This meal-prep plan for diabetes is just what you need when you want to take charge of your eating habits.

Caitlyn Diimig

The secret to healthy eating isn't really a secret. Planning and preparing meals at home is the easiest way to eat a nutritious diet, and research suggests that people who meal-prep at home are more likely to have a healthier diet and less likely to be overweight or obese. Still, knowing that it's healthier to cook at home and actually doing it are two different things-and most people get tripped up by the planning and shopping involved. So we've taken out all the guesswork with this weeklong meal plan, which provides around 1,500 calories a day and gives you a no-brainer plan to follow-plus a shopping list to take with you to the store so you don't forget a thing.

How to Meal Prep This Week of Meals Like a Pro

We factored in two days of prepping-Sunday and Wednesday-but you could knock everything out in one day instead. The dinner recipes all serve four, while the meal plan is designed to serve one. You may need to make adjustments based on your needs or your family's needs.

Start by downloading the shopping list, then check your pantry and reassess before heading to the grocery store.

Download the Shopping List Here!

Buy groceries on the weekend, preferably on Sunday so they'll be at their freshest. Remember to pick up drinks such as milk and coffee and any other add-ons you might want with your meals. We've accounted for snacks and kept all meals around 45 grams of carbohydrate, but you may need more depending on your exact needs.

Related: How Many Carbs Should You Eat per Day If You Have Diabetes?

Here's what to prep on the weekend:

Once back at home with your grocery bags, group ingredients by recipe, then prep the first few days of meals.

1. Prepare the Piled-High Greek Vegetable Pitas recipe. Save leftovers of the Lemon-Roasted Mixed Vegetables recipe and the Roasted Butternut Squash & Root Vegetables recipe to use in Wednesday's and Thursday's lunches. Store in separate labeled airtight containers.

2. Prepare the marinade for the Chicken Kebabs with Warm Cabbage-Apple Slaw, which is for Tuesday's dinner. Marinate chicken for 1 to 3 hours; remove the chicken and discard the marinade. Refrigerate the chicken in a labeled airtight container until ready to cook on Tuesday. Meanwhile, chop and cook enough bacon for the Warm Cabbage-Apple Slaw and Potato-Bacon Hash recipes. Shred the red cabbage and chop the onion for the slaw. Refrigerate in separate labeled airtight containers until ready to use on Tuesday and Thursday.

3. Prep the Mixed Greens Salad recipe. Portion out servings and refrigerate (without dressing) for Tuesday's and Sunday's lunches and Friday's dinner.

4. Prepare all snacks. Group them in containers and label them for what day of the week you'll eat them. Organize the containers in the fridge by day with Monday's snack in the front and Sunday's snack in the back.

5. For the Sweet & Spicy Roasted Salmon with Wild Rice Pilaf recipe, chop bell pepper and jalapeño pepper. Refrigerate in a labeled airtight container.

6. Prepare and cook meatballs for the Turkey Meatballs with Linguine & Fresh Tomato Sauce recipe; cool slightly. Freeze on a small parchment paper-lined sheet pan until firm. Transfer to a labeled airtight container; freeze until Wednesday.

Tip: Let foods cool to room temperature before storing. Trapping hot foods in a container promotes bacteria growth and freezer burn. Refrigerate or freeze food within 2 hours.

Here's what to prep on Wednesday:

1. Prepare the Sweet & Spicy Roasted Salmon with Wild Rice Pilaf recipe using the prepped peppers.

2. Save a portion of the Wild Rice Pilaf recipe for Friday's lunch; refrigerate in a labeled airtight container.

3. For the Potato-Bacon Hash recipe, shred and remove liquid from zucchini. Refrigerate in a labeled airtight container for Thursday's breakfast.

4. Prepare the marinade for the Maple-Mustard Pork with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Cauliflower recipe for Thursday's dinner. Marinate pork chops 2 to 8 hours; remove the chops and discard the marinade. Refrigerate the chops in a labeled airtight container until ready to cook on Thursday. While the chops marinate, prep the Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Cauliflower portion of the meal. Refrigerate in a labeled airtight container until ready to roast on Thursday.

