20 Easy, High Protein Meal Prep Ideas

Whether you’re looking to shed some pounds, boost your metabolism, or just make more mindful choices – these 20 easy, high protein meal prep ideas will help to do just that.

The benefits of protein on weight management and loss have been widely researched. Studies have shown that high protein meal prep can help with controlling your intake while keeping you full and satisfied. Protein has been called the key macronutrient which has positive changes on body composition (1). 

Two taco bowls in storages containers on a counter for high protein meal prep ideas main header image.

Incorporating an adequate amount of protein into your diet, preferably at each meal, helps with weight management by increasing satiety. When we feel full and satisfied, it may lead to less mindless snacking and an overall decreased caloric intake.

Furthermore, beyond the physical benefits, high protein meal prep can simplify your daily routine. It can save you time on hectic days, and eliminate the need to spend money for convenience.

How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Meal?

Studies have shown that muscle synthesis is maximized in most individuals consuming 20-25 grams of high-quality protein (2). Anything greater is thought to be used for energy or trans-aminated to form other compounds. 

Therefore, recent recommendations encourage eating high protein meals consisting of 20-30 grams of high-quality protein spread throughout 3-4 meals per day, as it can help with digestion and absorption.

Further, consuming a balanced protein distribution may be a more practical way for adults with inadequate protein intake to achieve a higher total protein intake (3). 

High Protein Foods: Animal Products

Animal products are considered to be “high biological value” because they contain a higher amount of essential amino acids – which are the building blocks of protein.

Using this list as a guide will help with high protein meal prep and planning. 

table of high protein foods - animal sources

High Protein Foods: Plant-Based

Plant-based proteins usually contain a smaller amount of the essential amino acids, therefore, it is often recommended to eat a wide variety. Some experts even suggest consuming a higher amount of protein if the diet is mainly plant-based.

Given the many health benefits of plant-based protein, adding some of these into your high protein meal prep could be advantageous.

Table of high protein plant-based sources and the amount of protein per serving.

Ways to Increase Protein Intake

Here are some simple ideas to try to increase your protein intake:

  • Nutritional Yeast: Often described as a nutritious seasoning that has a nutty, cheese-like flavor. It’s relatively low in calories, providing about 5 grams of protein per serving. It can be used to replace parmesan cheese in pasta dishes, added to eggs as well as creamy dishes like soup, macaroni and cheese, and even on popcorn.
  • Cottage Cheese/Greek Yogurt: Adding non-fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt can add a lot of protein to pasta sauces, smoothies, dips, and soups. It can be used as a replacement for cream in cream sauces or substitute for sour cream.
  • High Protein Pasta: There are many variations of high protein pasta, with my favorite being Barilla Protein+, which adds 10 grams of protein per serving.
  •  Nuts and Seeds: Almonds contain 7 grams of protein per 1/4 cup serving. Pine nuts are delicious on a healthy salad, and have 4.5 grams of protein per 1/4 cup serving. Hemp seeds, or hemp hearts, are packed with protein and omega-3 fats.

For more ideas on how to increase your protein intake, read my post on How to Get 100 Grams of Protein Per Day

20+ High Protein Meal Prep Ideas

20+ high protein meal prep ideas that can be made in advance, and either prepped in storage containers or frozen for future meals. Use the information from this post to customize meals based on your own preferences and lifestyle!

Example of what a meal with 20-30 grams of protein looks like.

Breakfast Ideas

1. Egg and Cheese Burrito; 510 calories, 34g carbohydrates, 28 grams protein

high protein meal prep ideas
  • 2 eggs, scrambled 
  • 1 high fiber tortilla (read food labels and compare protein content)
  • 1/2 avocado 
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese 

A very filling, substantial breakfast that will likely hit the spot. Omit the avocado, and meal prep a few of these in advance. 

Heat in the microwave on the day you want to consume, add in the avocado, and wrap in aluminum foil to take with you to work if needed. 

