Your Quick and Essential Balanced Meal Prep Guide

A person starting their journey with balanced meal prepping.

Work. Kids. Errands. Chores. Bills. Exercise. Sleep. Social life. The list of daily activities we try to cram into 24 hours can be dizzying at times. So it’s no surprise in our go, go, go daily life that finding time to prepare nutritious meals can be challenging. Ironically, the foundation of maintaining energy and overall health lies in consuming a balanced diet. So, how do you make it all work and come out feeling energized and healthy each day? Meal prepping!

Meal prepping not only saves time but also ensures you have healthy options at your fingertips so you don’t reach for the potato chips or drop a case of frozen burritos in your shopping cart each week. 

Let’s dive into how to plan, prepare, and portion balanced meals for a healthy lifestyle no matter how busy life gets.


A person chopping tomatoes.


The Essentials of a Balanced Meal

A balanced meal includes a variety of nutrients from different food groups, ensuring your body and mind get what they need to thrive. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Lean Proteins: Crucial for muscle repair and growth. Think poultry, fish, tofu, and legumes.
  • Complex Carbohydrates: Great for fiber + sustained energy. Look for whole grains, oats, and starchy vegetables.
  • Healthy Fats: Necessary for brain function and energy. Avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil are great options.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Aim for a variety of colors to optimize nutrient intake and make eating enjoyable

Efficient Meal Prep Strategies

Now that you know what to eat, let's talk strategy.

  1. Plan Ahead: Decide what you want to eat throughout the week and make a detailed grocery list. Your grocery list will prevent impulse buys (are you thinking frozen burritos?) and ensure you have all the ingredients needed for your meals so you never go hungry.
  2. Buy in Bulk: Purchasing larger quantities of non-perishable items such as grains, legumes, and nuts can be more affordable and reduce your number of trips to the market. Even perishable proteins like chicken, fish, and beef can be bought in bulk and frozen for later use.
  3. Batch Cooking: Choose a day to prepare large quantities of a few recipes and fire up the stovetop. Cooking multiple meals at once saves time and energy.
  4. Portioning and Storing: After cooking, divide your meals into healthy portions. Use containers that are easy to use for reheating and label them with the date so you can keep track of freshness.

A person packaging their prepped meals.

Integrating Balance into Your Meal Prep

Creating balanced meals is more than just cooking in bulk—it's about ensuring each meal is nutritionally complete. Here's how to integrate balance into your meal prep:

  1. Mix and Match: Prepare a variety of proteins, carbs, and veggies so you can mix and match throughout the week. By mixing and matching, you can keep meals fun while also consuming a wide range of nutrients.
  2. Use the Plate Method: Want a balanced meal? Go plate method. Fill half your plate with vegetables, one-quarter with lean protein, and one-quarter with complex carbs. Add a small portion of healthy fats to round it out and…bon apetit!
  3. Spice It Up: Experiment with new spices and herbs to keep things exciting. Fresh and packaged herbs add tons of flavor without extra calories and can provide additional health benefits.

Implementing a Balanced Diet into Meal Prep

As we mentioned earlier, in order to make healthy eating convenient and easy, it's crucial to plan ahead. Start by creating a grocery list and meal plan that includes a variety of nutrients.

Grocery List

  • Lean proteins: Chicken breast, turkey, tofu, black beans
  • Complex carbs: Brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes
  • Healthy fats: Avocado, almonds, olive oil
  • Fruits and vegetables: Spinach, bell peppers, blueberries, apples
  • Essentials: Spices (garlic, cumin, paprika, chili powder), low-sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar, whole grain pasta

What to Eat

Don’t know where to start? We got you. Here are a couple of meal prep ideas and recipes to get started on your balanced (and exciting) diet.

