The famous expression, failing to plan is planning to fail, couldn’t be more relevant when you meal prep. If weight loss is your ultimate goal, you need to meal prep to hit your targets. This means creating nutritious, filling meals that still create a calorie deficit so you can safely lose the pounds.
Most people agonize over meal prep, feeling that it’ll be very time-consuming and complicated. The truth, however, is that you don’t need to be a master chef to make it happen. Anyone can tailor their meal plans and use their skill level to prepare simple, healthy meals for weight loss.
Meal preparation is just like your diet, which is highly personal. If you intend to lose weight, tweaking your diet plays a big part, just like exercise.
It’s common knowledge that when it comes to losing weight, although exercising helps, it’s mostly about what you eat. Let’s review the basics of meal prep for weight loss to help set you up for success.
Write Down Your Game Plan
Sticking to a diet is easier said than done, but it’s much easier when you meal prep. According to the World Health Organization, 39% of adults in the world are obese. Many start dieting, yet give up after a few days. Others aren’t organized enough to meal prep or plan their meals in advance, which is a big reason why they can’t stick to their diet.
If you don’t want to fall off the wagon and your goal is to consistently eat nutritious dishes that promote weight loss, meal prep is the key. Preparing your meals ahead of time helps you stay consistent, even during stressful times wherein you feel too lazy to cook.
Imagine having no food in the fridge, no meal prep meals prepared, and realizing you’re starving. It’s likely that you’d end up ordering fast food, because you didn’t have a healthy meal ready to go.
Write down your game plan (either in a notebook or a smartphone app) so that you can have accountability. Besides, seeing things in black and white will show you what to prepare, and remind you of why you are doing it. It would help to write down the following:
- Type of meals you want to cook
- Dishes you’re good at preparing or know how to make
- Chart your meals and the time in a calendar
Keeping track of everything will also give you a food journal to look back on. This will help you think of variety during the times you lack inspiration. Creating a clear plan will ensure you don’t heat haphazardly, preventing you from making bad, hunger-based food choices. Putting in designated meal times, along with the dish, will help you stick with your diet. This curtails unwanted snacking, helping you reduce your flabs and stay healthier.
Stay on Track With a Grocery List
Once you figure out what and when you will eat, it’s time to hit the grocery store. Many fitness experts say that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. No matter what workout you do, if you don’t track what goes in your mouth, you will not see the scale go down. After all, no one can outrun a bad diet.
Creating a grocery list assures you stick with the meal plans you’ve charted out ahead. Make sure that your list contains nutritious ingredients that you’ll be using to cook your meals. A list can help with the following:
- Prevent impulse buying
- Avoid confusion while shopping
- Cut down on costs as you buy what you need
- Taper down temptations
As you make a list, make sure you stick to organic, whole foods with plenty of variety to meet your body’s nutritional requirements. Load up on good carbohydrates mostly found in veggies and fruits. The bulk of your diet should consist of this.
Moreover, stick with low glycemic index grains like quinoa, farro, or brown rice to keep your blood sugar in check and cut out your carvings. As for protein, stick to lean ones and steer clear from fatty cuts.
Sticking to a nutritious grocery list will help you lose weight while maintaining a balanced diet. Many argue that they cannot stick with healthy eating because it is expensive. However, making your own food will always be cheaper and healthier than buying take-out. Check out these grocery hacks to keep your budget from going haywire:
- Mix and match ingredients and choose versatile ones that will work with multiple recipes.
- Check out sales and stock up on non-perishables like grains, dried beans, or even frozen veggies.
- Swap pricey items for affordable ones like brown rice instead of quinoa or cranberries for goji berries.
- Buy what you can safely consume for the week to reduce food waste.
Stick with a Designated Meal Prep Day to Stay Organized
You must schedule your meal prep within the week, picking a consistent day. You can do it once or twice a week, depending on your schedule. Usually, people stick to weekends because they’re off from work and have ample time to get things done.
To help you out, you can do the majority of the prep work after you go grocery shopping. This strategy saves time because you can clean, chop, cook, and pack away your groceries in the appropriate containers. You will also have time to assemble and label your food, then stack them neatly in the fridge. This organizing trick makes it easy to find what you need during the week.
