10 Comfort Food Recipes to Try in Your Next Meal Prep

Maybe you were stuck in traffic for two hours. Maybe you missed a deadline. Or maybe your afternoon was just inexplicably terrible. No matter the reason, everyone has those days when the only thing that will cure a bad mood is a giant heap of gooey mac and cheese. Comfort food got its name for a reason: because after a few bites of a warm, flavorful dish, all the worries in the world seem to melt away.

Unfortunately, comfort food and health food rarely fall into the same category. Downing a hefty plate of your dad’s famous barbecue doesn’t exactly leave your belt feeling loose and your body revving for a workout. So does that mean you’re doomed for a comfort food-less life if you’re following a healthy eating plan? Absolutely not. Stick with us, and we’ll introduce you to a world full of culinary hacks that will allow you to enjoy your favorite dishes while still sticking to your nutrition goals.

The main trick is to use fresh, wholesome ingredients. In the 10 recipes below, we use an abundance of crunchy vegetables and lean meats to compliment the healthy portions of cheese or barbecue sauce (low-sugar barbecue sauce, that is). These dishes also use herbs and spices to evoke maximum flavor without adding a lot of extra calories.

Not only are these recipes great for dinner after a tough day the office, but they’re perfect for advance meal prep because they make multiple servings. Because sometimes a salad made with raw veggies just isn’t going to cut it all week. For your next meal prep menu, try out a few of these dishes that are good for your soul as well as your waistline.

 

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Gooey, cheesy, and under 300 calories per serving? Believe it! The secret is using two kinds of bold cheese to pump up the flavor. Blended with a butternut squash puree, the sauce is smooth and creamy and fortified with extra veggies.
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Recipe
What you’ll need:
1 lb. dry whole wheat macaroni
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium red bell peppers, chopped
3 cups cubed butternut squash
1¾ cups low-sodium organic chicken broth
1 cup low-fat (1%) milk
2 Tbsp. low-fat (1%) plain Greek yogurt
1 cup shredded Gruyere (or Swiss) cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Sea salt and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)
Nonstick cooking spray
Finely chopped fresh parsley (for garnish; optional)
Find out how to make the recipe.

 

Pulled Chipotle Chicken with Cilantro Slaw
This recipe combines two contrasting flavors to create one incredible dish. The adobo and chipotle-spiked barbecue sauce compliments the refreshing cilantro and slaw, so it’s not too spicy and it’s not too light. It’s just right.

Pulled Chipotle Chicken with Cilantro Slaw Recipe

What you’ll need:
½ cup apple cider vinegar, divided use
7 tsp. olive oil mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. raw honey
½ tsp. celery seed
4 cups shredded cabbage (or half a small cabbage)
1 tsp. olive oil
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
2 Tbsp. adobo sauce (the sauce from chipotle pepper in adobo sauce)
½ cup barbeque sauce, low-sugar
3 cups cooked chicken breast, boneless, skinless, shredded
Find out how to make the recipe.

 

Chickpea Curry with Chicken
This seemingly simple dish is packed with protein and can be customized to fit your preferred spice level. Want something that only has a slight hint of heat? Go light on the chili powder. On the other hand, if you like to eat food that makes you sweat, then put as much chili powder (and extra dashes of hot sauce) in as you’d like.
Chickpea Curry with Chicken Recipe
What you’ll need:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. raw chicken breast tenders
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp. mustard seed
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground cumin, divided use
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. chili powder
1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed
1 (14.5-oz.) can low-sodium diced tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium organic chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
Find out how to make the recipe.

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas
Throw a fajita fiesta with maximum flavor and minimal effort. Toss these ingredients into a slow cooker and you can come home to the comforting smell of a home-cooked meal without slaving away in the kitchen all day. This recipe makes 4 servings, but can easily be doubled to make a larger, time-saving batch.
Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas Recipe
What you’ll need:
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes (or diced tomatoes with green chiles), no salt added
1 medium onion, cut into quarters, sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium orange bell pepper, cut into strips
2 tsp. ground chile powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 lb. raw chicken breast, boneless, skinless, sliced
8 6-inch whole wheat flour tortillas, warm
½ cup fresh tomato salsa
8 tsp. low-fat (1%) plain Greek yogurt
½ medium avocado, sliced
Finely chopped cilantro
Find out how to make the recipe.

