Meal prepping can be a lifesaver during the week, but often leaves your kitchen looking like a tornado went through it. These recipes only dirty one pot and will reheat beautifully for lunches and dinners later on.
If you haven’t tried meal prepping before, it is a game-changer for people with busy lives.
The idea is that you take a couple of hours out of your day once or twice a week to prepare all of the meals you’re going to need for the rest of the week. The method has quite a few fans and there are even meal prep cookbooks to help you plan.
So, what are the downsides of meal prepping? For most people, it’s the pile of dishes that take over the kitchen when you’ve finished cooking three or four different meals at once. This is especially frustrating if you only have an hour or two free to meal prep, because half your time may need to be spent washing dishes.
Whether you’re a mom, student, or overall busy person, you need meal prep recipes that don’t dirty every pan in your kitchen, and actually reheat well during the week.
We’ve pulled together a solid list of recipes that can be made in a single pot from start to finish. (And if you want a really versatile “pot” we can’t say enough good things about using a Dutch oven for your one-pot meal prep!)
Lodge Enameled 6-Quart Dutch Oven
This Dutch oven is budget-friendly, spacious, and perfect for one-pot meals, stews, and even baking bread.
They also all feature meal prep-friendly ingredients that will reheat well in the microwave. (You can use the oven and stove if you’d like, but many people only have a microwave available to get their lunch ready.) To avoid meals that reheat poorly, avoid including the following ingredients:
- Zucchini, squash, or eggplant (these kinds of vegetables often turn to mush after being reheated)
- Seafood (most types of seafood cook quickly and will overcook when you reheat them again later in the week)
- Bread or tortillas (sandwiches and wraps will get soggy when made ahead of time)
- Cream sauces (these tend to break and get gooey in the microwave)
- Eggs (twice-cooked eggs become the texture of rubber)
- Breaded or fried ingredients (fried food loses its crispiness in the microwave and becomes oily and soggy)
If you’re looking for delicious meal prep recipes that only dirty one pot, check out the options below.
This recipe is comforting, delicious, and affordable to make. Creamy, cheesy pasta mixed with ground beef and a few spices is the ultimate American comfort food.
Be extra careful not to overcook your pasta, otherwise it will be mushy and gummy when you reheat it later. You might even want to undercook it slightly by reducing your beef broth by a couple of tablespoons and lowering the cooking time by a minute or two. When you warm this dish in the microwave on a different day, you’ll be rewarded with perfectly firm pasta shells.
This recipe can also be frozen for up to three months, putting it in the top tier of all meal prep ideas.
Hearty and full of flavor, chili reheats incredibly well. Short of burning it while reheating it on the stove or microwaving it to ash, it’s really tough to mess up reheating chili. Total cook time takes about 50 minutes, but most of that is for the chili to simmer and won’t require much effort on your part.
Chili is an incredibly versatile dish and can be customized based on your likes and dislikes. Don’t like pinto beans? Swap them for chickpeas, or leave them out altogether. Want things extra spicy? Add another teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
If you want to add any of the recommended toppings, just divide them out into small individual containers and take them with your Tupperware to work or school.
Rice is a grain that reheats beautifully, making it ideal for meal prepping. This recipe omits the rice cooker and pulls the entire dish together in a single pot.
This dish is creamy, loaded with good-for-you broccoli, and on the table (or in your meal prep containers) in less than 30 minutes. Long-grain and medium-grain rice work best in this recipe because they’re less likely to get gummy or sticky after the long cooking time.
Soup reheats really well and is great for meal prepping. This chowder is rich, comforting, and kid-friendly if you’re planning meals for your family.
The ingredients list is a little longer for this dish, but the entire thing is still done in 45 minutes. You might notice some separation of the cream from the broth after this dish has been kept in the fridge for a day or two, but everything should blend together again when it’s reheated. A slice of crusty bread is highly recommended, but not necessary.
If you’re tired of spaghetti and rice, this orzo pasta recipe will change up your diet in a delicious way. It’s loaded with flavor and different textures to keep your meal interesting, which can be a challenge when meal prepping.
This dish is also high in protein and will keep you full all day. And although it might be tempting for health food junkies to use low-fat milk, whole milk makes a world of difference in the flavor and creaminess of the final product.
Fajitas are delicious, but their tortilla construction is not super meal prep friendly. Fortunately, this recipe has all the great flavors of fajitas but swaps the tortillas for pasta. The result is a dish that’s easy to make and is just as good the next day (or the day after that).
The pasta in this recipe is extra flavorful because it cooks in a tasty broth instead of plain water. This recipe calls for chicken as the protein, but feel free to use pork, beef, or any other kind of protein you want.
Dal is an Indian term for pulses (edible seeds in the legume family like lentils and beans) that are simmered to create a porridge-like dish. Warming spices are usually added which make the final creation rich and flavorful.
This spinach dal recipe is comforting, filling, and full of good-for-you ingredients. It also has plenty of plant protein from the split peas and spinach. If you’re okay with dirtying a second pot, this dal goes well with basmati rice.
Italian Wedding Soup has a little bit of everything: pasta, veggies, meatballs, and fresh spices. This recipe uses frozen meatballs to cut down on prep time and can be completed in 30 minutes.
This soup traditionally uses acini di pepe pasta, which looks like little pearls. However, any type of small pasta can be used. This recipe opts for ditalini pasta, but you can use orzo, stelline, or even macaroni. If you want to try out other easy-peasy soups, by the way, these creamy blender soups are delicious.
A 15-minute meal that only uses one pot and reheats well? Sign us up. Using precooked sausage and marinated artichokes cuts down on prep time and increases the flavor of the dish without needing too many other spices.
This recipe utilizes the method of cooking all the ingredients together to infuse the pasta with all sorts of yummy flavors. The starch from the pasta also creates a built-in silky sauce without the need for thickening agents.
Meal prepping is perfect for busy individuals who don’t have time (or don’t want) to cook every day. These one-pot recipes make cooking and cleaning quick and easy. Check out our top meal prep container recommendations for the best way to store your one-pot meals for enjoying later.