Chopping veggies and fruits ahead mean you can also easily cook in the middle of the week if you want to. This strategy will cut your cooking time by half. And every second matters, especially when you’re tired from work.
Slicing ahead based on your recipe requirements and storing them in relevant portions also encourages you to eat more salads and fruits. Having things ready to grab and go gives you healthy options when hunger strikes.
Smart Choices and Sensible Portions
Studies show that losing weight is all about the calories you eat and burn. If you want to see your weight go down, you need to create a deficit. However, this doesn’t mean going hungry with extremely small meals that don’t fill you up. You just need to make smarter food choices because there are many filling food items that are not loaded with calories and fat.
For example, you can eat a healthy avocado toast with egg for breakfast, chicken quinoa for lunch, and zucchini noodles with lean beef and mushrooms for dinner. You can even make room for fruits and veggies for snacks. All of these will make you feel full and still help you achieve your weight loss goals.
With meal prep, you can enjoy delicious and healthy dishes, which make you feel satisfied after each meal. This prevents you from feeling deprived and overindulging at your next meal. To help you out, you can use a food tracking up coupled with a food scale for accurate calorie counting.
It would also help to invest in good quality storage containers because they help with serving the right portions and deter binge eating. Choose the following containers:
- BPA free plastic
- Airtight to prevent contamination
- Fridge-safe to keep food fresh and retain nutrients
- Microwave-friendly for easy heating
Make sure you have several sized containers for main meals and snacks. Little containers are great for individual snack servings. These are even mobile enough to keep in your purse for healthy treats while you’re on the go. Never underestimate the power of storage as they keep your mouth in check with the right portions, and they keep your food fresh.
Recipes to Keep in Mind for Meal Prep
The idea of meal prep is very simple, but some people have crumbled in the execution because they didn’t have the right strategy. Once you know the meals you want to include, you must also be realistic. Assess your cooking level and skills in the kitchen. If you’re a culinary newbie, stick with simple recipes or quick-cook meals like salads, sandwiches, simple kinds of pasta, and easy stir-fries.
It would also help to tackle your weakness head-on. What time of day do your cravings hit? Then, you must have healthy alternatives ready to quell your hunger, like roasted almonds or a protein bar.
Moreover, assess what meals need the most attention. For example, if you usually eat take-out every night but do well with healthy cafeteria salads, then you may want to focus your meal prep on dinner meals.
Here are some healthy meal ideas to consider when you meal prep:
- Overnight oats
- Hard-boiled eggs with wholewheat toast
- Egg white frittata with spinach and mushrooms
- Greek yogurt with fruits and nuts parfait
- Healthy salmon chowder with low-fat dairy
- Stir-fried veggies with lean protein
- Whole grain pasta aglio olio (portion controlled)
- Tuna and pesto multigrain toast
- Salmon cakes with sweet potato
- Lean crockpot pulled pork with BBQ sauce
- Baked chicken and veggies with quinoa
- Butternut squash and shrimp pad thai
Lose Weight While Feeling Satisfied
Losing weight doesn’t have to feel like a punishment. You can safely cut the calories without depriving yourself. With meal preparation, you can take control of your diet and make sure you consume nutritious food that will help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Having a plan, prepping food, and having containers on hand will prevent you from making poor choices. Besides, meal prep can help you reduce your food spending and lower the stress levels that come with cutting calories because you know you have healthy food on hand.
Dieting can make you feel tense and overwhelmed. Most dieters say they can’t help but think about food all day long. This is where meal prep comes in handy because you identify your next meals and know that the food can reach your dietary goals. Meal prep keeps you from feeling burnt out and losing your willpower. Besides, solving your food decisions ahead eases up the mental stress and paves the way for more successful dieting and weight loss.
The right diet is definitely key to a happier and healthier life because what you eat impacts your health and overall wellness. Try the CircleDNA testing kit to find out the optimal diet type for you, based on your DNA, and receive unique diet and nutrition reports based on your genetics.