12 High Protein Meal Prep Ideas
Eating a protein-rich diet isn't just for athletes and bodybuilders — it's an essential aspect of nutrition that can help you feel fuller for longer, support muscle repair and growth, and encourage weight loss by curbing cravings. And when it comes to preparing protein-packed meals, high-protein meal prep is the key!
By planning and prepping your meals, you can save time, reduce waste, and make sure you meet your protein and nutrient needs, all of which are cornerstones of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. This article will guide you through twelve delicious high-protein meal prep ideas, covering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to help you fuel your days with ease.
What Are the Benefits of High-Protein Meal Prep?
High-protein meal prep has a wealth of benefits that extend beyond making weeknights easy and convenient.
First and foremost, it can help you stay on track with your nutritional goals. When meals are ready and waiting in the fridge, you're less likely to reach for unhealthy takeout or overly processed snacks when hunger strikes. Each of the meals in this guide is not only high in protein but also features a balance of carbs and healthy fats to provide well-rounded nutrition.
One of the major benefits of a high-protein diet is the role that protein plays in weight loss. Protein requires more energy to digest than carbohydrates or fats, meaning your body can burn more calories processing protein.
This process, known as the thermic effect of food (TEF), can support your metabolism and help in weight management. Additionally, protein can help keep you feeling full for longer, reducing the chance of overeating.
Including a variety of proteins in your meal prep can also help make sure that you're getting a wide array of nutrients. Chicken thighs, for example, are an excellent source of protein and offer important minerals like selenium and zinc. Plant-based proteins, like lentils and chickpeas, can deliver not just protein but also fiber, iron, and B vitamins.
Also, high-protein meal prep can give you greater control over your macros (the balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in your diet). By preparing your meals in advance, you can make sure that you're getting the right balance of macros for your specific health and fitness goals. Whether you're following a specific diet like keto, paleo, or low-carb, meal prep can help make sticking to the plan that much easier.
Finally, high-protein meal prep is about making your life easier. By dedicating a bit of time to meal prep, you can save hours during the week. With your meal prep bowls ready in your fridge, you'll have more time to focus on what matters most to you, whether that's fitness, family, hobbies, or relaxation.
High-Protein Meal Prep Ideas for Breakfast
Are you ready to learn some tasty and easy breakfast recipes that you can keep in your back pocket for meal prep day? Let’s dive in.
1. Egg and Tomato Skillet
This delicious, protein-packed breakfast is a Mediterranean-inspired dish featuring eggs cooked in a vibrant tomato sauce. This one-skillet recipe is not only easy to prepare but can also provide a powerful start to your day with about six grams of protein per egg.
The tomatoes add essential nutrients like lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. You can add some ground chicken for extra protein or serve it with whole-grain toast for added fiber. This meal is simple to reheat, making it a perfect high-protein meal prep recipe for your week.
2. Baked Eggs Cups with Artichokes and Spinach
These nutritious and low-calorie egg cups are packed with protein and supercharged with fiber-rich veggies like artichokes and spinach. Each egg cup is a protein powerhouse, providing around 12 grams of protein.
The addition of parmesan cheese not only gives a rich flavor but can also provide calcium. These egg cups can be made ahead and easily reheated, making them an excellent choice for busy weekday mornings.
3. Southwest Breakfast Scramble
This scramble is a Mexican-inspired dish packed with protein from eggs and black beans. It's also full of veggies, including bell peppers and onions. One serving provides about 15 grams of protein.
The black beans add extra protein and fiber, making this scramble a satisfying meal to keep you fueled through your morning. This scramble is easy to prepare and can be stored in meal prep containers for easy reheating.
4. Strawberry Smoothie
This refreshing and protein-packed breakfast option is perfect for on-the-go mornings. This strawberry smoothie recipe already features plenty of protein thanks to the inclusion of our Bone Broth Protein. However, you could add a scoop of Greek yogurt for an added protein punch.
Greek yogurt, with about 10 grams of protein per 100 grams, offers a substantial protein boost to this smoothie, which is also rich in vitamin C. Add in some additional ground flaxseeds for an extra protein kick to take it to the ultimate level.
Grocery List & Pantry Items
To create these high-protein breakfasts, you'll need a variety of items in your pantry and fridge.
Key items include eggs, tomatoes, spinach, artichokes, parmesan cheese, bell peppers, onions, black beans, strawberries, and Greek yogurt.
Ground chicken can be added to the egg and tomato skillet for extra protein.
Always ensure you have olive oil on hand for cooking, and keep whole grain bread or tortillas and meal prep containers for serving and storing your meals.
High-Protein Meal Prep Ideas for Lunch
Most lunch times are busy, requiring on-the-go solutions. Instead of reaching for a carb-heavy sandwich or burger, try one of these low-carb, high-protein lunch options.
5. Turkey Chili
This hearty lunch is a delicious and comforting way to get your macros in. Ground turkey provides lean protein and is a healthier alternative to ground beef, while beans add a significant fiber boost.
This dish can be prepared in an instant pot for ease and convenience, and it's even better when reheated, making it a great high-protein meal prep idea.
6. Chopped Balsamic Chicken Salad
This lunch option wonderfully balances lean protein from chicken breast, complex carbohydrates from veggies, and healthy fats from the balsamic dressing. A serving of this salad can provide upwards of 30 grams of protein.
Adding feta cheese can both lend a tangy flavor and add extra protein. This is an easy meal prep option and a perfect alternative to takeout on a busy weeknight.
7. Chicken Stir Fry
Packed with protein and colorful veggies, this chicken stir fry is a quick and easy lunch option. While you can use any part of the chicken for the stir fry, using chicken thighs can provide a tender and more flavorful protein source.
