Meal prep is a great way to have all of your food ready for the week, enabling you to make healthy choices, and save money while you’re at it! Not only does it keep you on track with your fitness goals, but it saves a lot of time. Imagine coming home after a long day of work, your meal already planned and ready to assemble in mere minutes.

Does it sound too good to be true? Don’t worry, that’s why we’re here to send you Meal Prep inspo every week to get you in the kitchen!

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We’ll give you a set of ingredients to work with every week and include seasonal recommendations, when possible. The primary goal with our weekly meal prep guide below is to help you focus your meals predominately around a new set of ingredients or theme every week. We’ll give you a plethora of creative ways to prep these ingredients to create healthy, quick, easy and tasty recipes, so you’ll never be bored.

Use the hashtag #FoodMonsterMealPrep so we can see your creations on Instagram, and check out our Meal Prep Archives for more ideas! All of the recipes you can include in your meal plan can be found on the Food Monster App.

This week’s ingredients are barley, spinach, peas, apple, and almond!

1. Prep your ingredients!

Lemon Almond Parmesan

When you’re getting your meal prep ready for the week, you want to choose ingredients that are not only nutritious and well-rounded, but are also interesting to prepare and things that you will be excited to eat for a whole week. With this week’s ingredients, you’ll certainly check all of those boxes!

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Barley is a whole grain, which means that it is an important source of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Barley and pearl barley are both great additions to any meal if you would like to increase its heartiness. To prep, you can simply cook the barley in boiling water in a large batch to keep in the fridge all week, ready to toss in a pan and cook up in a variety of combinations, add to soups and stews, or toss in with a salad. The possibilities are endless! For more flavorful barley, you can add seasonings to it while it’s stored in the fridge.

Spinach is full of nutrients and antioxidants that make it very valuable to your diet. The prep for spinach is easy: just wash and dry the spinach, chop it up if you prefer smaller pieces, and store in your fridge for quick additions to any meal.

Peas are a popular protein source for individuals who don’t eat meat, as they are a good source for not only protein but also fiber and other nutrients. If you’re buying dry peas, you can prep them by rinsing and draining before cooking in boiling water and placing in the fridge. If you want to go more simple, you could also buy frozen or canned peas. You can get creative, too – marinate them in spices, seasonings, lemon, olive oil, or any other tasty flavors you can think to add.

Apples are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber, as well as being beneficial to helping control blood sugar. As for prep, these are probably the easiest of all – just wash, dry, and store! You can chop them advance if you want to save even more time, but then you run the risk of them browning.

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Almonds are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein, not to mention being delicious! They make a great topping to a great variety of dishes all on their own, served whole or chopped or slivered and sprinkled on top. You can even toast them to add in another dimension of flavor. But we can get a lot more creative than that – Read on to hear more ways you can prep almonds to pump up your meals! The best thing about these ingredients is the crazy number of combinations you can make with them. Using barley, peas, and spinach as your bases and almonds and apples as accents, you’ll never be bored.

2. Barley Based

Saffron Barley With Black Eyed Peas 1

Starting with a base of barley, you can create something filling and delicious by combining it with another prepped ingredient like in this Saffron Barley With Black-Eyed Peas, which uses an alternative kind of pea to the standard green. Hearty and lush, this is a great dinner option for when you want something filling and flavorful, but don’t want to spend all night cooking. In less than an hour, you can have this colorful and nutty entrée, flavored with delicate notes of saffron.

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Alternatively, you could try putting your barley into the base of a casserole like in this Butternut Squash, Portobello, and Spinach Casserole With Sausage. Using your barley and spinach in combination with other veggies and vegan sausage makes a great dinner that will leave you with leftovers in your fridge for lunch tomorrow!

You can even replace other grains in recipes with barley, since you’ll have some extra on hand. Try switching out the quinoa for barley in this recipe that will also make use of your apples and spinach: Green Apple Tahini Quinoa! Swap it for the rice in this Zucchini, Pea and Spinach Pesto Risotto  that will also let your prepped peas and super spinach shine! The possibilities are endless.

