A roundup of 25 dietitian-approved healthy meal prep component recipes to mix and match. “Meal Components” are individual parts that make up a meal, like proteins, starches, sauces, and vegetables. Preparing these individual components allows you to mix and match different meals throughout the week, allowing for more variety in your meal prep!
There are two general ways I like to approach meal prep. The first is by making large batches of full meals to have “intentional leftovers” for the week. The second approach is what I like to call the “Meal Component Method,” in which you prepare large batches of different “components” of meals that take longer to cook. With these meal components ready to go, you can then mix and match those components with uncooked ingredients to create custom meals each day, depending on what you’re feeling like!
Today we’re going to be discussing the “Meal Component” Approach to meal prep. I’ll also be sharing 25 different healthy meal prep component recipe ideas to get you started. This approach to meal prep allows for a bit more spontaneity and flexibility during the week, while still significantly cutting down on cooking time.
How Does It Work?
With this method, I typically recommend cooking different types of meal components each week. That might mean preparing a large pot of whole grains, a couple simple proteins, roasting a few trays of vegetables, and preparing a couple different sauces or dressings. This way, you’ll ensure that you’re going to have quality carbohydrates, healthy fats, protein, fibre, and lots of veggies ready for the week!
With these cooked components, you then can throw together different meals, like stir-fries, grain bowls, salads, sandwiches, pastas, tacos, or egg dishes. Keep reading to see what “no-prep” ingredients I recommend having in your kitchen to create these meals, as well as different kind of meal ideas you can assemble with your prepped ingredients.
“No-Prep” Ingredients To Keep On Hand
- Raw vegetables. Chop them up to pair with dips for a healthy snack, or throw them into the meal ideas below.
- Leafy greens. Greens like baby spinach, kale, or arugula can easily be used as a salad base, or cooked into pastas, stir-fries, or egg dishes.
- Avocados. Adds a great source of heart-healthy fat to any meal. Use to make avocado toasts, in sandwiches or wraps, or add to salads or grain bowls.
- Nuts & Seeds. Another great source of healthy fats, including omega-3s, as well as plant-based protein. Sprinkle on top of salads or grain bowls for a nutrition boost.
- Bread or tortilla wraps. Use bread as a sandwich or open-faced toast base. Tortillas can be used to make wraps, tacos, quesadillas, or burritos.
- Spices + seasonings. Keep a bunch of different spices or herbs on hand to get a variety of flavours in your meals. Try ones like cinnamon, paprika, turmeric, curry powder, dried basil, or thyme.
- Fermented foods. Foods like kimchi or sauerkraut add a dose of gut-healthy probiotics and also flavour to your meals. Use them on grain bowls, sandwiches, stir-fries, or salads.
- Dry pasta. Pasta is cooked in under 20 minutes, and pairs perfectly with any meal prepped proteins or veggies you have! For an extra boost of protein and fibre, try lentil or bean-based pastas.
- Eggs. This easy and affordable protein source can matched with tons of meal prep ingredients. Make frittatas, omelettes, or scrambles with other prepped veggies or grains. Or, add a hard-boiled or fried egg to sandwiches, salads, or grain bowls.
What Types Of Meals Can You Make?
- Omelettes, scrambles, or frittatas
- Bowl meals (grain bowls, buddha bowls, etc.)
- Wraps or sandwiches
- Tacos, quesadillas, or burritos
- Open-faced toasts
Healthy Protein Recipes
Protein is a macronutrient that plays an essential role in many processes in our body. It helps to build and repair our muscles and all our body tissues. Protein also helps to slow digestion and keep us feeling fuller for longer. If you find yourself hungry not long after a meal, it could be that you’re not including enough protein!
Check out some of the easy protein recipes below. All of these recipes work great for meal prep and can be mixed and matched in a variety of different meals.
Want some no-recipe protein sources that can be added to the easy meal ideas above? Try having items like canned seafood (e.g. tuna, salmon, mackerel), canned chickpeas or beans, or eggs on hand!
