Make-ahead meals have a high impact on convenience that most people tend to ignore or overlook.
Being able to complete three meals a day is an important routine that you should never miss or skip, this includes snacks as well, as snacks help you to overcome feelings of hunger, dizziness, and fatigue by providing your body with small portions of food to fuel on.
However, with the fast-paced world we live today, it may seem impossible and hard to balance a healthy lifestyle with a career motivated lifestyle, most especially if you work in a hectic work environment and fully packed workload. This does not even include your responsibilities at home, whether you’re single or have a family to look after.
So how could you overcome the difficulties of balancing lifestyles or how could you make things less difficult than they already are?
This is why it is important to always have food stored in your fridge or kitchen which you could eat on the go. But this type of strategy or meal planning is not only for those who are busy but for those who want more ease and convenience as well.
It may not seem like much and it also may feel like too much additional work but having food that are pre-made and can be eaten on the go can take convenience to a whole new level, especially when you’ve adapted to this as a habit and have already come up with a good meal plan.
When we say convenience, it’s not just about being able to immediately have something to eat when you feel hungry but convenience in time, money, and effort as well.
Delicious make-ahead meals to try
In this list, you will find some recommendations for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks.
The meals in this list were picked not only because they are delicious and easy to do but also their nutritional value. That’s right, the meals on this list are made to fit and provide you with a healthy lifestyle.
Even when you were a kid, you might have heard the phrase ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ and it was not just some myth or saying to help your parents have a reason to wake you up for it, breakfast definitely is the most important and essential meal of the day.
The most known and common reason why breakfast is considered to be important is that it serves as your main fuel for the entire day, but there’s more to breakfast than just providing you with energy.
Benefits of breakfast include better mental performance, better health for a long time, reduces the consumption of unhealthy foods and sugar, a source of energy, and promote metabolism.
Here are some healthy make-ahead breakfast meals that you can try:
1. Healthy brownie granola bar
Ever since when does the word ‘healthy’ and ‘brownie’ mix? Probably not that often. The idea of eating a ‘healthy’ brownie granola bar may sound sketchy to you considering how sweet foods can be labeled as healthy. But you’d be surprised and glad to know that they really are healthy.
These granola bars are convenient and easy to make. In fact, they do not require any baking, probably just prepping the oats and nuts through toasting but that’s just it. They are composed of only seven ingredients and have a lot of benefits to your health and kitchen.
You’d be delighted to know that these bars taste like actual raw brownies that can make them addictive, do keep in mind that when you make these bars, you need to have total self-control. Despite being delicious and sweet, these bars are filled with protein, gluten-free, vegan, fiber, healthy fats and antioxidants. Not to mention they are highly satisfying which can help you in feeling fuller for longer.
As for storing, these brownies are freezer-friendly (they can last for a month) which means you can save them for a long time (if you don’t get addicted and start eating them in one go).
By Dana at Minimalist Baker
2. Peanut butter and banana overnight oats
This meal is another recipe that combines delicious and healthy. At first, the recipe and combination may not sound mouth-watering but once you get a taste of this, you’d be surprised with how good it actually tastes.
These oats can be eaten as both breakfast and dessert. The cold temperature of this meal makes it a great healthy dessert for those who haven’t eaten any sweets due to diet restriction but are missing that sweet taste.
One of the great things about this meal is that most of the ingredients needed to make it can be found in your cupboard or pantry, making it all the more convenient for you.
As for health benefits, this is packed due to its content. For starters, oats provide you with fiber, antioxidants, and can even help prevent and reduce a multitude of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Peanut butter helps provide your healthy fat and proteins. Lastly, bananas can give you a good intake of potassium, additional fiber, and tryptophan, which is known to be a mood-booster.
In general, these oats are healthy for you, will keep you satiated, and fueled for the day.
When preparing, it’s mostly mixing ingredients and leaving them in the fridge for a number of hours, even overnight if you prefer.
By Serena at Domesticate Me
3. Coconut cream pie larabars
These bars highly look just like the bars that you often eat on the go, because they are bars that you can eat on the go. Compared to other granola bars that you find on cookbooks or on the internet, these coconut cream pie larabars may not look as aesthetic. However, as for taste and health, you’d find them to be very competitive.