5. Thaw the meatballs from Turkey Meatballs with Linguine & Fresh Tomato Sauce recipe in the refrigerator to use in Friday's dinner and Saturday's lunch.

Mix & Match Snacks

Round out each day's calorie target and keep hunger at bay by choosing a snack or two from the list below. Each contains about 1 carb serving (15 grams carbohydrates).

  • 1 slice light whole-wheat toast + 1 Tbsp. peanut butter (112 calories, 11 g carbs)
  • 2/3 cup low-fat cottage cheese + 1 Tbsp. low-sugar preserves (133 calories, 10 g carbs)
  • 8 reduced-fat whole-grain crackers + 2 Tbsp. hummus (116 calories, 15 g carbs)

Monday

Breakfast (406 calories, 47 g carbs)

Snack (103 calories, 10 g carbs)

  • 1 cup cucumber slices and carrot sticks
  • 2 Tbsp. light ranch dressing

Lunch (398 calories, 53 g carbs)

  • 2 slices light whole-wheat bread with 1 Tbsp. light mayonnaise; 1/2 cup salad greens; 1 slice tomato; 1/4 avocado, sliced; and 2 oz. thinly sliced lower-sodium roasted turkey
  • 1 medium pear

Snack (190 calories, 30 g carbs)

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/2 oz. almonds

Dinner (399 calories, 53 g carbs)

• 1 serving Piled-High Greek Vegetable Pitas

Daily Totals: 1,496 calories, 53 g protein, 193 g carbohydrates, 42 g fiber, 59 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 2,361 mg sodium

Tuesday

Breakfast (289 calories, 53 g carbs)

Snack (160 calories, 20 g carbs)

  • 1/2 cup celery sticks
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. raisins

Lunch (400 calories, 37 g carbs)

  • 1 servingMixed Greens Saladtopped with 1 (2.6-oz.) pouch white tuna in water
  • 12 reduced-fat whole-grain crackers
  • 1 oz. almonds
  • 1 cup strawberries

Snack (175 calories, 26 g carbs)

  • 1 low-fat mozzarella cheese stick
  • 1 medium apple

Dinner (452 calories, 37 g carbs)

• 1 serving Chicken Kebabs with Warm Cabbage-Apple Slaw

Tip: Use any kind of cooking apple in the Warm Cabbage-Apple Slaw. Try McIntosh, Braeburn, Granny Smith, Fuji or Pink Lady.

Daily Totals: 1,477 calories, 83 g protein, 173 g carbohydrates, 24 g fiber, 57 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 1,327 mg sodium

Wednesday

Breakfast (330 calories, 39 g carbs)

  • 1/2 cup dry quick oats prepared with 2/3 cup water, 1/3 cup low-fat milk and a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 3 Tbsp. toasted walnuts
  • 2 tsp. honey

Snack (151 calories, 21 g carbs)

  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 clementines

Lunch (429 calories, 44 g carbs)

• 1 serving Creamy Roasted Vegetable Soup with Chicken
• 1/2 cup cantaloupe

Snack (186 calories, 26 g carbs)

  • 1/4 cup plain hummus
  • 1 cup vegetable dippers
  • 4 reduced-fat whole-grain crackers

Dinner (339 calories, 43 g carbs)

• 1 serving Sweet & Spicy Roasted Salmon with Wild Rice Pilaf

Daily Totals: 1,434 calories, 88 g protein, 172 g carbohydrates, 29 g fiber, 48 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 1,852 mg sodium

Thursday

Breakfast (475 calories, 59 g carbs)

  • 1 servingPotato-Bacon Hash
  • 1 slice light whole-wheat toast with 2 tsp. light butter
  • 3/4 cup grapes

Snack (190 calories, 29 g carbs)

  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter

Lunch (447 calories, 42 g carbs)

• 1 serving Greek Salmon Salad
• 1/2 whole-wheat pita bread

Snack (108 calories, 9 g carbs)

  • 1 cup cucumber slices and carrot sticks
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese

Dinner (304 calories, 20 g carbs)

• 1 serving Maple-Mustard Pork with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Cauliflower

Tip: Drink 8 oz. low-fat milk at dinner to help reach your daily calcium recommendation. Just add 110 calories and 13 grams carbs to your daily total.

Daily Totals: 1,526 calories, 90 g protein, 160 g carbohydrates, 26 g fiber, 61 g fat, 16 g saturated fat, 2,328 mg sodium

Friday

Breakfast (328 calories, 47 g carbs)

  • 1 5-oz. carton light fruit-flavor yogurt
  • 2/3 cup fresh blueberries
  • 3 Tbsp. shelled pistachios
  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast
  • 2 tsp. low-sugar preserves

Snack (155 calories, 29 g carbs)

  • 1/3 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 medium pear

Lunch (431 calories, 43 g carbs)

• 1 serving Apple, Pork & Wild Rice Salad

Snack (98 calories, 9 g carbs)

  • 1 cup cucumber slices and carrot sticks
  • 2 Tbsp. light ranch dressing

Dinner (490 calories, 53 g carbs)

• 1 serving Turkey Meatballs with Linguine & Fresh Tomato Sauce
• 1 serving Mixed Greens Salad

Tip: Make these meatballs ahead of time. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before resuming baking directions.

Daily Totals: 1,503 calories, 81 g protein, 181 g carbohydrates, 29 g fiber, 53 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 2,071 mg sodium

Saturday

Breakfast (257 calories, 51 g carbs)

  • 2 slices light whole-wheat toast
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sugar preserves
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute, scrambled
  • 1 medium banana

Snack (145 calories, 15 g carbs)

  • 1 low-fat mozzarella cheese stick
  • 8 reduced-fat whole-grain crackers
  • 1/2 cup carrot sticks

Lunch (422 calories, 52 g carbs)

• 1 serving Turkey Meatball Pita Sandwich
• 1 apple

Snack (156 calories, 19 g carbs)

  • 1/2 cup celery sticks
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. raisins

Dinner (399 calories, 50 g carbs)

• 1 serving Sesame-Garlic Beef & Broccoli with Whole-Wheat Noodles
• 1/2 cup blueberries

Tip: Instead of broccoli florets, sub in frozen stir-fry vegetables. You don't even need to let them thaw! Just avoid any that come with sauces or marinades. You can also try chopped roasted peanuts if you don't have sesame seeds on hand.

Daily Totals: 1,379 calories, 83 g protein, 187 g carbohydrates, 26 g fiber, 38 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 1,785 mg sodium

Sunday

Breakfast (330 calories, 39 g carbs)

  • 1/2 cup dry quick oats prepared with 2/3 cup water, 1/3 cup low-fat milk and a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 3 Tbsp. toasted walnuts
  • 2 tsp. honey

Snack (130 calories, 18 g carbs)

  • 2 clementines
  • 1 low-fat mozzarella cheese stick

Lunch (433 calories, 54 g carbs)

  • 1 servingMixed Greens Salad(increase dressing to 2 Tbsp.) topped with 2 oz. thinly sliced lower-sodium roasted turkey and 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 medium pear
  • 1 carton light fruit-flavor yogurt

Snack (259 calories, 20 g carbs)

  • 1/4 cup plain hummus
  • 1 cup vegetable dippers
  • 3/4 oz. almonds

Dinner (360 calories, 41 g carbs)

• 1 serving Peppery Barbecue-Glazed Shrimp with Vegetables & Orzo

Tip: Frozen shrimp thaws quickly. Place frozen shrimp in a large bowl with ice water. Let sit 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prep the remaining parts of the meal.

Daily Totals: 1,512 calories, 76 g protein, 172 g carbohydrates, 38 g fiber, 65 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 1,679 mg sodium

Watch: What a Healthy Diabetes Meal Plan Looks Like

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