2. Peanut Butter Overnight Oats; 420 calories, 38g carbohydrates, 27g protein

high protein meal prep ideas
  • 1/2 cup steel cut or rolled oats 
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut butter 
  • 1 container (150g) Chobani Greek yogurt 
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk 

Combine all ingredients, and let sit overnight in the refrigerator. Overnight oats can be an excellent breakfast option with many variations. A teaspoon of honey or sugar substitute could be added for sweetness. 

Prep 3-4 in advance for on-the-go breakfasts. These can even be frozen once they sit overnight in the fridge! Try these Berry Cheesecake Overnight Oats (37 grams of protein!) as well. 

3. Greek Yogurt Parfait; 320 calories, 40g carbohydrates, 19g protein

high protein oatmeal with berries and nuts; gestational diabetes breakfast ideas
  • 3/4 cup Chobani Zero Sugar Vanilla Greek Yogurt 
  • 1 sliced banana or 1 cup of mixed berries
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts 
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseeds

A simple and easy Greek yogurt parfait with the addition of flaxseeds, which provide omega-3 fatty acids (often lacking in most diets). These can be prepped and stay fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days. 

4. Veggie Egg Frittata; 450 calories, 28g carbohydrates, 25g protein

  • 1 serving vegetable frittata 
  • 1/2 100% whole wheat bagel 

Follow a recipe that contains at least 6 eggs. For this breakfast, I used this Vegetable Frittata Recipe which yields 4 servings. Each serving could be frozen for up to three months for an easy pull out breakfast or dinner.

Chia Breakfast Bowl; 400 calories, 22g protein

The chia mixture in two large white bowls on a cutting board that is garnished with raspberries and walnuts.

This Chia Breakfast Bowl is similar to overnight oats – but without the oats. Not only is it high in protein but also fiber! It’s super simple to prep and store in the fridge for up to 4 days for a quick grab-and-go breakfast.

Lunch and Dinner Ideas

6. Quinoa Mediterranean Bowls; 425 calories, 25g protein

Quinoa cucumber chickpea salad portioned out in storage containers for low calorie high protein meal prep.
  • 1 cup quinoa, raw
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 9 oz. chicken breast, chopped
  • Greek or Italian dressing
  • 2 cups Chopped cucumber, onion and red pepper
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese

Makes 3 servings 

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
2. Chop cucumber, onion and red pepper. I use this vegetable chopper from Amazon which is so helpful for meal prepping! It ensures all the veggies are the same size. Drain garbanzo beans. 
3. Measure 1/2 cup of garbanzo beans, as well as quinoa, and place in food storage container. Add at least 1/2 cup of the cucumber/pepper/onion mix. Top with 1-2 tablespoons of walnuts, 3 ounces of chicken, feta cheese, and a drizzle of your favorite dressing. Then add light salt and pepper. 

This meal is super easy to make. For a vegetarian option, add chicken seitan, or more beans.

7. Chicken Fajita Bowl; 375 calories, 26g protein

A chicken fajita bowl prepped in 3 different storage containers.
  • 2 cups rice, cooked
  • 16 ounces of chicken breast
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 whole onion
  • Taco seasoning packet
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 1-2 Avocadoes (optional)

Makes 4 servings

1. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
2. Julienne the bell pepper and onion. Place in a hot pan with olive oil and cook for about 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the taco seasoning packet (to taste- you don’t have to use it all), and about a 1/4 of water. Let this cook down for another 10 minutes.
3. Assemble in food storage containers: 4 ounces of baked chicken, 1/2 cup of rice, a fourth of the pepper and onion mixture, and top with 1/4 cup of canned corn and sprinkle of cheese.
4. Add slices of avocado or a scoop of guacamole. This is optional, as it likely will not stay fresh for longer than one day. Prep the day of for best results.

8. Butternut Squash Cottage Cheese Pasta; 376 calories, 50g carbohydrates, 20g protein

A birds-eye view of the butternut squash pasta sauce with rotini noodles main header image.

