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Mix-and-Match Ingredients for Meal Prep

Do you feel like meal prep is impossible because you have ADHD? Try this mix and match method to save time and decision fatigue!

One thing that we ADHD folks struggle with is food.

Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, or even remembering to eat. When our brains get overwhelmed, it’s hard to function!

What’s helped me over the past couple years is prepping food at the beginning of the week. And I’m not talking about those 3-hour sessions where you make a week’s worth of meals.

In less than an hour, I do a variety of things. One of which, sometimes, is a mix-and-match meal prep where I prepare ingredients to combine throughout the week.

Various food storage containers with chopped vegetables. Text says "Mix-and-match meal prep"

Do you often get bored of eating the same thing every day? This style of meal prep may be for you! Keep reading to learn all about mix-and-match meal prep and how it can help you actually eat AND eat more nutritious foods.

What is mix-and-match meal prep?

This type of meal prepping is perfect for those that easily get bored with leftovers. Instead of cooking an actual recipe and dividing it up, you just cook components of a meal so you can, literally, mix-and-match throughout the week.

Ideally, you’d cook one or two of each of a Base, Protein, and Vegetable. Then you can add sauces or other toppings as you see fit.

I see this type of meal as a “bowl”, where you can just put the ingredients together and eat. Similar to a burrito bowl; it’s just easy to throw together.

Let me explain what each of those 3 components mean:


The base is the bulk of the meal. It’s usually a grain, but could also be a leafy vegetable. Here are some examples:

  • Quinoa
  • Rice (White rice or brown rice)
  • Tortillas or other wraps
  • Potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • Baby spinach
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Kale or other leafy greens

The Base is your main carb for the meal, and you can choose more than one. Especially if you choose Greens as well.

For example, if I chose spinach, I’d also cook some quinoa because the fiber from the whole grains will keep me full longer.


Protein is part of what keeps you full! I try to make sure each meal has some kind of protein for a balanced meal.

Here are some examples of different proteins:

  • Chicken
  • Ground meat
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Beans and lentils
  • Tofu


Here’s where you’ll get the majority of the micronutrients. Choosing multiple colors means you get different types of vitamins.

Here are some vegetables I like to prep:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes

You can roast the vegetables, steam them, leave them raw… whatever works best for you.

Related post: Meal Planning With ADHD

Three food storage containers. One holds roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and the other two have cooked quinoa.

What this looks like

I’ve shown you what kinds of foods work well. Now what does this actually look like in action?

A food container filled with shredded rotisserie chicken

In one meal prep session, I did the following:

  • Shredded two rotisserie chickens
  • Roasted a bag of chopped broccoli and some Brussels sprouts
  • Cooked quinoa in my rice cooker

I used those for two different meals. One was a salad kit where I added the chicken and quinoa. The other was a bowl with the chicken, quinoa, and both veggies. And I added some cheese on top.

Another session could look like this:

  • Bake some potatoes in the oven
  • Cook a pound or two of ground beef
  • Steam a bag of frozen vegetables

You could make taco-topped baked potatoes with the beef, or cut up the potato and top with meat and vegetables. The meal combos are endless.

If you need more inspiration, be sure to check out my Youtube channel where I post some of my meal prep sessions!

A large bowl filled with a chicken salad with quinoa

How long does this kind of prep take?

So this all sounds great. But if you have ADHD like I do, the thought of doing this can be overwhelming!

Honestly, my meal prep routine takes less than an hour every week. I’ve developed strategies to keep me going, and it’s been working well the past couple years.

Here are my top tips for making this process as easy as possible:

Use shortcuts

Don’t feel like cooking chicken breasts? Just shred a rotisserie chicken.

Does cooking quinoa feel overwhelming? Buy the microwave packets.

Hate chopping vegetables? Buy bags of pre-cut.

Some of these options will cost more. And that’s okay! Sometimes you want to save money, and sometimes you just want to save time. You get to choose what shortcuts you need.

Plan for when you have more energy

What time of day do you have the most energy? Is it early in the morning, or maybe an afternoon on a specific day?

If you see a pattern of your energy levels, try to plan your sessions around those times.

I’ve made a habit of doing prep on Sunday afternoons. And I’ve done it so often that my body and brain just automatically knows, so I get into a groove right away.

Make a list

If I don’t write down what needs done, I wander around aimlessly. And what I write down needs to be specific. You need a game plan to make this work!

So here’s an example of what you can put on your list:

  • Make grocery list
  • Buy food
  • Print recipes
  • Get out ingredients
  • Make muffin mix
  • Put muffins in oven
  • Cook chicken on stovetop

I’m a huge checklist person, so if I can write these things down and check them off as I go along, my sessions go a lot more smoothly.

Final Thoughts

Meal prep doesn’t have to be impossible if you have ADHD. It may look different for all of us. But having ingredients to mix-and-match for meals can make meal prep much more do-able!

Leave a comment and tell me: What are your favorite ingredients to mix-and-match for meal prep?

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