How to Meal Prep on a High-Protein Diet

Keep these nutritionist-recommended tips in mind to keep your meals balanced and safe to eat.

January 10, 2023

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Photo by: Caymia/Getty Images

Caymia/Getty Images

Many folks tend to pile on the protein at one meal and often forget about it during other meals and snacks. When you choose to meal prep, finding the right protein to meal prep and dividing it throughout the day is important. Here are tips on how to balance your meal prep in single-serving boxes with plenty of protein, along with other food groups to make a balanced meal.

Balance Your Box

Remember protein doesn’t work alone – pair it with other food groups. Ideally, one-quarter of your plate should be protein, one quarter should be starches (like whole grains), and one half should be fruits and vegetables. When you choose recipes to meal prep, be sure you’re getting a fully balanced meal with each set.

Get Saucy

Many proteins reheat and freeze better when they’re packed in a sauce. This also helps prevent the protein from drying out. Give Chicken Parmesan, Lemon Chicken Breasts and Instant Pot Beef Stew a try.

Add Protein to Each Meal

Your body uses the protein best when it’s divided across several meals and snacks even for breakfast (where most people forgo it). If you’re planning to meal prep breakfast, higher protein options include Pumpkin Protein Waffles, Shakshuka and Chia Seed Pudding.

Cook Proteins to Recommended Temperatures

Since your food will be stored in the fridge for a few days or stashed in the freezer, possibly thawed and reheated, cooking to the proper minimum internal cooking temperatures are essential. Chicken is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit; beef, pork and fish burgers to 155 degrees; and beef and pork filets or chops to 145 degrees. Check the temperature in the thickest part of the food. Getting your hands on a meat thermometer will set you up for success.

Store Food Right

Meal prepping food takes planning. Salads won’t last more than a few days and even food that needs to be reheated shouldn’t be stored in the fridge for more than four days. Take your fifth meal of the week and store it in the freezer and take it out on Thursday so it can defrost for Friday. Fish can only be stored in the fridge for two or three days, but luckily you can also freeze it for up to two months.

Defrost Properly

When defrosting, don’t leave food out at room temperature as that can lead to bacterial growth on the food. Instead, transfer your single-serving container from the freezer to the refrigerator one to two days before you’re planning on eating it. Your meal prepped food should be reheated to 165 degrees in the microwave, oven or stove top — whichever works best for you and your dish.

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