Damn Delicious Meal Prep

115 Easy Recipes for Low-Calorie, High-Energy Living


By Chungah Rhee

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Meal prep is the best thing to happen to healthy eating — and Damn Delicious Meal Prep makes it tastier than ever!

It’s 6:00 pm, and you have nothing planned for dinner. Again. If you’re like many folks, including blogger and author Chungah Rhee, this happens more often than you care to admit! Wanting to regain control of her health and eating habits, Chungah turned to meal prep: the secret weapon that keeps everyone from celebrities and athletes to busy parents and young professionals on-track and eating well.
Chungah quickly found that meal prep is an amazing way to save time and money and to keep you and your family eating healthy all week long. By taking the time to plan your meals, prep ingredients, and do some cooking ahead of time, it’s easy to have perfectly portioned healthy options at your fingertips for any time of the day.
Inside are Chungah’s go-to recipes-including some favorites from the blog. You’ll find inspiration for delectable protein-packed breakfasts, energy-boosting snacks, and slimmed-down comfort food favorites-none of which sacrifice flavor. Who wouldn’t be enticed by a 205-calorie Breakfast Croissant Sandwich or an under-500-calorie Mason Jar Lasagna? She also arms readers with dozens of tools for making habit changes actually stick. This indispensable cookbook is sure to help you live a healthier (and more delicious) life.




This cookbook started as a question: “Could I live to eat and eat to live well?”

Two years ago, I was 30 pounds overweight. I was exhausted—burned out, really. I was working too much, eating too much, stressing too much. I was every-thing too much. I had a booming and successful food blog that I was proud of, and I was cooking new recipes and posting five times per week. Every single day, I was surrounded by food, and I was surrounded by work, and I didn’t know how to balance either of them.

I grew up in a traditional Korean household, where hard work is king. My parents immigrated to the U.S. before I was born, and like any other first-gen American kid, I grew up totally in love with all things American. The more all-American something was, the more I wanted it. (Yes, even if it was actually worse than the Korean version!) My mom would cook amazing Korean food every day, but I’d get most excited when she’d surprise us with her version of baked ziti. She’d use rotini noodles, jarred spaghetti sauce, and a big ball of mozzarella that she’d slice into rounds to top the pasta. I remember watching her gently sawing through the soft cheese, eyes at countertop height, hoping desperately that she’d shred off a little piece to give to me.

Food was always a big deal in our house, and we had no boundaries with it at all. One night we’d have samgyetang, and the next we’d pick up cheeseburgers and “Animal Style” fries from In-N-Out. But even though food was a big deal to us, there was something even more important: hard work. From an early age, my parents made it clear to me that I would be going to medical school as soon as I graduated from college, and so, after high school, I dutifully enrolled at UCLA and started my pre-med classes. Every night, I’d come home exhausted from class and bake something, anything, to de-stress from the day. I was totally that person who wouldn’t eat until they’d photographed the food and sent it around to everyone they knew. (And back then, that was definitely not a full-time job!)

Eventually, the nagging feeling that I didn’t like medicine won out, and I realized I just couldn’t go through with it. So I looked for something that would still lead to a secure job and that wouldn’t disappoint my parents too much: that’s how I ended up with a master’s in public health.

Around that time a friend (who was most definitely tired of my endless food photo texts) suggested I start a blog to document what I was cooking. I didn’t really have the time with my busy class schedule, but I figured if I worked just a little bit harder during the day, I could make some time at night to post a new recipe. I posted my first recipe in 2011, and today, Damn Delicious is a $1.5 million business.

I know that sounds shiny and easy, but in this book, I want to get real—really really—and show my readers that behind every successful American Dream is a story of hard work and sacrifice. And I won’t lie, it was hard. “Food blogging” isn’t exactly an acceptable profession to your typical Korean mom. My parents thought I was nuts and that I was throwing away an opportunity to have “a real job” in public health. On top of that, I was working 80-hour weeks building the blog, usually working alone late into the night on weekends and holidays when everyone else was out having fun.

But I had really achieved the American Dream—I was a successful entrepreneur; I was passionate about my work; I set my own hours and worked for myself; I bought my first home in 2016; and I began traveling as much as I could. Yet, along the way, I’d also achieved something else: the American physique.

I was overweight, often sick, always exhausted, and worst of all, despairing that I could ever get control of my eating habits.

As the site grew, I hired my first employee, then another and another, and I finally felt like I was getting back some of my time and mental energy for my health. But after a grueling day of work, I was so wiped out and so set in bad habits that I didn’t know what to do but order takeout. Or I would just graze all day until I had no idea what I’d eaten and why.

But I wanted desperately to change my eating habits. Which, let me tell you, is not easy when you’re surrounded by “damn delicious” food all day. It’s literally my job to cook and eat all day. I knew I needed a game plan that would set me up for success, but I had zero ideas as to where to start. So what was really the best way to get me back on track?

Easy. Meal prep.



Welcome to


What Is

Meal prep is the secret weapon of all those effortlessly fit celebrities who roam around LA—it’s what many of the top private chefs do to keep their clients on track and happy.

Meal prep makes it easy to have a perfectly portioned, low-calorie, whole food meal at your fingertips anytime. By meal prepping on the weekends and dividing meals into just-right, calorie-controlled portions, it’s just as easy to grab your prepped Korean bibimbap bowl on a busy weeknight as it is to grab a store-bought, sodium-laden version or a take-out, high-calorie version.

That right there—having healthy and delicious food at my fingertips all week, with all the ease of convenience food yet none of the bad stuff—is what got me completely and hopelessly hooked on meal prep.

Finally, eating right for me wasn’t just about saying no to the unhealthy stuff—it was about saying yes to the just-as-delicious alternative that was already prepped and waiting for me. And personally, after a long day of exerting every ounce of my willpower at work—developing, testing, writing, and photographing new recipes—plus making time for family and friends, the last thing I have is more willpower for saying no to temptingly unhealthy food. Left to my own devices, it’s pizza, please—every time.

I fell for meal prep even harder when I realized how much fun the prepping sessions could be. (Yes, prep work can be fun!) I picked a Sunday to try it out, and I invited a bunch of my friends and family over to prep and cook together for the week. With just an afternoon of cooking together, laughing, hanging out, and drinking way too many mimosas, we had an entire week’s worth of healthy, fresh food, all neatly packaged up like a private chef had just walked out. It was so much fun, it didn’t even feel like work! I felt like I had barely done any work, yet I’d never been more prepared to rock out a week of healthy eating and good choices. Now our small group of friends and family gets together nearly every Sunday to do meal prep together.

Myths of Meal Prep

Let me start by saying that this is not a weight-loss book. I wrote this book for those who want to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Doing this should not be a miserable process. I mean, there are burrito bowls and pumpkin donuts involved here!

Meal prep has become increasingly popular in today’s health-conscious and schedule-heavy climate. But meal prep doesn’t require having all your meals prepared in their entirety. It can simply mean chopping, sorting, or pre-cooking ingredients ahead of time to make your life a little bit easier on hectic weeknights. It is an amazing way to plan ahead, save time, implement portion control, and feed not just one person but the whole family all week! Who doesn’t want that?

I also want to say that you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic or a bodybuilder to do meal prep. And it doesn’t have to always be super healthy with overly dry chicken and withered broccoli.

The purpose of this cookbook is to reinvent meal prep, or at the very least, revitalize what you think of it. Working one-on-one with a nutritionist, I wrote this book to inspire your creativity and show you how many different ways you can actually meal prep with the right kinds of foods.

Why Meal Prep Will Change Your Life

There are many ways in which meal prep can change your life. Since being introduced to it, I have more free time for other things in life, like taking Butters on a walk so he can troll for poo.

No, but really, I have a better, more wholesome, balanced diet. I eat more regularly, which my body and brain thrive on. I even, unintentionally, dropped a dress size.

A lot of people have the misconception that the purpose of meal prep is purely for dieting, and dieting then leads to thoughts of being hungry and solely eating a lettuce leaf.

Let me tell you that I have been eating all kinds of meals from this very book and I promise you, the variety and moderation are very welcomed by my body. Not to mention, it is so much fun to have an afternoon prepping all your boxes of food for the entire week with your friends and family.

You can also choose your level of involvement. Some people can’t stand eating the same meals day after day—and that’s totally fine. Even meal prepping half or some of your meals will save you time and the headache of trying to plan out seven different lunches or dinners for the week. The recipes also offer a lot of options for swapping out ingredients. Eating oatmeal for breakfast all week becomes much more palatable when it can be loaded with different toppings!

With meal prep, you can tailor your meals to your nutritional preferences, whether it be caloric intake or dietary restrictions. But when it comes to calories, it is important to stress that you need to consume the right kind of calories—the “healthy” calories. So when someone says that they are limiting their calories because they are on a diet, and the diet consists of cubes of cheese or chocolate pudding, that is not a healthy way to live. This will inevitably lead to major weight gain. It is important to fill yourself with healthy, living, colorful foods! Basically, the full spectrum of the rainbow. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and limit refined carbohydrates, sugars, and processed foods.

On average, a female needs about 2,000 calories a day to maintain her current weight and about 1,500 calories to lose 1 pound per week. An average man needs about 2,500 calories a day to maintain his current weight and 2,000 calories to lose 1 pound of weight per week. These numbers can vary due to many factors like weight, size, height, activity level, illness, disease, or lifestyle choices. For example, a female athlete may need closer to 2,500 to 3,000 calories to maintain her current weight and muscle.

I hope that sheds some light on meal prep and why I love it. I know you will too! I can’t wait to hear and see all of your own meal prep journeys as you work your way through this cookbook!


How to Prep for

Meal Prep Containers

I personally love my glass containers as they are much easier to clean, but the downside is that they are very heavy. It makes it difficult to carry them around all day, but if you work from home, I would definitely push for glass containers.

Plastic containers, on the other hand, are so much lighter, BPA-free, and dishwasher-safe. They also come in different shapes and have compartments for sectioning foods for you type A peeps out there (don’t worry, I am VERY type A). They are also easy to stack, which saves on storage space in your cabinets.

You can find meal prep containers on Amazon.com with tons of varieties to choose from. Just be sure to order them three to four days in advance so you don’t run out of containers before your next meal prep week!

Another meal prep container that is very useful is the mason jar. Inexpensive and amazingly versatile, the jars help with portion control and are portable, BPA-free, and microwave-, fridge-, and oven-safe—and even freezer-safe for some varieties. They also come in different sizes for different purposes.

Tips for Cooking in Bulk

DON’T BE OVERWHELMED. Dedicating a few hours during the weekend to cooking in bulk will save you much time, stress, and mental burden in the week ahead. Promise!

PLANNING AHEAD IS KEY. Take some time to plan out what you’re going to make, create a grocery list, and buy all your ingredients in one trip to avoid any emergency grocery runs. I’ve also created a handy planning sheet and blank grocery list that you can fill out and take with you! They’re in the back of the book (or you can download them at damndelicious.net).

BULK STORES ARE YOUR SAVIOR. When it comes to bulk cooking, Costco is my number 1 stop for large quantities of quality meat, veggies, and fruit. If you don’t have a membership, call up your coworker/friend/neighbor/ distant relative who does, make it a joint trip, and meal prep together!

USE HELP. There’s no shame in that at all. Shortcuts exist for a reason! So instead of dicing and chopping 10,000 pounds of vegetables and garlic with those sticky fingers, your food processor will come in very handy here. If you don’t have a food processor, use the next best thing. Your husband.

AL DENTE IS NOT JUST FOR PASTA. Vegetables should be slightly undercooked so that they can stay firm when frozen and reheated (without running the risk of being overcooked during the second round of cooking).

YOUR FREEZER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. Put your freezer to work so you can whip up dinner in a pinch by simply reheating your favorite White Chicken Chili (here) with a warm Flaky Mile-High Whole Wheat Biscuit (here). Just be sure to freeze in individual, usable portions. It will make your life so much easier.

LET COOL COMPLETELY. You always see this in recipes but really, to keep food safe, cool your foods before freezing them.

NOBODY LIKES AIR BUBBLES. When using ziplock freezer bags, it’s all about the seal, so squeeze out all the excess air as best as you can to prevent freezer burn and dehydration.

DON’T FORGET TO LABEL ALL YOUR FREEZER BAGS. Use a permanent marker to label each container with the name of the recipe, the date, and any instructions for thawing/reheating.

What You’ll Need for Big-Batch Cooking

• Large stockpot or Dutch oven

• Casserole dish

• Baking sheets

• Hand mixer

• Immersion blender (a Vitamix or high-speed blender will also work)

• Slow cooker

• Storage freezer bags

• Meal prep containers

• Mason jars

• Food processor

• Other bonus things that may be helpful: time and patience, friends to cook with, the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” to dance to, and/or This Is Us to watch if you feel like you need a good cry while cooking and prepping.

How to Freeze and Store Soups

Leftover soup will typically last two to three days in the refrigerator but it will last at least a month in the freezer.

Be sure to let the soup cool completely prior to freezing. Portion the soup into ziplock freezer bags in individual servings, squeezing out any excess air before sealing. Lay the bags flat in a single layer in the freezer (this will help them freeze quickly). You can stack them once they are frozen to save on storage space. To reheat, thaw overnight in the fridge, then warm over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Soups with pasta or dairy do not hold up well in the freezer. But fret no more—simply hold back on the pasta and/or dairy and freeze without it. You can simply add it in upon reheating.



