Easy Meal Prep Tasks You Can Get Done in 15 Minutes or Less

easy meal prep
Photo Credit: Kristine Weilert

February 19, 2021

Carrie Havranek

Meal prep doesn’t have to be a thing you do all day, sacrificing one of your weekend days (usually Sunday, it seems). Instead, it’s more doable if you break meal prep, which can seem insurmountable, into smaller tasks. With kids at home doing school remotely, I’m up early and have some time before I get started on my work, and it’s time that is often interrupted and scattered, which means it’s really too early to do work-work. I find starting the day with a little bit of easy meal prep makes the rest of the day go much easier, and warms my brain up for different tasks.

Here are 8 cooking projects you can do first thing in the morning.

1. Cook grains.

Some grains take longer than others, sure, but if quinoa and rice, for example, cook fairly quickly. This covers you for lunch or dinner. If you have an awesome electric rice cooker, you can keep it warm for hours on end (safely, I might add).

2. Make hard boiled eggs.

I love to steam eggs instead of boiling them, as that tends to work best for farm fresh eggs and that’s mostly what I buy. Usually, I’ll do a half dozen eggs for 12 minutes in a steamer basket over boiling, and then I transfer them to cold water, and then the fridge. This is so handy for lunches, mid-afternoon snacks, and even dinner, tossed in with some greens and roasted veggies.

3. Prep veggies for dinner.

That’s pretty straightforward. You can also take this time to process a head of cauliflower for rice, peel potatoes (leave them in a bowl of cold water in the fridge to prevent oxidation), or otherwise make your dinner easier.

4. Make some hummus.

Because you’ll be ready for an afternoon snack. (Maybe chop extra veggies for your hummus, too!)

5. Remember to defrost your meat.

This is more of a PSA, but how often do you forget to do this?

6. Roast some broccoli.

This cruciferous veggie cooks in a jiffy when you roast it at 400, and then you’ve got beautifully charred broccoli for lunch or dinner.  Or if you have more time, roast a wider range of veggies while you go take a shower.

7. Cut, shred, or slice cheese.

For tacos. Or snacking.

8. Prep something sweet and healthy.

Such as these Chocolate Pumpkin Peanut Butter energy bites, to get through that mid-afternoon slump.