Macro-Friendly Pizza Chicken Penne Meal Prep Bowls
If you’re a human, chances are you like pizza and pasta. I’m willing to bet if you had pizza in one hand, and pasta in the other, you’d be a happy camper. Now, put your hands together…then put the contents of those hands into your mouth. Dreamy, right? I’ll take it one step further – imagine eating this cheesy, saucy concoction every day for a week! But wait! There’s more! What if I told you that you could enjoy this meaty mashup every day and totally hit your weight loss and fitness goals?! Think my Macro-Friendly Pizza Chicken Penne Meal Prep Bowls can achieve this feat?! Read on to find out!
Too Good to Be True?
I can see how one might think this pizza-pasta paradise is all pie in the sky (see what I did there?). Both pizza and pasta have gotten a bad rap in the weight loss world. They’re considered “forbidden fruits,” despite containing no fruit at all, unless you’re one of those weirdo Hawaiian pizza people.
I don’t know who needs to hear this right now, but they’re so not forbidden. So claw your way out of the diet from hell you’ve subjected yourself to, and back to the world of the living! Because a life without pizza and pasta is no life at all, my friend.
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Pizza is not the Enemy
With a little mindful moderation and some low-cal tweaks, both pizza and pasta have a place on your plate and in your belly, even when you’re on a weight loss journey. I’ve found homemade pizza to be an absolute protein bomb, which is a good thing regardless of your fitness goals. It’s “da” bomb, if you will. If you won’t, I understand, because that phrase just aged me. Protein helps grow and maintain muscle mass whether you’re in a calorie deficit or not. Unless you’re living with severe kidney issues, there is absolutely no downside to eating a crap-ton of protein – it’s basically impossible to eat too much of it. Need help boosting your protein intake? Give these protein bars a shot – you’ll think you’re eating a candy bar! I also love CHOMPS meat sticks for a quick, portable, high-protein snack!
RELATED POST: Go-To Protein Sources Found on my Shopping List
You can, however, run into problems by eating too many calories. For instance, weight gain and weight-related health issues. I’ve geared this delicious Pizza Chicken Penne Meal Prep Recipe to keep calories in check, protein on point, and your taste buds titillated.
Pizza and Pasta are Possible. Here’s How:
Healthy swaps and moderation make everything and anything possible when you’re trying to lose weight. Except for maybe ribs. I can’t fix ribs. Just eat one or practice abstinence. That’s all I got. But, pizza and pasta…I can fix those to fit your goals.
Here are some pizza ingredients and their lower-calorie alternatives:
Pepperoni = Turkey pepperoni
Italian Sausage = Lean/extra lean ground turkey seasoned with this spice mixture
Hamburger = Lean/extra lean ground beef
Pork Bacon = Turkey bacon
Mozzarella cheese = Low fat and/or fat free mozzarella cheese
Store bought or homemade crust = Greek yogurt pizza crust recipe, lavash wrap/pita, or low-carb wrap/tortilla
Ranch dressing = Bolthouse Farms Greek yogurt ranch dressing
Not a pizza topping, unless you remember Cici’s Mac n Cheese pizza, and it’s not any lower in calories, but high protein pasta like Barilla Protein+, or red lentil or chickpea pastas at least pack a bit more of a protein punch than regular pasta. You could always do zoodles for lower calories, but eh. IYKYK. I suggest adding veggies to your portion of pasta to amp up the nutrient content of your meal and make it more filling.
There are plenty of pizza toppings that don’t require swaps at all, like chicken, Canadian bacon, and veggies. It’s pretty easy to find a low-cal pizza or pasta sauce, as well. Coincidentally, this Chicken Pizza Penne Meal Prep Recipe calls for all of these things, plus some fat-free mozzarella, turkey pepperoni, and pork bacon (because as much as I’ve converted to healthier, lighter alternatives for basically any food you can imagine, I just cannot get on board with turkey bacon. I’d rather have 1 thin, scrawny slice of pork bacon than a quarter pound of turkey bacon).
RELATED POST: 3 Nutrition Tips You Need to Know for Weight Loss
Every ingredient must be approached with moderation in mind. Yes, even the veggies, although not to the same extent as the rest. Whether it’s meat, cheese, pasta, or a vegetable, it contains calories. Foods are made up of carbohydrates, protein, and/or fat, which all contain calories. Calories are king. Keep your calories within your own personal weight loss range, and you will lose weight. No ifs, ands, or buts. No carb-cutting, clean-eating, fat-bombing, or Paleo-izing necessary.
I cater my meals to fit my caloric needs and goals, while keeping them flavorful. Serving sizes on food packaging and labels are simply for informational purposes and, for many foods and ingredients, the listed serving size is more than what’s really necessary. You can experience a flavorful meal and health benefits for less than a suggested serving size.
So, my Chicken Pizza Penne Meal Prep Recipe doesn’t call for the suggested serving sizes of 2 ounces of pasta, 17 slices of pepperoni, 2 slices of bacon, 3 slices of Canadian bacon, ¼ cup of cheese, and ½ cup of pasta sauce. Sorry, not sorry. Don’t be greedy. But, my recipe is still a cheesy, saucy, meaty masterpiece. The moderation I actively plan and consciously practice is what makes pizza and pasta work for me and my fitness and nutrition goals. And it works beautifully.
What equipment do you need to make chicken pizza penne meal prep bowls?
