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If you’ve been lifting weights for a short amount of time, you may not know yet the importance of protein for muscle growth and sustainability.
Eating a high protein diet is essential to building muscle. I’ve been lifting weights for years and these high protein meal prep ideas for muscle growth have been the key to quick recovery.
Every recipe on this list has at least 30 grams of protein a serving.
30 High Protein Meal Prep Ideas for Muscle Growth
So if you aren’t sure about how to get enough protein into your meals, not to worry! We’ve compiled some of our favorite high protein meal prep ideas for gaining muscle to get your started in the kitchen!
Beef is a great source of protein and packed with iron and creatine, which all play important roles in muscle growth. This slow cooker bolognese is not only a great way to add protein into your diet but also vitamins and minerals too.
One portion of this one pot bolognese contains 26 grams of protein and 35% of your daily recommended iron. It takes just 5 minutes to prep so its perfect to chuck on in the morning and enjoy after work!
This is one of our favorite meal prep recipes with ground beef because of how well the bolognese reheats.
This slowed cooked Mexican vegan chilli is spiced, smokey and so easy to make! All you need is a slow cooker, a handful of ingredients and 5 minutes to prep. It’s high in protein, containing 23 grams per portion and low in calories, containing just 347 per portion.
Its easy for batch cooking, which is why its one of our favorite meal prep ideas for muscle growth. This is one of our favorite crockpot meal prep recipes.
Chicken is a great way to add lean protein to your diet, it’s even better when the recipe only takes 5 minutes of prep. This crockpot chicken teriyaki is perfect for busy people who want to get something cooking quickly. Each chicken thigh contains 29 grams of protein each, meaning you’re getting a whopping 58 grams of protein per serving.
This is one of our favorite cheap crockpot ideas because of the chicken + wild rice and veggies.
Tip : Make sure to not over or under-fill your crockpot to avoid over or under cooking. If you need more information about how different size crockpots work, we have made an in depth crockpot size guide.
Turkey is one of the best meats to have when you’re aiming for lean muscle growth. This air fryer turkey burger only contains 3 grams of net carbs and 3 grams of fat while having a whopping 28 grams of protein. It’s perfect for making in bulk because the turkey patties freeze so well.
This is one of our favorite air fryer meal prep recipes because of the chicken + wild rice and veggies.
This delicious chicken chow mein is much healthier, tastier and quicker than your local takeaway. It’s perfect if you are a fan of Asian food, and it’s full of delightful nutrients to keep you nice and healthy. It only takes 20 minutes to make, and has 25 grams of protein per portion!
These tuna rice cakes are the perfect high protein meal prep idea! They are super high in protein from the tuna and the rice cakes are super low in carbs and fats. You can dress these up with some sriracha mayo, avocado, or any other kind of yummy topping.
You can meal prep the tuna ahead of time and then just throw it on top of a rice cake whenever it’s time to eat!
If you’re a fan of pork tenderloin, then you’re going to love this recipe. This recipe has you sear the pork to lock in the flavor and then slow cook it to get it up to temp. The end result is a perfectly juicy pork tenderloin with a tasty crust on the outside. The spice rub you use will also go great on chicken or other pork options!
Overnight oats are very versatile – you could have them every single day, but by playing around with the ingredients you can make them taste different each time. Strawberry flavored one day, peanut butter the next – the possibilities are endless.
This particular recipe is incredibly easy to make, and requires very little time to make. You can make overnight oats in less than 10 minutes with ease, so it works well after a workout. You can even create a batch and eat them throughout the week.
This is one of our favorite egg free breakfast ideas!
We all love sandwiches. Unfortunately the myth that carbs and bread are the devil is one that’s pretty common when it comes to nutrition – this is simply just a myth.
The sandwich contains a massive 31g of protein, so you can be sure that you will stay nice and full throughout the entire day. The extra protein comes from greek yogurt – yummy!
This vegan friendly dish contains only 561 calories per serving and 18g of protein, making it ideal for lunchtimes at work. There are a lot of things to love about this recipe, but perhaps the main thing that caught our eye about it is that it doesn’t require any cooking.
