You want to eat real-food meals but don’t want to spend the $9-$12 per meal to have them delivered. Look no further, this post shares tons of meal prep recipes so you can cook once and eat 4-6 times, at a fraction of the cost!
Because the post would be miles long otherwise, all you have to do to get to the recipe is click on the recipe title above the photo to take you there.
Remember to print or pin the recipe to save it for later! 😃
What Makes the Best Meal Prep Recipes?
The best meal prep recipes are those that can be split up into individual servings and can be refrigerated for a couple of days.
What takes any recipe up a notch is if it can be frozen, in that case, you can always save a serving for later and have freezer stash ready for any day of the week.
Almost any recipe can be made ahead for any meal of the day. I wrote a full post on why I meal prep with a few healthy meal prep ideas.
And this post is dedicated to the “logistics” of How to Meal Prep Lunch with containers, how long does food last, and more.
I wrote this post solely dedicated to recipes you can use today and start your meal prep!
Before you get lost in the many -and I mean many- recipes below, let’s talk about how to build a menu for your week.
Weekly Meal Prep Menu
Each week, I create family-friendly weekly meal plan menus at MOMables.com. Those menus include the recipes, a meal prep sheet that breaks down what to prep and when, and a printable shopping list.
Something that saves my Classic Meal Plan Members a lot of time is the meal prep sheet breaking up an entire week’s meals to prep into simple steps!
If you’re not cooking for a family or are just looking for recipes you can use to meal prep your lunches so you can eat something outside a sandwich and save money on ordering food, you’ll need:
- 1-2 recipes per week
- meal prep containers
Meal Prep Recipes for Lunch & Dinner
I’m going to share a lot of meal prep recipes for lunch and dinner below. This means that you can cook once (batch cook) or twice a week and when the recipe is done, divide it into portions inside a meal prep container.
All the recipes show you how they look like plated (served for dinner) and how I pack it inside a lunch container.
Some of the recipes below are photographed inside a thermos container. If you have a microwave available, simply use a microwave-safe container to heat up the recipe before you eat it.
You can get all the recipes I share below AND MORE plus tips on how to pack them in lunch containers in my Meal Prep’d eBook.
Meal Prep’d eBook
In this book, I share 70+ recipes that can be cooked ahead, stored in single-serve portions or frozen, and save you time and effort in the kitchen.
Cook once and have ready-to-eat meals for an entire week. These nutritious and filling recipes can be enjoyed as dinner or packed for lunch.
Pasta Meal Prep Recipes
Whether you have pasta leftovers in your fridge or decide you want pasta as the main ingredient to build your lunch, the versatility of pasta is epic.
On the plus side, it’s also a very economical ingredient that yields a lot of servings per batch and can be frozen too!
Recipe: Pizza Pasta Salad
This pizza pasta salad recipe is the perfect use of leftover pasta from dinner reinvented into a super-fast lunch idea. Simply toss pasta with some veggies (I used chopped broccoli) and your favorite pasta toppings with some olive oil or Italian dressing.
Recipe: Easy Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese is comfort food at its finest; and I’ll tell you that there’s nothing wrong with incorporating a hearty warm thermos of cheesy goodness -packed along with a protein- for lunch.
Recipe: Cobb Pasta Salad Recipe
Transforming my favorite salad, the Cobb Pasta Salad into a lunch you can meal prep -goodbye wilty lettuce- is always a great idea. High in protein and full of toppings, this is one of my favorite pasta salads to make for the week.
And of course, this is also perfect for the kiddos to to make their Cobb Pasta Salad Lunchbox!
Recipe: Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
This is a dinner favorite recipe of ours: creamy pasta with Tuscan flavors and super easy and fast to make… that tastes delicious for lunch the next day (or two!). Like many pasta recipes, it’s great cold or you can make this Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Pasta Thermos Lunch.
Recipe: Salsa Verde Pasta
This is another dinner favorite recipe that I’ve turned into an epic lunch. I bulk cook the chicken in the slow cooker and use it for tacos, quesadillas, and this pasta meal prep lunch.
Recipe: American Ground Beef Goulash
If you love hearty pasta meals this recipe is for you. It can be made with ground beef or ground chicken or turkey if you prefer. The flavors are epic and it’s one you’ll want to make again and again.
Recipe: Instant Pot Chili Mac
Say you’re meal prepping a bunch of thigns and want to put the Instant Pot to work, this chili mac is a great option. Pasta lover + chili lover all in one.