Nothing is worse than buying a bunch of veggies, only to throw half of them out when they go bad. If you’re looking for a way to ease into meal prep, these four themed meal prep menus and shopping lists are a great way to get you started. By planning ahead and choosing recipes that share similar themes, you can save money and use up all your ingredients! As you get more comfortable meal prepping, you can add more meal choices and variety to your rotation.

Option 1. Theme: Kale


BREAKFAST: Sweet Potato–Kale Hash (here): 287 CALORIES

LUNCH: Very Green Mason Jar Salad (here): 250 CALORIES

SNACK: Kale Chips Snack Box (here): 308 CALORIES

DINNER: White Beans with Sausage and Stir-Fried Kale (here): 392 CALORIES

DRINK: Green Protein Smoothie (here): 194 CALORIES



3 cups baby spinach

6 bunches kale

1 pound small zucchini

½ cup pea shoots

1 English cucumber

3 medium sweet potatoes

6 cloves garlic

1 onion

½ avocado

2 green onions

1 cup fresh basil

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

2 handfuls fresh parsley

1 cup grapes

4 tangerines

2 fresh limes

1 banana

1 pint strawberries

½ cup blueberries

1 cup blackberries


1 cup green peas


4 large eggs

¾ cup unsweetened almond milk

½ cup reduced-fat feta cheese

¾ cup 2% Greek yogurt

1 package (12.8 ounces) smoked Andouille sausage

8 ounces turkey breakfast sausage


¾ cup pearled barley

2 cans (15.5 ounces each) cannellini beans

1 can (16 ounces) garbanzo beans

1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

8 tablespoons vanilla protein powder


Olive oil

Chili lime seasoning

Crushed red pepper flakes

Dried rosemary

Dried thyme

Dried oregano

Kosher salt

Black pepper

Option 2. Theme: Rainbow Veggies


BREAKFAST: Crustless Mini Egg Muffins (here): 34 CALORIES

LUNCH: Thai Chicken Buddha Bowls (here): 503 CALORIES

SNACK: Rainbow Hummus Veggie Pinwheels (here): 320 CALORIES

DINNER: Whole Wheat Pad Thai Bowls (here): 439 CALORIES

DRINK: Carrot Ginger Smoothie (here): 195 CALORIES



¼ cup baby spinach

1 zucchini

1 red cabbage

1 purple cabbage

1 bunch kale

3 red bell peppers

1 yellow bell pepper

4 radishes

1 cup bean sprouts

4 carrots

¼ cup thinly sliced cucumbers

¼ cup alfalfa sprouts

2 green onions

1 shallot

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

5 cloves garlic

1 red chile pepper

1 bunch fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

½ cup strawberries

½ cup blueberries

2 navel oranges

4 limes


2 cups egg whites

2 large eggs

¼ cup crumbled feta

1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 tablespoons hummus

1 cup carrot juice


2 cups sliced carrots

1½ cups diced pineapple


12 ounces whole wheat spaghetti

1 cup farro

3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

½ cup roasted peanuts

¼ cup chicken stock

1 (8-inch) spinach tortilla

2 tablespoons sambal oelek

3 tablespoons fish sauce


Olive oil

Canola oil


¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce


Dark brown sugar

Light brown sugar

Kosher salt

Black pepper


Option 3. Theme: Mexican


BREAKFAST: Ham, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Quesadillas (here): 291 calories

LUNCH: Chicken Burrito Bowls (here): 488 CALORIES

SNACK: Salsa Snack Box (here): 262 CALORIES

DINNER: White Chicken Chili (here): 316 CALORIES

DRINK: Rainbow Coconut Smoothie (here): 184 CALORIES



2 cups baby spinach

1 orange bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 jicama

1 cup chopped broccoli florets

1 small onion

2 tablespoons diced red onion

2 green onions

5 cloves garlic

1 jalapeño chile

2 Anaheim green chile peppers

5 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 cup blackberries

1 pint blueberries

1 pint strawberries

½ cup raspberries

1 cup diced pineapple

1 pineapple

1 kiwi

2 mangoes

6 tangerines

3 limes


On Sale
Feb 5, 2019
Page Count
304 pages

Chungah Rhee

About the Author

Chungah Rhee is the founder, recipe developer, and photographer of Damn Delicious. What began as a grad school hobby is now a top food blog, with millions of readers coming to her site for easy weeknight recipes and simplified gourmet meals. She lives and continues to cook non-stop in Los Angeles, with her corgi, Butters. Her first cookbook was published in 2016 by Oxmoor House. Visit her at damndelicious.net.

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