33 Easy Dinner Prep Ideas You'll Want To Try ASAP

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1.

Set a slow cooker or 11-in-1 Instant Pot to do your hard work during the day on a scrumptious recipe like these Pulled Pork Nachos. (Yes. You can make nacho toppings in a slow cooker.)

cast iron pan full of nachos with toppings like red onions and cheese


buzzfeed.com

For this recipe, you can put the pork in a slow cooker for four hours on high or eight hours on low — aka let it cook while you’re at work — then shred the pork and bake the nachos with all your fixings in the oven for 8–10 minutes. The only way this is getting easier is if your order nachos. Get our recipe for Pulled Pork Nachos.

Get them from Amazon: 6-quart slow cooker for $59.87 and an 11-in-1 6-quart Instant Pot for $129.95

2.

Make things even simpler prepping freezer-friendly meals ahead and storing them in freezer bags so when it’s time to eat, you just have to heat it up. Just be sure to label and date it, plus any specific heating directions. Plus when you lay the filled bags flat, it makes for very easy stacking and storage. (I personally like to do this.)

reviewer's pic of a ziplock bag with vegetarian chili stored in it


amazon.com

And if you needed an even bigger excuse to fill your freezer with prepped meals, your freezer works better when it’s full. So, a win-win

You can *also* freeze your ingredients before they’re actually combined for easy meal prep. Put all the chopped, prepped ingredients into a labeled freezer bag and store for as long as three months. The night before you plan to make the meal, put the bag in the fridge to thaw and in the morning, dump the contents into your slow cooker. Let it cook during the day and come home to a hot meal. Learn more on New Leaf Wellness.

Get a 56-pack of these freezer bags from Amazon for $10.28.

3.

And once it’s time to whip up dinner, use some slow-cooker liners to make cleanup a total cinch. Sometime a super easy cleanup can help motivate yourself to cook (or maybe that’s just me).

the liners in a slower cooker dividing into two sections with two kinds of dip


Amazon

I use these and they’re THE BEST.

Get a box of six liners from Amazon for $3.18.

4.

Limit yourself to a one-pan recipe that bakes in the oven while you do other stuff. You’ll have less clutter while cooking and fewer dishes to wash afterward.

salmon on a plate with vegetables


Goodful / BuzzFeed

Try our One-Pan Lemon Herb Salmon recipe. Eat one serving and then box up the other three for even quicker dinners later!

Get a three-piece baking sheet set from Amazon for $16.99.

5.

Outsource your veggie chopping to this 4-in-1 slicer that’ll catch your chopped ingredients until you’re ready to dump them into a dish.


Amazon

Promising review: “I love this veggie chopper. I often use it to make veggie soups and to make hashbrowns with onions and peppers. (Before this I would view that as far too much work due to the need to chop everything so finely.) I also use it to make zucchini spiral noodles for veggie ‘spaghetti.’ I appreciate the fact that it is easy to store the spare parts inside the spiralizer. Also, the brush is handy for cleaning.” —SLC

Get it from Amazon for $29.99.



Amazon

Promising review: “I love this veggie chopper. I often use it to make veggie soups and to make hashbrowns with onions and peppers. (Before this I would view that as far too much work due to the need to chop everything so finely.) I also use it to make zucchini spiral noodles for veggie ‘spaghetti.’ I appreciate the fact that it is easy to store the spare parts inside the spiralizer. Also, the brush is handy for cleaning.” —SLC

Get it from Amazon for $29.99.

6.

Or invest in a manual food chopper for quick work of herbs, fruits, veggies, and ice in case your knife skills could use some practice or you just wanna make food prep a lil’ more fun.

Reviewer before and after photos showing roughly chopped veggies finely minced by the chopper


amazon.com

It’s also dishwasher-safe (top rack only!) so cleanup is super simple.

Promising review: “This is great for cutting lots of veggies super fast. All you have to do is rough chop down your veggies toss them in and give it four to five pulls for perfectly diced chunks for salsa or toppings on eggs or tacos. It comes with a handy cover too so all you have to do is rinse the blade and toss the container in the fridge or cooler.” —Kevin B.

