Cooking your own meals is one of the best ways to lose weight and improve your overall health. Packaged foods, takeout, and restaurant dishes often have hidden sugar and preservatives. Those ingredients can lead to weight gain, so it’s best to choose ingredients yourself. But who has time to meal prep for your weight loss plan?
If you have a few minutes every week, you do!
Meal-prepping seems intimidating (especially if you’re looking at Pinterest!). Stacks and stacks of fancy Tupperware containers, hours of work, tons of ingredients…it seems like way too much for one person to tackle.
Well, with these steps, meal-prepping is actually possible. All it takes is a little dedication and planning.
Set aside one day a week to cook several batches of healthy meals that you can eat throughout the week. When you have healthy meals ready to be eaten, you won’t be as tempted to go out for lunch or pick up takeout on your way home. Here’s how to meal prep for your weight loss plan.
1. Write down your goals
You’re much more likely to stick to your goals if you write them down. Plus, knowing your goals will help you choose what to eat. Working out a lot and want to build muscle? You need lots of protein. Trying to reduce your risk of diabetes? Prepare high-fiber meals. You can also try keeping a food journal to keep track of your progress.
2. Decide which meals to prep
Are you going to prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, or all of the above? Look at your schedule – when are you the busiest, or most likely to crave something unhealthy? Those are the meals you should focus on prepping. If you find you never have time to eat breakfast, keep Overnight Oats in the fridge. If you regularly stop for pizza on your way home from work, have homemade Guilt-Free Pizza waiting for you.
3. Choose a meal prep day
Make meal prep a habit. Choose a day of the week when you have a few hours to dedicate to cooking. Most people like to meal prep on Sundays, but choose a day that works for you. Schedule “meal prep” in your calendar every week so you don’t forget or bow out.
4. Choose recipes
The recipes you choose should reflect your goals. In general, every meal should have a balance of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. Load up on veggies, too! Avoid sugars, especially refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. Here are some clean ingredients to include in your meals:
Protein: Chicken, turkey, ground beef, steak, pork, salmon, tuna, shrimp, eggs, lentils, tofu, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas
Complex carbs: Whole grains (whole-wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, faro, quinoa, oats), sweet potatoes
Healthy fats: Avocado, olives, almonds, cashews, nut butters, oils (avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil)
Veggies: Leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard), squash (acorn, butternut, spaghetti), bell peppers, beets, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, mushrooms
Fruits: Bananas, apples, berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries), pears, oranges, mangoes, pineapple, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe)
You can also try these Top 5 Easiest Prep Meals to get some ideas.