Need more healthy salad prep ideas? Check out these healthy salad meal prep ideas.
We LOVE sloppy joes, but unfortunately most of them just aren’t that healthy. Well, get all the love of a sloppy joe but for only 265 calories and 25 grams of protein with this delectable recipe.
To make this recipe, you will need turkey instead of ground beef, which is why it’s so low on calories and fat. You can even incorporate your veggies into this sloppy joe, and you can play around with the spices as much as you like to create a meal that you’ll never forget.
This is one of our favorite lazy meal prep ideas – so easy to make!
The recipe contains 270 calories in total, meaning that it’s a delightful guilt free lunch that you could easily eat at your desk. It’s also got 21 grams of protein, so it’s perfect for after your workout in the gym.
This one is for all of the vegetarians out there looking for delicious meal ideas to get them through the week. This is the perfect meal for any time of the day, not just for breakfast! It includes a bunch of fibre and is simply too good to resist. Thankfully, you can also prepare the quinoa the night before so you can save yourself a whole bunch of time.
The recipe includes a massive 48 grams of protein per serving too, so it’s perfect for when you’re looking for that protein boost for muscle gains in the gym. It can even give you around 4 days worth of meals. What more is there to love?
This is one of our favorite sheet pan recipes because of how high it is in protein
If you’re a vegetarian looking to really spice up their breakfast, then you should definitely try these vegetarian black bean breakfast burritos.
Even better is that this breakfast burrito contains a wonderful 16 grams of protein. If you’re desperate to increase that protein intake then eating these is a good way to do it.
This delectable dish features a whopping 23 grams of protein to help to make sure that your muscles are in optimal shape for your next gym session.
If you want to make this a more carnivorous meal, you can add in some chicken, fish or some other form of protein for it to fit your preferences. It’s also only 424 calories so it’s ideal for if you’re following a calorie controlled diet.
There’s nothing quite like a delicious stir fry to keep your day going on the right foot. Featuring flank steak and veggie stir fry, this recipe is full of beefy goodness, while you also get to enjoy your 5 a day!
What’s even better is that once you prep this meal, you can simply put it into a container where it will stay fresh for around 5 days. It contains around 20 grams of protein in total and it’s very low in sugar, so it’s pretty healthy. You can serve it alongside some brown rice if you want some extra calories and carbohydrates.
Tip: To get the most flavor out of steak it’s important to give it a good sear! To help, we have created a in depth guide on the best cookware for high heat cooking.
Take your love of garlic bread into the kitchen and turn it into protein! While this may not be garlic bread, it’s garlic chicken instead which is almost better.
The best part is the sheer amount of protein included in this recipe. A massive 42 grams per serving! That’s certainly one way to get protein into your diet!
Shrimp is a fantastic source of protein, so you’re bound to enjoy this healthy shrimp dish! It’s incredibly easy to prepare and has a high protein content. 29g of protein in total – delicious and nutritious!
The dish is ideal if you like a little bit of spice because you can put it in a sweet and spicy sauce, but you can use whatever you like the best. You can even pair it with some cauliflower rice to get some more vegetables in. Even better is that it’s 345 calories! This is one of our favorite low calorie meal prep ideas.
20. Teriyaki Chicken
The meatballs are made out of chicken along with a bunch of extra seasonings. You are going to need some cauliflower rice but whether you choose to use cauliflower rice or brown rice will depend on personal preference. In total, this recipe includes 595 calories and an impressive 42.2g of protein. Very tasty and perfect for getting in those gains.
Make sure that you add your seasoning as you like it. With 24.6g of protein, you are going to love this as a pre workout meal. It’s also only 287 calories so you don’t need to worry about breaking the calorie bank, so to speak!
This is one of our favorite pescatarian meal prep ideas because of the chicken + wild rice and veggies.
22. Chicken Parmesan
Did someone say Italian food? Yep! Enjoy this classic dish with a healthy spin by using this recipe. All you need is chicken, almond flour and chickpea flour. It’s incredibly simple to make and it’s low in calories too!
The dish is crazy yummy, and you’ll want to just keep on eating more. IIt contains a massive 32.8g of protein in total.
This hearty, warm breakfast casserole will keep you full throughout the entire week, no last minute breakfast making required! The recipe includes plenty of protein in the form of sausage and eggs.
24. Omelet in a Mug
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it’s vital that you make it as healthy as you can to prepare you for the day ahead! This omelet in a mug is a great choice for getting some extra protein into your day, and the best part is that it only takes around 2 minutes to make, so it’s ideal if you’re in a bit of a rush.
This is one of our favorite meal prep ideas for college students because you can make it in a microwave.
25. Qdoba Chicken
If you’re a big burrito lover then you are going to love this meal prep recipe. All you need to do is marinade your chicken and you’ll have plenty of meals to last you for the whole week. You can even put the marinated chicken into a sandwich if you want to!
This is one of our favorite chicken meal preps ideas for weight loss because of the awesome flavor on the chicken.
26. Turkey Chilli
When the cold nights hit, there’s nothing better to warm you up than a little bit of chili! This recipe is made with lean turkey so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a high protein intake.
In fact, you can have this scrumptious recipe for dinner one evening, and then enjoy it the very next day so it’s perfect for meal prep!
If you’re a big lover of a fry up but you aren’t quite prepared for the many calories that often come with them, this Sweet Potato and Chorizo Hash is the ideal alternative. All you need to do is prep the ingredients the night before ready to go the next morning or whenever you want to eat it.
This recipe is also pretty high in protein so it’s ideal if you’re looking to make some gains in the gym!
This recipe is incredibly simple to prep and should give you meals that will last the week. You aren’t restricted to using beef either, though this recipe is delicious with beef!
If there are certain ingredients you don’t like, you can switch them out for an alternative that you will be more fond of. This high protein recipe is sure to make your taste buds tingle and help you to gain some muscle.
This is one of our favorite steak meal prep recipes because of how well the steak reheats with the veggies.
There’s nothing quite like a wrap as a mid day snack, but how can you get more veggies in? Simple! Switch out your standard wrap for large lettuce leaves, and put your favorite fillings in for a delicious meal that you are sure to love.
You can prep the ingredients the day before and put them in a container, then all you need to do is assemble the ingredients later on. Easy peasy!
This is one of our favorite ground turkey meal prep recipes because of how healthy it is with the lettuce.
30. Pot Pulled Pork
This delicious recipe will melt in your mouth with every bite, and after you try just a little bit we assure you that you are going to want more. You can combine it with other ingredients too so it’s pretty versatile and low calories. It’s also very high in protein!
If you’re looking for a fast mealtime idea that is also unique, these Asian Beef Bowls are for you. As an added bonus, you can also find the gluten-free version of every ingredient on this list.
Once they’re plated, top the bowls with whatever you like; try out shredded veggies, slivered almonds, chopped cashews or anything else.
This is one of our favorite asian meal preps because the bowls reheat so well.
This stir fry is a cinch to pull together any weeknight. To keep things moving even faster for you during a busy week, you can chop your veggies during your weekend meal prep. As you cook, adjust the heat by adding a little or a lot of red pepper flakes.
If you’re watching carbs, consider swapping out the rice in favor of cauliflower rice. As a garnish, add chopped green onions and sesame seeds.
This is one of our favorite Korean meal prep recipes because of how healthy they are.
High Protein Foods for Meal Prepping
Tracking macronutrients such as protein can seem like a bit of a difficult task at first, but you will be pleased to know that it’s actually pretty simple once you know what foods contain protein.
You also don’t need to worry if you have specific dietary requirements, as protein is present in both plant and animal sources.
Eggs are a staple of the Western diet and they contain oodles of protein! Usually a medium egg will contain roughly 6g of protein. As we’ll discuss later, there are a whole bunch of foods that you can make with eggs, such as boiled eggs, an omelet or even protein pancakes!