One of my favourite salmon recipes, ready in under 30 minutes! This salmon is perfectly tender and topped with a delicious dairy-free hemp-seed pesto. This recipe will keep for 3 days in the fridge and pairs perfectly with roasted veggies or added to a grain bowl. I even love it cold – for example, use it to top a salad or mash both the salmon + pesto and add it to a sandwich!
This peanut tempeh recipe looks soo good and would pair perfectly with a grain bowl, noodle dish, or stir-fry. Tempeh is an incredibly source of complete plant-based protein, providing about 19 grams of protein per 100 gram serving of tempeh.
This delicious shrimp recipe is ready in just 20 minutes and provides an excellent and super versatile source of protein. Serve it with grains and veggies, over a grain bowl, or add to a stir-fry or salad!
Love this crispy tofu recipe from dietitian Desiree Nielsen! Like tempeh, tofu is an awesome source of plant-based protein. While sometimes tofu can be a little bland, if it’s cooked right it can taste absolutely delicious. These crispy tofu strips can function like a sort of “chicken strip” and be added to sandwiches, grain bowls, or salads. Bonus – make the Mint Chutney Sauce from this recipe for another great meal prep component!
This simple salmon recipe from dietitian Mia Zarlengo would pair perfectly with any sides. If you don’t have coconut aminos, simply swap with tamari or soy sauce!
Another delicious tempeh recipe, with a slightly different flavour profile! This one is from dietitian Gena Hamshaw and it would work perfectly over salads, grain bowls, sandwiches, or with any side dishes.
Healthy Starches & Whole Grains
I also recommend prepping one or two healthy starch or whole grain recipes to have a quality source of carbohydrates to add to your meals. Our brains, muscles, and liver all use carbs as their primary fuel to carry out their various and extremely important roles within our bodies.
Healthier sources of carbohydrates include things like starchy vegetables (like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, or winter squash) as well as whole grain foods (like quinoa, millet, farro, brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat pastas). Carbs are also found in things like beans, lentils, and fruits. In addition to carbohydrates, these foods are great sources of a variety of micronutrients and dietary fibre.
Check out some of the starch/grain meal prep component ideas below. These dishes can be added to a multitude of different meal ideas. Use them to bulk up salads, as the base of a grain bowl, in a stir-fry, thrown into a frittata, or simply as a side!
Although technically a seed, quinoa is hands down my favourite “whole grain” to prepare. I find it the easiest to cook and it’s beyond versatile. In this post I share exactly how I make fluffy quinoa and 3 different ways to flavour it. A large batch of quinoa will last in your fridge for 5 days and can be used in so many different ways. I share eleven different meal ideas in the post!
Farro is another whole grain that I absolutely love. It has a bit of a chewier and heartier texture compared to quinoa and other grains, and it works so well in many dishes! Jeanine shares how she perfects farro and includes many different ways to use it!
The simplest roasted sweet potato recipe I could find, from non other than Bon Appetit. I love adding these chunks of sweet potatoes to salads, buddha bowls, or even breakfast. Or, simply serve them as a side dish! Sometimes I love to add a little sprinkling of cinnamon to them too, even for savoury meals.
I LOVE making a big batch of roasted butternut squash for the week. It’s a delicious starchy vegetable and this “home fries” style recipe looks so good. I think it would work perfectly as a side dish to any protein, a savoury breakfast (in place of hash browns, for instance) or thrown into a salad. Yum!!
Cooked Vegetable Side Dishes
I don’t think I need to tell you that we should aim to get more veggies in our diet. Having some veggies prepped and in your fridge will highly increase your chances of eating them! Check out some simple vegetable meal prep component ideas below. They work great as side dishes, thrown into salads, grain bowls, stir-fries, pastas, or frittatas/scrambles!
If you’ve never tried roasted radishes before, you are in for a treat! They’re almost a completely different vegetable roasted – so sweet and juicy. This simple veggie side is ready in just 30 minutes. Sauté the radish greens for an extra side dish – there’s no need to waste them!
