Healthy meal prep ideas

Healthy meal prep ideas

Hi, I’m Georgia. Some of you may know me from customer service but in a past life I was a chef! 

As a meal-prep chef for many years, the main concern I heard from customers was the struggle to get into the rhythm of fitting in simple/healthy mid-week meals around a crazy work/family schedule. Creating different meals from scratch is daunting and often the last thing you want to do. Cooking a huge batch of something and eating it all week is boring and will have the kids moaning after day two. Prepping key ingredients is the key to success. Even if you have the same flavours for a couple of days you can change the textures in each meal to keep things exciting. Here are some ideas to get you started…

sundried-tomato-pesto

Prep idea 1: Pesto

Pesto is a great addition to your meal prep as it’s so versatile and makes simple meals so tasty! 

Sundried Tomato Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 280g sundried tomatoes
  • 50g pine nuts
  • ½ clove of garlic
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 50g parmesan (optional)

Method:

Blitz all the ingredients in a blender. Season to taste. Store in a jar in the fridge for a week.

Lunch idea: Salmon with sundried tomato lentils and roast cauliflower

I still love my salads for lunch in the winter but find they do need to pack a bit more body. This is perfect, as it’s hearty and gives you that full feeling you need when it’s cold! 

Sundried Tomato Dressing

Take 60g of the pesto and mix with:

  • ½ juice of a lemon
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Lentil and Roast Cauliflower Salad

  • 1x cauliflower
  • 1x aubergine
  • 15g basil, roughly chopped
  • 15g parsley, roughly chopped
  • 150g lentils
  • 20g pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1 large handful of kale (massaged with olive oil or lightly steamed for 1 minute)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Roasted salmon
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 lemon

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Chop the cauliflower into small florets and place on a roasting tray.

3. Dice the aubergine into 2 cm chunks and add to a separate tray. Drizzle both trays of veg with olive oil, the smoked paprika and salt, then roast for 20 minutes.

4. Swap the veg round if they’re on different shelves and roast for a further 15/20 minutes.

5. In a pan, cover the lentils with boiled water (2cm of water above the lentil line) and then simmer for 15 minutes, or until just tender. Strain and run the lentils to cool them down, then leave sitting in the sieve for 5 minutes to get rid of any excess water.

6. Combine all the salad ingredients and massage through the dressing.

7. Plate up and top with an extra sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds and herbs if you fancy.

8. Reduce the oven temp to 160C.

9. Drizzle 2 fillets of salmon with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and place two round slices of lemon on each fillet. Roast for 16 minutes, or until cooked through.

10. Serve with the salad and enjoy! 

Dinner idea: Stuffed feta and sundried tomato salmon with warm squash salad

sun-dried-tomato-salmon-and-salad

Again, this is a nice light option when you want a healthy mid-week meal. It’s got carbs from the squash plus fats and protein from the salmon and feta, so you'll feel satisfied. If you’re vegetarian, opt for my sundried tomato frittata instead! 

Ingredients

Warm squash salad

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 160g tender stem broccoli
  • 50g rocket/mixed leaves
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 15g chopped basil
  • 2 TBSP pecans, toasted
  • 1 TBSP mixed seeds, toasted
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2tsp salt

Stuffed Salmon

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • ½ block of feta (save the rest for shawarma wraps later on in the week - see below.)
  • 60g sundried tomato pesto
  • 5g of fresh oregano, roughly chopped

Sundried Tomato Frittata

  • 1TBSP rapeseed oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly diced
  • 15g fresh parsley
  • 100g sundried tomato pesto
  • 50g sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 6 large free-range eggs
  • 2 TBSP whole/soya milk
  • ½ block of feta, crumbled
  • 25g hard cheese of choice, grated

Method

1. Smash the feta into the pesto. Lightly slice the salmon lengthways down the middle (careful not to go right through.) Spoon the feta mix into the gap in the salmon and smooth over the top. Set to one side on a baking tray.

2. Preheat oven to 220C.

3. Finely chop or blitz the pecans in a food processor. Mix with the seeds, paprika and salt, then set aside. 

4. Peel the squash and cut it in half. Spoon out the middle and slice widthways into thin slices. 

5. Roast on the top shelf, with the sliced onion, a sprinkle of salt, mixed herbs and a drizzle of oil. Turn after 15/20 minutes, once the squash and onions are starting to turn golden. Roast for a further 15 minutes, then move the squash to a lower shelf and reduce the oven to 160C. Add the salmon to the top shelf for 16 minutes. 

