If you’re not a meal planner, consider adding up how much time you spend each week cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the fly, running to the grocery store for ingredients, or going through the drive-thru when you feel like you don’t have the time or energy to cook. More than likely, that will add up to an hour a day. On the other hand, you could spend 90 minutes (or less) meal prepping one afternoon and save hours during the week. Hours that could be spent working out, playing with your kids, spending time with friends and family, or doing anything else you love to do!
It is entirely possible to meal prep for five days in 90 minute or less, but you do have to be organized. The guide and grocery list below will help. The menu is geared towards those at the 1200-1500 calorie level, but can be adjusted if you’re eating at a higher level. Just double the amount of protein or vegetables in some of the meals, or supplement with ready-to-eat snacks like sliced turkey breast, raw veggies, and whole grain crackers to meet your container requirements.
So, do those dishes (it’s easier to cook quickly in a clean kitchen), purchase all of the ingredients in the grocery list that follows, and set out everything non-perishable on the table or counter. If you stay focused, and move quickly from task to task, you might be able to complete this meal prep in less than 90 minutes. It took me just over an hour.
This Week’s Meal Prep Menu:
Breakfast: Spinach, Tomato, and Quinoa Breakfast Casserole with an apple or orange
Lunch (M/W/F): Tuna and White Bean Salad with Chimichurri Sauce
Lunch (T/Th): Turkey Salad with Lentils and Bell Pepper
Dinner (M/W/F): Spaghetti Squash with Turkey, Basil, and Roasted Tomatoes
Dinner (T/Th): Spiced Ground Turkey with Cauliflower
Snacks: 20 pistachios or hummus and lettuce
Here’s what your meal prep for the week will look like when you’re done.
Spinach, Tomato, and Quinoa Breakfast Casserole and an apple or orange
(2½ cups quinoa, 4 cups spinach, 1 cup tomatoes, ¾ cup cottage cheese, 8 eggs divided into five servings = 1 red, 1 green, 1 purple, 1 yellow)
M/W/F: ¼ cup hummus with 2 lettuce leaves (1 blue)
T/Th: 20 whole pistachios (1 blue)
M/W/F: Tuna and White Bean Salad with Chimichurri Sauce
(1 can tuna, ½ cup white beans with quick chimichurri sauce over arugula = 1 red, 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 orange)
T/Th: Turkey Salad with Lentils and Bell Pepper
(1 cup spinach, 3 oz. sliced turkey breast, ½ cup lentils, ¼ red bell pepper, and 2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds with balsamic vinegar = 1 red, 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 orange)
M/W/F: Spaghetti Squash with Turkey, Basil and Roasted Tomatoes
(¾ cup spaghetti squash with 4 oz. turkey, garlic, oregano, ½ cup roasted tomatoes, and basil = 1 red, 1 green, 1 tsp.)
T/Th: Spiced Ground Turkey with Cauliflower
(4 oz. spiced ground turkey with garlic, oregano, cumin, chili powder, cilantro, ¼ red bell pepper, 1 cup roasted cauliflower = 1 red, 1 green, 1 tsp.)
Here’s how to make all of this in 90 minutes or less:
1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick spray.
2. Cut 1 cup of cauliflower into florets. Toss in a bowl with 2 tsp. olive oil to coat. Cut the spaghetti squash in half, rub the flesh of each half with 1 tsp. olive oil. Cut 1 red pepper in half and remove the seeds; set the other half aside.
3. Place cauliflower florets and 1 red pepper half on a baking sheet. Place the spaghetti squash (cut-side up) and 1 cup cherry tomatoes on another baking sheet. Spray red pepper and tomatoes lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Season vegetables on both baking sheets with salt and pepper. Place both sheets in the oven and let them roast.
4. After 15 minutes, remove the baking sheets. Remove the tomatoes from one and the bell pepper from the other. Set the tomatoes and bell pepper aside to cool. Stir the cauliflower and return cauliflower and spaghetti squash to oven. Cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15-25 minutes. Remove baking sheets from oven and place on a rack to cool. Leave oven on.
5. While the vegetables are roasting, cook 1 cup dry quinoa with 2 cups water on the stovetop or in a rice cooker. When cooked, set aside.
6. Finely chop 3 garlic cloves. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add 2 tsp. olive oil and the chopped garlic; cook, stirring constantly for one minute. Add 20 oz. ground turkey, using a wooden spoon or spatula to break into smaller pieces. Cook the turkey until it is no longer pink, approximately 6 minutes. Season with 2 tsp. oregano, and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
7. Drain the three cans of tuna and place the tuna into a medium bowl. Drain and rinse the white beans. Add the beans to the medium bowl. To make the chimichurri sauce, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, as much cilantro as you want, and crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper to taste. Fill three food containers with 1 cup arugula. Top arugula with tuna mixture, dividing evenly between the containers. Seal containers and place in refrigerator.
8. Fill two food containers with 1 cup spinach. Top each portion of spinach with 3 oz. sliced turkey breast, ½ cup lentils, ¼ chopped raw bell pepper, and 2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds. (Drizzle with good balsamic vinegar just before serving.) Seal containers and place in fridge.
9. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add four cups spinach and cook until just wilted, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. In a large bowl, combine spinach, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 2½ cups cooked quinoa, 8 eggs, ¾ cup cottage cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour quinoa mixture into baking dish, bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool, then cover with foil and place in fridge.
10. Using a spoon, scrape out the flesh of the spaghetti squash. Divide squash between three food containers, adding about ¾ cup to each. Top each portion of squash with ¾ cup ground turkey mixture, basil, and ⅓ of the roasted tomatoes. Seal containers and place in fridge.
11. Chop the roasted bell pepper. Season remaining ground turkey mixture with 1 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. chili powder. Add the bell pepper and as much cilantro as you want. Divide mixture evenly between two food containers. Add 1 cup roasted cauliflower to each container. Seal containers and place in fridge.
12. Prepare three small containers with ¼ cup hummus and 2 large lettuce leaves. Count out 2 servings each of 20 pistachios.
13. Sit back and celebrate the fact that you’ve prepped all your food for the week in just 90 minutes or less!
- Grocery List
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 6 cups spinach
- 1 medium red bell pepper
- 1 head romaine or butter lettuce
- 3 cups arugula
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 1 head garlic
- 1 spaghetti squash (about 2–3 lbs.)
- 1 small head cauliflower or 1 bag cauliflower florets
- 3 small apples
- 2 medium oranges
- 1 bag frozen strawberries
- 1 bag frozen peaches
- 1 cup quinoa
- 40 pistachios
- 4 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
- Dry and Canned Goods:
- 1 jar all-natural nut butter
- 1 can white beans
- 1 can cooked lentils
- 6 oz. lowfat cottage cheese (or ricotta)
- 8 eggs
- 6 oz. nitrate-free, low sodium deli sliced turkey
- 3 cans light tuna, packed in water, no salt added
- 20 oz. ground turkey
- Prepared hummus
- Dried oregano
- Crushed red pepper
- Red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar)
- Balsamic vinegar
- Chili powder