A High-Protein Meal Plan to Get You Through the Whole Week

With veggie options, too

high protein meal plan: triptych image of morning soft serve, sheet pan chicken and sheet pan gnocchi
Julia Gartland/Colin Price/Jessica Merchant

If you’re trying to add more protein to your diet, more power to you—after all, research shows that it can regulate blood sugar levels and reduce bone loss as you age (not to mention it’s essential for muscle growth and sustained energy). But you still have to figure out what you’re having for breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day—and that’s no small feat. Lucky for you, that’s where this high-protein meal plan comes in to help.

How Much Protein Should You Eat Every Day?

The exact amount of protein you need will vary based on your age, activity level and health goals, but according to the FDA, women should generally aim for 46 grams of protein a day, while men should consume 56 grams per day. Why? Because the benefits of protein are myriad, including:

That said, here are 21 recipes—one breakfast, lunch and dinner for every day of the week—to kick-start your high-protein meal plan. (Each one packs at least 12 grams of protein, so you can easily hit the FDA’s recommendations.) Are you ready for Instant Pot salmon, sheet pan gnocchi and morning soft serve?

Monday Breakfast: Overnight Oats with Blueberries and Almonds

  • Time Commitment: 8 hours, 5 minutes
  • Why I Love It: make ahead, <10 ingredients, no cook, vegetarian
  • Protein Content: 20g

With a whopping 20 grams of protein, this make-ahead breakfast will satisfy you in a way a handful of cereal could never. As for toppings, fresh fruit is a given. Use a blend of berries if they’re in season, or whatever flavors you prefer (like pineapple and mango for a tropical vibe).

Monday Lunch: 20-Minute Egg Roll in a Bowl

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, paleo-friendly, gluten free, dairy free
  • Protein Content: 21g

What’s an egg roll in a bowl? Oh, just the saucy, savory interior of your favorite Chinese takeout finger food, minus the outer shell. While this dish calls for ground pork, you could substitute ground turkey or chicken and still get the protein. If you use tamari instead of soy sauce, the bowl will be gluten-free, too.

Monday Dinner: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Blue Cheese Crema

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 35 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, low sugar, high fiber
  • Protein Content: 17g

Just because you’re upping your protein intake doesn’t mean every meal has to be a meat-fest. These sweet potato and black bean tacos are filling and plant-based, with 17 grams of protein per serving. If you don’t like blue cheese, you can use cotija in the dipping sauce instead.

Tuesday Breakfast: Breakfast Caprese with Soft-Boiled Eggs

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, low sugar
  • Protein Content: 26g

Why is breakfast either a frozen waffle or a 20-ingredient affair that’s unattainable on a weekday? This option strikes a balance between nutritious and low effort. The whole dish has 26 grams of protein and only 7 grams of carbs, unless you decide serve it with a side of whole wheat sourdough (highly recommend).

Tuesday Lunch: 10-Minute Macaroni and Cheese in a Mug

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <15 minutes, vegetarian, <10 ingredients
  • Protein Content: 29g

If you’re pressed for time and don’t want to make an entire batch of homemade mac and cheese, this is the solution. In just ten minutes you can have a version that’s even better than the kind from a box but just as easy to mix up.

Tuesday Dinner: One-Pot, 15-Minute Pasta Limone

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, vegetarian
  • Protein Content: 22g

Looking for proof that dinner doesn’t have to require a trip to the store or an overflowing pantry? Look no further. This pasta is like dinner in your back pocket: You likely have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already, and it comes together less time than an episode ofCurb Your Enthusiasm.

high protein meal plan: mini spanish tortilla with zucchini

Wednesday Breakfast: Mini Spanish Tortilla with Zucchini

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, low sugar, beginner-friendly
  • Protein Content: 34g

While this recipe is meant as a single-serve meal, it’s large enough that you could split it and still be satisfied. (Or, if you want to save half for later, it can be reheated in a skillet until warmed through.) If you want to swap out the zucchini, try eggplant or simply double the amount of potatoes.

Wednesday Lunch: Italian Deli Pinwheel Sandwiches

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly, low sugar, make ahead
  • Protein Content: 41g

Think cold cuts, but finger-friendly. The recipe calls for salami, pepperoni and prosciutto, but any Italian meat would be equally delicious (like soppressata or mortadella). Don’t like kale? Use spinach or another leafy green.

Wednesday Dinner: Instant Pot Coconut Salmon with Fresh Herbs and Lime

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: Instant Pot recipe, <30 minutes, gluten free, dairy free
  • Protein Content: 37g

Instant Pot fish? Yes, it’s a thing, and it’s kinda ingenious. Steam-poaching the fish in coconut milk keeps it moist and gives it a jolt of flavor. To make this a full one-pot meal, toss in about 12 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms or snap peas alongside the salmon.