If you need help on what pans are best for cooking eggs. Check out this best nonstick pan for eggs guide.
Foods that contain dairy are usually fantastic sources of protein. Not only that, but the calcium is great for your bones too. You tend to find that a lot of people will have milkshake after an intense sweat session, as chocolate milk has a nice blend of carbs along with whey and casein proteins.
Yogurts are great for protein, especially for casein and whey protein. It may be a decent option if you are lactose intolerant because some lactose is usually removed but it’s important to check with your healthcare provider first. Greek yogurt is particularly high in protein, as is Icelandic yogurt.
If you aren’t following a vegetarian or vegan diet, fish is a good choice if you’re looking to increase your protein intake. A lot of fish tend to have a low fat content but a high protein content. There are some exceptions to this, as salmon is rather high in fat but also high in protein, but it also has a lot of omega 3 fatty acids which can help you to have healthy joints.
Lean Chicken and Turkey
Poultry is high in protein, but some parts of the bird is higher in fat than others. If you want to maximize on protein but minimize on fat then you will be best suited to the breast of the bird. Chicken is also very versatile and can go into a lot of different recipes too.
Pulses and Beans
If you’re following a primarily vegan or vegetarian diet then pulses and beans are a good choice for protein intake. They also tend to include a lot of iron and fibre, micronutrients that are an important part of a balanced diet.
Nuts and Seeds
If you’re looking for a hearty protein snack but you don’t have time to cook, nuts and seeds can be a great choice. For instance, if you have 50 pistachio nuts you’re looking at around 6g of protein.
They also contain potassium and sodium, more important micronutrients. You can also add them to breakfast too or lunchtime snack for some extra flavor. They are perfect to add to your next high-protein vegan meal prep.
If you’re also looking to increase your fat content while increasing your protein, eating beef is a good way to do it. The amount of protein can very between 20 to 24g protein per cut depending on what the cut is. If you want to reduce the fat content then look for leaner cuts of meat instead.
If you’re mainly following a vegetarian or vegan diet then tofu is a good way to increase your protein content. It usually has around 12g of protein and can be used in a wide variety of different meals too.
If you looking for more vegetarian options, these vegetarian meal prep ideas for weight loss will give you a ton of new ideas.
Why Is Protein Important for Muscle Growth and Repair?
As we’ve already touched upon, protein is an important macronutrient. But what exactly does it do? Protein is important for so many reasons, but muscle growth and repair is by far the most crucial.
Essentially, protein consists of amino acids. When you are lifting weights and engaging in any exercise that puts strain on your muscles, you begin to make miniscule micro tears in the muscles. The protein then uses its amino acids in order to fix those tears. The amino acids will surround the tear and fill it, which results in the muscle getting larger and stronger as a result. It also means that you can prevent muscle loss when you are exercising, which is essential.
This isn’t the only reason why protein is important, however.
To start with, protein helps to reduce your hunger levels and your appetite. Out of the three macronutrients (protein, fats and carbs), Protein has been shown to be the most filling of the three. The main reason for this is because protein can reduce the levels of a hormone called ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone. Furthermore, it also helps to boost the amount of peptide YY in the body, and this hormone is there to make you feel full.
As you may imagine, this often means that if you have a higher protein intakes the chances are that you will consume less calories because you’ll be full. This can be incredibly beneficial for weight loss. It’s also great for weight maintenance for a similar reason.
Protein can also be great for your bone health. Some studies have suffested that people who consume more protein will maintain bone mass better while they age and this means that the chances of bone issues such as fractures and osteoporosis is lower.
Protein can even help to temporarily increase metabolism. This comes down to something known as the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) TEF is essentially where you burn calories from digesting and eating. Protein has a much more significant thermic effect than fats or carbs do. Some studies have suggested that because of this you can burn more calories by having a higher protein intake.
What are the Benefits of Meal Prepping?
Sure, you may be killing it in the gym, but health gains often begin in the kitchen! You could be lifting 40 times a week but if you’re countering that hard work by going to Wendy’s every day then the chances are that you may not see as many gains as you hopes for. This could be because your protein intake isn’t high enough, or it could be because you are massively overeating.