Get it from Amazon for $15.30+ (also available in green).

7.

Pick a few like-minded grain-based recipes and prep a big batch of grains that you can use for multiple meals and dishes.

several bowls with vegetables and grains


Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Keep big bags of ~dry~ grains in your pantry and pick a kind of grain to prep at the beginning of the week for use in dinners. It’s one less step to figure out when you’re fixing a quick meal. TBH, you can easily swap some grains for others in recipes. Start with this post for a week’s game plan.

One big batch of quinoa can work for Korean Bulgogi BBQ Steak Bowls (#2), Ahi Tuna Quinoa Poke Bowl (#3), Cuban Quinoa Bowl With Spicy Lemon Cashew Dressing (#8), The Mother of All Veggie Bowls (#9), Hippie Bowls (#10), Honey Chipotle Chicken Bowls (#16), and/or The Big Vegan Bowl (#17).

Get a 1.5 lbs. container of quinoa from Amazon for $8.15.

8.

Spiralize veggies you’ll use later in bulk…and then freeze them. Throw them in dishes like a Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai that require sauteeing the veggies for a bit.


Emma Lord/BuzzFeed, Amazon

Read the full recipe on Pinch of Yum. And check out 21 Delicious Veggie Noodles Recipes.

Get a spiralizer from Amazon for $16.99.



Emma Lord/BuzzFeed, Amazon

Read the full recipe on Pinch of Yum. And check out 21 Delicious Veggie Noodles Recipes.

Get a spiralizer from Amazon for $16.99.

9.

Meal prep like you’re feeding a family of four…but keep it all for yourself.

chicken and black bean burrito bowls divided into four food storage containers


Goodful / BuzzFeed

You’ll (likely) spend as much time with food prep as you would for one serving and can make three more meals out of it. Better yet, find a recipe that’s a dupe for a restaurant fave, like our Chipotle taste-alike Chicken Burrito Bowls recipe. Divvy up the goods into four containers and you’ll have three more microwavable meals later.

Get a 42-piece set of Rubbermaid containers and lids from Amazon for $31. (They’re microwave-, freezer- and dishwasher-safe, and BPA-free!)

10.

Fall for a DIY salad dressing recipe and keep it in a dressing shaker in your fridge for everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salads and bowls when you’re trying to use up produce.

hand pouring salad dressing out a specialty shaker over a salad


Amazon

Find a good recipe — like this creamy garlic dressing or this versatile recipe for a basic vinaigrette — to whip up in a big batch for the week using stuff you already have in your pantry. (Most recipes make multiple servings, anyway.)

Get this salad dressing shaker from Amazon for $14.99.

11.

Shop your own pantry by putting essentials like canned tuna to work in new dishes you won’t believe.

bowl of tuna salad


Zoe Burnett / BuzzFeed

Check out 15 Recipes You Can Make With a Can of Tuna for lots of tasty inspo.

Get a 4-pack of 5 oz. solid-white albacore tuna from Amazon for $5.98 or check out a variety of pack sizes of chunk light tuna.

12.

Zero in on the holes in your food stores with this handy pad that’ll help you replace stuff when you need it.

grocery list notepad that says all out of


Amazon

No more wasting time by dragging out all the ingredients for Sweet Potato Hash and realizing you have zero sweet potatoes.

Get it from Amazon for $8.10.

13.

Keep some pre-made simmer sauces handy to to easily zhuzh up that plain chicken breast you have thawing in the sink. Seriously, just dump that sauce on it once it’s cooked in the pan! (Psst, they’re also Keto- and Paleo-friendly but IMO don’t taste like it.)

cast iron pan with the Thai Coconut Sauce cooking with chicken and bok choy


Amazon

I’ve tried nearly all of these sauces and can vouch they dress up all kinds of stuff. If you’re craving some takeout food you’re too lazy to replicate at home, some of these (esp the Thai Coconut Sauce that’s shown here) will help you get some of that taste without buying a million ingredients.

