Real Food Whole Life

Real Food Meal Prep: 27 Effortless Recipes to Make Ahead

Real Food Meal PrepRobyn DownsComment

I'm a big fan of weekly meal prep.

Setting aside some time each weekend to prep a few breakfasts, snacks, lunches and dinners makes a huge difference in how well my family and I are able to stick to our food philosophy and eat real food throughout the week.

Over time I've developed recipes that lend themselves well to meal prep. 

Real Food Meal Prep: 27 Effortless Recipes to Make Ahead. Quick, easy real food recipes, made with clean-eating ingredients that can be made ahead. Naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.

I usually pick 2- 3 recipes to prep at a time so that I'm not spending all day in the kitchen. At the same time I'll hard boil a dozen eggs, chop some veggies, and wash and chop fruit so they're available for lunches and snacks.

I also like freeze recipes in individual portions so that we always have lunches and dinners ready to grab and go. You can find my instructions for freezing in jars here.

Whether you make one of these recipes, or work your way through the entire list, I hope you'll spend some time meal prepping soon!



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1 | Blackberry Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

These cookies are super easy to throw together in just one bowl. I like to use frozen blackberries, since they hold their shape during the mixing process. Store the cooled cookies in a tightly sealed container for a few days at room temperature or freeze for up to a month.

2 | Make Ahead Rainbow Veggie Egg Cups

Packed with veggies and protein, these egg cups are the perfect power breakfast on the go. Store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for a few days or freeze for up to three month. Defrost in the fridge overnight, then gently reheat in a pan.

3 | One-Bowl Apple Cornmeal Muffins

Lightly sweet and filled with healthy fats and fiber, these muffins taste like a treat but are wholesome enough for breakfast. Store the cooled muffins in a tightly sealed container for a few days at room temperature or freeze for up to a month.

4 | Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Pancakes are a fun weekend treat but they can serve double duty as a weekday breakfast when frozen and then reheated. Just make a double batch when you have a pocket of time and then freeze the leftovers. Be sure to separate each pancake with a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap so they don't stick together. When ready to serve, remove a pancake from the freezer and place in a toaster or warm oven to reheat.

5 | One-Bowl Cranberry Orange Muffins

We can't get enough of these muffins! They're sweet and a little tangy, and filled with good-for-you ingredients. Plus, they can be made with frozen cranberries so you can make them year round. Store the cooled muffins in a tightly sealed container for a few days at room temperature or freeze for up to a month.

6 | Super-Fast Cashew Milk

If you open my fridge on any given day you'll be sure to find one thing: Super-Fast Cashew Milk. I make a double batch each week during my Real Food Meal Prep, and use it for everything from baking to smoothies. I love that it can be made in a matter of seconds, and that no special equipment or straining is required.

7 | Grapefruit & Ginger Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seed pudding is fast and easy to throw together, and since it needs a few hours in the fridge to set it's the perfect make-ahead breakfast (or dessert!). Make a single or double batch, then portion into individual mason jars so you can grab and go. You can also prepare it in a large jar or bowl, then portion out as much as you like whenever the mood strikes. Toast the coconut and slice the grapefruit during prep and you can assemble these in a snap.

Appetizers & Snacks 

1 | Easy Sweet & Spicy Nut and Seed Clusters

Be warned: these clusters are addictive! They're slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and so easy to make. To store, make sure the clusters are cooled all the way. Then seal them up in a one large container or several small containers for snacking on the go throughout the week.

2 | Simple Lemony White Bean Dip

My afternoon snack of choice is usually this dip or hummus with veggies. I love the simplicity of the recipe and that it only requires a few ingredients, making it easy to whip up in minutes.

3 | Creamy Pumpkin Hummus

Hummus is a fantastic snack to make ahead and keep on hand. This pumpkin version is exceptionally good because not only is it delicious, but it's also packed with all the benefits of pumpkin. Since the recipe uses canned pumpkin it's a cinch to make. Store in one large container or smaller containers to take on the go.

