Busy Week? Try These 3 Healthy Make-Ahead Meals

selection of easy meals to prepare ahead of time
Preparing healthy make-ahead meals can help you skip the drive-thru line.

by Cheryl S. Grant

After a long day at work, it can seem daunting to stand in front of a stove and whip up a meal. But grabbing takeout can put a dent in your wallet and also foil your plans to make better food choices. A crafty cook knows that one of the best ways to avoid the pitfalls of fast food is to prepare a few healthy meals ahead of time. If you have a busy week coming up, spend some time on Sunday trying out these simple and healthy make-ahead meals!

1. Vegetarian White Bean Chili

Who doesn't love to cozy up on the couch after a long day with a nice bowl of chili? This vegetarian-friendly option is simple to make and sure to please.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 10-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 cups of low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can of corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white quinoa, rinsed
  • Greek yogurt

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and cook until tender for about six minutes. Add garlic, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and the can of diced tomatoes. Reduce and simmer, allowing the flavors to blend for about four minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in beans, corn, spinach, and quinoa. Cook until the quinoa is tender, which should take about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a dollop of fat-free plain Greek yogurt before serving.

2. Baked Chicken Thighs With Black Beans

Nothing like a healthy dose of protein to get you through a long week! Enjoy this dish that's proven to last. Simply divide up the chicken breasts into six separate containers and you've got a week's worth of evening meals waiting for you in the fridge.

  • 1 14.5-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 15-ounce can of black beans, undrained

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Season the thighs to taste with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Spread the canned tomatoes at the bottom of a baking dish. Add the chicken thighs and top with the diced onion and canned black beans. Cook for about 40 minutes. Insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh; it should read 165 degrees. Serve with cooked brown rice or a baked sweet potato.

3. Egg Muffins

Short on time when you wake up? Make your mornings simpler (and still delicious) with these egg muffins!

  • Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 10 large eggs or 1 pint of egg beaters
  • 1/2 cup of 2 percent milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 10 ounces freshly chopped spinach
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray. Whisk the eggs, milk, pepper, and salt. Stir in the onion, chopped spinach, tomato, and cheese. Fill the muffin cups close to the top with the egg mixture. Bake until the egg mixture puffs and is set in the center, which should take about 15–18 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the egg muffins so they are separated from the pan. To freeze them after they have cooled completely, wrap them individually in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer storage bag. They should last about two weeks, and you can re-warm them in the microwave. Enjoy your muffins with a slice of whole-wheat toast.

Thanks to a little make-ahead magic, your week just got a whole lot easier!