Accompanied by teriyaki sauce and served over brown rice or cauliflower rice for a low-carb option, this meal is both satisfying and nutritious. A serving typically contains 25 to 30 grams of protein.
8. Ahi Tuna with Tahini Lime Sauce
This high-protein lunch option is both light and flavorful, and ahi tuna is a great source of lean protein and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The tahini lime sauce adds a tangy zest and healthy fats to help you feel like you’re on the shoreline.
Served over zucchini noodles (zoodles), this meal is a deliciously fresh recipe that's perfect for a summer lunch.
Grocery List & Pantry Items
For these high-protein lunches, your grocery list should include ground turkey, various beans for the chili (such as kidney and black beans), chicken breast for the salad, and chicken thighs for the stir fry.
Fresh veggies for the stir fry and salad, ahi tuna steaks, and zucchini for the noodles are also essential.
You'll need sauces and condiments like balsamic vinegar, teriyaki sauce, tahini, and lime. Plus, you’ll need to make sure you have staple pantry items such as olive oil, salt, pepper, and spices to enhance the flavor of your meals.
High-Protein Meal Prep Ideas for Dinner
We know the feeling: It’s been a long day, and all you want to do is order your favorite takeout or pick up dinner on the way home. But, with these meal prep options, you’ll have a delicious and high-protein option in the fridge waiting for you.
9. Asian Turkey Burger
These Asian-inspired burgers are a delicious and protein-packed twist on the classic burger. Made with ground turkey, they're a healthier alternative to traditional beef burgers, and the Asian flavors make for a tangy addition.
You can serve these burgers on a whole-grain bun or in lettuce wraps to keep them low-carb. One turkey burger can provide around 22 grams of protein.
10. Stuffed Bell Peppers
Stuffed with a flavorful mixture of ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and spices, bell peppers can be both delicious and full of nutrients.
When making stuffed peppers, the stuffing can be varied to include other high-protein foods like quinoa or chickpeas. This healthy meal prep idea is easy to make on a sheet pan in the oven, and each serving provides a balanced meal of protein, carbs, and healthy fats.
11. Slow-Cooker Turkey (or Chicken) and Sweet Potato Stew
A warming and comforting dish, this slow cooker turkey stew packs in lean protein from turkey or chicken and complex carbohydrates from sweet potatoes. Slow-cooked to perfection, this meal is not only easy to prepare but is also an extremely satisfying way to finish off a busy day.
This one-pot meal is a great addition to any meal plan and is sure to be a welcome sight at the dinner table after a long day. Each serving provides approximately 25 to 30 grams of protein.
12. Salmon Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Creamy Cilantro Dressing
These are not your average tacos! Salmon is high in protein and is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Paired with a crunchy cabbage slaw and a tangy cilantro dressing, these salmon tacos are sure to please.
You can opt for small whole-grain tortillas for a healthier twist on traditional taco shells or make a taco bowl to keep it low-carb. One serving of two tacos can offer around 20 grams of protein.
Grocery List & Pantry Items
To prepare these protein-rich dinners, you will need ground turkey for the burgers and possibly the stew, ground beef for the stuffed bell peppers, and potentially chicken. Additional protein foods for your shopping list include salmon for the tacos and possibly quinoa or chickpeas for the stuffed bell peppers.
You should also look for fresh produce like bell peppers, sweet potatoes, cabbage, cilantro, and any other preferred taco fillings. Also, don't forget whole grain buns for the turkey burgers and whole grain tortillas for the salmon tacos. Finally, your pantry should have the necessary spices, sauces like soy or teriyaki for the Asian turkey burger, and olive oil.
Can You Meal Prep Snacks?
Absolutely! Meal prep isn't limited to main courses. In fact, prepping snacks is a fantastic way to ensure you have healthy options available to stave off hunger between meals.
Protein-packed snacks can also be a significant part of your meal prep plan. Just think about homemade meatballs made from lean ground chicken or beef, portioned out in meal prep containers for a quick, protein-rich pick-me-up. You can also prepare burrito bowls in snack sizes, using a smaller portion of brown rice, beans, and chicken.
Keep things fresh and exciting by alternating between different snack ideas each week.
Meal Prep Tips and Tricks
One of the keys to successful meal prep is variety. Rotate your protein sources, veggies, and carbs to avoid getting bored with your meals. One week, focus on chicken meal prep recipes, and the next, incorporate more plant-based protein sources.
Use themes to make meal prep more interesting. Try a Mexican week with healthy fajitas and burrito bowls, then shift to Mediterranean or BBQ-themed meals the following week. This rotation helps to not only keep your taste buds interested but also make sure you get a wide range of nutrients in your diet.
When planning your meal prep, focus on creating balanced meals with a good mix of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. This balance will help you feel full and provide steady energy throughout the day.
Lastly, don't forget about your favorite sauces and spices. They can add a lot of flavor without adding many extra calories, but if you're on a low-sodium diet, try using herbs, spices, and citrus juice to enhance the taste.
The Bottom Line
Meal prep is an effective way to save time, control portion sizes, and ensure you're eating nutritious meals. It allows you to plan ahead, reducing the chance of reaching for unhealthy convenience foods. Prepping meals in advance also means less time spent cooking and cleaning up during the week, freeing up more time for other activities.
Incorporating convenient and trusted ingredients like Dr. Kellyann's Bone Broth into your meal prep can help further support the nutritional value of your meals. Renowned for its various health benefits, bone broth is an excellent addition to your grocery list. Its rich flavor can elevate any soup, stew, or sauce while adding an extra protein punch.