Having a weight loss meal plan for women over 40 in place is the key to successfully dropping weight and keeping it off for good. Knowing how to plan meals, menus, and recipes makes dieting over 40 simple and fun.
A few tips and tricks will get you on the road toward a happy, healthy life after 40!
The Benefits of Weight Loss Meal Plans
Having a meal plan in place makes menu creation for weight loss easier. Meal plans are like outlines, or templates, that allow you to plug foods into them based on what you have available at home and your food preferences. Simple meal planning ideas for weight loss in women over 40 include:
Divide Your Plate
Dividing your plate into fourths is perhaps one of the easiest meal plans to follow, as you don’t have to count calories or measure food. Just:
- Fill half of each plate with non-starchy vegetables (greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.)
- Fill a fourth of each plate with protein foods (eggs, chicken, fish, tofu, etc.)
- Fill a fourth of your plate with fiber-rich starches (brown rice, quinoa, peas, beans, etc.)
- Add 2-3 servings of dairy foods or plant milks daily
- Eat two 1/2-cup portions of fruit
- Choose a healthy fat at each meal to complete your menu!
For weight loss in women over 40, choose smaller plate sizes. Eating about 1,200 calories per day is a good rule of thumb.
USDA Meal Plans
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers free meal plans at various calorie allotments. A USDA Mediterranean-style weight loss meal plan for women over 40 containing 1,200 calories includes:
- 1 1/2 cups of vegetables
- 1 cup of fruit
- 4 ounces of grains
- 2 1/2 cups of dairy foods
- 3 ounces of protein foods
- 4 teaspoons of oils
- 100 extra calories
If you’re not sure about portion sizes, use ChooseMyPlate.org and click in the food group you’re wondering about.
A more detailed meal plan broken down into meals and snacks might include:
Breakfast: 1/2 cup of vegetables, 1 ounce of grains, and 1 ounce of protein foods
Snack: 1/2 cup of fruit, 1 1/2 cups of dairy foods, and 1 teaspoon of oils
Lunch: 1 cup of vegetables, 2 ounces of grains, 2 ounces of protein foods, and 1 teaspoon of oils
Snack: 1/2 cup of fruit, 1 cup of dairy foods, and 1 teaspoon of oils
Dinner: 1 cup of vegetables, 1 ounce of grains, 2 ounces of proteins, and 1 teaspoon of oils
What are the Perks of Meal Prepping?
Once you have your meal plan in place, it’s time to prep your menus! You can prepare meals ahead of time if you'd like, as the benefits of meal prepping include:
#1 Calorie Control
Once you've prepped meals for the following day or week, it’s easy to control calories for weight loss in women over 40.
Use a 1,200-calorie meal plan when mapping out your breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks!
Prepping meals ahead of time is convenient, especially when you’re at work or on the go often.
Simply portion out each meal and snack, set it aside in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer, and heat it up when it’s meal time!
#3 Weight Loss
Prepping meals can enhance weight loss for numerous reasons.
Studies show that eating out is associated with a higher body mass index (BMI), regardless of whether you dine out at fast food or sit-down restaurants.
Meal prepping is an excellent way to eat nutritious home-cooked meals when you aren't at home or don't have time to cook.
Meal Prepping Tips and Tricks
Following some meal prepping tips will help you master this healthy lifestyle habit!
- Cook your meals ahead of time (during weekends or when you have extra time)
- Let the food cool entirely before you package it
- Portion your food into meals using your meal plan as a guideline
- Place each meal into an airtight plastic or glass food storage container
- Seal storage containers shut with airtight lids, sealable plastic bags, or tin foil
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, when using plastic storage containers the best (safest) choices are plastics with the following numbers listed on the bottom of the container: 1, 2, 4, and 5. Avoid plastic storage containers with the numbers 3, 6, and 7 as these plastics contain potentially-dangerous vinyl or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene, or bisphenol-A (BPA).
