Losing weight is not easy, and it is definitely not fun. It takes a lot of willpower to stick to a diet. What if we tell you that meal prepping is cheering on the sidelines for you while you work on those machines? It is a healthy way to provide the right fuel to your body whether you want to lose, gain or maintain a weight that makes your taste buds happy too! It can also save you some precious time in the morning and extra work in the evening.
Do not fret, you don’t have to learn how to go around it all by yourself. This article shall discuss meal prepping, nutritious foods as well as 30 meal prep ideas that may help you with losing weight and feeding the right foods to your body.
Planning meals for losing weight
This may come as a surprise to you, but you do not have to stick to a fixed diet to lose weight. Despite what the ‘gram told you, do not take diet and nutrition advice from untrained influencers on social media.
What makes meal prepping rather attractive in people actively seeking out a healthy diet is that it doesn’t have to be a rigid, hard and fast plan. It is a smarter and liberal way of dieting. You don’t have to completely cut on things you enjoy from your diet. You can prepare and enjoy meals that work for your body and suits your preferences. Moreover, planning ahead of time means you would actually eat healthy even on days when you don’t have the time to.
On one hand, you can eat some freshly cut (cubed, if you like it that way) fruits and vegetables, on the other you can munch on some doughnuts and sweet goodies as long they do not dominate your entire nutrition consumption.
What really matters while trying to shed some pounds is to create a calorie deficit, which will push the body to burn the stored fat and calories. Therefore, as long as your diet is an all-rounder, balancing nutrition and taste, will promote weight loss. However, it does not imply that you should push yourself into a stricter regime and cut off all sources of calories. It simply means to replace some high-calorie items on your plate with ones rich in value and nutrition.
After thoroughly understanding what meal prepping is, and whether it is for you or not, you should get started.
Calories and macros are connected at the hip, which is why meal prepping on a macro diet may help you stay on track with portion sizes and calorie management. Keeping an eye on and calculating macros give you an indication of how much of each sort of foodstuff you should really be consuming.
Tools like a kitchen weighing scale and a food tracking app on your smartphone can help you get some education on portion sizes according to your body and the nutrition mix of meals you wish to prepare.
One thing to understand here is that portions do not have a one-size-fits-all formula. They work differently for different bodies and their needs. Moreover, you may have different portion requirements according to your goals and activity levels. You may have to consume meals high in carbs on days of intense workouts and low carb meals when you plan on taking a break. Carbohydrates are contingent on your level of activity.
Other things that you should keep in mind to make sure your diet includes the important nutrients in proper proportions are:
- Do not ignore the greens. They may not taste the best, but they are extremely important for your body. Make sure that vegetables constitute ⅓ or ½ of your everyday diet to supply you with adequate fibre and minerals that will maintain a healthy level of metabolism.
- You can pair off lean proteins with heavy meats like chicken or grass-fed beef to ensure a well-balanced meal. You should actively seek out to avoid fried meat. Eating protein also helps with managing hunger and generating energy.
- Whole grains like brown rice and quinoa go well with most vegetables and proteins. Being pretty bland, they absorb spices and flavours fully and deliver a tasty meal. You can add lentils, corn or peas to switch things up a little, as long as your starch portion makes ⅓ or less of your diet.
- You should cook your meals in small amounts of healthy fats, like olive oil or avocado oil. On days when you need some flavour on your plate, you can add whole fats like nuts and avocados. Their consumption should be limited and well-balanced with your body’s requirements.
- Added ingredients like salt, cheese and sauces should be avoided as much as possible. They taste good but they are the shortest route to consuming extra calories as they are loaded with sugar and fat. You can consider zero-calorie options like chilli flakes, herbs, garlic and paprika to kick off some flavours. Salsa, kimchi, nutritional yeats or sugar-free dressings may replace some of these added ingredients too. They have relatively low calories.
How to prep meals?
Now that we know what we are aiming for with these meal preps, it is important to know the correct way of doing it, especially as a beginner. Here are some tips that can help you get started on the right foot.
1. Always plan in advance. Think about what recipes you enjoy making or are easier to make. Envision your dinner plate with all the colourful food and vegetables! Then, make a grocery shopping list accordingly.
2. Multitask to get things done faster. You can dice some meat while the fish gets cooked. Getting things done quickly will keep you motivated to pursue it again.
3. Use useful crockery. Mason jars, for example, not only look organised and compact but are also convenient to use. They are microwave safe and do not retail for expensive prices. You can store both solids and liquids in one, they are especially helpful for keeping salads.
You should use glassware for storing your meals, if possible. They not only look pretty but are also easy to wash. They are safer than using plastic or metal containers as these materials react with food items when kept for too long or when heated.
4. Lastly, do not prep meals for more days than 5. Meals will not survive in your refrigerator for more than three days, so it is important that you freeze the remainder. Take the meal out from the freezer the night before you want to have it and put it in the refrigerator to thaw. This prevents germs and bacteria from contaminating your meal.
30 Meal prep ideas
Here is our curated list of some healthiest meal prep ideas for beginners or for days you are left scratching your head while peeking in the refrigerator. We just may have compiled not 10, not 20 but 30 such ideas that may leave you with an appetite towards the end! Happy scrolling!
1. Sweet Potato Soup
This soup is the warm hug your tummy needs when it starts to get colder outside and the leaves turn orange. It is a filling meal and a perfect midday or evening snack. Made with coconut cream, sweet potatoes, carrots, ginger and spices of your choice, this soup is a pool of nutrients. You can make it tastier and healthier by adding crushed pistachios and cashews.
2. Air Fried Turkey Meatballs
A protein-rich meal, Turkey meatballs are low calorie and tasty through and through. Air frying them eliminates any use of oil or grease and make them an even healthier option. You can use panko bread and vegan substitutes for milk to drop the calorie points. Turkey meatballs contain eggs, meat and mustard that are all full of protein and other nourishing components. You can eat them anytime, for lunch, dinner or even a quick snack!
3. Spicy Chickpea Quinoa Bowls
Rich in flavours and aroma, spicy chickpea quinoa bowls are sure to pull in some growling stomachs. They are vegan and free of gluten, these bowls are not only healthy but also easy to make. You can prep them using only a handful of ingredients and store them for some hungry evenings!
4. Vegetarian Quinoa Burrito Bowls
As the name suggests, this meal is an attractive option for vegetarian folks who seek to prep meals that are healthy and quick to make. It is abundant in nutrients and hardly takes 20 minutes to get done. What’s more? It tastes amazing!
5. Italian Chicken Skewers
A keto option in the list, Italian Chicken Skewers sport an easy and quick recipe with fewer ingredients. They are low in calories and make up for a perfect lunch, dinner and lunchbox meal.
6. Fruit And Yogurt Parfait
If you are a fan of tasty colourful meals, then this one is for you. This vegetarian breakfast is made of fruits and granola (childhood nostalgia much?) and is a quick recipe for people who are always on the go. It is cheaper to make these at home and taste super yummy!
7. Overnight Chia Seed Pudding With Almond Milk
A completely vegan and quick-to-make recipe, this is breakfast meal is filling and gives your day a healthy start. All you have to do is mix chia seeds and almond milk and refrigerate them, and you will wake up to a tasty and healthy breakfast in the morning! You add fruits of your choice or have some fruit juice with it.
8. Chickpea Curry
Chickpea curry is a protein-filled meal that is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free. It is flavourful and full of spices. You can cook it in a large quantity and store it for one week, as it hardly takes 10 minutes to get done. The ingredients are cheap but the benefits aren’t!
9. Lasagnas Meal Prep Recipe
A rather trendy weight loss meal prep recipe, lasagna is out there to sweep cheese lovers off their feet! It is rich in cream and gooey cheese that will immediately melt in your mouth. Who said weight loss can’t be fun!
10. Hawaiian Pizza Chicken Meal Prep
It is a low carb meal that can be prepared quickly and tastes fresh even after being refrigerated for too long. Who doesn’t like pizza!
11. Keto Breakfast Veggie Sandwich
This brunch sandwich is fantastic since it looks just like a sandwich but contains a fraction of the calories. It’s also really yummy and flavorful! It’s simple to prepare, pack, and preserve, and it is excellent for the ketogenic diet.
12. Spicy Chicken Meal Prep With Rice And Beans
This delicious chicken with rice and beans is a good source of protein and nourishing. If you enjoy cooking with an instant pot, this is the meal for you. But don’t sweat, you can cook this dish even if you don’t have an Instant Pot. You may use a crockpot or a basic saucepan, and it will only take a longer time.
13. Meal Prep Chicken Fajitas
These chicken fajitas for meal planning are done on one or two sheet pans, keeping preparation and cleaning simple. To avoid mess and extra hours of cleaning, use tortilla bowls to serve them.
14. Crustless Quiche Recipe with Broccoli and Cheese
Another keto recipe on the list, this meal is packed with nourishing elements and is made of broccoli, bacon, cheddar cheese and tomatoes. It is low in calories and carbohydrates and can be served as breakfast or dinner.
15. Italian Couscous Salad
Can you ever have enough of couscous salads? This recipe has an Italian touch to it and makes for a nice and light dinner. You can douse the salad in spices, dried herbs, vinegar or honey to add a sweet or tangy zest to it.
16. Vegetable Sandwich
The vegetarian goodness is as tasty and simple as it sounds! You can use romaine lettuce, carrots, cucumber, red cabbage, avocado, sprouts, red onion, and tomatoes between the pieces of bread, with a layer of cheese and sauce of your liking. It is a colourful meal that is filling and absolutely tasteful.
17. Sesame Noodle Bowls
A beautiful meal made out of appetizing noodles, smooth creamy sesame sauce, perfectly roasted chicken, and all the veggies, the sesame noodle bowl is perfect for a midday replenishment.
