Pictured Recipe: Quinoa Chickpea Salad
What's not to love about meal prep? It's budget-friendly, helps you stick to your diet, and saves you loads of time during the week. In this meal-prep meal plan, we walk you through four super-simple base recipes that come together to create delicious Mediterranean-style lunches for the work week. And the best part yet—all of the prep work can be done in under an hour. We already mapped out the prep plan for you (shopping list included!), and came up with some simple recipe ideas to create for the week (scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the ideas).
Make these ahead on Sunday:
Download the shopping list here! We added a few extra shopping list items, like canned chickpeas and hummus, which we use in the meal ideas at the bottom of the page. Depending on how many people you are meal prepping for, you may need to adjust the recipes to account for more or fewer servings. If you end up making more than you need, use the leftovers for dinner this week.
The Mediterranean diet has long been recognized as one of the healthiest and most delicious ways to eat. It's an uncomplicated and easy-to-follow way of eating—simply include plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats (like olive oil and the healthy fat you get from salmon), whole grains (like quinoa), beans and legumes, lean protein and calcium-rich dairy items.
Work backwards and start with the recipe that takes the longest to prepare. While things are cooking, you can prep the other menu items. Start by preheating the oven to 450 degrees F for the Sheet Pan Roasted Root Vegetables.
Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes
This simple poached chicken recipe has crazy-good flavor. The secret is using bone-in breasts and adding white wine and herbs to the poaching liquid. Don't eat meat? Skip this step and move onto Step 3. We included vegan and vegetarian lunch ideas at the bottom of the page.
• Shred or chop the chicken while it is still slightly warm. It is harder to pull the meat apart after it's been refrigerated.
• Don't throw out that poaching liquid! Strain the leftover poaching liquid and use it as you would low-sodium chicken broth in any recipe for an extra boost of flavor. Store it in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
• Super-Fast Meal Prep: Pick up pre-cooked chicken breast or a rotisserie chicken at your grocery deli.
Prep time: 10 Minutes | Cook time: 30-40 minutes
While the chicken is simmering, start to prep your veggies. This simple recipe is the perfect example of the Mediterranean diet. Fresh ingredients, plus olive oil and a little salt and pepper are all you need to make a mouthwatering heap of nutritious, tender and colorful root vegetables. This recipe makes enough for lunch this week, plus leftovers for dinner. Don't need that much veg? This recipe is easy to cut in half.
• When batch cooking vegetables, use ones that have a similar cook time so you don't end up with some veggies that are still raw, while others are cooked to death. Some good combos include...
• Summer Squash + Green Beans + Cherry Tomatoes
• Zucchini + Corn + Bell Peppers
• Beets + Potatoes + Fennel
• Super Fast Meal Prep: Pick up pre-chopped vegetables from the produce section of your grocery store.
Prep time: 5 Minutes | Cook time: 15-20 minutes
While the veggies are roasting, prepare your quinoa. This foolproof recipe for perfectly cooked quinoa is fast and easy! This high-protein, fiber-rich grain will help give your meal more satisfying staying power.
• Quick cooking whole grains like quinoa and whole-wheat couscous are great go-to options for fast meal prep. When cooking grains with a longer cook time, like brown rice or farro, make extra and freeze the leftovers.
• Super-Fast Meal Prep: Buy pre-cooked rice from the grocery store for even faster meal prep.
Prep time: 10 Minutes
While the quinoa is cooking, make your dressing. This fresh herb vinaigrette dressing recipe calls to use whatever herbs you have on hand, so it's versatile and excitingly new each time you make it. If you want to make this recipe vegetarian, skip the chicken broth and use veggie broth or water instead.
• Save yourself from washing a dish by making your vinaigrettes and dressings right in a mason jar. Just add the ingredients and shake to combine.
• Try packing your salads in a mason jar! Watch how to make the perfect mason jar salad.
You can either build all five of your lunches now and place in separate storage containers, or store the four recipes separately and build your lunches as you need them. For the salad recipes, wait till the night before to add the greens so you don't end up with wilted salad.
1/2 cup quinoa + 3/4 cup chicken + 1 cup roasted veggies + 1-2 Tbsp. vinaigrette
(= 342 calories, 19 g protein, 5 g fiber)
To jazz it up even more: add fresh crumbled feta or goat cheese and sunflower seeds
2 cups mixed greens + 1 cup roasted veggies + 1/2 cup chickpeas + 1-2 Tbsp. vinaigrette
(= 305 calories, 10 g protein, 10 g fiber)
To jazz it up even more: serve with a side of toasted pita bread and hummus
1 whole-wheat pita + 2 Tbsp. hummus + 1 cup roasted veggies
(= 331 calories, 9 g protein, 9 g fiber)
Cut the pita in half and spread hummus inside both pita pockets. Roughly chop the veggies and add to each pita half.
To jazz it up even more: add a dash of hot sauce for a spicy kick
2 cups mixed greens + 1/2 cup quinoa + 3/4 cup chicken + 1-2 Tbsp. vinaigrette
(= 248 calories, 20 g protein, 4 g fiber)
Add 1 cup quinoa + 1 cup mixed greens + 1 cup roasted veggies + 1-2 Tbsp. vinaigrette
(= 370 calories, 11 g protein, 9 g fiber)
To jazz it up even more: add sunflower seeds or a dollop of garlic-flavored hummus