Recipe: Healthy Tomato Spinach Tortellini
Everything you expect from restaurant style pasta meals at lunch without the price tag. For the price of a plate at Olive Garden, you have a full week of servings at home. If you don’t want to eat pasta daily, just freeze it!
Recipe: Thai Chicken Salad with Pasta
This epic pasta salad is filled with fresh ingredients and topped with an easy homemade peanut dressing.
Recipe: No-Bake Lasagna
Everything you love about lasagna without the work! Boil pasta, top with the filling, sauce, and serve!
Recipe: Easy Spaghetti Carbonara
Simple ingredients at their fines. A midweek family favorite that can easily be translated into a lunch. Warm this up in the microwave or pack the Spaghetti Carbonara in a Thermos.
Recipe: Risotto with Peas
While not technically pasta since risotto is rice, I decided to sneak this risotto with peas in this section becasue I love creamy, cheesy rice that I can mix with any vegetable.
Chicken Meal Prep Recipes
If there’s one ingredient many of us love is chicken. I have a lot -and I mean A LOT- of chicken recipes on this website that are perfect for both dinner and lunch.
Sometimes, all we need are a few visuals on how to pack some of our favorite dinner recipes into a lunch container. Yes, even tacos, sliders, and bowls are perfect for meal prep.
I’ve included some of my favorite chicken meal prep recipes below but for more, you can head over to the recipe index.
Recipe: Korean Chicken Bowls
I love a good take-out inspired recipe and this is one of my favorites. This recipe is one of the first I’d include in my next cookbook (I have 5 cookbooks), it’s that good!
Recipe: Thai Chicken Bowls
What makes this chicken recipe epic is the Thai peanut sauce. It’s simply irresistible, so good in fact; that I can eat this lunch four days in a row!
Recipe: Healthy Chicken Teriyaki
Another take-out favorite meal prepped for lunch. Make sure to add veggies to this recipe for a complete and satisfying meal.
This healthy Teriyaki Chicken Lunch is also a terrific lunch for picky eaters.
Recipe: Copycat Chick fil a Nuggets Recipe
This staple recipe proves that you don’t need to hit the drive through for your favorite chicken bites. Make a big batch, freeze, and pack when you need them.
Recipe: Baked Chicken Tenders
Need more chicken substance or you’re a tenders person? No problem. Like the nuggets, these baked chicken tenders are your secret freezer stash. They are also baked and perfectly crispy and delicious.
Recipe: Easy Buffalo Chicken Sliders
I made a homemade version of a favorite appetizer menu item from a local pub I used to frequent during grad school. It’s everything you love about buffalo chicken in hand-held goodness. And yes, I eat these cold/at room temperature and they are delicious!
Recipe: Sheet Pan Chicken & Potatoes
I’m notorious for keeping it simple by cooking chicken and vegetables in a large pan and distributing the content among glass storage containers. This recipe uses chicken thighs making it also very economical.
Recipe: Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes with Buffalo Chicken
I can’t help myself. I love buffalo chicken -especially when the slow cooker does all the work for me. And sweet potatoes? They are both nutritious and paired with the tangy Buffalo sauce it’s taken to another level.
If you have a microwave available, pack the sweet potato topped with the buffalo chicken in one container. In a small lidded dressing container, pack the Ranch or blue cheese dressing.
Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla
The epic slow cooker buffalo chicken above? It’s also great to make quesadillas. While I don’t recommend making the quesadillas for a few days if your chicken is hot since it will soggy up your tortillas, make sure it is fully cooled down before making the quesadillas ahead of time.
You can also freeze pre-made quesadillas on a baking sheet and once frozen, transfer them to a zip bag for future lunches.
Meal Prep Tacos
You can totally make a big batch of taco filling and then enjoy tacos and taco bowls for lunch throughout the week.
One of my favorite fillings is my salsa chicken recipe. With that, I make salad bowls, burritos, quesadillas, and grain bowls. Since I don’t have that chicken photographed in a lunch container as a taco or burrito, these two posts show you how that can be done.
Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Tacos
I can’t help it. That buffalo chicken is so good you’re going to want to make a big batch and also pack it as tacos. No matter what tacos you pack, add extra toppings and dressings on the side in other compartments or small lidded containers.
