, refrigerator, and dishwasher safe, so you really can use them for any kind of meal prep! Kohl’s carries all kinds and sizes. I love my colorful set, but they also carry this sleek white set, and individual sizes, like this or this. They run sales all the time, so you can check out their sale page to see weekly specials and sales.
On top of the glass containers (which simplify things so much) I also like to label my lids with a little painter’s tape and a paint marker or permanent marker. That way there’s no mystery left! I can see in the sides of the containers or read the label on top.
5. Use a plan to guide you
Again, you don’t NEED to plan out every single meal and snack throughout the week to be successful. If you’ve taken care of breakfast and snack, you can probably figure out lunches and dinners. Or, you can use the things you ARE prepping to guide you.
- If you’ve got a veggie box in the fridge, making a salad to go with dinner is a cinch.
- If you’ve made a yummy dip or dressing, you can schmear it on a wrap, dollop it on a burger, or drizzle it over your salad.
- If you’re planning to marinate chicken, you can do double the amount and use half for dinner one night and half for lunches for the next few days.
- You can use roasted veggies to go with dinner one night and your eggs or omelet the next morning.
I always suggest baby steps. Especially when you’re making dietary changes, budget changes, or are just learning to cook, you don’t need to do everything all at once. You’ll find that when you can easily squeeze in just a few things a week, you’ll have that down in no time and can add to your skills and prep without much extra effort.
I’m cheering for you! Have a question about meal prep or recipes?
I’d love to help! Leave me a comment or question and I’ll get back to you ASAP!
Also, don’t forget to check out Kohl’s awesome selection of kitchen wares, fitness gear, and more! They’re one of my go-to stops for kids’ clothes, and they’re running awesome sales this summer. Use code SCORE for $10 off a $30 purchase this week, and check out their deals page for current promotions and deals all year long.