Meal prepping

How to Meal Plan with Minimal Ingredients


Are you looking for new meal ideas that are healthy, cost, and time-effective?

Well today we are going to share you with some of our tips to creating simple meals that will be friendly to your schedule, your budget and will also ensure that you are getting adequate nutrition!

There are 3 major steps to meal planning with minimal ingredients that will help you to incorporate meal planning and prepping into your daily routine.

Meal planning

Step 1: Ingredient Assessment 

Before thinking about making a list of food for the week, it is helpful to assess what food or additional cooking ingredients you already have in your home.

Specifically, check your fridge, freezer, and pantry for the 5 main food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and dairy/dairy alternatives.

You also want to check for extra cooking ingredients; these would be things like cooking oils, spices, nuts/seeds to add more flavor and nutrients to your meals.

Person meal prepping

Step 2: Write a Meal Plan for the Week

Once you know what you already have at home, it is time to brainstorm your meals. It is helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What meals can I make from what I already have?
  • Are there any new recipes/foods I would like to try out this week?
  • How much time will I have to prepare my meals?

When thinking of your meal plan, it is helpful to make sure that you include a grain choice, fruit, vegetable, protein source, and dairy or non-dairy alternative with each meal.

Choosing one food from each group and combining them into a meal will keep your meals simple but also ensure you are getting adequate amounts of both macro and micronutrients!

Fridge full of meal prep containers

Step 3: Make a Grocery List

Once you know what meals you would like to make for the week and what you need from the store, the last step is to write your grocery list!

Having a grocery list is going to ensure that you stick to your list and your budget - keeping your meals the focus of your trip, while avoiding unhealthy food temptations that may appear in the aisles.

Meal prepping

10 Meal Ideas with 5 Simple Ingredients

  1. Buddha Bowl: Brown Rice + Black Beans + Broccoli + Sweet Potatoes + Avocado
  2. Blueberry Oatmeal: Rolled Oats + Almond butter + Blueberries + Soy milk + Flax seeds
  3. Chickpea Salad: Chickpeas + Diced Celery + Chopped Carrots + Tahini + Lemon Juice
  4. Quinoa Salad: Cooked Quinoa + Cucumbers + Beets + Edamame + Apple Cider Vinegar
  5. Tofu Scramble: Tofu + Spinach + Mushrooms + Bell Peppers + Turmeric
  6. Chicken Stir-Fry: Farro + Grilled Chicken Breast + Green Beans + Spinach + Tomatoes
  7. Strawberry Protein Smoothie Bowl: Frozen Strawberries + Frozen Kale + Protein Powder + Almond Milk + Chia Seeds
  8. Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding: Chia Seeds + Almond Milk + Blueberries + Cacao Powder + Walnuts
  9. Salmon Tacos: Corn Tortillas + Grilled Salmon + Jasmine Rice + Corn + Cilantro
  10. Kale Salad: Kale + Quinoa + Sliced Strawberries + Sliced Almonds + Baked Tofu

Whatever diet you follow, or whatever your health and fitness goals may be, having quick, healthy meals prepped throughout the week will not only save you time and money, but will also help to keep you healthy and fueled to conquer whatever challenges life may through your way!

Author: Karli McCarthy
Cal Poly, SLO Nutrition Student

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