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Best Overall: Skinnytaste Meal Prep at Amazon
This book contains four full weeks of meals that add up to about 1,500 calories, so no calorie counting is necessary.
Best for Beginners: The Ultimate Meal-Prep Cookbook at Amazon
For those weeks when you don’t have a spare minute to get to the grocery store, this book includes a chapter on pantry meals.
Best for Families: Good Housekeeping Easy Meal Prep at Amazon
With over 100 recipes and four weeks of meal plans, there’s something for everyone in your family.
Best for Couples: Meal Prep for Two at Amazon
The book includes helpful "budget hacks," step-by-step meal prep instructions, and detailed shopping lists, as well as storage tips and nutritional information.
Best for Plant-Based Diets: Plant-Based Meal Prep at Amazon
Recipes like Salted Caramel Oatmeal, Lentil and Black Bean Nachos, and Fettuccine Alfredo will ensure you’re not sacrificing craveable, satisfying favorites.
Best Gluten-Free: Cook Once, Eat All Week at Amazon
A comprehensive collection of 26 weeks of meals will ensure you have plenty of recipes to choose from, so meals will never get redundant.
Best for the Keto Diet: Keto Meal Prep Cookbook For Beginners at Amazon
Recipes like Brie-Stuffed Meatballs, Cheesy Salmon Dip, and Belgian Waffles will make the keto diet feel like no diet at all.
Best for Kids’ Lunches: Little Bento: 32 Irresistible Bento Box Lunches for Kids at Amazon
This book includes over 100 bento recipes, so you’ll be inspired to go beyond the standard PB&J, and your kids will be more excited for lunchtime than ever before.
The concept of meal prepping is simple: Cook a bunch of food or prep a bunch of ingredients early in the week all at once to minimize the time you'll need to spend in the kitchen later in the week. It can even be a helpful strategy in reducing food waste and sticking to your budget. But, like many things in life, it’s easier said than done. Meal prepping takes planning (this is not the time for improv cooking), and it certainly seems this trend has increased in popularity in recent years due to busier lives. Fortunately, there is no shortage of cookbooks to help guide newbies and seasoned meal preppers alike to ensure you’re getting the most out of your meal prep efforts.
Here are the best meal prep cookbooks to help streamline your weeks.
Best Overall: Skinnytaste Meal Prep
One of the many benefits of meal prepping is that it can help you stick to an eating plan. Just think: If you already had prepared ingredients and meals ready to go, would you need to impulse purchase that fast food after a long day of work? The Skinnytaste series is at it again to make meal prep as easy and delicious as possible, this time with a book of 120 recipes designed to fit a healthy diet, not break the budget, and save you time.
This book contains four full weeks of meals that all add up to about 1,500 calories, so no calorie counting is necessary. There are helpful “refrigerate and serve later,” “freeze and serve later,” “serve now,” and “meal prep” tips for tasty recipes like Slow Cooker BBQ Brisket and Smashed Broccoli Pecorino Farro Bowls.
Best for Beginners: The Ultimate Meal-Prep Cookbook
It’s no surprise that the pros at America’s Test Kitchen have the expertise to share when it comes to meal prepping. Their new release boasts 25 weekly plans, plenty to keep meals from feeling redundant. Keeping budget in mind, the weekly grocery lists provided have a maximum of a dozen items. They’ve also made sure to limit active cook time to 45 minutes, so you’ll be in and out of the kitchen quickly.
For those weeks when you can't visit the grocery store, there's an entire chapter devoted to pantry meals. And if your pantry isn’t as robust as it should be, the cookbook's introduction includes tips on safe food storage, reheating, ingredient prep, and equipment necessities. Recipes like Herb-Poached Salmon with Cucumber-Dill Salad and Sun-Dried Tomato and White Bean Soup with Parmesan Crisps keep dinner exciting and give you time back.
Best for Families: Good Housekeeping Easy Meal Prep
The experts at Good Housekeeping have a new release focusing on meal prep, and we love how comprehensive it is, covering everything from “batch cooking and freeze-ahead meals to ready-to-serve dinners and grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches.” With over 100 recipes and four weeks of meal plans, there’s something for everyone in your family. Recipes include call-out icons to make it super clear which ingredients pull double-duty (meaning they need to be prepped for that recipe, as well as the secondary recipe you'll need in the future). For example, to make Butternut Squash and White Bean Soup, the recipe calls for you to use one-quarter of the prepped squash for this soup and reserve the remainder for the Butternut Mole Enchiladas you’ll make later in the week.
As a bonus, this book includes cooking and storage tips, and there are also vegan, keto, and gluten-free recipes provided.
Best for Couples: Meal Prep for Two
Meal prepping is all about planning, but who wants to plan meals for four, six, or eight when you’re in a smaller household of just two? This cookbook is the perfect solution, with eight weekly plans (75 recipes) tailored for two. The book includes helpful “budget hacks,” step-by-step meal prep instructions, and detailed shopping lists, as well as storage tips and nutritional information. You’ll keep coming back to this book after tasting recipes such as the Zucchini Cheddar Scones and Sheet Pan Ratatouille with Roasted Salmon.
