How to meal prep for weight loss - a dietitian's favorite foods to have prepped and ready to go!
5 Minutes Read
Mar 16, 2020
Are you looking for ideas on how to meal prep for weight loss? This article is full of tips for making life easier in the kitchen with just a little planning and prepping.
How to meal prep for weight loss like a pro
I love it when I have the key ingredients for a quick, healthy meal all prepped and ready to go! Honestly, I think I learned a lot of strategies from my mother who could throw a healthy meal together in minutes!
Meal Prepping Benefits
First, why meal prep is so great!
It is a time saver! If you are going to wash, cut, or cook food for one meal, why not make a little extra to have ready to go for another meal or two!
It can save money. Have you ever thrown away the remaining ingredients that you couldn't use for a recipe? Why not store it so you can use it for another meal. Many items such as meats, poultry, grains are cheaper in larger volume so it is a win-win. My grocery store often has "buy one, get one free" specials so I just prepare twice the amount and store some for later.
It can make life easier. You can throw together a simple last-minute meal when you have the components already prepped.
Your diet will likely be healthier and lower in calories! How many times have you just ordered carry out food when you didn't want to go to the grocery and cook a meal from scratch. It's no secret that restaurant portions are much bigger and there can also be a lot of hidden fat, salt and calories!
My favorite foods to keep prepped in my kitchen
Chopped onions, peppers, celery in the freezer. I don't really enjoy chopping onions with all the tears involved. I always chop more when I do and throw the extras in freezer containers for easy use for next meals. If you want less freezer crystals, put them in the refrigerator overnight, then into the freezer. Of course, you can buy already chopped veggies in your freezer as well if you are not up for chopping. For more info onusing pre-cut produce, check out this blog.
Nuts and seeds. I like to store nuts and seeds in mason jars in the refrigerator. It is so easy to add them to salads, yogurt or to toast them for easy additions to hot meals, like cooked vegetables. My favorites are pepitas, sunflower seeds, almonds and walnuts.
Hard-boiled eggs. Boil up a dozen eggs, store in the refrigerator and then you can slice them onto toast, add to salads or enjoy as a high protein snack.
Cooked Chicken. This is one of my favorite items for freezing extras for next meals. Chopped, cubed, sliced versions all work and are so great as quick additions to soups, salads, tacos, and casseroles. I have a large slow cooker that is great for cooking extra quantities. Remember to label the container with the item and date when storing. This recent blog has two yummy recipes using leftover chicken.
Cooked Ground turkey. This is another essential I love having ready to go from the freezer. It is super easy to heat in a skillet for lickety split tacos or casseroles.
Homemade taco seasoning. I keep a homemade taco seasoning blend in a sealed canister to use with ground turkey or chicken. Check out my video on making homemade taco seasoning.
Cooked chicken sausage. This is another item I cook in a slow cooker and store in the freezer so I can throw it into skillet with spaghetti sauce. In 10 minutes, you have a meal!
Pasta, rice and other grains in the freezer. This is actually a restaurant trick I learned many years ago. Keep cooked pasta and grains in the refrigerator or freezer. Cooked pasta freezes really well. All you need to do is pull it out and place it in hot boiling water for a minute and you have steaming pasta to go with that chicken sausage and sauce. You can simply microwave frozen grains to reheat. So easy!
Frozen vegetables. I keep a wide assortment of frozen veggies in the freezer for steaming, sauteing and adding to soups and mixed dishes. There's never an excuse for not including them at a meal.
Fruit salad. I love to keep a bowl of fruit salad made with fruit in season. It is so easy to have a mixed fruit snack or to add it to yogurt, cottage cheese or as a meal side.
Other meal prepping ideas from MyNetDiary staff
I thought it would be fun to ask my fellow MyNetDiary staff to share some of their favorite foods they prep in advance for healthy, easy meals. Here are some of their tips.
Martha: I love to buy large quantities of frozen chicken and lean ground beef. I cook them up in a turkey roaster in my oven (325 degrees F). Then, dice the chicken into cubes.
Put in 2 cup containers in the freezer and take them out for quick meals (spaghetti sauce, enchiladas, etc).
Jenni: Right now my favorite thing to do is to use my pressure cooker for making batches of soups, stews, chicken, fish etc. It makes cooking so easy and it can be done in a flash (plus, little to no clean up gives me some free time back in the evening). I even made a dairy-free creamy tomato pasta in my pressure cooker the other night and it turned out perfect. It's keeping my family fed with healthy foods during this busy time in my life.
Dmitriy: likes to keep lettuce washed and ready to go in his fridge for adding to meals. It can easily be added to salads, sandwiches, wraps, and smoothies.
Joanna: I think cooking once and eating twice is key. I tend to do this most often with soups/stews. I like chicken and wild rice or lentil soup. I think they freeze and reheat well. Sometimes if we make a giant pot of chili I am sick of eating it after 2 meals. So I will freeze the remaining portions for my lunches the following weeks. I don't like to eat the same thing too often. I also like cooking a bunch of chicken breasts in the crockpot and then using for several meals during the week. Perhaps chicken and veggies with pesto over garbanzo bean pasta or tacos or a quinoa/blackbean/chicken/veggie bowl. I also like to cook a bunch of roasted veggies for the week and then have them as side dishes during the week for lunch and supper.
Dmitry: keeps berries ready to go in his fridge for adding to meals and for a quick snack, meal addition or to throw into a smoothie..
Sue: I always double up when making soup or chili. I freeze some in larger containers and some in smaller containers for a single serving. I often pack my lunch for the following day as I am putting away leftovers. Saves a step and good to know lunch is ready to grab the next day. I like repackaging snack foods such as nuts or trail mix in smaller containers to help manage portions and be ready to grab and go. I often shred some extra cheese to add to tacos, on a salad, etc. instead of buying the pre-shredded bagged cheese. I'm always more likely to eat veggies such as bell pepper slices, carrot sticks, cauliflower, etc. if they are washed, cut and ready to eat. I also keep a nut grinder filled with pecans. Then I can grind them to add to cereal, top a salad, etc.
Please share some of your favorite meal prepping tips with us!
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