If you're looking to up your fitness game, the best place to start is in the kitchen!
I know, I know – watching what you eat is a sensitive subject for many. It can be hard to adjust your diet in favor of “health foods” and reduce your “guilty pleasures” intake.
Luckily, this article isn't about a specific diet. We're here to teach you about the wonders of meal prepping and all of the headaches it can remove from your day-to-day life!
Many of you may have already heard about meal prepping.
To some, it sounds like a super structured way of eating for bodybuilders. To others, it sounds like a lot of time commitment.
In reality, meal prepping is one of the most time and financially efficient ways to structure your diet around recipes you already love. AND reducing the number of times you have to clean your kitchen.
We're pretty sure that's a win-win-win situation.
Read on to learn how structuring your cooking (and storing your meals strategically) can give you more control over your weekly diet and lead to weight loss.
Healthy Meal Prep Ideas for Weight Loss: Why Bother?
We've really talked up this meal prepping idea, so it's time to show you the proof. Here are our 5 favorite things about meal prepping.
Trains you to make healthier decisions
At a minimum, you eat 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. That's 21 meals that you have to plan for and prepare! Unless of course, you run out of time and grab unhealthy fast food on the go because you're short on time…
Meal prepping allows you to eliminate the decision-making process of what you should be eating. You would already have (healthy) meals prepped and ready to go – morning, noon and night.
Saves a TON of time
While meal prepping does require you to carve out one or two evenings preparing meals in your kitchen a week, it saves you hours of time each day following.
Just think about it – instead of having to rush home to spend an hour cooking and cleaning up every day, you can come home knowing that dinner is just a reheat away. And that there are no big dishes that need handwashing.
Gives you financial insight
When you don't have time to plan meals, what you get to deal with is hungry kids in the backseat who need to eat NOW. And the nearest fast food joint is usually the sane-est option.
With meal prepping, you will have more insight into how much you're budgeting week-to-week for food.
You'll be able to make smart choices for your family that will give you more flex cash for fun family activities.
Helps with portion control
When you cook and store your meals in advance, it's easy to portion your veggies, carbs and proteins out appropriately.
You can designate different containers for parents and kids so that you know that everyone's getting the right amount of nutrients.
By consistently eating the portions you need for weight loss, you'll be able to meet your fitness goals more easily than if you didn't portion out your food choices.
Inspires a variety of recipes
We've all panicked at the grocery store and bought all the ingredients for the easiest meal we know how to make. But prepping in advance will allow you to make more exciting choices with your cuisine!
You'll be able to master new recipes that your family will love without the stress of coming up with it on the spot. Also, you'll be able to explore healthier recipe options.
Healthy Meal Prep Ideas for Weight Loss: What Recipes Work?
Ultimately, you could find a way to make just about any of your favorite recipes work in a meal prep manner.
But as I'm sure you're used to saying by now, “work smarter, not harder!”
We have a few tried-and-true meal prep recipes that are easy to prepare, familiar, and that heat up well.
Omelet and banana: 351 calories
Start your morning out by heating up a delicious omelet! Filled with the natural protein of eggs and spinach greens, you'll be full until lunchtime.
- A 3-egg omelet made with 1 cup of mushrooms plus spinach leaves mixed in: 241 calories
- 1 medium banana: 105 calories
- 1 cup of black coffee: 5 calories
Salmon and salad: 338 calories
Once lunch rolls around, you'll be ready to eat this light, but filling meal. No matter how you like to prepare your salmon, it will pair great with a bit of brown rice and salad.
1/2 cup of cooked brown rice: 124 calories
- 3 ounces of grilled or baked salmon: 155 calories
- 3 cups of leafy greens topped with 1 tablespoon of oil-based dressing: 51 calories
Chicken Cobb salad: 338 calories
End your evening with a loaded Cobb salad! You can mix and match different vegetables to change this recipe up.
- 3 cups of leafy greens topped with 1 tablespoon of oil-based dressing: 55 calories
- 2 ounces of grilled chicken strips: 84 calories
- 1 hard-boiled egg, sliced: 72 calories
- 1/4 cup of whole-grain croutons: 46 calories
- 1 small apple: 93 calories
There are countless ways you can mix and match foods for delicious, and never the same, meal prepped cuisine. We just wanted to show you that it's possible to meal prep every meal of the day.
Healthy Meal Prep Ideas for Weight Loss: What's the Process?
Now that you've seen that meal prepping is both delicious and efficient, we can dive into exactly how you can structure it for yourself.
There are 4 basic steps that will get you on your way!
- Choose your prep days. Many meal preppers like to take one day out of the week to plan, buy and prep all of their food. Saturdays and Sundays tend to be good days for that. Others like to do two days to break up the week.
- Design your menu. Be intentional and choose healthy recipes that you know your family will enjoy. Think about produce that's in season to ensure you're not paying too much for a certain item.
- Hit the grocery store. Now that you have your list, all you have to do is purchase! We like segmenting our lists into produce, meats, dairy, dry ingredients so we can minimize our time shopping.
- Cook and store. All that's left is cooking your meals and storing them! We recommend cooking proteins, vegetables and carbs in batches instead of going meal by meal. If you cook for a full 7 days, we recommend freezing the last 3 days of the week so that they stay fresh.
Healthy Meal Prep Ideas for Weight Loss: In What Containers?
You might be thinking that meal prep will take over too much real estate in your fridge. And while there certainly will be quite a few containers in your fridge or freezer, you'll find that the overall amount of food in your kitchen is really the same.
Meal prepping doesn't create MORE food for you to store, it just better organizes and prepares the food you've already bought.
That being said, there is definitely a method to the madness. We've listed out some of our favorite storage containers and how to utilize them in your kitchen below.
- Glass storage containers: Knowing that heating food up in plastic containers isn't recommended, we opt for glass. Glass containers also have the benefit of not getting stained with whatever you choose to store.
- Freezer and ziplock bags: Taking food to work is usually easiest in storage containers. But many at-home dinners can find a perfect home in a freezer or regular ziplock bag! Just zip and place in your freezer or fridge, ready to reheat.
- Jars. Soups, salads, granola, trail mix can all find a great home in jars. Freezable and sealed tight, they're another great storage option that can help maximize space and avoid plastic.
Why Wait? Try Meal Prepping this Week
It can take you a leap of faith to start meal prepping, but when you do, you'll probably never look back.
With how time-consuming work, homework, sports, and other family activities are, it's nice to find small ways to reduce time spent on mandatory chores.
Meal prepping can be done completely on your own terms. You can decide how many meals a week you'd like to meal prep, and what kinds of recipes those are.
Because meal prepping isn't a diet, but a way of life, you get to be creative and decide what's best for your family.
You can learn more about healthy dieting with the Fit Mom 3-day Weight Loss Jumpstart.
Our simple, sustainable tips can help you to build a healthier life for you and your family. Try the 3-day Weight Loss Jumpstart and kick your life into higher gear!
Your friend in health, Dr. Anthony Balduzzi Founder, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project Brotherhood Nickname: “Mr. Results” Bragging Rights: Has helped over 10,000 Mom & Dads lose over 75,000lbs