4 | The Easiest 4-Ingredient Guacamole

I love keeping guacamole on hand for snacking and to top burgers and bowls for dinner. Cover the guac in a tightly sealed container with a thin layer of lime juice on top to keep it from browning.

Real Food Meal Prep: 27 Effortless Recipes to Make Ahead. Quick, easy real food recipes, made with clean-eating ingredients that can be made ahead. Naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.

Lunches & Sides 

1 | Crunchy Veggie Lentil Salad

This is a great base recipe for any veggies you have on hand. Use raw, roasted, or a combination of the two. Perfect for lunch at home or at work.

2 | Quick Sesame Noodles with Green Veggies

The dressing for these noodles is so delicious you'll want to drink it straight! Store the dressing separately and then toss everything together when you're ready to serve. Or just prep the dressing ahead and make the noodles and veggies the night you want to serve.

3 | Crunchy Curry Quinoa Salad

This simple quinoa recipe is so delicious and perfect for lunch at home or work. Add a can of rinsed, drained chickpeas or grilled chicken to bump up the protein.

4 | Autumn Lentil Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing

Lentil salad is a great make-ahead lunch or side, as it's packed with protein, fiber and stores well. Butternut squash is a great substitute for delicata in this recipe if you prefer.

5 | Simple Pesto

We make a huge batch of this dairy-free, nut-free pesto every few months, then portion it out into single servings and pop it all into the freezer. After an overnight defrost in the fridge, the pesto can be used on anything from pasta, to salad dressings, on top of grilled chicken or fish, or spread inside a wrap or a sandwich.

6 | Garden Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing

This pasta salad is a real crowd pleaser, and is simple to make. Add a can of rinsed, drained white beans for extra protein and this makes for a lovely light lunch.

7 | Honey-Mustard Green Bean Potato Salad 

This potato salad is sweet and tangy and contains no mayo so it lasts for days in the fridge. It's a great side, or make it lunch by adding a can of drained tuna.

8 | Easy Southwest Quinoa Bowls 

Colorful, crunchy, and super satisfying, these quinoa bowls are easy to prep ahead. Just chop the veggies, make the quinoa, and whisk together the dressing. When dinner rolls around all you have to do is toss everything together.

9 | One-Pan Autumn Quinoa

This recipe makes quite a few servings, so you can make a big batch and serve it as a side for multiple meals. Or add a can or two of rinsed, drained chickpeas and call it lunch.

10 | 20-Minute Black Bean Bowls with Confetti Slaw

Cook the beans, chop the veggies, and whisk together the quick dressing and this meal is prepped. Store the beans and slaw separately so you can reheat the beans when time to serve.



Streamline your slow cooking process with prep tips + itemized grocery lists for my 5 most popular slow cooker recipes.

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1 | Nourishing Turmeric No-Noodle Chicken Soup

A light and nourishing soup, this one couldn't be simpler to make. It freezes well, so make a double batch.

2 | Slow Cooker Chicken, Veggie & Quinoa Stew

This is one of the most popular recipes on Real Food Whole Life, and for good reason. It's a one-pot meal that everyone in the family loves and is simple to prepare. Make a big batch and freeze, or simply prep all the ingredients ahead so you can drop and go.

3 | Slow Cooker Creamy Tomato Soup

A creamy non-dairy soup that's so darn easy to make, this one is worth adding to your meal prep list. I love it for lunch with a quick salad of arugula, avocado, balsamic and olive oil

4 | Slow Cooker Autumn Minestrone 

Chop the butternut squash during meal prep for this soup on the weekend and then throw everything together when you're ready during the week.

5 | Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Apple Cider Chili

Prep this simple vegetarian chili and chop the fixings so that you can come home to a chili dinner after a long day of work or running the kids around to all their after-school activities.

6 | Slow Cooker Chicken and Chickpea Stew

The subtle Moroccan flavors are delicious in this stew and there are only a few items to chop, so it can be prepped in minutes.

7 | 10-Ingredient Slow Cooker Veggie & Quinoa Stew

This quick, simple vegetarian stew is a no brainer to prep, and it makes a fantastically satisfying stew.

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