These Meal Prep Unstuffed Pepper Bowls are loaded with stuffed pepper flavors and packed with veggies like zucchini, onion, tomatoes, and bell peppers! Pair with your fave rice or side for the perfect make-ahead lunch!
It’s almost Fall, and while I’m all about comfort foods and crockpot meals, I also want to save time and create meal prep friendly foods that don’t require a knife to eat!
Another goal with this meal prep dish – all the flavors and comfort of stuffed peppers, without spending time actually stuffing the peppers. It’s got more of a stir fry/big bowl of comfort vibe going on, and I hope you like it 🙂
Why I love these Meal Prep Unstuffed Pepper Bowls:
These Unstuffed Pepper Bowls were a hit in my house and I’m thoroughly loving this recipe. Here’s why:
- So easy to eat, no knife required
- Loaded with veggies but it doesn’t really feel like it
- Tastes great as leftovers
- No complicated ingredients
- Sloppy joe vibes but still very different
Where do Stuffed Peppers come from originally?
Stuffed peppers actually seem to be a super common dish in lots of cuisines, with the main roots being in Spain and India. Ingredients and type of pepper being stuffed is highly dependent on the region. Here’s a more comprehensive guide on stuffed peppers from various cultures – Stuffed Peppers Through Time and Space from The Cookful.
This recipe is based on the North American version made with multiple colors of halved or hollowed out bell peppers stuffed with ground beef, rice, tomatoes, and more.
The first time I ever personally had stuffed peppers was when my husband made them for meal prep in a crockpot in his apartment. I remember being pretty impressed, but it also seemed like a lot of work.
For this recipe, to save time and make it more meal prep friendly, I ‘unstuffed’ the peppers, meaning the filling and bell peppers are all diced up and mixed together. I prefer to serve rice on the side and mix it in as I eat!
What are the ingredients in these Meal Prep Unstuffed Pepper Bowls?
The ingredients for this dish are super common and you might already have most of them on hand! Here’s what we’ve got:
- ground beef – This recipe uses 85% lean ground beef. Yes, you can use ground turkey or ground beef with less fat, but you will be sacrificing some flavor! I always use grass-fed beef from my Butcherbox meat delivery service .
- bell peppers – Bell peppers are the star of this show and definitely required. Pick your favorite colors. I like a combo of two green and one red for this recipe.
- onion & garlic – Yes to my favorite flavor backbones of nearly any meal I cook. If you don’t have onion or garlic, you can sub with garlic powder or onion powder.
- zucchini – It’s still zucchini season around here and I love how well it blends in with the rest of the dish, adding more veggies, moisture and bulk.
- tomato sauce & diced tomatoes – I’ve used both tomato sauce and diced tomatoes to give this dish a sloppy joe effect and keep it nice and saucy.
- worcestershire sauce – Required for that stuffed peppers/sloppy joe/saucy flavor kick you know and love from the condiment nobody can pronounce.
- fine sea salt & fresh ground black pepper – Add sea salt and fresh ground black pepper while cooking and season at the end to your tastes.
- shredded cheese – Cover in your fave shredded cheese! I like mozzarella or pepper jack for this recipe.
- rice of choice & cooking liquid – For this kind of meal prep, you can use any kind of rice you prefer. I like to use jasmine rice cooked in broth (homemade if I have it) made in my Instant Pot (here’s my favorite Instant Pot Rice guide!)
How do you make these Meal Prep Unstuffed Pepper Bowls?
To make this recipe, start by getting your rice going, so that it’s done at the same time as the rest of the dish. You can make your favorite kind of rice in your favorite method – for this dish, it’s up to you.
After prepping all the veggies, it’s time to start cooking. Begin by cooking the ground beef over medium heat until it’s nearly cooked through. Don’t worry, it’ll finish cooking with the veggies.
Next, we’ll add the peppers and onions and let them cook for a few minutes until they’re beginning to soften. Then, add the zucchini and garlic. These take less time to cook than the peppers and onions, so they’re added a little later.
After that, add the remaining ingredients except the cheese. That includes the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, and salt & pepper to season. Let everything get bubbly and simmery for 3-4 more minutes and there you go!