Unfortunately, cooking can take time which can be pretty frustrating and intimidating. When you’re working 9 to 5 every day, the last thing you want to do is waste some of your precious free time chopping onions and preparing legumes every day.
If this sounds like a common frustration you experience, then it may be time to start meal prepping.
There are a whole bunch of reasons why meal prepping is a good idea. Here are just a few.
One common misconception is that healthy eating and cooking everyday is just too expensive. Well, we’re here to bust that myth! Meal prepping can actually save you quite a bit of a cash.
This is because you will be able to buy items in bulk and use some of that freezer space for some good. If you cook large volumes of food, you can often freeze it and put it aside for another day.
For instance, buy a larger amount of chicken and whip up one big meal, setting it aside in the freezer once it’s done. You can freeze most things, and in the long run it will cost you far less money than spending $5 on a McDonalds every single evening.
It’s also ideal if you’re the family cook and you’re cooking for large amounts of people. Takeaways for the whole family every single day just isn’t cheap!
If you find that there just aren’t enough hours in the day, you may be thinking that meal prepping is just too much precious time gone out of your day. As it turns out, meal prepping is perfect if you need to multitask.
You can be cooking your dinner, and while it’s in the oven or on the stove you can prep lunch at the same time. This can be a massive time saver that we’re sure you’ll thank yourself for. You can even cook multiple different things at the same time, and while things are cooking you may even be able to get some chores done around the house such as washing the dishes or hanging out the laundry.
If you’re carefully monitoring your calories for your muscle gain or weight control goals, meal prepping can be a massive asset in learning portion control. Whenever you’re trying to gain your muscles, it’s important to consider calories in and calories out.
When you are already preparing your meals before you eat them you are keeping track of the things that you are consuming which makes it a lot easier to track.
It also means that you aren’t eating larger portions than absolutely necessary like you would if you were eating at a restaurant or a fast food outlet.
If you’re trying to encourage muscle gain or lose weight, you’ll know how much it can throw you off track not having any food prepared.
You may get lazy and thinks that it’s fine to get that huge sandwich from the local shop at lunch time, when in reality that massive sandwich contains around 300 calories more than you should be consuming for your calories for the day.
You avoid this situation when you meal prep. You know you have food prepared so you save yourself unwanted calorie expenditure just from sheer organization.
You may be caught in a situation where you feel hungry all of a sudden. Thankfully if you meal prep, you have something on hand to eat so you aren’t tempted to buy something from somewhere that’s not really that healthy. You will always have options on hand to keep you feeling satiated because you’ve prepared in advance.
It’s very easy to get into a habit of eating the same thing every single day. When you meal prep you can prepare all sorts of different meals when you have the time, allowing you to experiment with new dishes. You can switch it up every week if you wish, and look up different recipes online or in a recipe book.
Need more information about meal prep? Read this how to meal prep for beginners.
Common Questions About High Protein Meal Prep Ideas
The best foods for meal prepping to gain muscle are animal proteins like chicken, turkey, pork, and beef. Other high protein foods are eggs, dairy, and beans. Stack this up with healthy carb sources to really ramp up the muscle growth.
Chicken and rice are the staple foods for building muscle. If you want to put on some healthy weight load up on chicken and rice.
Meal prepping is incredibly helpful for gaining muscle. It ensures that you consistently are eating enough protein each day to recover, get stronger, and put on muscle.
Final Advice on High Protein Meal Prepping
I’ve been an avid weightlifter and powerlifter since I was in high school. I personally try to eat around 250g of protein a day so that I can recover and keep building muscle.
Eating this much protein isn’t easy though. These meal prep ideas for muscle growth have been the secret answer.
Richmond Howard started Meal Prepify in 2019 and has helped over a million people learn how to meal prep, get better at meal planning, and create a kitchen they love to use. He’s an avid home chef and loves to bbq, grill out, and make awesome food for family and friends. He’s been featured on MSN, Renaissance Periodization, and Good Financial Cents.