Having a good meal prep strategy can help you lose weight. A study shows that people who take time to prep meals have healthier eating habits.1
Unfortunately, most of us are caught up with work, school, or family and don’t have time to prep meals. So, eating in restaurants or ordering food is the only option.
Gladly, you can eat healthy without spending too much time cooking, if you prep your meals ahead of time. In fact, if done right, meal prepping can save you money. Frankly, one needs more than healthy dinner ideas to eat healthy. So, I’ve come up with tips that will help you prep meals with ease.
Here you go – 18 meal prep tips for weight loss:
1. Make A Meal Plan
This is the first thing you should do before you buy food. It’ll help you know what to cook and when to cook it. The meal plan should guide you when making a grocery shopping list. Going shopping without a shopping list can lead to impulse buys of unhealthy foods. You don’t have to come up with a new meal plan every other week. Use the same meal plan for several weeks or months.
2. Buy Good-Quality Containers
Having containers makes it easy to store food – containers keep the food fresh and make it simple to remain organized. Buy containers which are BPA-free to ensure they don’t melt in the oven – use glass or Tupperware containers. To avoid confusion and overeating, get containers of the same sizes and shapes.
3. Start Slow: Prep Meals For 2–3 Days
Meal prepping is supposed to make life easier. But, that doesn’t mean you should prep weekly meals. Things will backfire if you try to prep food once a week without prior experience. Start slow by prepping meals for 2–3 days. By doing this, you’ll be able to learn what works and what doesn’t. And if you make mistakes, they won’t be too costly.
Some folks prep dinner meals only, while other prep all meals. Prep the meals you always lack time to cook in advance. Once you have prepped meals for a while, you can try cooking weekly meals.
4. Purchase A Food Scale
It’s not always necessary to count calories in order to lose weight. But if you’re not good at estimating calories or you have a tendency of overeating, a food scale will be a great tool for you. In fact, this won’t be hectic since you only have to weigh portions once or twice a week.
It’s worth noting that studies show that most dieters underestimate the number of calories they consume. So, get a scale if you don’t have an estimate of the number of calories you consume.
5. Don’t Try New Recipes
It’s not a good idea to try new recipes when cooking a lot of food. It’ll be a time-killer and the whole meal can backfire. Stick to the recipes you already know how to prepare. Frankly, you don’t need to eat a wide variety of foods to stay healthy.
6. Chop Vegetables Ahead Of Time
Meal prepping doesn’t entail cooking alone. Chopping vegetables and fruits in advance can save you time. If you usually forget to eat your veggies, this approach will be helpful. Chop them and put them in containers – and when it’s time to cook you just throw them in the pan.
7. Prepare The Complicated Recipes First
The order in which you’ll prepare foods will make a huge difference. Cook the complicated recipes at the start of the week (preferably Sunday afternoon), then prep the simple recipes mid-week. You may get caught up or be too busy to prep complicated recipes in the middle of the week.
And I advice that you use the same strategy when training. Do the most challenging exercises first, then finish your workout with simpler exercises.
8. Store Healthy Snacks In The House
Eating snacks helps control cravings and hunger when dieting. But, most folks store unhealthy snacks in the house which encourages binge eating. So, keep only healthy snacks in the house. This could be foods like eggs, fruits, nuts, and veggies. Put the snacks in containers – research shows that people overeat snacks when they eat them straight from the bag.
9. Don’t Have The “All Or Nothing Mentality”
It may not be possible to prep meals all the time, but prep them when you can. Don’t assume there’s no need of doing it if you can’t do it all the time. Prepping meals occasionally is better than not prepping at all. And as you continue prepping meals, you’ll discover easy and quick ways to do it.
10. Buy Healthy Condiments
Eating healthy doesn’t mean eating boring and tasteless food. You can make healthy and delicious food without adding unhealthy spices. Use healthy condiments like fresh ginger, olive oil, and lemon to prepare meals. Your food will be delicious, and you’ll be encouraged to prep meals regularly.
11. Put Lunch Salads In A Glass Jar
Most people think carrying salad to work is a bad idea because it’ll get mushy. But if you use a glass jar, the veggies can stay fresh for long. Put the dressings at the bottom of the jar, then layer them with vegetables like peppers, beets and then put the leafy greens for the top. Place a paper towel on top of the glass jar to absorb moisture if you’re storing the salad for a couple of days.
12. Roast Different Veggies Together
Some vegetables have the same cooking time. Instead of roasting each vegetable at a time, roast them together to save time. Veggies that you can cook together include potatoes, cauliflower, parsnips, carrots, and onions. Fast-cooking veggies you can prepare together include mushrooms, tomatoes, and asparagus.
13. Prep Freezer-Friendly Foods
You can freeze any foods, but some meals become mushy. So, when prepping meals for several days, cook foods which freeze and reheat easily. Soups, chicken, turkey meatballs, and stews are a good fit. You’ll just need to heat the food for a few minutes and you have yourself a healthy meal.
14. Keep Leftovers In The Fridge
Some people find leftovers unappealing, but they can help you eat healthier and save time. Just put them in a container and store them in the fridge. Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator up to 4 days without going bad.
15. Make Lunch The Night Before
Some folks may not feel the need to prep meals for several days. If that’s you, making lunch the night before hand is a good idea. In fact, this will work well for someone without a refrigerator. But be sure to warm the food in the morning to keep it fresh.
16. Organize Food In The Refrigerator
The refrigerator has different compartments which have different temperatures and serve different purposes.
The door is the warmest part of the fridge, so place in it foods that don’t spoil quickly. Place cooked foods on the top shelves of the fridge.
The lower shelves are the coldest so place foods which need to be cooked there. You can store a wide variety of foods in the freezer, just pack the foods tightly in containers and keep them well-organized. Here are a few tips on how to refrigerate foods.
17. Hard-Boil Eggs Using The Oven
Eggs are among the healthiest foods in the world, so they should be part of your diet. But, the pot limits the number of eggs you can boil at a time. Use an oven to cook a dozen eggs at once. Make sure you test the heat of the oven before you cook a dozen eggs. If the oven is too hot or too cold, it could mess things up.
18. Meal Ideas
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Overnight oats
- Greek yoghurt
- Fruits – banana, apple, pears, and so on
- Sweet potato
- Nuts – almonds
- Veggies – the chopped veggies will come in handy here
- The glass-jar salad
- Whole wheat pasta
- Veggies – spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, kale, and so on.
- Ground turkey
It’s hard to eat healthy if you don’t cook your own meals. So, use these meal prepping tips to cook meals in advance. Realize that all meal prepping ideas won’t work for you. Just find what works for you and stick to it. Once you put these ideas in action, you’ll have more time to exercise.
Do you have any meal prepping ideas that have worked for you?
|↑1||Monsivais, Pablo, Anju Aggarwal, and Adam Drewnowski. “Time spent on home food preparation and indicators of healthy eating.” American journal of preventive medicine 47, no. 6 (2014): 796-802.|