Very little! Besides your grill, stove top, and oven, you just need a few basic kitchen items:
Food scale (optional, but recommended to really dial in your numbers!)
Do you have to grill the chicken?
No, you can easily dice up the raw, seasoned chicken and toss it in a skillet to cook through. Or you can bake it if you prefer. Your call!
How can you make meal prep faster & easier?
Chopping, dicing, slicing, sauteing, roasting, cooking, etc, etc, takes time! I get it. Not to mention the planning and grocery shopping before you even get started! THEN you’ve got the dreaded clean-up and dishes to contend with juuuuust when you think you’re done. Woo-wee! But, I have never ever regretting doing the work and taking the time. Because having a delicious, healthy, ready-to-go meal right when I need one? Priceless.
There ARE ways to make meal prep go more quickly and smoothly. Read 11 Tips to Make Meal Prep Easier and Meal Prep: Simplified! and learn how to save time and energy and make your meal prep efforts more efficient.
Pizza Chicken Penne Meal Prep Recipe
Please don’t be intimidated by the recipe. It might look like a lot at a glance, but I assure you it’s all simple ingredients and simple preparation steps. You probably already have most/all of the ingredient list sitting in your pantry, fridge, and/or freezer. And you’ll have a lot of irons in the fire at once, so to speak, as a lot of the prepping/cooking times of the ingredients will overlap. I promise. 😉
You’ll find the printable, pinnable recipe card below. I hope you love this pizza chicken penne meal prep as much as I do! I enjoy eating. It’s one of my favorite things to do, honestly. Food is fuel, yes. But it’s also damn fun to eat! And when you do things right, you can have your cake and eat it, too. Eating filling, nutritious food shouldn’t be torture. Eating junky, delicious food shouldn’t be off-limits. Find your balance and change your life! Your mindset and overall health will thank you!
Enjoy Food, Lose Weight
You can lose weight and reach your fitness goals eating allllll the things! I successfully dropped 30 pounds after having my 2nd child, and I’ve kept it off for the better part of 2 years now. And I haven’t cut a damn thing out of my diet completely. I’m an equal opportunity eater, and savor all the deliciousness I can get while supporting my fitness goals.
Find me on Instagram to see how I train and what I eat on a daily basis on my grid and in my stories.
Low-Cal Pizza Chicken Penne Bowls with Broccoli
- Meal Prep Containers
- Cookie Sheet
- Cutting Board
- Food Scale (optional)
For the Pasta:
- 4 servings penne pasta (typically 3 cups or 8 oz/448g)
- 16 oz frozen, steam-in-bag broccoli florets (any non-potato veggie will do really. Prepper's choice.)
For the Chicken:
- 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed (~28 oz trimmed)
- 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 4 slices bacon (~80 cal per 2 slices)
- 8 slices Canadian bacon
- 32 slices turkey pepperoni
- 1 whole yellow bell pepper, sliced
- 1 whole green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 sm-med red onion, sliced
- 2 large jalapeno peppers, sliced (optional)
- 3.8 oz canned sliced black olives, drained (optional)
- 8 oz fresh, sliced white mushrooms (optional)
- 24 oz jar marinara sauce (50 cal/serving)
- 1 cup fat free shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 servings jarred, sliced pepperoncini peppers
- crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F and heat up the grill.
- Note: You'll want to overlap your ingredients' cook times. Ex: start water boiling for pasta and microwaving broccoli while you trim the chicken breasts. While the pasta boils and the chicken is on the grill, fry the bacon on the stove while the Canadian bacon and pepperoni is crisping in the oven.
For the Chicken:
- Trim chicken breasts and fillet them open for faster grilling. Put trimmed, filleted breasts in a plastic bag with olive oil and oregano. Gently shake/smoosh around in bag to completely cover the meat with oil and seasoning. Grill until cooked through, approximately 10-12 min per side, and let rest.
For the Pasta:
- Cook penne per package instructions. Drain and divide evenly between 8 meal prep containers.
- Microwave broccoli per package instructions. Drain and divide evenly between 8 meal prep containers.
For the Pizza Toppings:
- Fry bacon. Lay cooked slices on a paper towel lined plate and let cool. Discard grease and wipe out your pan for later use.
- Lay Canadian bacon slices and pepperoni slices out on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and cook in preheated oven until slightly crispy. THIS IS OPTIONAL, THEY ARE BOTH PRE-COOKED MEATS, SO THIS IS ONLY TO CRISP THEM UP A BIT.
- Saute the sliced peppers, onion, jalapenos, and mushrooms in a spritz of cooking spray until tender-crisp. THIS IS OPTIONAL. If you're fine with raw veggies, just slice em and toss em into your meal prep bowls.
Put it all Together:
- Dice grilled chicken and bacon into bite-sized pieces, cut canadian bacon into quarters.
- Divide chicken evenly between the 8 meal-prep containers containing penne and broccoli. Top bowls evenly with bacon, Canadian bacon, pepperoni, and sauteed veggies (and sliced olives, if desired)
- Top each bowl with marinara sauce, dividing the jar evenly between the 8 containers. Finally, top with cheese, sliced pepperoncini peppers, and crushed red pepper flakes (if desired).
- Store in the fridge, and reheat in the microwave at mealtime.
Thanks for checking out my Pizza Chicken Penne Meal Prep Recipe! Other posts you might enjoy: