Diet’s and weight loss goals are easily ruined by those pesky spontaneous cravings, unhealthy snacks left out or just no better option in the moment but having a unhealthy meal.
Having your food and treats ready for you can help overcome any of these problems with just a little bit of preparation. This works for most diets be it one like intermittent fasting, vegan or whichever you decide on.
Lets learn how to meal plan to lose weight for beginners to help you keep on track throughout your busy days.
Why you should meal prep.
Dieting for weight loss has a lot of variables to it like portion sizing and making good food choices. Meal prepping allows you to take control over these things and be more effective.
For those who struggle keeping their weight down, it’s a fairly common problem to over eat or to miss a daily calorie goal. In fact according to healthline.com , binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the United States. Meal prepping helps keeps you in line because your portions will be predetermined. Bringing only a certain amount food means you will be a lot less likely to over eat because the option to do that isn’t going be there as easily as before.
You’ll also have better control over the kinds of food you eat as well.
Packing healthy meals and snacks give you a variety of options when the cravings hit. The result of these changes can lead to better mood and energy levels in your daily routine as well as feeling fuller by eating whole foods versus a diet of heavily processed foods.
Processed foods usually will be very deficient in nutrients and fiber. Although having a special treat now and then is more than ok, by preparing your meals with “good” foods, you can set yourself up for long term success.
2. Meal prepping saves time and reduces stress
Transitioning to a healthy diet usually means more than just picking the right foods. You also need to account for the time spent making said food as well as tackling the stress of juggling this new routine into your daily lifestyle.
Depending on where you are in life, this might not be a big deal. For those of you without a lot of responsibilities at the moment, dieting might not be as difficult.
On the other hand, full time workers, busy parents and other people with a lot to manage on their plate might just not have the time to spend daily on cooking meals, planning snacks and tracking how much they eat.
It’s is a lot easier to just buy a quick bite to eat, in fact according to wspa.com , the average American in a study done in 2018 ate an average of 2 fast food meals, every single day.
All this combined leads to the idea that weight loss just seems like an unattainable dream for many. That’s why its important to learn how to meal plan to lose weight for those of us who lack the time and motivation needed to purely use will power to shed the pounds off.
By meal prepping you set a time aside, about usually once a week, where you decide what you want to eat, and then you cook everything in bulk so it can be ready the moment you need it. An hour or two spent cooking on the weekend can save you daily wasted time during the week that you could spend being productive or just relaxing on your lunch break.
You don’t need to worry about what your next meal is gonna be, so meal prepping really does a lot for your stress in addition to the time it saves you.
3. Saves Money
Did you know that meal prepping can save you a lot of money over the course of a year. If you are part of the millions of Americans who have a fast food lifestyle, meal prepping might just help pad your pockets with saved money.
The average American household spends roughly 10% of their income on fast food every year according to barbecuelab.com. This number should further increase every year with the increasesed normalized role that food delivery services are taking.
If you aren’t convinced consider these numbers, according to moneyunder30.com , the average commercially prepared meal costs 13 dollars while one made at home has an average cost of 4 dollars. If you had the expensive habit of eating at least one fast food meal each day that you would cost you about 91 dollars. On the contrary, cooking your own meals would total out to 28 dollars per week. That’s a 61 dollars difference per week, or 3172 dollars per year.
Meal prepping further increases this savings advantage, because you will likely be cooking in bulk, its a smart idea to buy in bulk as well which tends to be cheaper than buying individually. You can take advantage of deals that pop up for your common ingredients like meats.
Other options include buying from bulk suppliers like Costco. With options like coupons and other discounts you can find online, their really is a lot of ways to cut costs when you shop for your own ingredients and meal prep.
How to meal plan to lose weight
1. Things you need
Finally now that you know why you should consider incorporating meal prepping, here is how to meal plan to lose weight for beginners who haven’t done it before.
First things first, you will need to make a small investment in some meal prepping tools. Most important being reusable containers to make storage and travel easier.
If you want to save the most money, get plastic containers from your local store, you can usually grab a big pack for a couple bucks at most.
Next, not 100% necessary depending on the food you are planning to make, reusable and portable utensils. Regular utensils from your kitchen drawer can work just as fine in all honesty.
This is all about preference. Online you can find forks, spoons, even chopsticks that are made to be compact and travel friendly be it because they are fold-able or a smaller size. Again, not at all really needed if you want to pass up, but investing in some travel utensils like these can make the process a little easier.
Once you have all your tools in order, you can start planning your meal preps.
This is going to be based on your own goal. First before setting out on a journey in fitness, you should have a goal in mind that will shape the road you take. If your plan is to lose weight, how much do you want to lose? In what time frame?
Every pound can equate to roughly 3500 calories. What this means is that you need to burn 3500 calories. That is a lot of effort to put into things like running or lifting weights.
What’s easier is finding how many calories you need to eat to maintain your current weight, and just eating less than that. This can be easily done by finding a calorie calculator online.