Best for Plant-Based Diets: Plant-Based Meal Prep
Whether you're interested in plant-based meals because you are vegetarian or vegan or you simply want to eat less meat, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice tasty food. Recipes like mac and cheese, Creamy Pasta with Broccoli and Lentil and Black Bean Nachos will ensure you’re not sacrificing craveable, satisfying favorites.
This book of over 60 recipes covers breakfasts, mains, snacks, and desserts, as well as labeled recipes that are soy-free, grain-free, and paleo-friendly for those following more specific diets. Nutritional information is provided for every recipe, and a helpful introduction covers the benefits of plant-based eating, basic plant-based definitions and tips, a pantry and equipment checklist, and plenty more.
Best Gluten-Free: Cook Once, Eat All Week
For those following gluten-free diets, rest assured you, too, can meal prep efficiently, thanks to this popular cookbook. A comprehensive collection of 26 weeks of meals (including mouthwatering Sloppy Joe Stuffed Potatoes, Spinach Pesto Spaghetti Squash Boats, and Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole) will ensure you have plenty of recipes to choose from so meals will never get redundant. A thorough introduction section explains the meal prep methodology, storage best practices, pantry stocking tips, ingredient swap ideas, and more.
Best for the Keto Diet: Keto Meal Prep Cookbook For Beginners
Whether you’re new to the keto diet or consider yourself a pro, this massive collection of 600 recipes will ensure you’re constantly trying new dishes and will keep mealtime exciting. The book includes a 21-day meal plan to get you into a routine. It also includes all the keto basics a beginner should learn, such as the benefits, tips, and which foods should be eaten versus avoided.
If you’re apprehensive about starting the keto diet and meal prepping on top of that, rest assured this cookbook will be a trusted guide. Recipes like Brie-Stuffed Meatballs, Cheesy Salmon Dip, and Belgian Waffles will make the keto diet feel like no diet at all.
Best for Kids’ Lunches: Little Bento
Bento boxes have become the cool new brown bag, the perfect vessel for kids’ lunches with small, separated compartments to keep lunch fun, organized, and portion-controlled. This book includes over 100 bento recipes and 32 photos of already assembled boxes, so you’ll be inspired to go beyond the standard PB&J, and your kids will be more excited for lunchtime than ever before. It also includes a weekly meal planning worksheet, along with ingredient lists to help you prepare food safely for kids with allergies or food sensitivities.
Organized by season, this creative organizational structure will ensure you’re eating the best produce for the time of year. The introduction includes packing tips and explains the history of bento boxes and their variations. Best of all? These plans don’t just have to be for kids’ lunches; with recipes like Herbed Parmesan Popcorn and Crispy Chicken Strips, adults will certainly enjoy these meals, too—so feel free to meal-prep using this bento inspiration for office lunches as well.
If you’re looking for a well-rounded meal prep cookbook that has plenty of recipes from which to choose and offers a detailed meal plan for several weeks, you can’t go wrong with "Skinnytaste Meal Prep: Healthy Make-Ahead Meals and Freezer Recipes to Simplify Your Life" (view at Amazon). If you’re a beginner, we recommend America’s Test Kitchen’s "The Ultimate Meal-Prep Cookbook: One Grocery List. A Week of Meals. No Waste." (view at Amazon). You'll have everything you need at your fingertips to become a well-informed and effective meal prepper.
What to Look for When Buying a Meal Prep Plan Cookbook
There are many meal prep plan cookbooks, so take the time to peruse and select one that best fits your dietary preferences, including any allergy sensitivities. There are meal prep plan cookbooks specifically for vegetarians and vegans, and those following keto or gluten-free diets, etc.
Amount of Recipes
A meal prep plan cookbook should offer enough recipes and weekly plans for delicious and versatile meals that you and your family will enjoy.
Photography and Text
It is wonderful to see bright, colorful photos that depict how the end result of the recipe should look like. And step-by-step imagery is helpful for both novices and experts who are making a recipe for the first time. In addition, the size and clarity of the font typeface should be legible and easy for you to read.
Cookbooks that provide additional information such as storage tips, shopping lists, ingredient substitutions, equipment needed, a glossary of cooking terms, measurement conversions, special tags on recipes, and nutrition information are good to have at your fingertips, especially when you're cooking and are out of an ingredient.
What is meal prep?
Simply put, it's preparing your meals for the week ahead of time. This allows you to have meals ready to go and helps keep you on track with properly sized portions and diet goals.
How do you start meal prepping?
Meal preps include planning and organizing the meals you will eat for the week, chopping and cooking up the ingredients you'll need, and finding recipes that use all, or some, of the same ingredients. Make sure you have airtight food containers on hand to hold everything you've prepared.
How often do you meal prep?
Some people find it easier to meal prep one day on the weekend, while others prefer to split it up and do one on the weekend and one on a weeknight. It is all up to your schedule and preference.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Alyssa Langer is a licensed registered dietitian and cookbook enthusiast herself, collecting dozens over the years and turning to them for inspiration, whether it’s a time-consuming weekend baking project or just a quick Monday night dinner. Having worked in the cookbook publishing world in the past, she knows what it takes to create a quality book that delivers something new and exciting to readers—particularly in an increasingly online world.