Quick Meal Prep for Muscle-Centric Eating

Quick & Easy Muscle-Centric Meals & Snacks

Fixing your own tasty muscle-centric meals and snacks doesn’t have to take endless hours in the kitchen. The keys to success are commitment, planning, and having a backup plan in case your plan gets derailed.

1. Get the essential kitchen tools. These are most important:

  • Food scale. Weigh out proteins to get familiar with portion sizes and help ensure you meet your meal target. Once you’re a seasoned muscle-centric pro, you may need the scale less often, but use it as you get started. Follow these steps to determine how many ounces of protein food to weigh out for a meal:
    • Check your daily grams of protein target within your Eating Pattern Recommendations.
    • Divide the daily grams by the number of meals you will eat in a day. For example, if your daily target is 140 grams of protein and you eat 4 meals a day, then your meal target is 140 grams of protein/4 = 35 grams of protein.
    • You can shift some protein from one meal to another but always have at least 30 grams of high-quality protein per meal. If your calculated meal target is > 60 grams of protein, it may be hard to eat all the protein (and suggested amount of quality carb foods to balance your meal) on your plate. In such case, consider increasing the number of meals (by 1) and recalculate.
    • An ounce of a cooked quality protein food contains an average of about 7 grams of protein. If you are targeting a meal with 35 grams of protein, weigh out 5 oz of prepared food (35 grams protein/7 grams of protein per oz = 5 oz of food). You can get this from a single food (such as 5 oz of cooked chicken), or a combination (such as 4 oz of cooked chicken + 1 oz of cheese).
    • Keep in mind that raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood can shrink up to about 20% during cooking:

Cooked Food Weight Detail (click to expand)

Raw Food Weight (oz) Cooked Food Weight (oz) Approximate Grams of Protein






















  • Measuring cups and spoons
    • Measure your proteins (if you don't have a scale)
      • One level cup of cubed or sliced cooked beef, pork, poultry, fish, or seafood = about 5 oz of food (and 35 grams of protein). A cup of traditional or lactose free dairy or soymilk = 1 serving (with 8 grams of protein).
      • A quarter cup of shredded cheese = 1 oz of food (and 7 grams of protein). 
    • Measure your quality carbs
      • MOST of your quality carbs should come from non-starchy vegetables (such as broccoli, butternut squash, and dark leafy greens) and some fruit (such as blackberries, oranges, and pear with skin). These foods provide essential nutrients and fiber and are relatively lower in carbs. Include at least a combined total of 2 cups at each meal.
      • LESS of your quality carbs should come from starchy vegetables (such as lima beans, peas, and white beans) or whole grains (such as quinoa, oats, or brown rice). These foods also provide essential nutrients and fiber and are relatively higher in carbs. A ½-cup serving (cooked) is recommended for a meal. A quarter cup of raw whole grains = ½ cup cooked.
    • Measure added healthy fats
      • Most of the fat in your plan comes from what naturally occurs in protein foods. Add fat to meals sparingly. Limit using oils in cooking and at the table to a total of ≤ 1 tbsp per meal.
      • In addition to a little oil, you can add about a tbsp of nuts or seeds to your main or side dish as another source of healthy fat and some fiber.
  • 3 compartment meal containers (glass or disposable).
    • Use these for advanced meal prep. Fill with cooked and ready-to-eat foods to take on the go, or ingredients for a meal that you will cook later.​
    • Use containers with two 1-cup (8 fl oz) compartments (one to completely fill with protein foods + one to half-fill with grain or starchy veggies) + one 2-cup compartment (to completely fill with non-starchy vegetables and some fruit). Click here for an easy 3-compartment lunch idea.
  • A food thermometer. Cooking food (especially proteins) and reheating leftovers to the proper temperature is essential for food safety.

Click here for more suggested kitchen tools.

2. Make time once a week to plan your meals for the upcoming week.

  • One of the biggest challenges with following a healthy eating plan is giving into unhealthy cravings when time pressures hit. One of the best ways to avoid this problem is to spend time each week planning meals. 

  • Start with simple meals with 3 separate components:  

Suggestions & Tips

Suggestions: Fresh chicken breast; rotisserie chicken; fresh or frozen salmon portions and shrimp; canned or pouch-packed tuna or salmon; chicken sausage; eggs; ground beef, bison, chicken, or turkey; beef steaks; pork chops; deli top-round roast beef; tofu


  • Click here for tips and inspiration for these suggested foods
  • If you're not used to a high protein breakfast try:
    • Combining several simple foods together in a meal, such as milk, soy milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese and soy nuts.
    • Adding a high protein smoothie (we suggest making them with whey or soy protein to get the most leucine- an amino acid that kick-starts muscle protein building):

A Perfect MATCHa! Power Blend

Calories 240, Protein 23 grams, Fat 4 grams, Carbs 28 grams, Fiber 7 grams

Apple Cinnamon Bun Power Blend Smoothie

Calories 236, Protein 19 grams, Fat 4 grams, Carbs 31 grams, Fiber 7 grams

Garnet Gem Power Blend

Calories 240, Protein 19 grams, Fat 4 grams, Carbs 32 grams, Fiber 6 grams

Green Glow Power Blend

Calories 239, Protein 20 grams, Fat 3 grams, Carbs 33 grams, Fiber 7 grams

Sweet Heat Power Blend

Calories 256, Protein 19 grams, Fat 4 grams, Carbs 36 grams, Fiber 7 grams

Tropical Gold Power Blend Smoothie

Calories 231, Protein 20 grams, Fat 3 grams, Carbs 31 grams, Fiber 6 grams


  • Non-starchy- Dark green salad blends, cherry and grape tomatoes, pre-cut fresh (such as carrots and peppers), and frozen varieties (such as broccoli, riced cauliflower, spiralized butternut squash) 
  • Starchy- canned beans; frozen corn, lima beans, and peas; unseasoned frozen steak cut fries; instant mashed potatoes 


  • Eat a variety of colors!
  • If you’re not used to eating veggies for breakfast, try:
  • Click here for more tips and inspiration.

Suggestions: fresh whole or cut up with skin (such as pear, apple, peach, apricot), berries, citrus (fresh or canned without added sugar), pre-cut melon, kiwi


  • Enjoy on top of yogurt, cottage cheese, or whole grain cereal or in a salad or smoothie.

  • Enjoy as a sweet and refreshing “dessert.”

  • Team up with cheese for a healthy snack.

Suggestions: oats, quinoa, instant brown rice, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, whole wheat pasta, couscous, bulgur, low sugar fortified breakfast cereal


  • Try using a template to write out your plan. Save it for possible future use − with a few modifications in the protein for a main dish or veggies and grains for your sides so you get variety.  

  • Plan a “fast-food contingency meal” for a hectic day. For example, this could be a simple salad made with:

    • 2 cups of a dark green salad blend tossed with some berries, ½ cup canned drained white beans, 1 tbsp oil, and vinegar PLUS

    • 2 pouches (2.5 oz each) of cooked seasoned salmon in a pouch (for 30 grams of protein), 2 pre-cooked and peeled hard boiled eggs (for 12 grams more of protein), and a tbsp of walnuts as toppings.

  • Planning snacks is not required.  

    • Unless otherwise instructed by your healthcare professional, eat complete meals 3 – 5 hours apart and avoid snacking. If this is a challenge (for example, lunch must be at noon and dinner isn’t possible until 6:00), a snack between meals could be beneficial.

    • If you need something to tide you over until your next meal, try one of our snack suggestions. They provide <200 calories and a good source of protein and fiber to help keep hunger at bay.  

3. Make a shopping list.

  • Refer to your written plan, check what you have on hand, and put what you need on your list.

  • Categorically grouping the foods (e.g., proteins, non-starchy vegetables, starchy vegetables and whole grains) can help you remember to include all the essential components in your meal plan.

  • Try our sample shopping list. Check off the foods you need to buy and cross them off as you add them to your cart.

4. Get ready for the next day the evening before.

  • Make this part of your daily routine.

  • Pre-weigh and measure ingredients. Put them in storage containers and place them on the counter or if perishable, in the refrigerator.

  • Take frozen proteins out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

  • Pack meals to take on-the-go in your 3-compartment containers. Use the containers to put together foods you will cook. Use more containers if you are cooking for others. For example, fill two containers for you and a dining partner.

  • Think about what you can do now to save time tomorrow. For example, fill smoothie jars or load your slow-cooker and store them in the fridge.

  • Put utensils and equipment you will use out on the counter. For example, if eggs will be for breakfast, put out your microwave egg cookware; if you’re going to air-fry frozen sweet potato for dinner, take out the fryer; etc.


By following the suggested strategy, you can quickly fix your own tasty muscle-centric meals. Think of time you invest as self-care. Bring joy to prep time by listening to your favorite music or a podcast or involving family members. If you’re cooking for others, they can enjoy the same delicious and healthy foods, even if they do not eat them in the same proportions. 

Check out Maintaining Your Muscle-Centric Meal Plan When Eating Away from Home for ideas to stay successful in situations where you do not prepare your own food.

The JuvYou Mobile App does not provide medical advice and is not meant to treat or prevent disease or replace a visit to your healthcare provider. You should not rely on it solely to make important medical decisions.