Meal prepping is the not-so-secret hack for making eating healthy during busy weekdays a cinch, but it’s a lot easier said than done—even with the best intentions and a Pinterest board full of ideas. Enter Prep School, Well+Good’s new series that makes meal prep simple. Each month, we’ll focus on a different eating style, with four weeks of different delicious plans to try at home. This month, we're all about gluten-free meal prep; this week, we're sharing a guide to making high-protein, gluten-free meals.
When Sally O'Neil, aka The Fit Foodie, sat down to write The Fit Foodie Meal Prep Plan, she had two rules for herself: One, that it could be a go-to resource for busy women without much wiggle room in their schedules, and two, it wouldn't preach any BS diet plans that made mealtime feel more like a hurdle to overcome than a time of joy and nourishment.
Mission accomplished. The book is a practical guide, giving thought-out plans and ideas for healthy staples that can be used in a whole slew of different ways, keeping meals from getting repetitive or boring. The key, according to O'Neil, is prepping a couple versatile proteins that are ready-to-eat all week—and planning out what you're going to pair them with. This not only eliminates the stress of figuring out what to eat, it also reduces food waste because you're being purposeful about the foods you're prepping.
Here, O'Neil shares recipes to two flavorful proteins, as well as how to use them to create a week's worth of dinners for one person. Ready for the kicker? Everything is entirely gluten-free.
Keep reading for everything you need to master a week's worth of high-protein, gluten-free meals:
Ingredients to buy for the week:
- Vegetables of your choice (for roasting)
- Salad greens
- Frozen peas
- 1 cucumber
- 1 red onion
- 1 pomegranate
- Dried apricots
- Fresh mint
- Lemon juice
- Fresh dill and basil (optional)
Meat and dairy
- 3 salmon filets
- Greek yogurt
- Almond flour
- 1 jar natural peanut butter
- 2 15-oz. cans of chickpeas
- 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
- Onion powder
- 6 oz. roasted hazelnuts
- Corn tortillas
- 2 oz. pine nuts
Sauces and condiments
What you'll need from your pantry:
The two foods to cook on Sunday for a week's worth of high-protein, gluten-free meals:
Recipe 1: Foolproof oven-baked salmon
Meal prep tip: Salmon is an all-star for its versatility and nutrient density. Eat one serving for dinner on Sunday with some roasted vegetables and one serving of quinoa (see below) and save the leftover fillets to be used throughout the week.
Yields 3 servings
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Pat the salmon dry with paper towel and rub with olive oil.
3. Place the salmon in a roasting tin or sheet pan, skin-side down. Transfer to the oven.
4. Salmon needs to be cooked for around four to five minutes per half inch of thickness. Since most fillets are around an inch at their thickest part, check for "doneness" at around the eight minute mark. Fish is cooked when it can be easily flaked with a fork (without the help of a knife to rip it apart).
5. Serve with a sprinkling of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and some sprigs of dill or basil, if using.
6. Store remaining cooked salmon fillets in a glass container in the refrigerator until ready to use (up to five days).
Recipe 2: Nut butter falafels
Meal prep tip: As far as gluten-free protein ideas go, this is one that you'll find yourself coming back to again and again. Since the falafels cook at the same temperature as the salmon, you can roast them at the same time.
Yields 18 falafels
15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp natural peanut butter (Almond butter or tahini also works—whatever you have in the cupboard is fine)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp onion powder
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Mix all of the ingredients together in a blender or food processor until they are well combined.
3. Roll the mixture into balls with your hands. If the dough is a little wet, add more almond flour, a little at a time.
4. Place the balls on a silicone baking sheet or a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
5. Store cooked falafel in a glass container in the fridge for five days, or freeze for up to two weeks.
Other meal prep staples to make ahead of time
Quinoa: While the falafel and salmon are in the oven, use the stovetop or the microwave to cook two cups of quinoa to incorporate into a couple different meals later in the week. (Follow the package directions.) You'll eat one serving tonight; store the remaining cup of your cooked quinoa separately in a glass container in the fridge.
Roasted veggies: Once the falafel and salmon are done, crank the oven up to 400°F or 450°F to roast a tray of vegetables of your choice. (Zucchini, onion, bell peppers, and eggplant are popular ones, but go for whatever your preference is.) The air fryer works well for this purpose, too. Eat some with your salmon and quinoa on Sunday, then store the finished vegetables in a glass container in the fridge.
Here’s how to use these foods to make high-protein, gluten-free dinners all week long:
Monday dinner: falafel wraps with pesto
Leftovers: 3 falafels, roasted veggies
New ingredients: Hummus, gluten-free tortilla or wrap, 1 tablespoon pesto, 1/3 cup chopped red onion, 1/3 cup chopped cucumber
You cooked a lot yesterday, so make things easy on yourself and go for an easy option tonight. Spread 1 tablespooon of jarred pesto evenly on a gluten-free tortilla, add in some chopped red onion and cucumber for fiber along with some of your roasted vegetables from last night, then roll it up with the falafels. You'll have dinner on the table in minutes.
Tuesday dinner: Moroccan grain bowl
Leftovers: 1 cup quinoa, 1 salmon fillet
New ingredients: Moroccan spice mix, 1 pomegranate (seeded), 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts or almonds, 1/4 cup raisins
For an easy Moroccan-inspired grain bowl, heat up the last serving of quinoa and a leftover salmon fillet. Then toss it together with the other ingredients: pomegranate seeds, nuts, raisins, and the spice mix.
Wednesday dinner: Falafel with roasted veggies
Leftovers: 3-6 falafels, roasted veggies
New ingredients: 1/2 cup hummus, olive oil
Pair some falafel and roasted veggies with hummus and top it off with olive oil to make your own DIY Mediterranean platter. All you have to do is reheat the roasted veggies and falafel, then serve with the other ingredients.
Thursday dinner: salmon with Spring veggies
Leftovers: 1 salmon fillet
New ingredients: Fresh mint, 1/2 cup cooked frozen peas, 1 cup arugula, 1/3 cup pine nuts
Make the salmon the star of your Thursday meal, rounding it out with some fiber-rich veggies. (That's where the arugula and peas come in.) The mint helps brighten the whole dish right up, giving new life to something that's been in the fridge a few days.
Friday dinner: Greek salad
Leftovers: 3-6 falafels
New ingredients: 1/2 cup chickpeas, 2 cups salad greens, 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup chopped apricots, olive oil
Another no-cook meal to incorporate leftover falafels into is a big, Greek salad. All this requires is two minutes combining ingredients into a bowl. Use your greens as the base, then add in the falafels, chickpeas, and chopped apricots, then drizzle with olive oil. Lastly, top with the Greek yogurt.
If you're new to gluten-free eating, here are some tips. And if you're looking for healthy meal inspo on the reg, join Well+Good's Cook With Us Facebook group.
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