These pie larabars are most recognized for their convenience in eating anytime and anywhere. And being energy bars, this means that when you’re sleepy or you feel a lack of energy, you can simply take them out of their container and eat them.
Benefits you get from these bars include, fuel for energy, curb hunger, and they’re vegan.
By Becky at The Vintage Mixer
4. Overnight oats
Oats are probably the most well-known make-ahead meals you will find. This is because oats are versatile, easily converted to simple meals, and are filled with nutrients, and have a number of health benefits.
In addition to this, overnight oats usually do not contain any cooking, heating, or microwaving, they are served just as they are mixed and paired with different ingredients.
There are three different types of oats, rolled, steel-cut, and quick oats, all of which can be used in making overnight oats. These types are closely similar and their preparation means are not really that different from one another. Usually, you would place them in a container, the most common: mason jars, there you will mix your ingredients and that’s where you’ll be eating your overnight oats as well.
When eating you can eat them cold or warm, depending on your preference.
However, despite being closely similar to one another, steel oats are prepared a little bit differently, this is because steel cut oats are harder as compared to the other two types of oats.
As they mostly consist of oats, the benefits of this meal are that it helps promote better metabolism, satiation, and can even prevent a number of diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Depending on which toppings you will add, choosing berries could also make this meal filled with antioxidants.
By Katya at Little Broken
Although lunch has no saying unlike breakfast, lunch is also an important meal you shouldn’t skip out on. Lunch serves as your re-fuel of energy when the majority of the energy you got from breakfast has already been consumed due to your work, chores, and errands.
To sum it up, lunch is like your go-to meal when you want to take a break from all your work and responsibilities for the day.
5. Grilled steak fajitas
Are you a fan of tacos? If you are, then you might find this to be your favorite make-ahead meal. This grilled steak fajitas are somewhat similar to tacos when creating or assembling it.
This pre-made meal is as good as eating a regular meal due to the satiation satisfaction this meal provides. Undoubtedly, this heavy meal is great if you’re a person who likes to feel really full without suffering the consequence of consuming calories.
In terms of nutrition and health benefits, it’s a great source of energy due to its meat content and it also provides you good amounts of both fiber and protein.
From Taste Of Home
6. Honey-lime roasted chicken
Though it may look like an all-out lunch, believe it or not, this recipe begins with only five ingredients. The chicken may make you feel full, but the preparation and ingredients are light.
Depending on how much you’re planning to cook, this chicken recipe can serve up to 10 people. If you live all by yourself or there’s just two of you, this dish could take a while to be consumed and could save you a number of meals to spend money on.
That being said, you can be assured that when it comes to satiation, this recipe won’t disappoint you. This is great for those that have a heavy workload or often get tired from work. Although, be wary of consuming too much as you might get carb overload and feel sleepy after eating.
As for its nutritional content, this meal is a great source of both fiber and protein.
From Taste Of Home
7. Roasted kielbasa and vegetables
By the name itself, you could already tell that this recipe is good for you. The highlight of this make-ahead dish is that it mainly consists of vegetables instead of your usual go-to meat meals which makes it healthier. In addition to this, this meal is easy to prepare as it only takes two steps.
Though, you might think that this veggie recipe may not be enough to satisfy your hunger compared to your meat dishes, think again. This one-pan meal is heavy enough to satiate you and can even reach up to six servings. That’s right, if you are alone, a single preparation of this meal could mean six meals already prepared for and money saved on six meals.
As for its nutritional facts, this meal contains both fiber and protein and can contain fewer calories as compared to your meat-based dishes.
From Taste Of Home
8. Colorful quinoa salad
Majority of the time, if you hear or are familiar with the word ‘quinoa’ you could already sense that it is related to healthy food or diet.
There are many health benefits of quinoa. In Asian countries, rice is well-known to be paired or prepared in every meal, though this habit helps people feel satiated but overtime the overconsumption of rice can pose a threat to your health.
Though depending on what type of rice people may consume. The most commonly prepared is white rice which is known to cause a sudden rise of blood sugar which then can lead to diabetes. It is with this health hazard of overconsumption of rice that some people resort to using healthier alternatives when preparing meals such as brown rice, red rice, and even quinoa.