3. Pea Based

Green Pea and Almond Pesto and Stereotypes

Peas are featured in many of the barley recipes, but they also can stand out and carry the flavors in a dish themselves too! In this Green Pea and Almond Pesto Pasta, they make the base of a delicious pesto that is helped along by the almonds (which you’ll have on hand as part of this meal prep)!

For a different kind of pea if green peas aren’t your thing, you could also try this Creamy Yellow Split Pea and Spinach Dahl. This is a simple yet nutritious meal is bursting with plant-based goodness, and will be easy enough to make with your pre-prepared peas!

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4. Spinach Based

Spinach and Apple Noodle Salad With Pecans and Cranberries

While this recipe is spinach based, it also shows us a fun way to prep apples: into noodles! They perfectly balance the greens and add sweetness in this Spinach and Apple Noodle Salad. This dish is also perfect to pack for lunches this time of year as we are transitioning from summer to fall flavors, by using cranberries and apples – two flavors that are indicative of chilly-temps.

While spinach works in more ways than just salad (check out those barley based recipes), this is where it really shines as a base. That is definitely apparent in this Spinach Salad With Barley Bacon! This is a warm salad that is deliciously smoky and flavorful with the addition of barley bacon. Cooking it in oil for this recipe is a great way to take your ready-made barley to the next level!

5. Apple Toppings

Apples themselves make a great addition to many dishes, both in flavor and texture. They can bring a little crunch and sweetness to different sandwiches, salads, even pasta dishes or casseroles.

Of course, the standard way to prep apples is in Homemade Applesauce, but there’s a reason it’s a classic: it’s delicious! And a perfect partner to many different flavors. Use it as a condiment or spread (it’s amazing on toast), or even blend it even smoother to make a dressing or marinade. Plus, it’s a snap to make applesauce at home. There’s an initial time investment to peel and chop the apples, but once the fruit is in the pot it’s a very hand-off process, making your meal prep even easier. If you prefer an elevated applesauce, try adding in some of your spinach along with other new ingredients to make this Raw Spring Power Applesauce.

If you’re feeling like some daring flavor on your salads or sandwiches, prep a Green Apple and Jalapeno Sauce to add to other meal-prepped recipes. The tartness of green apple combined with the heat of jalapeño makes for a versatile sauce that adds a big punch of flavor to whatever you decide to pour it over.

6. Almond Topping

Lemon Almond Parmesan

Almonds, like apples, can make a great topping just by themselves. However, they also can be used in a variety of ways to make an already great dish even better. Their versatility is a meal prepper’s best friend! An example is this Lemon Almond Parmesan. Every dish can be made better with this hit of flavor and a bright, tangy cheesiness. Put it on anything, and it’ll be great.

If you decided to toast your almonds as part of your meal prep, then you’re all set to make this Almond Lover’s Hummus. That’s right, you heard us – almond hummus. As a spread, a topping, even an addition to pasta, or a snack, you’ll be ready the next time you’re hungry with this concoction!

The word “overnight” is meal prep’s best friend, as is the case with this Overnight Almond Chive Cheese. Almonds, sunflower seeds, and herbs of your choice come together to make a delectable cheese that goes wonderfully with bread, crackers, fruit, and fruity jelly, over a warm dish, or on a salad.

With these amazing recipes, you’ll be content, full, and satisfied all week long. Make your own combinations of bases, toppings, and your own added ingredients for more exciting meals! For more meal prep ideas, make sure to visit our Meal Prep Archives! You can also download the Food Monster App, where you will find tons of other recipes that will help your skin glow. It is available on both Android and iPhone. The App features 8000+ vegan, allergy-friendly recipes with at least 10 new recipes added daily!

Lead Image Source: Zucchini, Pea and Spinach Pesto Risotto