Healthy Meal-Prep Staples to Make This Weekend

Jun 18 2021
Eating healthy during the week isn't as hard as you think. You just need to do some work ahead of time. Set aside a few weekend hours for food prep, and get in front of it!

Cooked Chicken Breast

If you're trying to eat healthy, ready-to-eat lean protein is a must. And chicken is one of the most versatile proteins around! The trick is to stick with universal seasonings — like salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder — so that a big batch of chicken will work with many different meals. Our go-to chicken cooking method? Bake it in a foil pack! It makes the chicken super tender...

How to: Pound boneless skinless chicken breast to an even thickness. Lay a large piece of heavy-duty foil on a baking sheet, and spray with nonstick spray. Evenly place chicken breasts in a single layer on the foil (leave a few inches at the edges), and sprinkle with seasonings. Cover with another large piece of foil, and fold together all four edges, forming a well-sealed packet. Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees, or until chicken is fully cooked. Cut packet to release hot steam before opening entirely. If you like, shred it while it's warm! Let cool before refrigerating. Click here for four more ways to cook up a big batch of chicken.

Hard-Boiled Eggs

Another staple protein! Hard-boiled eggs are great, whether you choose to eat or discard the yolks. We tend to ditch the yolks to make room for other stuff: Think salsa, hummus, or avocado! Hello, satisfying snack. Hard-boiled egg whites are also excellent for impromptu egg salad enjoyed over lettuce or on whole-grain bread. Recipes here!

How to: Place eggs in a pot, and cover with water, leaving a few inches of the pot's inner edge above the water line. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cook for 10 minutes. Then drain, and transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water. Let sit for at least 20 minutes, crack the shells, and easily peel 'em off. Click here for a how-to video! HG Alternative: Bake your eggs in a muffin pan.


Instant oatmeal is fine, but slow-cooked oatmeal is better! Cook it ahead of time to save yourself the a.m. effort. Then reheat in the microwave, or enjoy it chilled. HG tip: Top it off with lots of fresh fruit to make it extra filling.

How-to: Fans of steel-cut oats, use this formula: Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a medium-large pot. Add 1 cup steel-cut oats and 1/8 tsp. salt, and return to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hour, or until thickened. (Makes four 1-cup servings.) You can also cook steel-cut oats overnight in a slow cooker: Check it out! Prefer our classic Growing Oatmeal, made with old-fashioned oats? Here's a multi-serving recipe for that. Another option: Make several batches of overnight oats!

Cooked Ground Beef or Turkey

Keep the protein coming! Cooked ground meat is the perfect addition to salads, veggies 'n sauce, soups, and more. When it comes to beef, we're all about extra-lean, often labeled as 96% lean and/or 4% fat. And if you prefer poultry, stick with lean turkey, a.k.a. 93% lean and/or 7% fat. (It tastes better than extra-lean ground turkey.)

How-to: Spray a skillet with nonstick spray, add your meat, and sprinkle with basic seasonings. Then just cook and crumble until cooked through. Remember to let it cool before refrigerating...

Spaghetti Squash

Pasta swap! If you crave spaghetti but not the excess carby calories, you need a batch of spaghetti squash to get you through the week. Top it with some of that precooked protein and sauce for an easy weeknight meal!

How-to: The #1 complaint people have with spaghetti squash is usually that it's hard to cut open. The second is that it's too much work to prepare. Both problems are solved with this simple method! Stick a whole squash into a slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Then set it on high and ignore it for 2 1/2 hours. Cut the soft squash, ditch the seeds, scrape the strands, and you're set up with several servings of veggie-noodle goodness. Click here for video evidence of how easy this is. No slow cooker? No problem...

Ready-to-Cook (Or Eat Raw) Veggies

How many times have you thought, "I just don't have the energy to deal with cutting up veggies right now"? It happens, and it often gets in the way of making a healthy meal. Do the tedious part ahead of time in one fell swoop, and you won't have to bust out the cutting board every day.

How-to: For easy morning scrambles, keep a container of diced bell peppers and onions. For cauliflower rice dishes, pulse roughly chopped cauliflower in a blender until reduced to rice-sized pieces. (We like to keep a couple bags of frozen or fresh cauliflower rice around to make it even easier.) And for anytime snacking, slice up some jicama sticks, red pepper strips, and cucumber spears!

Chew on this:

Today, June 18th, is National Splurge Day. It's also Friday. Treat yourself!

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