In this dish, it is a combination of saving money, food, and your health. This recipe can be created using leftovers which can help you save food, being a make-ahead dish already gives you an idea that this meal can save you money for a number of lunches or dinners (4-8 servings to be exact, and lastly this meal helps your health by serving as an alternative to rice while making sure that you are satiated.
This meal is gluten-free, dairy-free, cholesterol-free, low-fat, and contains fiber and proteins.
From Taste Of Home
Snacks are the mini-meals found between your main meals. Snacks can be a highly important part of your diet as opposed to what most people have perceived them. They help give you energy, prevent you from overeating during your mealtime, and they help curb your cravings and hunger.
However, what can turn your snack into an unhealthy eating habit depends on what you make of it.
To begin with, you should not over snack, meaning you should eat only small portions or sizes, eating too much during your snack time can lead to weight gain. Choosing what type of snack you have could also affect your diet, picking foods that are high in fat and sugar could lead to obesity, even if you say that it is in small amounts when you have a habit of snacking unhealthily then your health may take a turn for the worst.
Now that you have some ideas on how to snack properly, here are some make-ahead snacks that you can try at home:
9. Honey nut bars
This snack is a satisfaction for both your sweet tooth and health. Though it may seem like an unhealthy and sugar-filled snack, this recipe has managed to combine both tasty and healthy.
However, despite being healthier than most snacks, when preparing this meal, make sure to cut them into small pieces or squares in order for you to have better calories and food consumption control. A little bit of too much is always bad. In this case, honey is used as the sweet ingredient, it doesn’t mean that there will be no consequence of eating too much of it.
This snack is gluten-free, low in fat, and has protein and fiber content.
by Adrian Harlan from Living Healthy With Chocolate
10. Roasted chickpeas
Want a simple yet highly healthy snack? Roasted chickpeas one to consider. Based on its name, you can already tell how simple it is to prepare. Not to mention it is a great option for those who want to snack but are avoiding those extra calories and weight gain.
Some of the reasons why this makes such a great snack are because it is easy, healthy, and light on calories. The explanation for this is because eating snacks that mostly consists of chewing such as popcorn, nuts, and even beans are great for both weight loss and satiation.
Chewing helps prevent overconsumption of calories by promoting mindful eating and by giving your brain enough time to send signals that you are already full. In addition to this, chickpeas don’t possess a lot of calories which means you won’t have to be conscious when eating them.
Regarding the nutritional value, roasted chickpeas are gluten-free, dairy-free, high in fiber, vegan, and balanced.
By Emma from The Kitchen
11. Apple chips
You might know the phrase ‘an apple a day, keeps the doctor away’, this is because apples are known for being a highly healthy fruit or snack, but then, what if you’re apple can be turned into something even more fun and delicious?
While apples are already delicious, having to eat them day by day to promote healthy snacking might make you bored and sick of its taste. So why not keep them healthy but improve the taste? Apple chips are a great way of converting your apples into something more fun and convenient to eat.
Rather than tiring your jaw from having to take a forceful bite out of an apple, you can simply eat it piece-by-by (like a chip). In addition to this, you’ll get to keep the nutrients and taste of apple while just adding a little bit of twist to it.
You won’t even have to worry or think too much about preparing it, as the name suggests, the only ingredients you will need for this are washed and dried apples.
The best part, once prepared, these apples are fat-free, cholesterol-free, contain fiber, calcium, iron, and have vitamin A and C content.
By Katerina from Diet Hood
Each meal has its own significance, while breakfast may be the most recognized since it helps you from the start and throughout the day, it doesn’t mean that the other meals do not have their own roles.
Dinner, for example, is skipped by several people some due to the belief that they could just sleep off their tired bodies and it won’t have any strong impacts on their health whatsoever but dinner has its own role to play even if your only objective is to sleep at night.
Dinner helps your body in many ways, some examples are it fuels your body, helps your mind and it feeds your body during sleep.
Dinner fueling the body is an important task that most people are not aware of, but think of it this way, your body will be out for at least 8-10 hours at night,which means no snacking or eating in between just sleep. When this occurs your body will have lower levels of sugar which can then cause insomnia, this occurs as your body needs to release the stored glucose that you have which can then trigger you to wake up and have difficulty going back to sleep.