This butternut squash cottage cheese pasta sauce recipe is paired with Barilla Protein+ noodles. For even more protein, add chicken, pork, or turkey. 

If you’re loving the cottage cheeses trend, this cottage cheese macaroni and cheese recipe is super simple to make and portion out for four days of meals (500 calories, 28g protein). 

9. Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash; 350 calories, 25g protein

spaghetti squash with meat sauce for low calorie high protein meal prep
  • One small spaghetti squash, about 2 pounds (feeds two people) or a larger spaghetti squash to cook in batches (feeds 4 people)
  • Avocado spray or olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • For the simple sauce: Rao’s vodka pasta sauce,  parmesan cheese, ground beef or turkey

Also try this Chicken Alfredo Spaghetti Squash, using cottage cheese in replace of heavy cream.

10. Throw Everything In A Pot Chili; 400 calories, 24g protein

Mexican Chili in a bowl topped with shredded cheese and avocado

This is quick and easy Mexican Chili recipe that is one of my family’s favorites. It’s a perfect lazy Sunday dinner meal. The leaner the beef, the lower the calories will be. Customize however you want and omit any of the toppings. 

11. Shrimp Power Bowl, 477 calories, 41g protein

Two shrimp taco bowls prepped in storage containers for meal prep, sitting on a cutting board next to a bowl of Greek yogurt avocado cream sauce.

The power bowl is what I like to call “the queen” of throw together meals. They can be as simple or complex as you want it to be – and there are so many variations. 

Try this super simple and healthy Shrimp Taco Bowl, with a fresh and bright Greek yogurt sauce.

Or, make your own: start with a grain, add protein, then pick out 1-3 different vegetables and top with any sauce you want!

Try any of these 28 Protein Bowl Recipes or this power bowl recipe guide and the protein lists above to put together an easy, nutritious concoction – perfect for high protein meal prepping.

12. Southwest Chicken and Rice in the Crockpot; 410 calories, 28g protein

  • 2 lbs. Chicken Breast, raw
  • 1 packet Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Bell Pepper Pepper, Diced
  • 1 Red Onion, Diced
  • 2 cans of Rotel Tomatoes with Chiles
  • One cup of Rice, dry

    Makes about 6 servings

1. Add chicken breast, taco seasoning, diced pepper and onion, and canned tomatoes to a crockpot. Cook on high for 2-4 hours, or low for 6 hours. Shred chicken when finished.
2. Cook rice according to package directions, or use two microwaveable steam pouches.
3. Assemble 1/2 cup of rice, with about 1 1/2 cups of the crockpot mixture on top (or divide into 5-6 servings). 

13. Chicken Thighs with Buttered Noodles and Carrots; 530 calories, 28g protein

chicken, veggies and high protein pasta; high protein meal prep ideas
  • 16 oz. Chicken Thighs (use chicken breasts for significantly less calories and fat)
  • One bag of Carrots, cut into quarters
  • 8 oz. Barilla Protein+ Pasta Noodles (about 2 cups raw, 4 cups cooked)
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese

    Makes about 4 servings

1. Season the chicken thighs with preferred spices, and cook in air fryer at 380 degrees F for 25 minutes.
2. Put diced carrots on a cookie sheet. Spray with avocado oil, and season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes at 400 degrees F.
3. While chicken and carrots are cooking, boil pasta according to package directions. Drain the water, leaving a little pasta water in the pan. Add butter and parmesan cheese.
4. Assemble: about 1 1/2 chicken thighs (depending on what kind you’re using), 1 cup of noodles, and 1/4th of the carrots. 

14. Asian Stir-Fry; 350 calories, 28g protein

  •  16 oz. of salmon
  •  4 cups of mixed stir-fry vegetables
  • 1 cup of shelled edamame
  • 2 cups of brown rice, cooked
  • 4 Tbsp. of stir-fry sauce

    Makes 4 servings

1. Season the salmon and cook in the air-fryer or oven. 
2. Add mixed vegetables and edamame to hot skillet with cooking spray or oil. Stir-fry for 5-10 minutes. Add the stir-fry sauce after vegetables are cooked.
3. Assemble 4 oz. of salmon, 1/2 cup of rice, and 1/4 of the stir-fry vegetables in each storage container. Drizzle with sriracha for more spice and flavor.