To practice food safety procedures and avoid food borne illness, abide by the following guidelines set by the USDA:
- Don’t let food sit out in room temperature longer than 2 hours
- Refrigerate leftovers for 3-4 days – then discard
- Freeze meals in the freezer for 2-3 months – then discard
- Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator
These food safety storage tips help you avoid becoming ill from food borne illnesses.
Which Foods Should I Eat for Weight Loss Over 40?
When you eat the right foods over 40, your chance of weight loss success goes up! Add some of the following foods from each food group to your next grocery shopping list:
- Other leafy greens
- Bell Peppers
- Sweet potatoes
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
- Other legumes
- Brown rice
- Whole-grain pasta
- Whole-grain cereal
- Whole-grain bread
- Kiwi fruit
- Other seafood
- Very lean grass-fed meats
- Protein powder
Dairy Foods/Plant Milks
- Low-fat milk
- Non-fat Greek yogurt
- Reduced-fat cheese
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Soy milk
- Protein-fortified almond milk
- Other plant milks
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Other plant oils
- Fish oil
- Nut butters
Sample Weight Loss Menus for Women Over 40
Sample weight loss menus can steer you in the right direction to get excess weight off and keep it off long term. Sample menus that work well with weight loss meal plans for women over 40 include:
- An egg, spinach, and mushroom omelet
- Ezekiel toast
- Avocado slices
- Coffee or tea
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Leafy greens topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, sesame seeds, and tuna
- Italian or another oil-based salad dressing
- Cooked quinoa
- A protein shake made with protein powder, peanut butter, and banana slices
- Grilled chicken
- Brown rice mixed with olive oil and seasonings
- A protein shake made with protein powder, oatmeal, blueberries, and almond butter
- Coffee or tea
- Non-fat Greek yogurt
- A lean ground turkey burger (or black bean burger) topped with avocado slices, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers or pickles
- Whole-grain bun or lettuce wrap
- Pea pods dipped in hummus
- Grilled salmon
- Whole-grain pasta
- Olive oil/pesto sauce
- An egg, quinoa, and avocado breakfast bowl
- Steamed vegetables
- Reduced-fat cheese
- An orange
- Black bean and corn salad
- Grilled shrimp
- A banana with cashew butter
- Low-fat milk or plant milk
- Sautéed or grilled tofu with sesame seeds
- A small sweet potato or green peas
- Bell peppers sauteed in olive oil
Healthy Weight Loss Recipes for Women Over 40
Having a few delicious recipes on hand can enhance your weight loss experience. Examples of healthy recipes your entire family will love include:
#1 Quinoa Rice Cakes with Mediterranean Chicken
This quinoa rice cakes with Mediterranean chicken recipe is satisfying and packed with essential nutrients. Ingredients include quinoa, chicken, seasonings, olive oil, lemon juice, zucchini, eggs, cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives.
Simply marinate and cook the chicken, mix the remaining ingredients according to the recipe instructions, sauté your quinoa cakes, and enjoy!
#2 Avocado Chicken Salad
If you get tired of tuna salad opt for this nutritious, mouth-watering avocado chicken salad recipe instead! Ingredients include chicken, Greek yogurt, lime juice, seasonings, red onion, celery, and avocados.
Simply mix the cooked chicken with onion, celery, avocados, and the yogurt mixture. Eat it on top of whole-grain bread or over a bed of leafy greens and other vegetables.
#3 Roasted Sugar Snap Peas
This delicious roasted sugar snap peas recipe is loaded with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats! The best part is it's extremely simple to make and contains just three ingredients: sugar snap peas, sea salt, and olive oil.
Simply sauté the peas in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes, top with sea salt, and enjoy!
#4 Mexican Rice Skillet Dinner
Instead of making tacos or burritos, try this Mexican rice skillet dinner recipe!
Ingredients include extra-lean ground beef or turkey, onions, garlic, salsa, corn, brown rice, hot sauce, reduced-fat cheese, and seasonings. Simply cook your meat, onions, and garlic over medium heat and add in the remaining ingredients (except the cheese).