18. Taco Bowls
A quick and effortless taco bowl meal! This dinner is hearty, full of healthy ingredients, and easy to prepare ahead of time for weekly meal prep.
19. Cilantro Lime Chicken with Cauliflower Rice
The Cilantro Lime Chicken with cauliflower rice is a healthy meal that has low points and high protein levels. It is laden with rich vegetables, cauliflower rice and chicken that makes it an all-rounder.
20. Panzanella in a Jar
Remember the Mason Jar salads we discussed above? Well, here is a recipe to get you started with it. This quick vegan lunch is easy to carry in the jar and retains its freshness for a longer time. And it looks pretty!
21. Philly Cheese Steak Meal Prep
Another cheese-filled meal that is quick to prepare and can be eaten with rice or bread.
22. Roasted Cauliflower Tacos With Chipotle Romesco
These smokey roasted cauliflower tacos with fiery chipotle romesco sauce are incredible! A savoury plant-based lunch that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and store. You can go as creative with the topping as you want!
23. Loaded Caprese Grilled Cheese
With this recipe, we are looking out for all the pesto fans out there! The Caprese Grilled cheese is heaped in basil pesto and crammed with rich and creamy garlic butter tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese on grilled sourdough bread. It is an excellent vegetarian breakfast sandwich.
24. Santa Fe Low Carb Chicken Meal Prep
You would never know how much you need tangy cilantro lime cauliflower rice paired with bell peppers and taco-seasoned chicken breast and cheese until you have them! It can be prepared in 30 minutes tops and only has 8g of carbs! Though that doesn’t mean it is not filling or satisfying.
25. Greek Orzo Salad In a Jar
This salad may take a little more time to prepare than the others, but its supreme taste makes it all worth it. However, you can save some time by using tools to chop veggies and grate toppings. Good things hardly come easy! It is a refreshing afternoon meal and your body will thank you for it.
26. Vegan Red Lentil Dal
Another protein-packed meal on the list, this red lentil dal is super easy to make. You can experiment with the spices and adjust them as you may please. It is best served with rice or quinoa.
27. Chicken and Kale Caesar Wraps
If you scrunched your nose at the K-word, hear us out. It is not always interesting to consume greens, but they are extremely good for your health and rich in nutrients. Paired with chicken, it is a complete meal rich in fibre and protein. They are low in carbs and can help people who are seeking to shed some pounds. You can switch the caesar dressing with a vegan substitute if you prefer.
28. Buffalo Chicken Ranch Whole30
Sporting a low-carb profile, buffalo chicken ranch is a paleo and keto option loaded with healthy fats. You can pair it with cauliflower rice and enjoy a full and satisfying meal.
29. Fajita Meal Prep Bowls
Fajita Bowls are not only easy to cook but they can also be reheated quickly while not losing their freshness. They can be quickly defrosted and grabbed when you are on the go. It is Mexican, do we even have to say it tastes delicious?
30. Zoodle Ramen
If you haven’t had some zucchini noodles (zoodles) yet, know that it is the best thing since sliced bread. They are worth giving a shot. Zucchini has low carb content- lower than regular noodles and is a healthier replacement for them. And it tastes wonderful. What more can you ask for!
Why should you Meal Prep?
Meal Prep may sound like a tedious task, but once you do it, you come to realise the sheer benefits that absolutely overshadow the work that went into it. Here are some reasons why meal prepping can be a part of your life.
1. The biggest reason people prep their meals beforehand is the amount of time you can save on a daily basis. They are always ready to eat and save you some time and work when you are falling short of them or when you just don’t want to cook after a long day at work. They can be the quick bite you grab before leaving or little snacks to munch on at midnight.
2. Meal prepping will push you towards eating healthy. In regular circumstances, you would probably buy unhealthy food when hungry, but by cooking meals ahead of time, you can talk yourself into eating what’s already there at home. There are many healthy and tasty recipes that you can experiment with.
3. It saves you money. You don’t order takeaways or waste food. Moreover, by planning ahead of time, you will have a concise grocery shopping list and would not overspend or buy unnecessary things. Cooking in large batches also saves both mechanical and thermal energy. You can carry your tasty homecooked healthy lunchbox to work and save money by not buying office lunch.
We pulled out the tastiest meal prep ideas for you in this article. From vegan and vegetarian options to keto and meat items, the article tried to curate a balanced list for you so that you keep treating yourself! Most of the recipes mentioned will not take more than 30 minutes to prepare. They are low in carbs and may help you lose some weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Meal prepping has a lot of upsides and can write a healthy lifestyle for you. However, you should not push yourself straight into it. You can dip your toes in by prepping tasty meals for 2 or 3 days in advance and see if it saves you time and work. In the end, it is all about providing the right fuel to your body and doing what is best for your health. You should always consult a nutritionist or a dietician before following a plan or restricting certain food items.