The Ultimate Guide to Meal Prepping for Weight Loss

Medically Reviewed on 8/10/2022
The Ultimate Guide to Meal Prepping for Weight Loss
Here is the ultimate guide to meal prepping for weight loss, including the benefits, how to start planning, and what to buy

Meal prepping is an excellent way to save time, stress, and money while making sure you are eating quality foods that support your weight loss goals.

By preparing in advance and having healthy meals on hand, you avoid the temptation of reaching for quick and easy options that may not have much nutritional value. 

Here is the ultimate guide to meal prepping for weight loss, including the benefits, how to start planning, and what to buy.

6 benefits of meal prepping for weight loss

1. Helps with weight loss goals

Meal prepping has been linked to weight loss, with studies showing that it may help prevent obesity in men and lower the chances of being overweight in women.

2. Helps with portion control

Preparing meals ahead of time may be particularly good for portion control. Since you are dividing your food into single servings ahead of time, you can better control how much food you are eating in one sitting.

3. Saves money

Studies have shown that the more you make meals at home, the less likely you are to spend money eating out or ordering in. Meal prepping also allows you to be more intentional in your grocery shopping and make full use of the ingredients you purchase.

4. Saves time

If you have a busy schedule, meal prepping can take away some of the stress of having to cook each day. Since you can take care of the shopping, cooking, and prepping all in 1-2 days, meal prepping allows you to have more time the rest of the week. 

5. Convenient

By having prepped meals on hand, you always have something healthy to eat when you get hungry. You can also take it with you to work or school without having to do any extra work. 

6. Prevents impulsive food choices

Planning your meals ahead of time can help keep you track of what items you need when shopping, which can help you resist the temptation to impulse buy. It also helps you avoid making impulsive food choices when you get hungry.

What types of meals are best for meal prepping?

The best meal prep recipes are those that are easy to store and reheat. Pick a favorite casserole, soup, pasta, or other dish you cook often that uses staples that are usually on hand.

Consider dishes that do not need cooking, as well as those that can be prepared in a slow cooker, Instant Pot, or air fryer. This will make the entire process much easier.

Another effective meal prep method is to make a big batch of grains, such as rice or quinoa, vegetables, and protein (such as chicken or beans). Then, divide up everything into different containers and store in the refrigerator.

How to start meal prepping

If you are just starting out with meal prepping, start slowly by prepping just a few meals a week. Once you get used to the process, you can add more meals.

The important thing is to have a realistic and achievable goal so that you avoid giving up due to burnout.

Once you have decided on how many meals you want to prepare that week, set aside a day each week to take care of the grocery shopping and cooking. 

If you want to prepare foods that can be frozen ahead of time, try making large batches of such recipes a month ahead of time and thawing them out for a week at a time. For example, this can be done for soups and casseroles.

Remember that the goal is to make dinner preparation easier during the week, not more difficult. Create a routine that works for you and your lifestyle.


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How to meal prep step-by-step

1. Plan

  • Gather the recipes you want to make for the week, make a grocery list, and go shopping.
  • Set aside 2-3 hours to cook.
  • You can also create a weekly food plan so that you know which meals to prepare throughout the month.

2. Cook

  • Organize and prep your ingredients for each meal, then get out your kitchen appliances (slow cooker, Instant Pot, air fryer, etc.) and go to work.
  • Making batches of food at a time will get easier when you do it more frequently.

3. Store

  • Allow your food to cool before separating it into your preferred meal prep containers.
  • Allocate some fridge space for your meals. You can freeze some of your meals if you want to store them for longer.

Meal prep shopping list for weight loss

Foods to buy in large amounts

  • Whole grains
  • Pulses and legumes
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fermented and low-fat dairy products
  • Poultry and fish

Foods to buy in moderation

  • Bread and baked products
  • Nuts and seeds, such as almonds and flaxseeds
  • Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and yams
  • Dried fruits, such as figs and raisins
  • Starchy fruits such as bananas
  • Nut butter, such as peanut butter
  • Sweeteners, such as stevia

Foods to avoid

  • Fried foods
  • Processed foods
  • Sugary foods
  • Fatty foods
  • Salty foods

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Medically Reviewed on 8/10/2022
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