Promising review: “These sauces are magic. A high end trick added to our meal prep. Really tasty options. We have been doing meal prep for quite a while and the salt and pepper meals where getting old. We tried to incorporate skillet sauces into our meals and tried all the brands out there. They were ok but not very healthy. When I saw these on Amazon I had to try them (Keto and Paleo Certified) and they taste amazing. Now we have a different flavor each and every day and we can still keep the diet.” —Fernando Pimentel

Get a three-pack from Amazon for $15 (available in a variety of combos).

14.

Or try out The Omsom Bundle, which is really just fancy talk for flavorful Asian dish starters (aka, the sauces, aromatics, and seasonings) to keep stashed in your pantry for heavy lifting. Each comes with recipes you can easily follow along. Just add protein and veggies!


Omsom

Cofounders and sisters Vanessa and Kim Pham started Omsom after stints at startups and in consulting. As the kids of Vietnamese refugees, they were inspired by all the from-scratch Viet dinners they watched their mom cook growing up. With Omsom, they aim to bring lots of flavor to your pantry with their pantry starters that’ll help you make some amaaaazing Asian dishes. Each starter serves two to three people. (Fantastic news for lazy people like me who buy a spice once, and then let it expire.)

This bundle will give you some major kick for your buck. It includes the entire Omsom collection of six cuisines with 12 starters total, including: 1 Southeast Asian Omsom Sampler with Vietnamese, Thai, + Filipino starters and 1 East Asian Omsom Sampler with Japanese, Korean, + Chinese starters.Promising review: “Delicious and easy dinner. I love the flavors because they are nostalgic and delicious and make meal time a breeze with my kids.” —Suzanne R.

Get it from Omsom for $55.



Omsom

Cofounders and sisters Vanessa and Kim Pham started Omsom after stints at startups and in consulting. As the kids of Vietnamese refugees, they were inspired by all the from-scratch Viet dinners they watched their mom cook growing up. With Omsom, they aim to bring lots of flavor to your pantry with their pantry starters that’ll help you make some amaaaazing Asian dishes. Each starter serves two to three people. (Fantastic news for lazy people like me who buy a spice once, and then let it expire.)

This bundle will give you some major kick for your buck. It includes the entire Omsom collection of six cuisines with 12 starters total, including: 1 Southeast Asian Omsom Sampler with Vietnamese, Thai, + Filipino starters and 1 East Asian Omsom Sampler with Japanese, Korean, + Chinese starters.Promising review: “Delicious and easy dinner. I love the flavors because they are nostalgic and delicious and make meal time a breeze with my kids.” —Suzanne R.

Get it from Omsom for $55.

15.

Consider breakfast. For. Dinner.

breakfast quesadilla with cheese eggs and sausage seen inside


Tasty / BuzzFeed

Whip up these Grab-n-Go-Breakfast Quesadillas and then go to your couch. Eat them in your hand without a place and you’ll save time by not washing a plate!

Make tortillas work for your dinner with our 29 Life-Changing Quesadillas You Need To Know About.

16.

Park this 8-in-1 kitchen tool set on your counter so you’ll spend less time searching for a funnel or measuring cup.

wine bottle shape with kitchen utensils stacked all together


Amazon

Get them from Amazon for $11.99.

17.

Add restaurant leftovers to home-cooked meals, like some spicy chicken from a salad to this Easy Breakfast Frittata. Or some rolls you nicked from a bread basket as buns for these Pulled Porchetta Sandwiches.

frittata with a piece cut out and on a plate


Hitomi Aihara / BuzzFeed

It’s one less part you have to cook/worry about. Check out our recipes for the Breakfast Frittata and Pulled Porchetta Sandwich.

Need some more ideas? Read 18 Ways to Transform Homemade Leftovers into Meals.

18.

Transfer fresh produce you need to use ASAP to storage containers and put them front and center in your fridge, so you can cut down on search time for those strawberries for a salad.


Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed

Get excited about that kale you just bought and need to use with these 7 Ways to Make a Better Kale Salad. And while you’re at it, learn How to Store Everything in Your Fridge.

Get them from Amazon for $15.99+ (available in three combos). And read my colleague’s full explainer on why these food storage containers keep produce fresher for longer.



Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed

Get excited about that kale you just bought and need to use with these 7 Ways to Make a Better Kale Salad. And while you’re at it, learn How to Store Everything in Your Fridge.

Get them from Amazon for $15.99+ (available in three combos). And read my colleague’s full explainer on why these food storage containers keep produce fresher for longer.

19.

Transform pre-packaged food like dried ramen noodles into dishes that’ll wow your Insta followers like this delish Thai Coconut Curry Ramen.

bowl of Thai coconut curry ramen


Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

See the recipe for this and more recipe and other tasty options in our Instant Ramen Hacks.

Get 12 packs of chicken-flavored ramen from Amazon for $9.80.

20.

Rapidly chop flavorful herbs for your recipes with these herb scissors. And cut up poultry so much faster with some super sharp kitchen shears.

person chopping green onions with special scissors that have multiple blades


Amazon

Test out your new chopping skills on our recipe for Shrimp and Cauliflower “Fried Rice.”

Get them from Amazon: herb scissors for $13.99 and two pairs of kitchen shears for $9.33.

21.

Hang your pots and pans — and lids — so you won’t have to spend 10 minutes digging through your cabinets.

brick wall with rod mounted that has S hooks hanging pots and pans and above the bar the lids are stored


Amazon

Soak up some more no-fuss tips from our 19 Ways To Cook Faster.

Get it from Amazon for $26.99.

22.

Find a new twist on a quick, OG favorite — like pizza grilled cheese — so you feel like you’re cooking dinner on autopilot.

grilled cheese with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese in it


Facebook: BuzzFeedFood

The process is the same as a regular grilled cheese, but it’s a quick and dirty homemade meal you can ~actually~ look forward to with exciting ingredients. Watch our Pizza Grilled Cheese video.

And read our tips on How to Eat Pizza for Every Single Meal.

23.

Set it and (almost) forget it with this rapid egg cooker that’ll get them the perfect consistency for any recipe.

egg cooker with deviled eggs on a plate beside of it


Amazon

It’ll make six hard-, medium-, or soft-boiled eggs, individual omelets, two poached eggs, or scrambled eggs. Start cooking with our 15 Tasty Ways to Work Eggs into Every Meal.

Get it from Amazon for $18.47+ (available in eight colors).

24.

Throw all your leftovers and about-to-wilt stuff in a big, beautiful bowl — with these Buddha bowl recipes for inspo.

two vegetable heavy meal bowls


Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Live each day like you’re eating at an overpriced “bowl” restaurant! See how to make these scrumptious creations in 14 Buddha Bowl Recipes That Will Satisfy Every Craving.

25.

Keep a stocked pantry! It isn’t rocket science, but it helps. So. Much.

clear food storage jars on a kitchen counter


Amazon

Consider our 23 Ingredients You Should Always Have In Your Kitchen and make sure that you’re storing said ingredients properly in jars like these or other sealed containers.

Get these airtight, drop-proof containers from Amazon for $29.

26.

Beef up (but in a meatless way) an entree with variety pack of A Dozen Cousins ready-to-eat seasoned beans, an extremely tasty recipe of a dinner staple. You only have to put the bag in the microwave for 60 seconds, which’ll help you concentrate on the other parts of your meal. (I love the Trini Chickpea Curry with rice for a super satisfying weekday lunch.)


Amazon

The founder based his flavorful creations off his own Creole, Caribbean, and Latin kitchen.

