Save time, spend less and maximise your energy with Jamie’s meal prep ideas to create 10 beautiful meals that are ready when you are.
Jamie’s meal prep ideas will allow you to get ahead of the game, be sensible with your time, and get savvy with your cooking skills, so you’ve got delicious and nutritious meals for you and your family, even when life gets busy.
We’ve curated a combination of veg, carbs and protein that you can cook alongside one another to give you 10 meals to enjoy. You could end up with chicken & broccoli noodles; chicken & carrot couscous salad; aubergine & squash pasta; harissa pitta chips, with aubergine and feta; or a crunchy noodle salad.
This is a principle idea to get you into the mindset of clever, flexible cooking to create balanced meals full of protein, carbs and lots of colourful veg. Perfect for easy workday lunches or those summer evenings when everyone’s coming back at different times with rumbling tummies. Feel free to scale it up or down depending on how many mouths you’ve got to feed! Watch Jamie build his boxes below.
YOU WILL NEED:
2 red onions
1kg free-range chicken thighs & drumsticks
1 large aubergine (about 400g)
1 butternut squash (about 1.2kg)
150g dried pasta
4 nests of rice vermicelli noodles (300g)
150g couscous, preferably wholemeal
1 head of broccoli (about 375g)
1-2 teaspoons harissa paste
2 pitta breads, or any leftover bread
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sundried tomato or green pesto
10 reusable food containers
ROAST YOUR CHICKEN & VEG
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
- Peel the onions, finely slice one, and cut the other one into quarters. Scrub the carrots and thickly slice on the diagonal (you want them to be about 1cm thick).
- Spread out the onion and carrot onto a large baking tray, add the chicken pieces then drizzle everything with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper.
- Cut the aubergine in half lengthways, score one half with criss-crosses in the flesh with the tip of the knife, and roughly chop the remaining half.
- Trim the butternut squash and carefully cut in half lengthways. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and set aside.
- Spread the aubergine and butternut squash onto another large baking tray, and sprinkle in the squash seeds. Drizzle it all with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Place both trays in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is golden and cooked through, and the veg are soft and gnarly.
COOK YOUR PASTA, COUSCOUS & NOODLES
- While the chicken and veg are roasting, add the pasta to the pan, pop the lid on, and cook for 12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions.
- Divide the rice noodles between four food containers, then divide the couscous between two more containers (75g per portion). Pour a ladleful of the boiling pasta water over each portion of noodles and couscous, and leave to hydrate and soften.
- Roughly chop the broccoli, and thinly slice the stalks. Place in a colander or steamer, then sit it over the pasta and cover with the lid to steam for 5 minutes.
TOAST YOUR BREAD
Thickly slice the pitta bread or any leftover bread into strips, add them to a baking tray and rub them all over with the harissa paste. Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until crunchy and golden.
NOW IT’S TIME TO BUILD YOUR BOXES
- Meanwhile, remove the colander from the pan, tip the broccoli onto a board, then drain the pasta and divide it between the remaining empty food containers. Drain each portion of the noodles, return them to their containers and toss with the sesame oil. Fluff up the couscous with a fork.
- Dollop the pesto over the pasta and mix until well coated.
- Remove the trays from the oven and clank up the aubergine and squash, or mash it with a fork. You can shred the chicken pieces or leave some whole. Divide the chicken between 6 boxes and the veg between all 10 (adding extra to the 4 meat-free boxes). Feel free to mix things up, but bear in mind that you’ll need to eat the chicken within 2 days.
- Leave everything to cool completely, before sealing and placing in the fridge, ready to go whenever you want them.
These meals are designed to be eaten straight from the fridge (within a maximum of 2 days for meat boxes and 3 days for veg boxes) and finished off with a few extras to freshen things up when you’re ready to eat. Shop-bought houmous, livened up with a squeeze of lemon juice; Greek yoghurt with a swirl of harissa; a crumble of feta cheese; or a scattering of homemade pickles or fresh herbs will do the trick.
If you’re after more ways to use your oven to its full potential, check out our top 2-for-1 oven bakes. Cook once, eat twice!