9 Simple Meal Prep Tips for Faster Weight Loss
Meal prepping may not be the first thing that pops into your head when thinking about weight loss. However, this weekly ritual can be a true game-changer for helping you achieve your weight loss goals (and it's much simpler than you might think). With no shortage of fast food and takeout options, having a healthy meal plan can make all the difference. That's why we chatted with Destini Moody, RDN, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian and sports dietitian with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares nine practical and straightforward meal prep tips for faster weight loss.
Meal prepping healthy home-cooked meals can also boost your health. According to 2020 research published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, folks who cook at home tend to eat fewer calories, consume higher quality food, save money on food, and experience less weight gain than those who eat out or consume ready-made meals regularly.
From batch-cooking to creating a solid grocery shopping plan, the following meal prep tips will expedite your weight loss journey. Keep reading to discover Moody's nine simple meal prep tips for faster weight loss. And when you're done, check out The #1 Daily Yoga Workout To Melt Your 'Jelly Belly'.
Use recipes high in fiber and protein.
Start your meal prep with recipes that incorporate fiber-rich vegetables and protein sources like legumes or lean chicken. "It cannot be overstated how much meal composition can influence weight loss," states Moody. "Fiber from produce and protein from lean meats and certain plant sources play a pivotal role in controlling hunger. Fiber and protein break down slowly in the stomach, meaning you can go longer without feeling hungry again when you eat a meal packed with these nutrients."
Put it in your calendar.
Scheduling meal prep time in your calendar is a simple yet effective way to help you plan and prepare nutritious meals, helping you stay on track with your weight loss goals. "Choose a day when you have more spare time and devote some time to picking recipes, shopping for groceries, and cooking. To prevent anything from cutting short your process, give yourself one to two hours of padding on your designated time slot," says Moody.
Batch cook your protein.
Streamline your meal prep by cooking a batch of high-protein foods such as grilled chicken or tofu that can be used in various dishes throughout the week. This trick saves time and makes it effortless to include protein in every meal.
Moody says, "Batch cook your favorite protein using an oven, sheet pan, air fryer, or whatever your favorite piece of equipment is. You can then combine these proteins with different sides to make a different meal each day."
Have a plan when grocery shopping.
Before heading to the grocery store, make a list of the ingredients you need for your meal prep recipes. Having a plan helps prevent impulse purchases and keeps your shopping focused on healthy choices.
"Most people give up before they even get started with meal prep because they get overwhelmed with the options at the store," says Moody. "Instead, pick the recipes you want, and make a grocery list. This will get you in and out of the grocery store much faster and limit any discouragement you may feel when it's time to go shopping again."
Keep canned or frozen foods on hand.
Stock up on canned or frozen vegetables, fruits, and proteins when fresh ingredients aren't readily available. These options are just as nutritious and are ultra-convenient for quick, healthy meal prep.
"The nutritional value of canned and frozen fruits and vegetables is no different from that of fresh fruits and vegetables. Sometimes, they're even more nutritious. Additionally, canned and frozen produce can be kept for months or even years without spoiling, reducing food waste and helping you maintain your motivation to meal prep regularly," explains Moody.
Take advantage of sheet pan recipes.
Simplify meal prep with sheet pan recipes that allow you to cook multiple foods at once. "If you have no clue where to start on what meals to prep and want to start simple, search online for your favorite protein and sheet pan to find sheet pan recipes," says Moody. "Sheet pan recipes are great because everything cooks at once on one piece of equipment, which means there's less equipment needed and fewer dishes to clean up."
Don't let upfront costs hold you back.
While investing in quality meal prep containers or kitchen equipment can get expensive, it's a wise long-term decision. Ultimately, having the right tools makes meal prep more convenient and encourages you to stick to your weight loss plan.
"When buying pantry items for the first time, you may find that herbs, spices, and staples like brown rice and beans are quite expensive. Keep in mind though that this is an investment. In the long run, buying bulk items that can be used to make dozens of meals will save you money," explains Moody.
Relive your childhood.
Incorporate nostalgic, healthy versions of your favorite childhood meals into your meal prep. It's a fun and satisfying way to stay committed to your weight loss goals.
Moody tells us, "If you can't come up with simple meal prep ideas, think back to your childhood and the meals you loved. Spaghetti? Chili? Chicken noodle soup? Make them in bulk to use as meal prep. Moreover, if you loved these meals as a kid, you probably still enjoy them today, so this is a better option than making a new recipe every week that you may dislike and then are stuck eating all week."
Prepare extra food at dinner.
When making dinner, cook extra portions to enjoy as leftovers another day. This method saves time and reduces the temptation to opt for less healthy takeout options.
"If you make dinner for yourself or your family, just make a little extra and use the leftovers as 'meal prep' by taking it to lunch for work the next morning. If you're not afraid of leftovers, this is arguably the simplest method to meal prep for weight loss," says Moody.