Day 1:

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt with granola and sliced banana.
  • Lunch: Turkey and avocado wrap with whole-grain tortilla, side of mixed fruit.
  • Dinner: Stir-fried tofu with bell peppers, snap peas, carrots, and brown rice.
  • Snack: swiig Ancient Grains Plant Protein

Day 2:

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt with granola and sliced banana.
  • Lunch: Turkey and avocado wrap with whole-grain tortilla, side of mixed fruit.
  • Dinner: Stir-fried tofu with bell peppers, snap peas, carrots, and brown rice.
  • Snack: swiig Ancient Grains Plant Protein

Day 3:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with spinach, tomatoes, and whole-grain toast.
  • Lunch: Quinoa salad with chickpeas, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and a lemon-olive oil dressing.
  • Dinner: Beef stir-fry with broccoli, carrots, and quinoa.
  • Snack: Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Day 4:

  • Breakfast: Smoothie with spinach, banana, peanut butter, protein powder, and almond milk.
  • Lunch: Lentil soup with a side of whole-grain bread.
  • Dinner: Baked chicken thighs with roasted Brussels sprouts and mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Snack: Sliced pear with a handful of walnuts.

Day 5:

  • Breakfast: Chia pudding topped with mixed berries and a sprinkle of coconut flakes.
  • Lunch: Tuna salad served over mixed greens with avocado, cherry tomatoes, and a balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Dinner: Vegetable curry with chickpeas served over brown rice.
  • Snack: Celery sticks with almond butter.

Day 6:

  • Breakfast: Whole grain pancakes topped with fresh strawberries and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
  • Lunch: Chicken Caesar salad with homemade croutons and a light Caesar dressing.
  • Dinner: Baked cod with a side of quinoa and steamed green beans.
  • Snack: Cottage cheese with pineapple chunks.

Day 7:

  • Breakfast: Egg muffins made with eggs, diced bell peppers, onions, and spinach.
  • Lunch: Whole grain pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil.
  • Dinner: Grilled shrimp with a side of wild rice and roasted asparagus.
  • Snack: Sliced cucumber with a light ranch dressing.


Step-by-Step Guide to Meal Prep

  1. Plan: Use the meal plan and grocery list to buy everything you need in one trip.
  2. Prep Ingredients: Wash and chop vegetables, marinate proteins, and cook grains.
  3. Cook in Batches: Focus on one recipe at a time and cook in large quantities.
  4. Portion and Store: Divide meals into containers. Refrigerate what you'll eat within a few days and freeze the rest.


A person preparing meal prepped meals.


Two Go-To Meal Prep Recipes

To get started, here are two delicious recipes that provide a balanced mix of protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals, making them perfect for your nutritious meal prep plan.

Mediterranean Chickpea and Quinoa Salad


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the Quinoa: In a medium saucepan, bring the 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the rinsed quinoa and reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool.
  2. Prepare the Salad Ingredients: While the quinoa is cooling, prepare the rest of the salad ingredients. In a large bowl, combine the drained chickpeas, halved cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, finely chopped red onion, sliced kalamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese.
  3. Make the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Combine: Add the cooled quinoa to the large bowl with the salad ingredients. Pour the dressing over the top and toss to combine everything evenly.
  5. Garnish: Sprinkle the chopped fresh parsley over the salad and give it one final toss.
  6. Serve or Store: Serve immediately, or divide into meal prep containers for future meals. This salad can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry


  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce (store-bought or homemade)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked brown rice, for serving
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish


  1. Prep Chicken: Season the chicken breast pieces with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook the Chicken: In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until browned and cooked through about 5-7 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
  3. Stir-Fry Vegetables: In the same skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the broccoli florets and sliced bell pepper. Stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.
  4. Combine: Return the cooked chicken to the skillet with the vegetables. Pour the teriyaki sauce over the top and toss to coat all the ingredients evenly in the sauce. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until everything is heated through and the sauce has slightly thickened.
  5. Serve or Store: Serve the teriyaki chicken and broccoli over cooked brown rice, garnished with sesame seeds. Alternatively, divide into meal prep containers over a bed of rice for easy reheating and consumption throughout the week. This dish can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 

Balanced meal prepping is a lifestyle choice that prioritizes health and convenience. By taking the time to cook nutritious foods in bulk and actively plan your weekly meals, you can make eating healthy easy and delicious. Now get that quinoa cooking!


Everyday Health - 8 Scientific Benefits of Meal Prepping

Healthline - 10 Delicious Herbs and Spices With Powerful Health Benefits

Better Health - Food safety and storage

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


    Nutrition (per serving)