Thursday Breakfast: Cucumber Breakfast Salad with Jammy Eggs

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, low sugar
  • Protein Content: 18g

With a swipe of creamy, protein-rich Greek yogurt and a handful of avocado, this a.m. “salad” isn’t that far off from a savory breakfast bowl. It’s also great with served with a slice of sourdough or pita for dipping into the yogurt.

Thursday Lunch: Quick Guacamole Quinoa Salad

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegan, gluten free, <30 minutes
  • Protein Content: 15g

Thanks to black beans and quinoa, this fast meal is surprisingly high in protein for being vegan. If you have leftover quinoa, it can be ready even quicker (or swap in another grain, like farro or rice).

Thursday Dinner: Honey Mustard Sheet-Pan Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: sheet pan recipe, low carb, beginner-friendly
  • Protein Content: 31g

If your dinner checklist includes things like “fast,” “easy” and “minimal cleanup” in addition to “high in protein,” this meal will quickly become your go-to. Everything cooks on one pan, and the honey mustard gets all saucy and coats the Brussels sprouts—yum.

Friday Breakfast: Morning Soft Serve

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <15 minutes, no cook,<10 ingredients, vegetarian
  • Protein Content: 12g

Newsflash, not every high-protein breakfast has to include eggs. While this banana-based ice cream isn’t quite as protein-heavy as other options, you can add more by topping it with nuts, nut butter or granola (or all three).

Friday Lunch: Curried Chicken and Kale Salad with Creamy Harissa

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: gluten free,keto-friendly
  • Protein Content: 50g

Another kale Caesar? Not today. Instead, try making the components for this super-flavorful salad—which is low-carb and gluten-free—ahead of time, then assembling as needing (aka when your stomach starts to growl at 11:30).

Friday Dinner: Spicy Bucatini Amatriciana

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, <500 calories
  • Protein Content: 17g

The traditional Italian version of this spicy pasta dish uses guanciale, which is a salt-cured cut of pork jowl. It’s tasty enough to seek out at an Italian grocery, but it’s admittedly hard to find. Go ahead and substitute with pancetta (or even bacon) in a pinch. Bucatini is our favorite pasta shape for its chewy bite, but spaghetti works too.

Saturday Breakfast: Chilaquiles with Poached Eggs and Spicy Honey

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: one pan, special occasion–worthy, gluten free
  • Protein Content: 32g

Can’t decide between sweet or savory breakfast? Good news: You don’t have to. This riff on the Mexican egg and tortilla dish is drizzled with honey for just enough sweetness—use spicy honey if you want to add more heat.

Saturday Lunch: 15-Minute Cheater’s Pad Thai

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: low sugar, <15 minutes
  • Protein Content: 34g

Surely you have 15 minutes on a Saturday to make a homemade rendition of this takeout fave? It doesn’t have tofu like the traditional version, but if you want to increase the protein factor, you could add it back in.

Saturday Dinner: Lemongrass-Ginger Coconut Grilled Steak

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Why I Love It: gluten free, dairy free, crowd-pleaser, low carb
  • Protein Content: 40g

Fire up the coals, because your high-protein meal plan includes this Thai-inspired steak, which is marinated in coconut milk and fish sauce for maximum flavor. Cutting the skirt steak against the grain is very important to make your eating experience pleasant, otherwise the meat will be too tough to chew.

Sunday Breakfast: Salted Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why I Love It: no cook, <10 minutes, vegetarian
  • Protein Content: 22g

This smoothie tastes more like a milkshake than a nutritious breakfast, but it happens to sneak 22 grams of protein into your Sunday. If you don’t like protein powder (same), try adding more peanut butter instead.

Sunday Lunch: Oven-Baked Hot Honey Chicken Tenders

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: kid-friendly, low fat, beginner-friendly
  • Protein Content: 44g

These adult-friendly chicken tenders are sweet, spicy and crispy, but baked instead of fried for less oil (and less mess). If you want, serve them on top of a bed of lettuce for a salad-like experience.

Sunday Dinner: Sheet Pan Tomato Basil Gnocchi

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, sheet pan recipe, kid-friendly
  • Protein Content: 15g

Bet you never thought to cook pasta on a sheet pan. Store-bought gnocchi get crisp on the outside and pillowy on the inside, while the tomatoes burst and make their own sauce. To make the meal ahead, prepare the pesto and grate the cheese in advance (and store everything in the fridge until dinnertime).


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...