Use cauliflower rice as a low-carb alternative. Substitute the salmon with 16 oz. of firm tofu for a vegetarian option.

15. Deconstructed Taco Bowl; 375 calories, 32g protein

Two chicken taco bowls deconstructed in storage containers on a countertop.

Per one serving:

  • 1/4 cup of black beans
  • 1/4 cup of corn
  • 1/2 cup of rice
  • 4 oz chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup lettuce
  • Jalapenos and salsa for garnish

1. Prepare the chicken and the rice per your preference.
2. Assemble your food prep containers like the picture above, or layer it all together and drizzle some salsa on the top. You could also add a little bit of cheese for more flavor!

16. Lentil Salad; 400 calories, 20g protein

low calorie high protein

Per one serving:

  • 1 cup of lentils
  • 2 Tbsp. Chopped Walnuts
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  •  2 Tbsp. Italian dressing

1. Cook lentils according to package directions.
2. Assemble all ingredients, and drizzle with Italian dressing (salt and pepper optional).

This is a high-protein vegetarian option that couldn’t be much easier to assemble. The walnuts add a nice crunch as well as the texture of the lentils.

17. Steak and Baked Potato; 460 calories, 31g protein

Per one serving:

  • 4 oz. sirloin steak, sliced
  • 1 medium baked potato
  • 1 Tbsp. butter 
  • 2 Tbsp. non-fat Greek yogurt

1. Grill three 4 oz. steaks, and slice into strips.
2. Bake 3 potatoes in the oven for 40-60 minutes wrapped in tinfoil.
3. Top each potato with butter and Greek yogurt. 
4. Separate into three storage containers, and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

18. Buffalo Chicken Crockpot Pasta; 597 calories, 48g protein

A close-up of two bowls of buffalo chicken crockpot pasta on a cutting board.

This buffalo chicken crockpot pasta is a super tasty, simple crockpot meal with A LOT of protein. Whipped cottage cheese makes this recipe creamy while adding addition protein and calcium. 

Less pasta can be used to make this lower in calories, while still providing a very filling dish. 

*This post does contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I would receive a small compensation when a purchase is made (which I would be SO appreciate of). 

High Protein Meal Prep Essentials

Vegetable Chopper for Batch Chopping

Like I mentioned earlier, this vegetable chopper makes all that slicing and dicing so much easier when you’re prepping a large amount of food. It really is a game-changer if you chop all your vegetables at the same time – then you only have to clean it once!

The Right Storage Containers

Having the right storage containers can make all the difference! They should be compact enough to store in the fridge or lunch box, microwave-safe, easy to clean and durable. Stackable containers allow for more storage in the fridge.

These best-selling food storage containers from Amazon have all of that, as well as two separate compartments.

An Air Fryer, Instant Pot, and/or Crockpot

Air-fryers and instant posts are extremely popular for their convenience and quick cooking time. I use my air-fryer to batch cook foods like chicken all the time. I have even cooked steak and pork chops with it!

With a crockpot, you could easily batch cook a pound or two of a protein source with a tasty sauce and put it over veggies. Even freezing extras can make for easier meal prep in the future. 

Customizing these High Protein Meal Prep Ideas

Hopefully, with all the information in this post you not only have ideas for your high protein meal prepping journey, but the knowledge to now create meals based on your own personal preferences.

Most of these ideas could be modified with various protein sources, both animal and plant-based. Use this post as a guide, and customize each idea as you see fit. Once you have a few ideas you prefer, high-protein meal prep just gets easier and easier. 

Let me know in the comments if there are any other resources that would be of particular interest to you! 

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