Here’s How to Know If a Recipe Is Good for Meal Prep

updated May 29, 2019
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If you set aside an hour for meal prep over the weekend, you’ll find that breakfast and lunch quickly become less of a pain point, and weeknight dinners come together a whole of faster. Part of the secret to successful meal prepping is choosing the best recipes for the job. The truth is, not all recipes are ideal for your meal-prep session. Here are five telltale signs a recipe is up to the task.

1. There are distinct make-ahead moments.

Since meal prep sessions are all about getting a head-start on weekly meals, the best recipes to lean on are ones that can be made, either fully or partially, in advance. Many recipes, including all of ours, will note the make-ahead moments.

2. There’s prep work that’s done before you begin cooking.

The value in meal prep comes not just from actual cooking, but also from using the weekend to tackle the time-consuming prep work. Recipes that call for slicing, dicing, and chopping — such as stir-fries, roasted vegetables, salads, and slaws — make great meal-prep candidates.

3. It will keep well in the fridge or freezer.

How well the recipe keeps is the number-one factor I look for when choosing meal-prep recipes. Because you’re prepping meals meant to be eaten later in the week, it’s essential that they hold up well. Bonus points if they can be stashed in the freezer.

Get a jump-start on breakfast: 17 Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes to Keep Stashed in the Freezer

4. It reheats well.

Unless you’re simply prepping ingredients and doing all the assembly and cooking during the week, recipes that taste best when served immediately aren’t the best choice for meal prep. If you’re looking to cook complete meals that you’ll simply be reheating, think about how they’ll taste a few days later after they’ve been warmed up.

5. It’s easy to scale up (or down).

Meal prep and batch cooking go hand in hand. The way I see it, you’re already putting in the time and dirtying some dishes, so why not make the most of it by doubling or even tripling a recipe? While this isn’t an essential quality of meal-prep recipes, it’s certainly one worth considering.