Recipe: Southwest Breakfast Burritos
Egg burritos are not just for breakfast. Eggs are for all day and every day!
Meal Prep Fish Recipes
A lot of us never think to pack fish for lunch. I’m not sure if it’s the fear of it going bad or what. In all honesty, if the food your eating was cooked to a safe temperature, it will be ok by lunch time given it’s not left out on the sun.
Recipe: Salmon salad
One of my favorite things to make is a big bowl of salmon salad. Like tuna salad, it can be used to salads, inside a sandwich, in a warp, or even to stuff a pita.
Recipe: Tuna Salad
This one is an obvious one to turn a couple of pouches of tuna into a delicious salad to use in similar ways as you would use the salmon salad above. But have you thought about grilling that tuna sandwich and then packing it for lunch? Epic.
Recipe: Gluten-Free Fish Sticks
Fish sticks for lunch? Oh yes. If they are a winner for dinner, they get packed for lunch! These get eaten at room temperature (I pack them cold) and they are just as good.
Recipe: Salmon Nuggets
Like the fish sticks or their counterpart: chicken nuggets, these salmon nuggets are also delicious. Their parmesan crust makes them a delicious option for both dinner and lunch.
Prep-Ahead Sandwiches & Wraps
We all know that just about anything can be turned into a sandwich or a wrap. From deli cuts to salmon, tuna, eggs (salad and hard boiled), chicken salad…. oh.boy. You’re going to love these timeless option.
Recipe: Southern Chicken Salad 5 Ways
At the begiining of the week, I often turn a rotisserie chicken into a big bowl of southern chicken salad. This never disappoints since I can either eat it as is or in one of these 5 epic ways.
Recipe: Egg Salad 5 Ways
Hard-boiled eggs are great to have on hand for adding a bit of protein to any meal or as a snack. Do you know what else they are great for? Making egg salad! In turn, you can take egg salad and turn it into one of these 5 lunches.
Recipe: Hard-boiled Eggs 5 Ways
Don’t like the texture of egg salad? No problem. Use up your hard boiled eggs in one of these 5 lunch ideas.
Recipe: Deviled Eggs 5 Ways
Who wouldn’t want their prepped lunch to feel like they are at a party? This is one of my favorite lunches because I can mix and match and no lunch feels the same.
Recipe: Falafel Flatbread with Tzatziki
For dinner, I make a big batch of falafels and serve them with hummus or with a Mediterranean salad. Leftover falafels can be wrapped up in a flatbread or stand-alone in a lunchbox.
Recipe: Asian Chicken Wraps
This is one of those “big-bowl” salads that tastes better the next day. The crunchy slaw stays intact and whether you wrap it up in a lettuce cup or inside a tortilla, this Asian salad is super convenient.
Recipe: Italian Sausage Sandwiches with Peppers and Onions
Can you cook your favorite sausage links and then use them throughout the week? Absolutely. My favorite way to enjoy them is inside a soft hoagie bun or topping a salad as shown further down.
Recipe: Roasted Chicken Flatbread
Why roast one chicken when two fit in the baking sheet and you can enjoy them throughout the week? I’m all about efficiency -even if I just buy the rotisserie chicken from the grocery store I typically buy an extra one for lunches. I’m telling you, the quick dressing makes this Greek Chicken Flatbread Lunch a great idea.
Recipe: Deli Turkey 5 Ways
That pound of deli turkey can be reinvented in different ways. No one said you had to eat the same turkey sandwich daily! Check out these 5 ideas with deli turkey -or any deli meat for that matter.
Recipe: Deli Ham 5 Ways
A little different than our turkey ideas, ham gets reinvented into tacos, wrapping crisp apples, and more. Again, who wants to eat a plain sandwich daily? And when in doubt, make a toasty.
Recipe: Pita Pizzas
Say you buy a bag of pitas or flatbreads to make the roasted chicken lunch or stuff them with egg salad, or falafels… by the time Friday comes around and you’re craving pizza… they can still come to the rescue!
I often prep the pita or flatbread pizzas ahead of time and in the morning, before packing them for lunch I toast them in a toaster oven. Once cooled, about 5 minutes later, I pack the sliced pita pizza in a lunchbox. I eat it at room temperature but if you have a microwave available, feel free to heat the slices up.
Meal Prep Salads
Can you meal prep salads ahead of time? Absolutely! All you have to do is make sure your lettuce is washed and fully dry before you pack it in a lunchbox and that the dressing is packed in a small lidded container.