 

Turkey Chili
Nothing screams “comfort food” like a hearty bowl of chili. We keep it healthy by going heavy on the veggies and mixing them in with beans and lean turkey. It’s a great meal to make in advance and freeze for a quick, high-protein lunch or dinner when you’re too busy to cook.
Turkey Chili Recipe
What you’ll need:
1 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium yellow (or orange) bell pepper, chopped
1 lb. raw 93% lean ground turkey
1 (28-oz.) can chopped tomatoes
2 cans (15-oz. each) kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. sea salt
Crushed red peppers (to taste; optional)
12 Italian parsley sprigs, chopped
Find out how to make the recipe.

 

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
This revamped version of enchiladas uses healthier ingredients to create the beloved classic flavors in this dish. When the farro slow-cooks with fire-roasted tomatoes in enchilada sauce, it tastes just like corn tortillas that have been dipped in sauce and baked. But the best part of this recipe might be that it makes 10 servings. Meal prep for two?
Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas Recipe
What you’ll need:
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium jalapenos, seeded and deveined, finely chopped
1 lb. raw ground chicken breast
1½ cups dry farro, rinsed
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 (15-oz.) can diced fire roasted tomatoes (or diced tomatoes), no salt added
1 cup water
1 (10-oz.) can red enchilada sauce
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)
1 cup shredded jack (or cheddar or Mexican blend) cheese
3 medium green onions, chopped
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Find out how to make the recipe.

 

Barbecued Cauliflower Salad
This barbecued cauliflower salad is only 336 calories per serving, and has all of the smoke, zest, and Tex-Mex flair you know and love. Dress it with our Healthier Ranch dressing, and it’s sure to quell your craving for that “one” barbecued salad from that “one” restaurant you’ve been drooling over all week.
Barbecued Cauliflower Salad Recipe
What you’ll need:
½ medium cauliflower, cut into florets (or 3 cups florets)
½ tsp. olive oil
¼ cup barbecue sauce, reduced-sugar
3 cups coarsely chopped romaine lettuce
½ cup canned black beans, drained, rinsed
½ cup corn kernels
¼ medium red onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, shredded
¼ cup Healthier Ranch Dressing
½ medium avocado, sliced
Find out how to make the recipe.

 

Succotash
There’s so many ways you can incorporate succotash into a meal that it might just be the perfect meal-prep dish. When paired with grilled meats, it adds a down-home comfort food feeling. Need a quick salad? Try adding a scoop of it on top of a bed of leafy greens. And if you really want to get creative, enjoy it for breakfast with a sunny side-up egg and a few dashes of hot sauce!
Succotash Recipe
What you’ll need:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium red bell peppers, chopped
½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2½ cups fresh (or frozen) corn kernels (about 4 ears of corn)
2 cups lima beans (or shelled edamame)
3 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil
Find out how to make the recipe.

 

Sweet and Sour Pork
The core concept of tacos isn’t unhealthy, but restaurants often add in unnecessary ingredients that shoot up the calories and fat. We take things back to the basics with these chicken tacos that use fresh produce and savory spices to give you all the flavors you’re used to, without anything you don’t need.
Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe
What you’ll need:
2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided use
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tsp. dry sherry wine (optional)
4 tsp. cornstarch (preferably GMO-free), divided use
1 lb. raw lean boneless pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tbsp. unsweetened pineapple juice
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. tomato paste, no sugar added
1½ tsp. raw honey
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin organic coconut oil, divided use
1 medium onion, cut in half, sliced vertically
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch wide strips
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into ½-inch wide strips
1 medium orange bell pepper, cut into ½-inch wide strips
1 cup cubed fresh pineapple (or canned pineapple in juice)
Fresh cilantro sprigs (for garnish; optional)
Find out how to make the recipe.

 

Chicken Tacos
Chicken Tacos Recipe
What you’ll need:
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. raw chicken breast, boneless, skinless, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. ground cumin
Sea salt and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warm
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Find out how to make the recipe.