Another super simple side dish! These roasted zucchini strips are so delicious and pair well with everything. If you don’t eat dairy, try swapping the parmesan with nutritional yeast instead!
Delicata squash is a super easy squash to cook with – you can eat the skin so there’s no time spent peeling the squash! Not only are they nutritious and beautiful to look at, they’re super delicious too. Love this recipe from my friend and fellow dietitian Alex Aldeborgh.
Quite possibly one of my favourite ways to eat cauliflower is to roast it with curry spices! The original recipe here is served with a minty yogurt sauce. Feel free to either make the cauliflower on it’s own, or prepare the sauce and keep separate until serving! The sauce can be used in multiple ways, too.
This hearty ratatouille from dietitian Chelsey Amer looks beyond cozy and satisfying. It would work perfectly served over whole grains or mixed into a pasta.
The perfect addition to any meal! Love how this simple roasted broccoli gets elevated with a yummy lemon dressing and some freshly grated parmesan.
I don’t like to pick favourites, but roasted bell peppers are definitely in my top 5 favourite roasted vegetable dishes haha. They taste sooo good and I love adding them to grain bowls, pastas, egg dishes, sandwiches – you name it. I’ve also been known to eat them as is – what can I say! They’re basically like candy. For a simple way to prepare them, check out the link below!
Healthy Sauces, Dips & Dressings
Last but definitely not least, I always recommend meal prepping a yummy sauce and/or dressing to keep in the fridge for the week. Having a delicious sauce not only is a way to get in tons of nutrition (these are all great sources of healthy fats), but it also is a way to add a ton of flavour and variety to your meals. Check out some of my favourites below!
I make this hemp seed pesto recipe at least 2-3 times a month. It’s my all time fave! It’s full of nutritious ingredients like omega-3 and protein rich hemp seeds as well as B-vitamin rich nutritional yeast. Stir it into pasta, drizzle it over proteins or veggies, spread on sandwiches or homemade pizzas…the opportunities are endless!
This “cheesy” miso tahini sauce is made with just 6 super nutritious ingredients and takes about 5 minutes! It’s perfect for pastas, grain bowls, drizzled over roasted veggies, and more.
Had to include a classic homemade hummus on this list! Hummus is a great ingredient to stir into a grain bowl or salad, use as a veggie dip, or as a spread on sandwiches or wraps. Super versatile and healthy!
Peanut sauce anyone? So good drizzled over simple proteins, noodle bowls, stir-fries, wraps, or salads. I’m drooling already!
Knowing how to make a basic vinaigrette is such a great cooking skill! You’ll be able to whip up a simple homemade salad dressing in just minutes. Make a large batch and keep in the fridge to use all week. Kate shares 3 different variations to this basic recipe!
For a creamier salad dressing that gets in a dose of greens (cilantro) and protein (greek yogurt), check this one out. It would be super refreshing drizzled over tacos or other Mexican-inspired dishes, as well as grain bowls, proteins, or salads. It could be even used as a dip!
I love the flavour combination of this dijon tahini dressing! It’s made with simple, nutritious ingredients and would taste delicious on salads or grain bowls.
Ok maybe this one didn’t quite fit in this category, but bare with me! Chia jam is an excellent make-ahead ingredient to keep in the fridge. Pair it with nut butter toasts, stirred into yogurt bowls, or topped on overnight oats, pancakes, or waffles. So so good, and a delicious way to get in a serving of antioxidant rich berries and omega-3s. You can use frozen fruits if fresh aren’t in season!
More Meal Prep Ideas
- 25 Dietitian-Approved Healthy Breakfast Meal Prep Ideas
- 27 Healthy Make-Ahead Snack Recipes
- 30 Healthy Meal Prep Ideas For Lunch & Dinner
- How To Meal Prep With Eggs
I hope this post has inspired you to approach meal prep in a different way and given you tons of easy meal prep component recipe ideas. I’d love to know how you mix and match them!
If you include any of these recipes in your weekly meal prep, let me know in the comments below. Be sure to follow along on Instagram and Pinterest for more nutrition tips and simple, healthy recipe ideas.