6. With 5 minutes to spare, bring a small pan of water to boil. Chop the tender stem in half, then add to the water for 2 minutes max. Strain and set aside.

7. Once veg and salmon are cooked, remove them from the oven. Plate up the salmon. Combine all the veg and herbs, plate up and sprinkle with the pecan crumble.

Frittata method

If opting for frittata instead, I would make this in advance, before the salad. 

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Fry the onion, garlic for 8 minutes until just beginning to soften. Season, then stir in the pesto until softened (if it’s hardened a bit in the fridge) and remove from the heat.

2. Whisk the eggs, milk and a pinch of salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the hard cheese, followed by the sundried tomato and onion mixture. Pour into a non-stick baking dish/tray. Sprinkle in the sun dried tomatoes, crumbled feta and parsley.

3. Heat the oven to 170C. Cook for 15/30 minutes until the frittata is golden and firm in the middle. Allow to cool a little before slicing, then serve warm or cold. Frittatas are a great meal prep option as they last in the fridge for 5 days. 

Prep idea 2: Slaw

Although it’s not the fanciest of dishes, slaw is a great meal prep addition, as undressed it will keep in the fridge for around 3 to 4 days – whereas leafy and roasted veg can turn sad very quickly! It’s also great for reducing waste, as you can mix it up and use veggies that you already have lying around in the fridge.

crunchy-slaw

Crunchy Aromatic Slaw 

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots, stripped with a julienne peeler
  • 1 courgette, stripped with a julienne peeler
  • 1 pepper, cut into slices 
  • 1 packet of radishes, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 packet of sugar snap, roughly chopped (I like to slice off the stringy edge first, but not everybody is bothered by this!)
  • 1 packet of baby corn, roughly chopped
  • 25g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • ½ bunch of spring onions 

Prep all the veg and mix together. It can then be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. 

Garnish Ideas 

  • black onion seeds
  • chilli flakes
  • crispy onions
  • fresh coriander, roughly chopped

These garnish ideas are best sprinkled/ mixed through the slaw to serve. Crispy onions can go a bit mushy once refrigerated, and it’s always nice to refresh the coriander. You can even leave this out completely until ready to serve if you prefer.

Lunch idea: Crispy slaw with 5-spiced courgette fritters and peanut, tamarind dressing

courgette-fritters

As well as the slaw, you can prep all of the elements in this salad in advance. The dressing will keep for a week and the courgette fritter mix will keep for 3 days. You can choose to cook the fritters in advance and serve cold (they also last for 3 days), or you can serve fresh and hot on the day – they only take 10 minutes! 

Peanut Tamarind Dressing

  • 2 TBSP peanut butter
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce/tamari
  • 1 TBSP sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar/rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • ½ cm chunk of ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp honey

Courgette Fritters 

  • 2 large courgettes
  • 2 TBSP cornflour
  • 2 TBSP gluten free flour/plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1TBSP chinese five spice
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch coriander, finely chopped

Method

Slaw recipe above, plate up. Sprinkle with garnish ideas.

Dressing

Whisk all the dressing ingredients in a bowl, or add to a blender and blitz until smooth.  

Courgette Fritters

1. Grate the courgettes by hand or in a food processor.

2. Tip courgette into a clean tea towel/muslin cloth and squeeze out all the excess liquid.

3. Add to a bowl. Crack and beat the eggs and add to the courgette, along with the spices, flours, spring onions, coriander and salt. Mix well until combined.

4. Add a generous drizzle of oil to a pan and turn heat on low. Once the pan is hot, spoon heaped tablespoons of mix into the pan.

5. Leave to set and flip once golden (approximately 5 mins). Cook the second side for another 5 minutes, or until cooked through and golden.