Eating at night can also help feed your body at sleep. As mentioned earlier, eating at night can help you balance out your blood sugar, but this is not just what dinner does to your body, it also provides you with the right amino acids thus leading to better performance of neurotransmitters which can lead to a better mood.
A good example of this is by observing how impatient, irritated, and cranky people are when they do not get enough sleep.
Here are some make-ahead dinners that you can try:
12. Sausage broccoli quinoa bowl
Want dinner that’s a little bit heavy but healthy as well? Try this sausage broccoli quinoa bowl. It’s just the right mix of meat and veggies that can help you refuel your body as you get a good night’s sleep.
There has been a lot of argument and doubt when it comes to ‘meat’ based meals being labeled or considered as a healthy diet. This is because meat is known as one of the leading causes of obesity, however, what most people tend to overlook is that even if you make eating vegetables as a daily diet, there are still some important vitamins, nutrients, and minerals that our body needs that only meat can provide.
Some of these nutrients include protein, iron, B vitamins, and zinc.
In addition to this, this meal is not even as bad as what most people would think because even if there is the presence of meat, this meal mostly consists of two main healthy ingredients which are broccoli and quinoa. Both of which are healthy and contain vitamins and minerals.
From Good Housekeeping
13. Spring herb frittata
Are you a fan of frittatas? If you are, you would probably be interested in this recipe. The finished look of this meal looks like your familiar frittata but with a twist. Instead of having a variety of ingredients, this frittata mostly consists of herbs and greens, which you can expect is a healthy meal.
And what better way to end the day than to eat a healthy and heavy dinner before tucking into bed?
Spring herbs are a combination of various plants that help boost, step-up, and incorporate new flavors into your dish. In addition to being taste boosters, spring herbs each have their own health benefits, the most common however is that they are packed with antioxidants. Chives, for example, are a great source of both vitamin A and C, they are also filled with calcium and iron. Lemongrass, on the other hand, is rich in antioxidants. These are to name a few.
This meal is also a great option if you’re not a fan of serving large meals as the common serving size of this recipe is 4.
From Good Housekeeping
14. Spiced lamb or beef dumpling
If you have a preference for spicy foods then you can add this recipe to your favorite food list. However, if you’re not fond of spicy foods you could always make some changes or adjustments to this recipe.
Dumplings are a great meal choice if you’re the type of person who prefers having light dinners. There is nothing wrong with light dinners because the main thought is that you ate something before going to bed, it’s just that you like to sleep on a light stomach.
As the name suggests this recipe can be made using either lamb or beef as your main ingredient, depending on which one weighs more on your preference. If you like both you can create a variety of dumplings, one having beef as the main ingredient while the other having lamb, or you could just switch them from time to time.
The healthiest part of this meal is that it promotes both portion and calorie control. Ahead of time, you can already make adjustments to how many calories you would be consuming by reducing the number of dumplings to cook. This helps you have better portion control when serving meals while keeping your calorie count in check.
From Good Housekeeping
15. White beans and broccolini salad
Beans and broccoli are a great combination if you are aiming for that healthy lifestyle. There are several things about this recipe that make it a great option for those who are aiming to be healthier.
To start off, this recipe makes use of two healthy food combinations, beans and broccoli. Broccoli is a great source of vitamins and minerals such as, vitamins K and C, it also contains antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals, and broccoli even has folate or folic acid which is well-known for promoting brain development.
White beans, on the other hand, are considered a superfood due to its numerous health benefits. White beans contain folate, thiamin (vitamin B1), potassium, iron, and magnesium. Not to mention, beans are a versatile food to prepare.
As for its taste, you’d be surprised as this meal has a combination of both a sweet and spicy flavor caused by honey mustard and red pepper.
From Good Housekeeping
Make-ahead dishes are one of the best ways to incorporate a healthy, affordable, and wise diet. No matter what time of the year it is, deciding to start having a habit of pre making meals is always a great idea.
This lets you feel assured, secured, and sanitized because you have total control of what you eat, which ingredients to use, portion and sizing control, and how sanitized your environment and foods are when the meal’s prepared..
Now that you are aware of the benefits, hopefully, you are determined to incorporate this into your lifestyle. Also, if you’ve found this article helpful, please share it with a friend to help improve their lifestyle.