June 15, 2024

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These High-Protein Meal Prep Recipes Curb Cravings and Keep You Full for Hours

Whether your goal is to lose weight or simply to avoid the siren song of takeout on crazy-busy days, the key to success isn’t actually buying healthy ingredients—it’s being able to transform them into nutritious, homemade meals. And the best recipes, by far, are the ones that can be prepped ahead of time or reheated in just minutes.

To feel more satisfied after a meal (and to cut down on pesky cravings between meals), seek out high-protein dishes. Protein is a crucial nutrient for every part of your body, and it’s a key player in building muscle, boosting immunity, maintaining stable blood sugar, and generally keeping you energized throughout the day.

Another perk? “In numerous studies, a high-protein breakfast habit has been linked to weight management or weight loss,” says Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., C.S.S.D., a New York City- and Los Angeles-based performance dietitian. “Protein is filling and triggers the release of satiety hormones that blunt appetite.”

Translation: You naturally feel satisfied for longer when you load up on protein, reducing those your urge to graze after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Research shows that 30 grams of protein per meal is the sweet spot, but experts say that starting with at least 15 grams is a good bet.

Getting started with meal prep can feel like a ton of work, so we tapped Isabel Smith, R.D., C.D.N., to offer a few tips to keep in mind when you’re cooking for the week.

How to meal prep a high-protein breakfast, lunch, or dinner

Keep it balanced: Choose high-quality protein sources, like meat, seafood, legumes, veggies, and dairy. Each meal should also include a complex carbohydrate (like sweet potatoes or quinoa), vegetables or fruit, and some healthy fat (like avocado, nuts, or olive oil) to cover all your macronutrients.



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Mix and match: For each dish you create, prepare extra servings of protein so you can easily swap them into other dishes or recipes. For example, if you have extra tofu, save it to create an easy stir-fry later in the week. This will save you time in the long run and keep your prep relatively simple and stress-free.

Invest in the right storage: Once you have your meals ready, storing them properly will help maintain overall freshness. Pick glass over plastic to avoid harmful chemicals like BPA (which can wind up in your food). Glass jars, zip-top bags, and meal prep containers are all great options.

Although there’s no shortage of healthy recipes, certain options work better than others for meal prep. Here, you’ll find delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that will last for days in the fridge (or for weeks in the freezer) and are loaded with metabolism-boosting, filling protein.



a plate of food on a table: thai turkey lettuce cups


© Mike Garten – Hearst Owned
thai turkey lettuce cups

1. Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups

Meal prep doesn’t need to take all day; these turkey cups, for example, come together in 20 minutes and boast 43 grams of protein. Even better, the filling is beyond easy to reheat and pack into lettuce leaves, making for a lunch that requires next to no effort, but still feels fresh.

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a bunch of different types of food: Spinach and Goat Cheese Egg Muffins


© DANIELLE OCCHIOGROSSO – Hearst Owned
Spinach and Goat Cheese Egg Muffins

2. Spinach and Cheese Egg Muffins

These delicious spinach egg muffins contain a trio that’s guaranteed to please: protein-packed eggs, nutrient-rich veggies, and creamy goat cheese. You’ll get 4 grams of protein per muffin, so feel free to have two or three alongside a serving of cottage cheese or Greek yogurt to hit your morning quota.

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a bowl of food on a table: Fiery Black Bean Soup


© Mike Garten – Hearst Owned
Fiery Black Bean Soup

3. Fiery Black Bean Soup

Vegan recipes can be protein-packed too. This spicy black bean soup (which goes vegan if you switch chicken broth for vegetable) provides 20 satiating grams of protein per serving, plus tons of fiber and plant-powered nutrients. Bonus: You’ll get up to four full lunches or dinners from just one batch.

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a plate of food with a fork: Honey-Spiced Salmon with Quinoa


© Christopher Testani – Hearst Owned
Honey-Spiced Salmon with Quinoa

4. Honey-Spiced Salmon With Quinoa

Salmon and quinoa are truly a power duo—one is a complete plant-based protein, the other a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. In this recipe, red cabbage, cooked quinoa, honey, salmon, and lime combine into a delicious meal prep option with 41 grams of protein per serving.

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a bowl of food on a plate: grilled ratatouille linguine


© Danielle Daly – Hearst Owned
grilled ratatouille linguine

5. Grilled Ratatouille Linguine

Craving a restaurant-quality pasta dish without all the effort? Make this veggie-packed linguine, which transforms ratatouille into a grilled delicacy. You’ll get a surprising 15 grams of protein per helping, plus more if you use a pasta made from chickpeas or other alternative grains.

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a plate of food with broccoli: shrimp and cabbage rollup


© Armando Rafael – Hearst Owned
shrimp and cabbage rollup

6. Herb Shrimp and Cabbage Roll-Ups

With 15 grams of protein (but only 105 calories) per roll, these veggie-wrapped takes on the Vietnamese classics are an ideal make-ahead lunch. Even better, they’re meant to be served cold and they already have the dipping sauce inside—no microwave or extra container necessary.

