According to a study of 40,000 adults in France, those who prepped meals were less often overweight and followed nutritional guidelines more closely than those who left meals to chance. Planning at least a few meals a week will save time and money while also allowing you to practice portion control if done right.

What Is Meal Prep?

One-day meal prep involves shopping and prepping ingredients once a week. By cutting, chopping, and even roasting vegetables, cooking one or two proteins such as chicken, salmon, beans or lentils, and grains, you will have a basic blueprint for lunches and dinners.

After a long day of work or other obligations, it’s tempting to pick up take-out, order a pizza, or go through the drive-through for a cheeseburger and fries but haphazard meals can expand your waistline while depleting your wallet.

Planning ahead of time and prepping ingredients for healthy meals can be tasty, fun, and a great way to support your health goals.

Benefits for Health

♦ Better Variety
♦ Portion Control
♦ Save Time without last-minute grocery trips
♦ Healthy For Your Budget
♦ Fewer refined carbs and processed food
♦ More vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats

How To Meal Prep

1. Use a calendar or spreadsheet to track meals and shopping lists.

2. Collect recipes that are appropriate for your health goals and preferences.

3. Perhaps use a theme for certain days, such as Meatless Monday.

4. Consider your plans when working out the calendar. If you’re meeting a friend for dinner on Thursday, you won’t need to prep for that night.

5. Include ingredients you can use for at least two meals. For example, chicken breasts can be repurposed into different salads, soup or stir fry.

6. Create a balanced plate with one protein, one starchy carb, at least one vegetable. Adjust per your diet.

7. Include healthy fats and plenty of vegetables.

8. Highlight seasonal produce by shopping at local farmer’s markets or joining a CSA (community-supported agriculture).

Avoid Containers With BPA

You can get plenty of health benefits from meal prep so don’t ruin those benefits by using BPA plastic storage containers.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disruptor, which means it mimics the sex hormone estrogen in the human body. BPA has been linked to cancer of the breast and other cancers, reproductive problems, obesity, early-onset puberty, as well as risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The Center for Disease Control has concluded that up to 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies. The chemical was used as an estrogen replacement drug for women and to fatten livestock and cattle before it was discovered to have the potential to create rigid, clear plastic.

Additional potential health risks come from phthalates like DEHP, which are used to manufacture soft plastics like plastic wrap. Phthalates are also endocrine disruptors but instead of estrogen, they impact testosterone, affecting male reproductive development, sperm quality, and male hormone levels.

To keep hazardous plastics from leaching into your meals, store your food in glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers. Avoid microwaving food covered in plastic wrap.

Get started with meal prep by roasting a large piece of boneless salmon to use in recipes during the week. This salmon cake recipe is a great way to repurpose your leftover salmon.

If you have not prepared the salmon in advance, you can prepare this recipe using canned salmon and can also use jarred roasted red peppers.

Salmon Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce

Serves: 4-6


Salmon Cakes

4 green onions, roughly chopped

¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped

¼ cup fresh dill. chopped

3 cups fine fresh bread crumbs from about 10 ounces of bread (I prefer french bread), divided

2 eggs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2½ cups flaked cooked salmon (about 15 ounces)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup vegetable oil for sautéeing

Red Bell Pepper Cream Sauce

4 red bell peppers or 2 15 ounce jars of roasted red bell peppers

2 cups heavy whipping cream

Kosher salt and cayenne pepper


Salmon Cakes

Add the green onions, parsley, and dill to the bowl of a food processor and process until fine. Add 1½ cups bread crumbs, eggs, melted butter, mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice.

Pulse on and off until well mixed. Add the chunks of salmon and season with kosher salt and black pepper and pulse on and off until gently combined and mixture begins to hold together. Be careful not to over-process.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to overnight. Shape into patties ⅜' thick. Dip the patties into the remaining bread crumbs, and pat to coat all of the sides completely then set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil to medium or so that the oil sizzles when a bread crumb is dropped into it. Sauté the patties for 2 minutes or until golden brown on each side turning once.

Place the patties on a plate lined with paper towels and cover to keep warm. Serve with egg noodles and red bell pepper cream sauce.

Red Bell Pepper Cream Sauce

Roast the whole peppers over medium-high flame, turning often, until charred.

Please in a plastic bag, seal and allow to steam in the bag for about 10-15 minutes or until the skin peels off easily.

Remove the skin, stem, and seeds and coarsely chop the bell peppers.

In a medium pot over medium heat, add the bell peppers and the cream and bring almost to a boil. Reduce the heat to a medium and cook until the cream has reduced by half, about 8 minutes.

Purée with a handheld blender, in a blender or in a food processor (be sure the top is vented to allow steam to escape so it doesn't blow off the lid) until smooth.

Season with kosher salt and a few shakes of cayenne pepper to taste. Keep over low heat before serving.

Healthy Ingredients


Salmon is known for its high level of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential because they must be derived from outside sources. EPA and DHA have numerous health benefits, from reducing blood pressure and cancer risk, improving the function of blood vessels, and decreasing inflammation.

Balancing omega-6 fatty acids with enough omega-3s can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, salmon’s omega-3s may also lead to a reduction in dangerous belly fat in overweight individuals.

Salmon is high in protein, which is crucial for the optimal function of your body, helping with the healing process, supporting bone health, and maintaining muscle mass, especially important during weight loss and aging. Wild salmon is also a good source of B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6, providing 50% of the RDI for niacin, 51% of the RDI for vitamin B12, and 29% of the RDI for riboflavin per serving.

One (3.5 ounce) serving of wild salmon provides more potassium than a banana. Potassium lowers blood pressure by preventing excess water retention. A 3.5 ounce serving of salmon provides between 59-67% of the RDI for selenium, a trace menu that supports bone health and may reduce the risk of cancer.

Salmon’s red-orange hue isn’t only visually appealing. Like squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes, salmon contains a powerful antioxidant in the carotenoid family. Astaxanthin may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol. The antioxidant may also work along with the omega-3s as a protectant against inflammation in both the brain and nervous system.

Note: Choose wild salmon instead of farm-raised salmon for the most nutritional punch.

Red Pepper

Red peppers are an antioxidant powerhouse, filled with carotenoids. The phytonutrients in red peppers include capsanthin, which may protect against cancer and quercetin, which may decrease the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. The lutein and zeaxanthin in bell peppers may lower risk for age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Ripe red peppers are also a good source of iron and vitamin C, providing protection against anemia, a condition that reduces the blood’s ability to transport oxygen. The high level of vitamin C in peppers makes iron absorption more viable.

The Bottom Line

Meal prep is a great way to save time and to support a healthy diet. By prepping your meals, you conveniently have healthy food whenever you are hungry. This prevents you from grabbing unhealthy convenience foods.

Make sure your prepared meals include all the essential nutrients. A balance of protein (fresh salmon), fruits and vegetables (red peppers), whole grains, and healthy fats (omega-3s),. This way you can boost health and protect against chronic disease.