Cheese can be added before or after portioning with rice for meal prep or serving immediately.
How do you meal prep this recipe?
To meal prep this recipe, simply cook up the Unstuffed Pepper skillet as well as your chosen rice, and store in the fridge in airtight containers until you’re ready to eat it.
You can keep everything in one container, or portion your meals into meal prep containers before storing in the fridge.
Can I use ground turkey instead of ground beef?
Yes, you can use ground turkey instead of ground beef in this recipe. Note that ground turkey generally has a lot less fat than ground beef, so the final result may be slightly less flavorful than using ground beef as written in the recipe.
Alternative customization ideas:
Customize this recipe as much as you’d like! Here are some ideas for you:
- Add other veggies, swap out the zucchini, etc (keep the peppers)
- Use your favorite cheese and rice
- Added corn & beans for southwest vibes
- Fire roasted tomatoes or homegrown diced tomatoes
Where do you get those meal prep containers?
I always recommend glass containers for storing your food. Here are some options for this meal:
- 2 Compartment Glass Meal Prep Containers – These are pictured in this post. The brand is Prep Naturals and I love their 2 and 3 compartment containers! If you don’t want your foods to touch until you eat them, these are the containers for you.
- 4-cup Pyrex Round Glass Containers – I love Pyrex and I have several of these containers. However, the lids are slightly inferior and will rip after a couple years of continued use. Still love the glass containers though!
- Pyrex 3-cup Rectangular Glass Containers – Another Pyrex option I own, just a different shape 🙂 Obviously this is a 1 compartment container, so your food will touch!
See all my meal prep container recommendations here!
Is this recipe freezer-friendly?
Yes! You can freeze these meals in airtight freezer safe containers. Remove from the freezer the night before eating and then reheat normally, or defrost slowly in the microwave before eating.
How to store, freeze & reheat:
Store in the fridge: Store meal prep meals in airtight containers in the fridge and enjoy within 4 days.
Store in the freezer: Store meal prep meals (or meat mixture only) in airtight containers in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Reheat: Reheat cold meal prep in the microwave loosely covered for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Thaw frozen meal prep overnight before eating and then reheat normally, or defrost slowly in the microwave.
These Meal Prep Unstuffed Pepper Bowls are loaded with flavor and packed with veggies like zucchini, onion, tomatoes, and peppers, of course! Pair with your fave rice or other side for the perfect make-ahead lunch!
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice of choice + cooking liquid
- 1 pound 85% lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
- 1 teaspoon each fine sea salt & fresh ground black pepper
- 2 green bell peppers, finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small zucchini, quartered and sliced
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, extra liquid drained
- 3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- salt & pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella or pepper jack cheese
- Cook rice: Prepare your preferred rice according to package directions in water or broth (I generally make jasmine rice with chicken broth in my Instant Pot).
- Cook the meat: Place a large deep non-stick skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add ground beef, salt and pepper. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to break the meat into small pieces as it cooks. Cook the meat for about 4-5 minutes or until just barely cooked through, stirring occasionally.
- Add the veggies: While the meat continues to cook, add the peppers and onions to the same pan and cook until beginning to soften, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and zucchini, and cook for another 2 minutes. Finally, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, along with salt & pepper to season. Reduce heat to low and cook for 3-4 minutes, letting it simmer and bubble, stirring occasionally. If serving immediately, add cheese and cover for 90 seconds to melt. If meal prepping, add cheese to individual containers to more easily control portioning.
- Meal prep it: Add about 1/2 cup or so cooked rice to each of four meal prep containers. Portion the unstuffed pepper mixture into each meal prep container and add a heavy sprinkle of cheese. Store for up to four days in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in the freezer.
Zucchini is optional – I added it because it’s zucchini season and veggies are good for you! Skip the zucchini to reduce volume and keep this recipe at 4 servings.
Adapted from Stuffed Bell Peppers from Food Network. Nutrition information estimated with My Fitness Pal.
- Serving Size: 1 meal prep bowl
- Calories: 645
- Sugar: 11g
- Fat: 22g
- Carbohydrates: 77g
- Fiber: 7g
- Protein: 32g