5 Autumn-Inspired Healthy and Affordable Meal Prep Recipes

When the leaves start to change and the temperature drops, I start craving warm, fall-inspired foods. As a college student with a tight schedule and a budget, I have often shied away from making my favorite fall foods in the past. And if we’re being real, the fall season also means midterms, and I know I’ve traded a proper meal for a strange assortment of CVS snacks while studying once or twice.

This year I am determined not to let that happen, both in my kitchen and yours. Below, I’ve shared my top five healthy, easy, and affordable recipes that deliver all the fall flavors we so dearly crave; each can also be easily made in large batches and enjoyed over the course of your week.

All five recipes use the oven at a temperature of 375 °F; adjust cooking/baking times if your oven is set at a different temperature! Enjoy ALL recipes for up to a week!

  1. 1. Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bake

    Summertime overnight oats just won’t do in colder temperatures. This bake is THE quintessential fall breakfast, and it uses ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. Baked oatmeal is easy to store; pop it in the refrigerator sliced or unsliced and enjoy warmed up in the microwave with a drizzle of maple syrup.

    What You'll Need:

    2 cups oats

    1 egg (beaten)  

    ¼ cup peanut butter

    2 bananas (mashed)

    1 tsp cinnamon

    1 ½ cups milk of choice

    1 tsp vanilla extract

    1 tsp baking powder

    Instructions:

    1.     Preheat oven to 375 °F.

    2.     Combine oats, baking powder, and cinnamon.

    3.     Add the milk, beaten egg, and mashed bananas to the oat mixture and stir.

    4.     Grease a baking dish (I use a 7x5 standard rectangular) and pour in the oatmeal mixture.

    5.     Bake for 30-35 mins.

  2. 2. Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes

    Sweet potatoes remind me of Thanksgiving, and what could possibly be more comforting than that? Have no fear beginner college chefs, because this recipe is E-A-S-Y and versatile. Pair it with any protein or vegetable for a complete lunch or dinner, use it in a salad for some filling midday fuel, or simply enjoy as is.

    What You’ll Need:

    5 sweet potatoes peeled and cut into cubes or thick slices

    4 tbsp olive oil

    1 tsp salt

    Dash of pepper

    2 ½ tsp cinnamon

    Instructions:

    1.     Preheat oven to 375 °F.

    2.     Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

    3.     Lay sweet potatoes on sheet and drizzle on the oil and spices (make sure everything is evenly coated!).

    4.     Bake for 30-45 minutes.

  3. 3. Rosemary Garlic Roasted Chicken Breasts

    Roasted chicken breasts get a bad rep for being dry and flavorless, but this recipe is juicy, flavorful, and simple to prep. Pro tip: they go REALLY well with the sweet potatoes!

    What You’ll Need: 

    1 package boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~ 3 chicken breasts)

    3 tbsp olive oil

    2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

    Salt (to taste)

    Pepper (to taste)

    Rosemary (about 1 ½ tbsp)

    Instructions:

    1.     Preheat oven to 375 °F.

    2.     Line a baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

    3.     Pat each chicken breast dry with a paper towel and season with salt, pepper, rosemary, and chopped garlic.

    4.     Bake for 30-35 mins or until internal temperature reaches 165 °F as indicated by a meat thermometer.

  4. 4. Maple Brussels Sprouts

    These brussels sprouts are crispy, crunchy, and dangerously good. The hint of maple syrup may seem bizarre, but I promise they’re just the right amount of sweet. Pair with any protein and healthy carb for the perfect weeknight meal!

    What You’ll Need:

    1 package (1.5 pounds) brussels sprouts (washed and cut in halves)  

    4 tbsp olive oil

    3 tbsp maple syrup

    1 tsp salt

    Instructions:

    1.     Preheat oven to 375 °F.

    2.     Line a baking dish or sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

    3.     Place brussels sprouts on baking sheet and combine with oil and spices.

    4.     Roast for 30 minutes.

    5.     Take out of oven and drizzle with maple syrup.

    6.     Roast for another 10-15 minutes.

  5. 5. Toasted Pecans

    Need a healthy snack on the go? Nuts are packed with protein and healthy fats that will keep you fueled and satiated. This recipe is inspired by the beloved Thanksgiving pecan pie. It uses butter, but for those of you who are dairy-free or allergic to dairy products, I’ve included a dairy free alternative. I recommend enjoying these on their own or in a salad. 

    Pro tip: You can buy nuts and other grains in the bulk bin section of your local grocery store; not only is this a sustainable option, but it also saves LOTS of money!

    What You’ll Need:

    4 cups raw pecans

    ½ cup butter (melted and at room temp) OR 4 tbsp olive oil

    1 tsp salt

    Instructions:

    1.     Preheat oven to 375 °F.

    2.     Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    3.     Toss pecans with melted butter or oil and sprinkle with salt. 

    4.     Toast for 10 minutes.

So put on your aprons, gather your roommates, and turn on the oven! With these five recipes, I hope to inspire and indulge your fall feasts!