If for example you need to eat 2500 calories every day to maintain your current weight, eating 500 less would see you lose 3500 calories over the span of a week. Adjust your calorie intake according to your own personal goal. Just keep in mind that crash dieting and aiming for dramatic weight loss in a small time frame not only is a recipe for failure, but also can see you gain all the weight back shortly after.
Crash dieters can often see weight gain because no healthy habits were formed on their fitness journey. Once a goal is hit, the motivation usually disappears. Aim for a slow drop of 1 to 2 pounds a week to combat these common issues. That slower tempo combined with meal prepping to keep you on track should help you in the long term.
3. Bulk cooking and storage
Now you have your equipment and a plan, all you have to do is prepare the meals.
The first time might seem a little overwhelming. I recommend picking a day where you can set aside an hour, maybe even 2. Be generous in your time for the first go round. There are a lot of recipes for meal preps, you might want to take your time to go through and pick some.
Start by tackling the biggest items like meats and work your way through one by one. Make sure you have a plan about how much you really need to cook, although you can freeze any extra food, it tastes better the fresher it is.
Once you finally finish cooking. Pack each meal. Optional: consider separating any wet ingredients like sauces instead of adding them right now to each meal. Make room in your fridge and freezer and store the first couple of meals in the fridge and the rest in the freezer.
If you accidentally miss a couple of days, your meals won’t go to waste if they are kept frozen. Try to aim for cooking for a 1 week span each time. You might be overwhelmed with meal preps if you aim for more.
Now you’re ready for the week! Simple as that!
healthy meal prep options
The following section is going to be a variety of food ideas, from snacks to meals to even sweets. It’s important to have a variety if you want to keep up with slimming down. Knowing what to cook is key to learn how to meal plan to lose weight for beginners that don’t have a lot of nutritional experience.
Meals are the biggest challenge, they can go a number of ways. You could quickly get tired of eating the same thing over and over again. The complexity of the dish might leave you hating meal prep days because of all the cooking. Or you might just love the meal every day.
It all comes down to experimentation.
Start with making an easy recipe for meal preps. A common favorite among dieters is a simple chicken and rice meal prep. These are extremely easy to cook in bulk and unless you choose to go a bland route, you have a lot of flavor options.
You could add an assortment of veggies. Hot sauces or any kind of sauce you like are another go to option. You could even season the chicken differently, going with bbq style one day to lemon pepper and garlic another day. If you are looking to increase your protein intake which helps with muscle building and also keeping you feeling full, chicken breast is a great source of that.
Another common meal prep is making salads. Salads are easy to store and take with you, and just like chicken and rice, you have a lot of options to work with like the dressing or even adding meats.
If you struggle with energy throughout your day, really consider going with salads because they provide a great source of slow digesting carbs, meaning more energy for you for a longer period of time.
Those are just two options for the main meals, I’m sure you have plenty of ideas but these are great fall back options to choose.
Between meals you might see yourself wanting a little extra, that’s fine and theirs nothing wrong with that which is why you should have some snacks included into your meal preps.
Three great snack choices you could use are trail mix, fruits, or maybe even a granola bar. I chose to bring up these specifically because all three of these will give you a boost in energy to keep going throughout the day and in the case of trail mix and granola bars you can also get a small boost in protein as well.
Snacks are a great source of supplementing what you lack in a diet. You can use them to add carbs, fats, proteins or specific nutrients.
Consider making your snack choices the last part of your meal prep so you try to fill in the holes of your diet. You have a lot options and snacks should be a welcome sight. If you want to stick with your meal preps and lose weight pick things that are healthy but you enjoy as well.
Finally, if you have room for it, or even consider making a little room, sweets and desserts. It’s ok to have a little sugar and “junk” in moderation.
You shouldn’t view these as criminal foods, train yourself to have a better relationship with food. The key is to make these items only a very small part of your daily diet.
Ice creams, chocolate, even pastries are reasonable as long as you are strict on listening to the recommended serving sizes. But healthy options can be just as tasty as well.
Greek yogurts are a amazing source of protein with low calories. You can toss in fruits or granola but their is also a big variety of flavors out on the market from cookies and cream to strawberry cheesecake.
The same goes for protein shakes, milk mixed with a good quality protein powder provides a drink pretty darn close to tasting like a milkshake. You have a lot of flavors to choose from as well, my personal favorite is a chocolate and peanut butter blend.
See, meal prepping doesn’t have to be boring and bland. Have fun with it!
How to meal plan to lose weight: CONCLUSION
Hopefully you have a good idea about meal prepping and are ready to tackle your weight loss goal.
You should understand that meal prepping has plenty of benefits from saving money and time to giving you better control over your eating habits.
The only tools you might need are reusable containers and utensils, other than that you should be ready to meal prep by only putting aside a little time about once a week.
Make sure to pick foods that help tackle your goals while also giving you something to enjoy.