Promising review: “Who writes a review about beans? Somebody who loves beans but had given up on them, until now. This is a great product. Canned beans from my local supermarket are always a disappointment so I stopped getting them. I don’t have time to cook beans myself but A Dozen Cousins beans are fresh and taste terrific. I am trying to eat healthier and these are a great way to do that. I’ve been trying to avoid packaged, processed foods but the natural ingredients make these different. I can feel good about eating them. The beans are whole and not mashed up like in cans. All of the varieties are seasoned well and versatile. I’ve had them on their own, in salads and in wrap sandwiches. I’m really happy to have found these and hope they continue to add new flavors and products. Do yourself a favor and order some. You won’t regret it.” —Amazon Customer

Get a pack of six from Amazon for $24.99.



Amazon

The founder based his flavorful creations off his own Creole, Caribbean, and Latin kitchen.

Promising review: “Who writes a review about beans? Somebody who loves beans but had given up on them, until now. This is a great product. Canned beans from my local supermarket are always a disappointment so I stopped getting them. I don’t have time to cook beans myself but A Dozen Cousins beans are fresh and taste terrific. I am trying to eat healthier and these are a great way to do that. I’ve been trying to avoid packaged, processed foods but the natural ingredients make these different. I can feel good about eating them. The beans are whole and not mashed up like in cans. All of the varieties are seasoned well and versatile. I’ve had them on their own, in salads and in wrap sandwiches. I’m really happy to have found these and hope they continue to add new flavors and products. Do yourself a favor and order some. You won’t regret it.” —Amazon Customer

Get a pack of six from Amazon for $24.99.

27.

Lean on a variety pack of delish fully-cooked Indian chana that’ll quickly heat up in the microwave and satisfy any takeout cravings you may have. I’ve tried all of these and they are SO good.


Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

Maya Kaimal is a legacy Indian food brand founded by its namesake (a two time award-winning, best-selling Indian cookbook author) in 2003. It sells tons of shelf-stable pantry items that are great if you’re like me and HORRIBLE at planning out meals.

I’m queen of convenience foods (though really am trying to cook more!) but get bored very easily with what I eat. Seriously, every day is a struggle to not order off a food delivery app. (Hey, I’m supporting the local economy!) I’ve tried all of the varieties from this pack and have found them all to be super satisfying and filling when I pair them with some long grain rice. They make a VERY easy WFH day lunch that doesn’t leave me hangry by 3 p.m. To prep, you simply open the package a few inches and put it in the microwave to heat. I’m no expert on Indian food but have eaten a fair bit of it in my life and I find that these are super flavorful but won’t leave you breathing fire. *And* if you have leftovers, I simply leave it in the package, close it with a chip clip, and store it vertically in my fridge! You can see the Chickpeas + Coconut + Kale above with the brand’s Turmeric + Cumin Surekha Rice.

Get six packs from Amazon for $24.99 (also check out the Dal variety pack).



Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

Maya Kaimal is a legacy Indian food brand founded by its namesake (a two time award-winning, best-selling Indian cookbook author) in 2003. It sells tons of shelf-stable pantry items that are great if you’re like me and HORRIBLE at planning out meals.

I’m queen of convenience foods (though really am trying to cook more!) but get bored very easily with what I eat. Seriously, every day is a struggle to not order off a food delivery app. (Hey, I’m supporting the local economy!) I’ve tried all of the varieties from this pack and have found them all to be super satisfying and filling when I pair them with some long grain rice. They make a VERY easy WFH day lunch that doesn’t leave me hangry by 3 p.m. To prep, you simply open the package a few inches and put it in the microwave to heat. I’m no expert on Indian food but have eaten a fair bit of it in my life and I find that these are super flavorful but won’t leave you breathing fire. *And* if you have leftovers, I simply leave it in the package, close it with a chip clip, and store it vertically in my fridge! You can see the Chickpeas + Coconut + Kale above with the brand’s Turmeric + Cumin Surekha Rice.

Get six packs from Amazon for $24.99 (also check out the Dal variety pack).

28.

And a spicy vindaloo simmer sauce from the same brand you can dump in a pan with chicken, veggies, whatever for a delicious result.


Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

Like I’ve professed, I’m not the BEST cook but adore a saucey dish. I’ve had great success with Maya Kaimal’s shelf-stable sauces for making dinners that are super tasty, satisfying, and good enough to boast about on Instagram stories. Here, you can see me using my Always Pan where I threw in some bell pepper and chicken for a super saucey dish I served up with some long-grain rice I unearthed from my pantry. The directions are very user-friendly and not intimidating! If I can do it, you can do it.

Get a six-pack from Amazon for $19.99 (and check out the brand’s other sauces).



Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

Like I’ve professed, I’m not the BEST cook but adore a saucey dish. I’ve had great success with Maya Kaimal’s shelf-stable sauces for making dinners that are super tasty, satisfying, and good enough to boast about on Instagram stories. Here, you can see me using my Always Pan where I threw in some bell pepper and chicken for a super saucey dish I served up with some long-grain rice I unearthed from my pantry. The directions are very user-friendly and not intimidating! If I can do it, you can do it.

Get a six-pack from Amazon for $19.99 (and check out the brand’s other sauces).

29.

Find some 15-minute recipes for dishes you already love to make eating (kinda) like a breeze.

homemade pizza


Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

Get some mouthwatering ideas from 15 Meals You Can Make In 15 Minutes

to help bulk up your weeknight plans with some reliable recipes.

30.

Organize your spices so you can zero in on that tiny little bottle of paprika or celery salt.

cabinet door with grips mounted onto it with spices clipped into it


Amazon

Get a set of these spice gripper clips from Amazon for $10.95.

31.

Fall back on these energy-boosting toast ideas for some surprising topping combos that you already have in your kitchen.

toast with hummus spread on it and topped with walnuts and pomegranate seeds


Macey Foronda /BuzzFeed

Remember that whole breakfast-for-dinner thing? We dare you to come up with a better way to use up that loaf of bread. Read all our genius toast ideas.

32.

Take nearly ALL the prep work outta dinner with a Pig of the Month Club subscription – it comes with lots o’ meaty options that are all but ready for ya’. You don’t have to start from scratch when it comes to cooking! Here’s to the hard work having been already done for some amazing ribs.

pork chops grilling on a grill


@pigofthemonth / Via instagram.com

I recently tried this out while staying with my parents (who are big meat eaters and aren’t afraid to tell me when they hate food… which they’ve been vocal about when I’ve tested other edible goodies for work). They are BIG fans.

You can buy items a la carte here or get a three-month subscription from Pig of the Month for $255.

33.

Stock your freezer with chicken that ships marinated in case you’re still a bit confused about that flavor-boosting process.


Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

I’ve given these Southwest Chicken Breasts a whirl and found I only had to add just a teensy bit of salt (I really like salt, OK?!) to tailor them to my own taste. I loved not having to worry about seasoning or saucing up these chicken breasts, and that they’re individually packaged in a freezer-friendly format. I mostly stick to chicken and salmon for my at-home cooking proteins but have also given the brand’s steaks a try and they’re SO good. BTW, Good Ranchers’ chicken is 100% American, all natural (with no hormones added ever). And the marinades are 100% natural and gluten-free.

Get a one-time purchase of 12.5 lbs. of organic marinated chicken from Good Ranchers for $149 (or Subscribe & Save for $120/every four months).



Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

I’ve given these Southwest Chicken Breasts a whirl and found I only had to add just a teensy bit of salt (I really like salt, OK?!) to tailor them to my own taste. I loved not having to worry about seasoning or saucing up these chicken breasts, and that they’re individually packaged in a freezer-friendly format. I mostly stick to chicken and salmon for my at-home cooking proteins but have also given the brand’s steaks a try and they’re SO good. BTW, Good Ranchers’ chicken is 100% American, all natural (with no hormones added ever). And the marinades are 100% natural and gluten-free.

Get a one-time purchase of 12.5 lbs. of organic marinated chicken from Good Ranchers for $149 (or Subscribe & Save for $120/every four months).

Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.



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