Green salads will wilt if you toss them with dressing ahead of time so it’s always a good idea to leave that for the last minute. You can prep a salad up to 3 days ahead of time.
Recipe: Cobb Salad Bar & Lettuce Cups
I already established that I love Cobb salad -both as a green salad or the pasta salad above. For dinner, I often set out all the ingredients and everyone builds their own bowl. And for lunch prep? Same. Except I build a salad in a lunchbox or in a lettuce cup.
Recipe: Santa Fe Salad with Chicken
Chicken is always a winner -at any meal! I love this Santa Fe Salad Lunchbox because I use up chicken and black beans from other recipes. Pack the dressing in a small lidded container and prep this up to 3 days in advance.
Recipe: Turkey Sausage Salad Bowl
Can you cook your favorite sausage links and then use them throughout the week? Absolutely. My favorite way to enjoy them is inside a soft hoagie bun or topping a salad.
Recipe: Egg Salad Stuffed Avocado
I already showed you the power of boiling eggs ahead of time with the 5 egg salad lunches, hard-boiled egg lunches, and deviled egg lunches. When you have an avocado that’s ready to be devoured and you want a low-carb lunch, stuffing it with egg salad is definitely a great idea. Try it, you’re going to love it.
Recipe: Salmon Nicoise Salad
A restaurant across the street from my office had this gorgeous salad on the menu. The meal was a favorite of mine… except the price tag of an $18 lunch. For that much, I could buy the salmon and all the ingredients and make 4 lunches, or more, for the price of one take-out order. Enjoy salmon one night and then make this Salmon Nicoise Lunchbox Salad.
Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Salad
I’m buffalo chicken obsessed. Like, I have a problem with it. So it’s no surprise that my slow cooker buffalo chicken recipe gets frozen in single-serving zip bags and I can whip up this Buffalo Chicken Salad Lunchbox super fast.
Recipe: Sweet Potato Salad
You probably thought that sweet potato salad was only good for BBQs, right? This recipe is mayo-free, lasts 4 to 5 days in the fridge and the yogurt-dressing is delish!
Recipe: Chicken Caprese Salad
Fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil… all cooked with chicken into a restaurant-quality meal. This is one recipe I don’t mind eating all week long -for 3 to 4 days anyway.
Recipe: Cheddar Bacon Salad with Chicken
I’m one of those people that if I go through the trouble of breading chicken, I want it to last! One way Iove eating crispy, oven-baked chicken is in the form of this salad. Again, place the dressing in a small lidded container and drizzle when ready to eat.
Recipe: BLT Salad
Like the favorite sandwich, but on a salad. This BLT Salad Lunchbox gets prepped in about ten minutes, while the bacon cooks I chop up my salad. Make your Ranch dressing with this recipe or pack your store bought favorite in a small lidded container.
Recipe: Southwest Quinoa Salad
This tasty salad can be served hot or cold, make it a great side dish and a perfect school or office lunch for the next day. You can easily bulk it up with your favorite protein or drizzle it with a creamy lime dressing making it a versatile meal prep recipe the whole family will love.
Meal Prep Soup Recipes
Few things are more comforting than a bowl of soup on a chili day. How many times have you looked out your office window, seen crummy weather, and wished you had your fuzzy socks? -Oh, ok. Maybe it’s just me.
The best part about the following soup recipes is that you can make a big batch of soup and enjoy it throughout the week. Don’t want to eat the same soup recipe all week long? I got you too boo. Check out this post on how to freeze chili -it applies to all soup recipes.
Have a microwave handy? Great. Warm up your glass soup bowl. Otherwise, heat up your soup very hot and pack it in a thermos container.
Recipe: Taco Soup
If you can open up cans you can make this easy taco soup recipe. Hearty, full of delicious flavors, and whether you freeze it or enjoy it throughout the week, you won’t be disappointed.
Recipe: Tomato Vegetable Soup with Grilled Cheese
This tomato vegetable soup is a staple at my house. Sometimes, I throw cooked tortellini in it while other times I pack it to-go along with these Grilled Cheese Dippers. Adults can eat grilled cheese for lunch too!
Recipe: Vegetarian Enchilada Soup
Hands down, this enchilada soup is for those of us who love enchiladas but don’t want to go through the work of making them. Unlike the taco soup that I can eat daily, this is one I freeze for future lunches.
