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Saying that there just aren’t enough hours in the day isn’t anything new. In amongst all the school runs, work commutes, and general madness, one of the most difficult things to find time for is cooking a healthy dinner that can satisfy (nearly) everyone in the family.
I’ve seen a lot of articles say that there’s no excuse for not setting aside an hour to cook an evening meal during the week. I don’t agree.
Life can throw up all sorts of surprises, and stretch us on a daily basis, so having a bank of healthy meal prep ideas using ingredients readily available can be a lifesaver.
Here are 9 healthy meal prep ideas that will help you save both time and money, by giving you a quick option to pull out of the freezer. All or this while also keeping the whole family happy… which we all know is never easy!
Each of these only use a handful of core ingredients, while there should be enough in this list to cover people on meat-free, meat-based, paleo, and low-carb diets.
Be sure to let me know what you think!
More recipe ideas that save time and money
9 Healthy Meal Prep Ideas for Busy Nights
Tandoori Cauliflower Chickpea Tacos
This unconventional take on tacos matches Southern Asian flavors with a meat-free version of the popular dish. Neither cauliflower or chickpeas might strike you as obvious meat alternatives, but trust me. It works.
Ever since I introduced these to my family last year, they’ve proved a hit. They only take 10 minutes to put together, and its core ingredients are essentially just cauliflower, chickpeas, avocado, and tortilla wraps.
What’s even better is that the cauliflower, chickpea, and spice filling can then be frozen, and reheated later in the week to then re-use.
Instant Pot Taco Chili
Tacos? Chili? I’m in. This recipe infuses the beautiful flavors of a traditional chili with a touch of extra spice.
If you’ve ever been on the fence about getting an instant pot, then this could be the recipe to sway you. While a lot of chili recipes can take hours to simmer and cook, thanks to the instant pot this only takes about half an hour.
Chili is one of the best healthy meal prep ideas to serve as leftovers, so if you’re able to make this in batch and store in the freezer, then you’ll be able to squeeze even more out of it over the following days throughout the week.
Stuffed Bell Peppers
I actually went through a stage where almost every dinner I made was housed in a stuffed pepper. Chili, quinoa, couscous… even eggs. You name it, I probably tried to wedge it into a pepper.
But when you see this stuffed bell pepper recipe, you might start to understand my obsession.
This recipe does require a bit longer in the oven, but couldn’t be easier to assemble. Plus, the fillings are brilliant as leftovers.
Vegan Sausage Casserole
I’m not sure if there’s anything that stirs up childhood memories in me as much as sausages. They go with almost anything and now thanks to brilliant advances in modern cooking, non-meat alternatives are getting closer and closer to tasting like the real thing. Recipes like this are a great way to introduce meat-free alternatives to children from a young age.
This recipe is cooked up just in one pan and can be made start to finish in about 20 minutes. After that, it can easily be divided up into Tupperware and frozen to be enjoyed later.
Vegan Chili Cheese Tater Tots
If you’ve ever cooked a batch of veggie chili and wondered how to repurpose it other than to serve it over rice again, then this is one of the best the healthy meal prep ideas for you.
This recipe uses the chili to pour over tater tots with cashew queso, with a dash of hot sauce.
Technically this is a vegan recipe, but if you prefer to use meat chili and real cheese then go for it!
In this case, if you want to make in batch and freeze for later then you will only be able to freeze the chili, with the tater tots having to be oven cooked fresh each time.
Black Bean Salsa Burgers
These veggies burgers are the epitome of a quick meal. Needing just 4 ingredients, they take just 15 minutes from start to finish.
Veggie burgers are incredibly underrated. They offer much more variety than their meaty counterparts and, because of their vegetable, nut and seed content, are relatively free of guilt.
In fact, given the choice, I’d opt for a veggie burger over a meat patty any day of the week.
These are great for kids too. Serve up some sides of cheese, tomato, lettuce, and sauces, and let them make their own.
Just like almost any burger recipe, whether meat-filled or meat-free, these are great out the freezer.
Instant Pot Bolognese
Besides chili, bolognese might be one of the staple batch freezer meals.
Once defrosted and heated up, it can simply be served over some freshly boiled pasta, or even repurposed later to use as part of a lasagna.
This recipe is as traditional as they come but takes the convenience one step further by using an instant pot. This takes the initial cooking time down from a few hours to just 30 minutes.
Cauliflower, Mushroom & Kale Pasta Bake
A lot of pasta bakes are quite heavy on the beef and dairy, so why not change things up with a meat-free option?
Pasta bakes are a brilliant hearty option, while this being meat-free means that the initial cooking time is much lower than other beef-filled varieties.
This recipe packs in loads of veggies to help you keep calm in the knowledge that the family are eating at least something green.
Personally, I think that freezer meals like this often taste better the second time around, and this is no different with its creamy cauliflower puree working its way through the layers of the bake.
Sweet Potato, Chickpea, and Spinach Curry
This beautiful stripped down curry recipe is easy to throw together and is extremely cheap to source the ingredients for too.
The initial cook for this takes an hour but is perfect for cooking in a large batch and freezing away for the rest of the week.
Dinner time doesn’t have to be so stressful when you have a bunch of healthy meal prep ideas ready to serve to your hungry family.
Ben is a photographer and contributor to The Eat Down, a site dedicated to lazy cooks from all diets. He lives in Manchester (UK) with his dog, who somehow has an even bigger appetite than him.