Make It and Save

5 easy chicken meals you can prep for the week that will save you time and money

Making more of your own food can save you big in the long run. It helped one millennial pay off more than $70,000 in loans and become a millionaire by 35.

That said, preparing lunch or dinner every day costs you something else: time. But while cooking can be a big time suck, with the right strategies, it doesn't have to be.

By meal prepping on Sundays, you won't even have to think about cooking during the work week. Plus, you'll be less inclined to blow your budget on takeout when your dinners are ready and waiting for you in the fridge.

For inspiration, here are five quick and easy meal-prep chicken recipes, provided by Tasty.

1. Meal-prep garlic chicken and veggie pasta

Ingredients for four servings:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb chicken breast, diced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced
  • 4 cups kale, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups whole grain whole wheat rotini pasta, cooked al dente according to package instructions
  • 2 teaspoons oregano, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons pepper, divided

Preparation:

  1. Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat.
  2. Add in diced chicken breast, followed by 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon oregano. Cook until no longer pink. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
  3. Add carrots to skillet and sauté for 2-3 minutes until tender.
  4. Add in zucchini and yellow squash, and sauté for an additional minute until they become slightly translucent.
  5. Add in the kale, followed by 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Sauté until kale begins to wilt.
  6. Move veggies aside with spatula and add in garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds and then combine with the veggies. (This works best if you add garlic to the center of the skillet where there is more heat.)
  7. Add in the cooked rotini pasta and chicken, followed by 1 teaspoon oregano and mix until evenly incorporated. Remove skillet from heat.
  8. If using plastic tupperware for your weekday meal prep, allow pasta to cool for about 10 minutes before filling the containers. Refrigerate up to 4 days.
  9. Or serve immediately for a family dinner.

2. Meal-prep pesto chicken pasta

Ingredients for four servings:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 lb large chicken breast, cooked and diced
  • 2 cups asparagus, cut into 1 1/2-in/38-mm pieces
  • 10 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ⅔ cup pesto
  • 2 cups whole wheat penne, measured dry
  • parsley, for garnish

Preparation:

  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Toss in the asparagus, season with a bit of salt and sautée until the begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
  2. Pour on the pesto, pasta and chicken and stir to combine.
  3. Toss in the cherry tomatoes and give everything a stir to combine and warm through.
  4. Distribute pasta mixture evenly between 4 tupperware containers.
  5. Top with parsley for garnish.
  6. Can be refrigerated up to 4 days.

3. One-pan chicken and veggie meal prep

Ingredients for four servings:

  • ½ sweet potato
  • ½ lb brussels sprout
  • 1 carrot
  • ½ head broccoli
  • 1 ½ lb chicken breast
  • olive oil, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚F (220˚C).
  2. Cut vegetables. Place each in a separate corner of a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
  3. NOTE: Broccoli and Brussels sprouts cook faster; keep the cuts thicker for those. Sweet potato and carrots take more time; dice them or cut them thinner.
  4. Season veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme and garlic.
  5. Season both sides of the chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper and the remaining rosemary, thyme and garlic over parchment paper.
  6. Seal parchment paper to keep chicken moist, and place on the center of the baking pan.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until chicken is fully cooked and veggies are done to your liking.
  8. This meal works great with brown rice, so feel free to add some to your meal prep as well.
  9. Unwrap and slice the chicken.
  10. Separate veggies into each tupperware with chicken.
  11. NOTE: If using plastic tupperware, allow food to cool down first.
  12. Can be refrigerated up to 4 days.

4. Meal-prep pesto chicken and veggies

Ingredients for four servings:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, sliced
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb green bean
  • 2 cups cherry tomato, halved
  • ½ cup basil pesto

Preparation:

  1. In a large pan, heat olive oil and add chicken thighs.
  2. Season with salt and pepper. When the chicken is completely cooked through, remove from pan.
  3. Slice into strips and set aside.
  4. Add green beans and cook until crisp and tender.
  5. Return the chicken strips to the pan, then add tomatoes and pesto. Stir until fully incorporated.
  6. Divide into four food storage containers and store in the refrigerator.
  7. Or serve immediately!
  8. NOTE: Can be kept refrigerated for up to four days.

5. One-pan teriyaki chicken meal prep

Ingredients for four servings:

  • ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • ½ tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 3 skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup broccoli floret
  • 1 cup baby carrot
  • 1 cup green bean, trimmed
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • sesame seed, for garnish
  • green onion, for garnish

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400º F (200ºC).
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, whisk together soy sauce, water, garlic, cornstarch and honey. Allow sauce to begin bubbling and then stir until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
  3. Spoon a little of the teriyaki sauce onto the center of a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Lay chicken on top of sauce. Lay bell pepper, broccoli, green beans and carrots out on either side of the chicken.
  4. Season vegetables and chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Coat everything well with teriyaki sauce.
  5. Bake 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.
  6. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool. Slice chicken into strips.
  7. Distribute chicken and vegetables evenly between four Tupperware containers, separating vegetables for four different dishes, if desired.
  8. Drizzle remaining sauce over chicken and garnish with sesame seeds and green onion.
  9. Refrigerate up to four days.

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is a minority investor in BuzzFeed, the parent company of Tasty.

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