6. Plate up with the slaw, add a good drizzle of dressing and enjoy! 

Dinner: GF chicken katsu with homemade sauce 

This dinner idea always goes down so well in my house! It seems like a complicated meal, but if the slaw’s all ready to go it’s actually a lot simpler then it seems. The sauce can also be made and kept in advance (up to 5 days) if you know you’re going to be pushed for time in the week. If you’re meat-free this works really well with squash instead of chicken and you can replace the chicken stock in the sauce with vegetable/mushroom stock. 

katsu-curry

Ingredients

  • 300g white rice, cooked. 

Gluten Free Breaded Chicken/Squash

150g Gluten Free breadcrumbs – most supermarkets sell these now! Or buy a good GF loaf, slice and cook 4 pieces of bread at 140 degrees until the bread is crisp. Leave to cool and then blitz in a food processor/blender.

  • 4 breasts of chicken/1 squash
  • 150g gluten free plain flour
  • 1 TBSP mild curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 eggs

Katsu sauce

  • 1 stick of celery, finely sliced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 TBSP mild curry powder
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Worcester sauce
  • 1 small chunk of ginger, grated
  • 1 tin of coconut
  • 300ml chicken/vegetable stock

Method

GF Breaded Chicken/Squash

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. To homemade breadcrumb, you need 3 coating stages: -

  • A flour coating
  • A wet/glue like coating
  • The crunchy/breadcrumb coating

In this case, I’m using GF plain flour with spices, free-range eggs and GF breadcrumbs.

First, crack and beat the eggs into a shallow dish - this is the wet coating. Weigh out the flour into a second shallow dish and mix through all the spices and salt - the flour coating. Weigh out the breadcrumbs into a third shallow dish -  the final coating stage. Line all your dishes in a row.

3. If your chicken breasts are very chunky, you might like to thin them out a bit so they’ll cook more evenly. You can do this by removing the tenderloin (this kind of looks like a very small chicken breast, and runs right down the underside of the breast). While cutting out the tenderloin you can also keep the knife moving upwards, to trim off some of the thicker part of the breast if needed. If you can manage to keep the tenderloin and extra trimmings from the top of the breast in one piece, it will actually make another good sized chicken breast which can also be breaded. Don’t worry if you end up with lots of smaller pieces though, as these can also be breaded too! 

4. One after the other, dip and fully coat your prepped chicken pieces in the flour, then move across to the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Lay all bread crumbed breasts one by one on a baking tray. Once all the breasts are coated, drizzle/spray with oil and cook on the middle shelf for 30 minutes. You can deep fry the breasts in oil, but roasting is less messy and a bit healthier! 

5. If you’re making the squash version, simply prep the squash by peeling, de-seeding and slicing into wedges. Then simmer in boiling water for 5 minutes to soften. Blanch under cold water and pat dry. Then breadcrumb and cook exactly the same way as the chicken. 

Katsu Sauce

1. Fry the celery, carrot, onions, ginger and garlic on low until soft. Add the spices and fry until aromatic. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on low for 30/40 minutes. Pass the katsu sauce through a sieve so you have just the liquid remaining. If the sauce is still fairly thin, add 1 TBSP cornflour (add to a cup and dissolve the powder in 1 tsp water first).

2. Take the slaw (recipe above) and plate up with the rice. Top with the chicken, pour over the sauce, sprinkle with garnishes of choice and enjoy! 

Prep idea 3: Spicy zhoug paste

Zhoug is a bold, middle eastern herb paste with a base of coriander and chilli. It’s a great prep addition for the fridge as it’s so flavoursome and can liven up any lunch or dinner. 

Ingredients

  • 75g fresh coriander
  • 25g fresh parsley
  • ½ clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp honey/maple syrup (sugar of choice)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ juice of a lemon
  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves

Method

1. Roughly chop the coriander and parsley.

2. Add all ingredients to a pestle and mortar and bash until you have a well combined paste. Or put in a blender and blitz until smooth. Keep in a jar in the fridge for 5 days.

