Meal Prep

Meal al prep is my #1 weight loss strategy. Yes I know that’s quite a statement and you might not agree. However, I believe it to be true. It’s been over 5 years since starting my weight loss journey and I can tell you planning my meals ahead of time has been key. But I need to do more than just plan out my meals. I must take time every week to prep some or all of my food in advance. This can be a batch of buffalo chicken, a week’s worth of mason jar salads, green smoothies prepared and frozen ahead of time, or all of it. Of course the more prep the better. However, even a few things prepared ahead of time will make it easier to eat healthy.

Today, I want to talk specifically about using meal prep for weight loss. Meal prep in general can help ease stress and eat better. However if losing weight is your goal then here are 6 tips that you should keep in mind.

Portions

Effectively preplan portion to avoid over eating or over indulgence . At first hunger will be there but the stomach is a nifty organism that will adapt very quick in size to accomodate the new portions.

2 Choose healthy recipes

Does this sound too basic? It kinda is but I wanted to add it to the list anyway because we can all use little remiinders. Using meal prep as a strategy to achieve your weight loss goals will only work if you stay within your daily calorie limits. It’s easier to do this with healthy recipes.

I don’t recommend filling your meal plan with 15 brand new recipes every week. That probably wouldn’t end well. Instead, make small changes. Maybe take your favorite chicken breast and prepRe it differently. **spice it up.

As someone who has been meal planning for YEARS I suggest keeping it simple. Plan to eat the similar but not exact things for breakfast and lunch everyday. If you need to switch it up then do so for a couple of meals. Plan 1-2 new recipes a week and then fill the rest of the week with lightened up easy meals.

Focus on food struggles

Prepping your meals ahead of time allows you to become intentional with food. This alone can help change eating habits. However, you can take it a step futher by focusing on eating habits you struggle the most with. For example, if you struggle with eating a healthy breakfast then take time on Sunday to prepare breakfast burritos, steel cut oatmeal, or smoothies for the week. Now instead of rushing out the door with no food in your belly, and heading to the drive thru for a processed high fat breakfast sandwich, you can grab a wholesome nutritious meal right out of your refrigerator.

Portion out “hand grab” foods.

One of my biggest calorie busters is reaching into a cracker box or nut bag and grabbing WAY MORE than one portion. I can’t even tell you the amount of calories I would eat by doing this. And why’s that? Because, I had no clue. Trust me, in the weight loss journey, ignorance is not bliss and denial will keep you exactly where you’re at.

The best (and only) way for me to enjoy things like crackers, nuts, chips, and anything that comes in a bag or box is to portion it out ahead of time.

Someday I might be able to eyeball food but probably not. I don’t think the problem is with my eyeballs. It more my willpower. Just sayin. If you ever feel the need to see a grown woman lose control over Cheez its then go ahead and put a family size box in front of me. It ain’t pretty.

Same with nuts. My favorite nuts are pecans, almonds, and cashews. Each one is a delicious high protein nutritious snack. But…nuts are high in calories and fat. ¼ cup of raw whole almonds is 170 calories and 14 grams of fat so grabbing a handful or two of raw almonds can result in an excess of calories you were not planning on eating.

However, if I portion out snacks ahead of time (using baggies or small plastic containers) then I can enjoy my favorites while still keeping under control. It’s harder for me to grab a second bag of snacks when I know the calories. I store the pre-portioned packages in a bin either in the refrigerator or pantry.

#5 Stock Your Refrigerator or Freezer with Healthy Basics

Okay let’s say you don’t want to be tied to a meal plan. You want to wake up each day and follow your heart to the foods it leads you too. Or maybe you don’t want to eat the same meal every day. If that’s the case I have a solution.

Obviously you need to have some structure. If you want to lose weight then you need to change up the way you’ve been structuring your eating habits. Sorry.

Did you ever hear the saying “If you do what you always do then you’ll get what you always get”? You’re not going to get new results doing the same things. This goes with everything.

If you want to eat healthy but don’t want to be confined to recipes then I recommend filling your refrigerator with healthy food basics. For example, shredded chicken, quinoa or rice, oatmeal, fruit, salad ingredients, beans, and other ingredients like this. With other simple condiments and/or basics in the pantry then you can create a variety of recipes. For example, you can easily put together a salad, stir fry, casserole dish, wrap, quinoa bowl, parfait, or anything you want using these ingredients.

Personally, I enjoy have basics in my refrigerator. It helps with a busy schedule and also on nights everyone wants something different.

The only issue I found with preparing foods without a specific recipe in mind is possible waste. If you don’t have a specific recipe for quinoa but make 3 cups of quinoa you might end up throwing some out. I hate food waste so I try to use foods up in a recipe or freeze ingredients before they spoil. This is just something to keep in mind.

Something else to keep in mind is portion control. If you make a batch of healthy foods to keep in your refrigerator make sure to measure portions out correctly as you put together meals. This means you need to get your measuring cups and spoons out. I know I take all the fun out of things but you will thank me when you slip into a pair of skinny jeans.

#6 Create the amount of structure you need

Meal prep creates structure in your weight loss journey. The amount of structure depends on you. Do you need all your food prepped ahead of time and organized by day in your refrigerator? Hey, you can do that if you want? Or maybe you just need a little structure to your morning?

Basically, you can have every meal portioned out with the calories labeled or you can just have fresh healthy foods recipe ready in your refrigerator. It’s up to you to create the structure needed to help organize a healthier lifestyle.

The amount of time you spend of meal prep will depend on the amount of structure you need.

However, don’t be discouraged by time. If you only have an hour then do what you can in that hour. If you have more time on another day then plan to use that time to stock your freezer with foods. Where there is a will there is a way. It’s about creating routines and habits. At first it feels difficult because it’s new. However, after you keep at it and experience the benefits to meal prep you won’t mind taking the time to prep food for the week.

Keep in mind the amount of structure you need changes throughout your weight journey. You might need more structure in the beginning and after a few months not as much. In the end, you’ll find the meal prep routine that works your lifestyle.


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