Cover the mixture, cook it for an additional 20 minutes until the rice is done, and add in the cheese. Your entire family will love this simple but tasty weight loss dish.
#5 Chicken Asparagus Stir Fry
When you’re in the mood for stir fry without the added sodium of regular soy sauce, try this nutritious chicken asparagus stir fry recipe containing reduced-sodium chicken broth and reduced-sodium soy sauce.
Additional ingredients include chicken, cornstarch, canola or grape seed oil, asparagus, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, and seasonings.
Cook all ingredients according to the recipe instructions in a non-stick wok over medium-high heat, and enjoy this tasty dinner with your family!
#6 White Bean Turkey Chili
Don’t worry about serving a side dish with this nutritious white bean turkey chili recipe, as it’s loaded with all of the macronutrients!
Ingredients include onions, garlic, lean ground turkey, green chilies, seasonings, navy beans, chicken broth, reduced-fat sour cream, avocados, and additional toppings of your choice! Cook and combine the ingredients according to the recipe instructions.
You can use a slow-cooker, large pot, Dutch oven, or an instant pot! If you're trying to watch your sodium intake, replace chicken broth with reduced-sodium broth.
#7 Shrimp Scampi with Broccoli Orzo
This shrimp scampi recipe is sure to be a hit with your entire family. It's as flavorful as it is nutritious! Ingredients include shrimp, orzo pasta, broccoli, olive oil, garlic, lemon, parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and other seasonings.
Simply cook the pasta, broccoli, and shrimp as directed with the sauce and seasonings, top the mixture with parmesan, and enjoy!
#8 Smoked Salmon Chowder
Try this smoked salmon chowder recipe as an appetizer or main dish when weight loss is your goal. It’s loaded with protein, vegetables, and flavor!
Ingredients include smoked salmon, onions, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cloves, chives, other seasonings, white wine, reduced-sodium chicken broth, unsalted butter (or dairy-free butter), flour, red potatoes, corn, and milk.
Combine and cook the ingredients in a large pot, Dutch oven, or instant pot as instructed.
#9 Chicken Chili
What better way to create an easy crock pot or instant pot meal than with this flavorful chicken chili recipe for weight loss. It’s packed with protein, vegetables, and fiber!
Ingredients include olive oil, onions, black and kidney beans, tomato sauce, corn, tomatoes with chilies, chicken, chili peppers, cilantro, and taco seasonings.
Combine all ingredients as instructed and enjoy this heart-healthy dish!
#10 Baked Scallops
Nutritious scallops are loaded with protein and essential minerals, and boost satiety with fewer calories!
This baked scallops recipe makes the perfect addition to any weight loss meal plan for women over 40. Ingredients include sea scallops, white wine, olive oil, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, unsalted butter (or dairy-free butter), and seasonings.
Simply combine scallops with the remaining ingredients as instructed, bake them for about 15 minutes, and broil for 2-3 minutes! Top with lemon juice and enjoy.
Getting Started with Weight Loss for Women Over 40
When you’re ready for a customized weight loss meal plan for women over 40, sign up for Fit Mother Project 30X (FM30X) today! You’ll receive healthy weight loss meal plans, customized menus, additional recipes, weekly newsletters, and daily fat-burning workouts.
FM30X even offers motivational support from health experts and private fit mom community access to keep you on track with weight loss and a healthy lifestyle long term.
To get started for FREE with FM30X, sign up for the fit mom 3-day weight loss jump start kit! In it you’ll receive a:
- FREE weight loss meal plan
- FREE metabolism-boosting workout
- FREE email coaching support and more
Register today to get on the road toward a healthy lifestyle and achieve weight loss over 40 and beyond!
Writer, The Fit Father Project
A 15-year freelance writing veteran, Erin is registered dietitian and health educator who is passionate about health, fitness and disease prevention. Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife and mom of two beautiful children.