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a sandwich on a cutting board with a cake: greek turkey burgers


© Erika LaPresto – Hearst Owned
greek turkey burgers

7. Turkey Burgers with Tomato Relish

You won’t even miss the beef after trying these Greek turkey burgers with zucchini, mint, and tangy tomato-feta relish—plus 28 grams of protein per serving. Simply prep your patties and throw them into the fridge or freezer, depending on how long you’ll wait, to have on hand when you need healthy food fast.

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a bowl of salad on a plate: Arugula and Chickpea Salad


© Romulo Yanes – Hearst Owned
Arugula and Chickpea Salad

8. Arugula and Chickpea Salad

Craving greens? They don’t have the most protein—but with the right companions, you can get plenty of the stuff from a salad. This easy-to-prep winter mix offers a respectable 14 grams of protein per serving, combining protein-rich chickpeas, nuts, and cheese with the vitamins and phytonutrients of arugula.

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a close up of food: sheet pan baked halibut high protein meal prep idea


© CHRISTOPHER TESTANI – Hearst Owned
sheet pan baked halibut high protein meal prep idea

9. Sheet Pan Halibut with Potatoes

It’s time to try halibut, an underutilized fish that boasts tons of vitamin A, niacin, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and selenium. And since it’s a sheet pan recipe, there’s barely any cleanup—not to mention a whopping 40 grams of protein per serving. Add this one to your rotation ASAP.

Gallery: Warning: This Turmeric Squash Soup Is So Good You’ll Actually Wish For An Endless Winter (Women’s Health)

a plate of food on a wooden table: The crockpot (a.k.a. slow cooker) is great because you just throw ingredients in, set it, and forget it. (Until it’s time to eat.) Pretty much as low-maintenance as it gets.If you're a vegan, though, you might not think that the crockpot is your thing. I don’t blame you; there are so many meat-focused slow cooker recipes out there. Beefy pot roasts, saucy BBQ pulled chicken, slow-braised short ribs, tomato-y pork ragu, chorizo chili…I could go on. It’s time to change that image, though.Frankly, there are so many healthy, hearty, and oh-so-comforting vegan crockpot recipes out there just waiting to be discovered—and they’re just as delicious (and easy-to-make) as their meat-laden counterparts.Lots of vegan staples are actually perfect for the crockpot. Dried beans, which are cheaper than canned but take a long time to cook, plump up beautifully in the slow cooker. Canned beans, meanwhile, soak up extra flavor and release some starch to thicken a soup or stew. And, sturdy root veggies (like potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and carrots) stand up to hours of slow cooking like champs.Ready to swap that heavy cream for coconut milk, ground meat for beans and lentils, and pulled pork for jackfruit? These 45 vegan crockpot recipes deliver all the rich, hearty goodness you expect from a slow cooker meal. Top ‘em off with a little vegan cheese (or nutritional yeast) and even your meat- and dairy-loving friends will be coming back for seconds.

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a bowl of food sitting on top of a wooden table: kale and chickpea soup


© DANIELLE DALY
kale and chickpea soup

10. Kale and Chickpea Soup

Chickpeas are protein powerhouses, and they’re the main reason that this soup has 17 grams of the stuff per bowl. But the best part might be that it’s plant-powered without feeling like a chore. You’ll actually enjoy eating your veggies (and making your own food) with this easy vegetarian recipe.

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a bowl of food on a plate: Tex-Mex Salmon Bowl


© Charles Masters – Hearst Owned
Tex-Mex Salmon Bowl

11. Tex-Mex Salmon Bowl

Meal prep doesn’t get easier than this bowl, which upgrades pre-made rice and canned black beans with buttery salmon and avocado. You’ll get an unbelievable 53 grams of protein, plus tons of fiber and healthy fats, from just 20 minutes of work—including the time it takes to make your own salsa.

Get the recipe »



a bowl of food on a plate: vegetable fried rice


© Erika LaPresto – Hearst Owned
vegetable fried rice

12. Vegetable Fried Rice

Say goodbye to takeout. Swap your go-to order for this plant-based version with under 500 calories and 19 grams of filling protein from edamame. You’ll curb cravings while keeping your sodium intake in check. There’s no meat or eggs required—you can even trade honey for maple syrup to go entirely vegan.

Get the recipe »



a box filled with different types of food on a table: Sautéed Chicken and Salad With Passion Fruit Vinaigrette


© Hearst Owned
Sautéed Chicken and Salad With Passion Fruit Vinaigrette

13. Sautéed Chicken and Salad

For a nutritious meal that’ll also stun your followers, we recommend this pan-cooked chicken and mixed salad with passion fruit vinaigrette. Its 33 grams of protein aren’t the only reason to give it a try; with at least half your plate taken up with raw veggies, it’ll make you feel as good as it looks.

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a bowl of salad on a blue plate: Crunchy Turkey Salad with Oranges


© Mike Garten – Hearst Owned
Crunchy Turkey Salad with Oranges

14. Crunchy Turkey Salad

Whether you’re repurposing holiday leftovers or trying to get rid of extra rotisserie chicken (which swaps well with turkey), consider this recipe your new go-to treat, offering a huge 41 grams of protein. Most of the prep in this meal is already done; you just need to cut the salad, whip up the dressing, and enjoy.

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a plate of food with a sandwich and a salad: Salmon Banh Mi with Spicy Mayo


© Charles Masters – Hearst Owned
Salmon Banh Mi with Spicy Mayo

15. Salmon Banh Mi with Spicy Mayo

Salmon is a staple in high-protein meal prep for a reason: It’s high in nutrients and protein while being extremely versatile. The fish especially shines through in this Vietnamese banh mi, which features carrots, radishes, cilantro, and plenty of spice, not to mention 26 grams of protein.

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a box filled with different types of food: Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka With Cauliflower and Chickpeas


© Christopher Testani
Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka With Cauliflower and Chickpeas

16. Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka

Give your tikka masala a makeover. You’ll get all the traditional flavors of the Indian dish—garam masala, cilantro, and yogurt—without overindulging on carbs or calories. Even picky eaters will find something to love about this hearty meal, which packs in 55 grams of protein per serving.

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food on a plate: Veggie-Loaded Chickpea Waffles


© JOHN KERNICK – Hearst Owned
Veggie-Loaded Chickpea Waffles

17. Veggie-Loaded Chickpea Waffles

If you’ve ever heated up the pre-made frozen kind, you know that waffles are just about the ideal meal prep food. This variety is a little healthier than the ones you’re used to—with 7 grams of protein but only 85 calories per savory waffle, you can max out on veggies without blowing up your diet.

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a bowl of salad on a plate: white bean, tuna, and red pepper salad


© Romulo Yanes – Hearst Owned
white bean, tuna, and red pepper salad

18. Bean, Tuna, and Pepper Salad

Speaking of easy meal prep, time-crunched chefs will love this one: Most of this salad’s ingredients (beans, tuna, peppers, artichoke hearts, and olives) come right out of a can. You’d think they wouldn’t taste fresh, but paired with the crunch of romaine, the result is an effortless dish with 15 grams of protein.

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food on a wooden table: breakfast sandwiches


© Mike Garten – Hearst Owned
breakfast sandwiches

19. Egg-and-Cheese Sandwiches

Never have any time to make breakfast? Stop heading to the drive-thru and replace your less-than-healthy breakfast sandwich with this homemade (and, let’s be honest, much better) recipe. Each one is meat-free, hides a bit of spinach inside, and contains 19 grams of protein. Plus, they freeze well up to three weeks.

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a pizza sitting on top of a wooden table: Pineapple and Cashew Fried Rice


© Mike Garten – Hearst Owned
Pineapple and Cashew Fried Rice

20. Pineapple and Cashew Fried Rice

Fried rice gets a welcome makeover in this recipe with 15 grams of protein, which spices up the classic with pineapple, cashews, and sriracha. Next to staples like edamame, scallions, and eggs, the additions add new depth to a dish that’s sure to please everyone at your table, even after a few days in the fridge.

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a bunch of food sitting on a table: roasted salmon, artichokes, red onion


© Mike Garten
roasted salmon, artichokes, red onion

21. Salmon, Artichokes, and Onion

Despite looking fancy, it’s actually pretty easy to throw together this hearty dish with 33 grams of protein per serving: All you really need is fresh salmon and veggies, plus vitamin C-packed oranges. With all the ingredients prepped, you’ll have dinner on the table just 20 minutes after getting started.

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a plate of food with a fork and knife: Rainbow Chicken Slaw


© Christopher Testani – Hearst Owned
Rainbow Chicken Slaw

22. Rainbow Chicken Slaw

This keto-friendly recipe has 32 grams of protein per serving, plus every color of the rainbow. But even non-keto eaters can enjoy this refreshing main, which combines chicken with cabbage, carrots, beets, snow peas, and avocado. Even better, this healthy slaw can even be served cold, right out of the fridge.

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a bowl of food with a green salad on a plate: tortellini and pesto snow peas


© Mike Garten
tortellini and pesto snow peas

23. Pesto Tortellini with Snow Peas

Perhaps the greenest dish here, this tortellini falls somewhere between saucy and soupy—and that’s exactly where it should be. The crunchy snow peas, which provide much of this recipes 18 grams of protein, pair well with soft, cheesy tortellini and nutty pesto. It’s practically begging to be reheated as lunch.

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a bowl of food on a plate: southwestern chopped salad


© Erika LaPresto – Hearst Owned
southwestern chopped salad

24. Southwestern Chopped Salad

Most pre-made salads are pretty wimpy by the time you get to eat them, but this verdant option will hold up long past lunchtime. Shrimp, beans, and avocado provide 27 grams of protein, while romaine, peppers, and cucumber bring fiber and crunch. And did we mention it’s only about 300 calories per serving?

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a bowl of food on a table: Pork Pozole Verde


© Con Poulos – Hearst Owned
Pork Pozole Verde

25. Slow Cooker Pork Pozole

This Mexican pozole might take a while to make, but it’s absolutely perfect as leftovers on those days when you need something hearty without all the work. Succulent pork provides 23 grams of protein per serving, while hominy, green chiles, and tomatillos add texture and color to the mix. It’s worth the wait.

Get the recipe »

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