Chicken Shawarma Wraps with Fries, Kebab Style Salad and Zhoug Yoghurt

This meal works really well for mid-week as it's a fun and sociable family meal. You can also use the dinner ingredients to sort your lunchtime soup for the next day! 

chicken-wraps

Chicken shawarma

  • 12 chicken thighs

Shawarma paste

  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric 
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 shallots
  • 2 TBSP olive oil 
  • 50g fresh coriander
  • 1cm piece of ginger
  • 1 preserved lemon (seeds scraped out)
  • 1tsp honey
  • 1 TBSP vinegar white wine/apple cider
  • 2 tsp salt

Fries

  • 1Kg maris piper potatoes
  • 1TBSP Za’atar seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt

Kebab Style Salad

  • 250g tomatoes – cherry/mixed/salad style, halved if small, halved then cut into thirds if large
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced down the length, deseeded (I like to use an apple corer!) and sliced into thin crescent moons
  • 1 sweet romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
  • 25g parsley, roughly chopped
  • 25g mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 mini cornichons from a jar, thinly sliced
  • 3 roasted red peppers (from a jar), thinly sliced

Zhoug Yoghurt

  • 2TBSP zhoug paste
  • 100g thick Greek yoghurt (you can get really good Greek-style free from yoghurts if you’re lactose intolerant)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 Turkish style flatbreads (or any wraps will do)
  • ½ block of feta

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200C.

2. Throw all the shawarma marinade ingredients in a blender/pestle and mortar and pulse/bash until smooth. Massage the thighs with the shawarma paste and add to a roasting tin. Set aside.

3. Peel and thinly cut the potatoes. Bring a large pan of water to boil and simmer the fries for 5 mins. Transfer to a sieve, blanch under cold water and pat dry. Then add to a roasting tray, drizzle and mix through a good slug of rapeseed oil and season with za’atar and salt.

4. Roast the fries in the oven for 20 minutes or until crisp. Remove and replace with the chicken, turning the oven down to 180C.

5. Prep the salad, feta and zhoug yoghurt (see below) while they roast for 35/45 mins. You can also prep the chicken and marinate overnight for an even more flavourful and tender result – although in a busy working week I definitely don’t have time to do this!

6. Toss all salad ingredients together. To serve you can also toss with a light dressing:

  • 1TBSP apple cider
  • 1TBSP olive oil 
  • 1tsp salt 
  • 1tsp honey 
  • Juice of 1 lemon 

I wouldn’t dress the whole salad unless you know you’re going to eat it all, as it really does keep so much longer undressed. 

7. Mix all the zhoug yoghurt ingredients together in a bowl. Put on the table, along with the salad and feta, which you can crumble into a small bowl. 

8. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven, and set aside. 

9. Add the fries back to the top shelf. Splash the wraps with water, cover with tinfoil and add to the bottom shelf of the oven. 

10. Transfer the chicken to a board and slice/tear apart, ready for serving. Keep all the chicken juice that’s remaining in the roasting tin, as this will be a perfect stock for next day’s soup

11. Transfer the chicken and also the nicely warmed wraps/fries to the dinner table. Now everyone can get creative and make their own chicken shawarma wraps exactly how they like. 

Spiced carrot soup with shredded chicken and zhoug drizzle

soup

This soup is super simple and warming. The great thing is you also use up the leftovers from the shawarma – including the wraps! I can’t tell you how often I’ve had stale extra wraps hanging around my bread bin. Making crispy croutons from them turns a leftover destined for the bin into a satisfying treat for the soup! 

Of course, you don’t need to have made the shawarma to make this delicious soup, and if you’re meat-free, you can make it with vegetable stock instead. The crispy flatbreads and almonds give enough texture so you don’t actually need the meat, but you can always cook some lentils if you like a bit more body to your soup. 

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 500g carrots
  • 1 maris piper potato (hopefully you’ll have leftover from making the shawarma fries)
  • 500ml chicken stock/vegetable
  • + the stock from the shawarma chicken thighs
  • shredded chicken – from the leftover shawarma
  • Leftover flatbreads from the shawarma
  • 1 TBSP flaked almonds, toasted
  • 1 tsp Za’atar
  • Zhoug drizzle
  • 1 TBSP zhoug paste
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160C.

2. On a roasting tray, drizzle any leftover flatbreads with a good slug of oil and a sprinkle of za’atar. Toast in the oven until crispy – about 12/15 minutes.

3. Finely dice the garlic, onions, carrots and potatoes. Add to a large pan and fry until softened. Add the spices and fry until aromatic. Add both stocks and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Transfer back to the pan with the leftover chicken. Heat through and simmer for another 15 minutes.

4. Serve with crispy flatbreads, toasted almonds and a sprinkling of za’atar. 

By Liv Evans

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