All you have to do is thaw, warm it up, and enjoy it as a warm Enchilada Soup Thermos lunch!
Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup
I don’t have to be feeling under the weather to enjoy this Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup Thermos Lunch. While I have a microwave at the office, I still love packing it up in a thermos -hard to take away the kid in me!
Recipe: Stovetop Chicken and Rice Soup
Want to keep your chicken soup gluten-free? No problem. Oh, you said you’re a “chicken and rice person?” I’ve got you covered there too. This Easy Chicken Rice Soup Thermos lunch is my favorite -yes, I’m that chicken and rice person.
Recipe: Vegetarian Minestrone
Down the street from the office, Olive garden serves their Vegetarian Minestrone Soup with breadsticks. And while that’s definitely a nostalgic meal, this big batch of minestrone soup at home costs less than a meal out.
Recipe: Potato Soup
I love baked potatoes but they sometimes reheat funny. This potato soup recipe is one I LOVE and enjoy year-round. Need a pressure cooker version? Check out the Instant Pot Potato Soup recipe.
Recipe: Vegetarian Tomato Tortellini Soup
Gone are the days where it’s acceptable to eat tomato soup out of a can -metallic taste anyone? Whether you heat up a bowl at the office or pack this Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup Thermos, you’re going to love this lunch.
Meal Prep Bowls
I often joke that if I were to write a 6th cookbook -yes, I have 5 cookbooks already!- I would love a book where one can eat everything out of a bowl. I practically eat dinner in a bowl most nights so packing them for lunch is always a terrific idea.
You might prefer a round, glass meal prep bowl or a rectangular meal prep bowl, both of these recipes can be enjoyed hot or cold. Obviously, many of the recipes already shared above can be turned into a “bowl” by simply layering up your ingredients.
Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Power Bowls
Mild or spicy, I love me some power bowls. Keep your bowl low carb (more ideas below) by using riced cauliflower or chopped lettuce instead of grains.
Recipe: Mediterranean Chicken Farro Bowls
One of my top recipes to meal prep for lunch? These Mediterranean chicken bowls. I love, love, love the citrus chicken flavor in addition to the feta, olives, and tomatoes. I used farro as the base for the recipe but you can use rice, lettuce, or riced cauliflower.
Low-Carb Meal Prep Recipes
While many of the recipes in this post are naturally low-carb, I felt the “low-carb” option deserved a section so I can explain what makes a great low-carb meal prep lunch.
If you’re counting macros, you know that even using riced cauliflower can increase your net carb intake -vs using chopped lettuce or cabbage. Like many of the recipes in this post, the ones in this section are full of flavor and the only thing they lack are carbs.
Recipe: Paleo Egg Roll in a Bowl
This recipe for egg roll in a bowl has everything I love from eggrolls: the Asian flavors, the crunch from cabbage, and the ground meat. What I don’t love is the fried wonton wrapper so Egg Roll in a Bowl Lunchbox is the perfect meal to prep ahead.
You can make this recipe once and refrigerate it for up to 4 days. Freezing the egg roll bowl will make your cabbage a bit soggier when reheating because cabbage holds a lot of water. However, I’ve got to admit I don’t get sick of this recipe, not even on the 3rd or 4th day.
Recipe: Zucchini Pizza Bites
Pizza dough = loads of carbs. This Zucchini Pizza Lunchbox takes just minutes to cook thanks to your oven’s broiler setting and can keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. Load up the zucchini slices with your favorite pizza toppings.
Recipe: Low Carb Chicken Burrito Bowls
I whipped up this recipe after realizing that my burrito bowl at Chipotle could be recreated at a fraction of the cost at home. Sure, it’s not their grilled chicken with their secret seasoning -I actually throw the chicken in the slow cooker with some salsa and let it do all the work for me.
The result? It’s an epic Chicken Burrito Lunchbox where I can now afford to load up with guac. Yes, to extra guacamole baby!
Recipe: Healthy Jambalaya
Living outside of New Orleans, Jambalaya is one recipe we all serve at parties at gatherings because it’s easy to serve an army with one meal-dishes. The downside? Rice has carbs and it’s so good you’re going to want one big bowl of it!
Also, Jambalaya is the type of food that tastes better the next day (and the next) so make sure to give the Cajun Jambalaya Thermos Lunch a try (or heat it up in the microwave).Print