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I’ve been meal prepping for a while now so I thought I’d share my best meal prep ideas for weight loss to help you out if you’re just getting started. You’ve probably heard of the concept of meal prep, but a lot of people find the whole meal prep world a bit intimidating, especially in the beginning.
Meal prep has been popular in the bodybuilding community for decades but in the last few years it’s started to go mainstream. Meal prepping can be a very powerful tool in your weight loss arsenal, helping you to avoid last-minute takeout and ensuring you always have something healthy to eat.
There are so many benefits to meal prepping, including:
- Helps with weight loss/maintenance
- Encourages you to eat healthy
- Saves you money
- It’s actually fun!
If you’ve wanted to get started with meal prep but you’re a bit unsure and need some meal prep ideas for weight loss then you’re in the right place.
I’ve been meal prepping for a while now and I’m compiled this list of 10 meal prep ideas that’ll assist you in your weight loss journey.
Make sure you download the free Ibotta app to make money back on your groceries. Unlike a lot of apps, Ibotta will pay you for a lot of healthy things you’ll be using to meal prep, including eggs, fresh produce, oats, etc. Download it here and get a bonus $10.
10 Meal Prep Ideas for Weight Loss
1. You Don’t Need to Meal Prep Everything
When you’re first getting started with meal prepping, it’s often overwhelming to think that you have to make 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners and enough snacks for the entire week, all in a few hours.
Don’t worry – you don’t have to do this!
When you’re new to the concept of meal prep, it’s ok to take it slow. Any amount of meal prep is better than none. Instead of stressing yourself out wondering how the heck you’re going to prep ALL.THE.MEALS, just start with something like:
- 3 healthy dinners for the week
- All of your healthy snacks
- 3 make-ahead breakfasts
By taking it slow, you’ll avoid that feeling of overwhelm that can cause you to quit entirely. Once you start regularly prepping your meals, you’ll start to get into your own routine and you can start adding another few meals into your meal-prep time.
When I first started with meal prepping, I started with my snacks and breakfast for the week.
For my snacks, I made a variety of these:
And for my breakfasts, I would usually make these:
2. Invest in a slow cooker or instant pot
When it comes to meal prepping, a slow cooker or instant pot will quickly become one of your best friends. One of the beauties of a slow cooker is that you can just throw some chicken breasts or chopped veggies (or even eggs) into it and voila – a few hours later you have all your protein or vegetables ready for the week.
One of my favorite ways to use my instant pot is to throw in some chicken breasts along with some garlic salt, onion powder, and a little paprika and let it cook while I’m making energy bites for the week. Once the chicken has finished in the slow cooker, I simply shred it up and then store it in the refrigerator, ready for salads, wraps or to have with veggies for dinner.
I have both a slow cooker and an instant pot. I’ve had my slow cooker for years and I do love it, but the instant pot has many benefits that a slow cooker just doesn’t have.
To learn more, read:
- Why Every Busy Mom Needs an Instant Pot (and every meal prepper, imo!)
3. Buy good meal prep containers
To effectively meal prep, you’re going to want to buy some good meal prep containers. Call me weird, but I absolutely love looking in my refrigerator and seeing all my portion control containers neatly snacked on top of each other, full of healthy meals for the week!
When it comes to the perfect meal prep containers, there are a few things you want to look out for:
- Freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe
- Separate compartments within the container
These are the best meal prep containers I’ve ever found, and the ones I recommend to everyone who meal preps. They fit all of the criteria above and they’re super reasonably priced.
4. Make smoothie bags for the freezer
Another great meal prep idea for weight loss is to make smoothie bags and put them in the freezer.
Basically what you’ll do is place all of your smoothie ingredients (apart from the liquid) into a ziplock bag and place it in the freezer. That way each morning all you have to do is grab one of the ziplock bags, dump the contents into your blender, add some liquid, blend it all together and voila – a healthy breakfast ready in less than a minute.
My husband LOVES the mini quiches heated up in the microwave for breakfast but I’m partial to a “ziplock smoothie” as I call them 🙂
Here are some ideas of what you can place in your ziplock bag:
- Frozen banana
- Frozen berries
- Rolled oats
- Peanut Butter
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
For even more ideas, read:
5. Hard boil a dozen eggs
Eggs are the perfect healthy snack, so I always hard boil a dozen eggs as part of my meal prep every week. Eggs are also incredibly versatile. Besides being an easy, on-the-go snack, you can also slice up a hardboiled egg and have it with a piece of avocado wholegrain toast for breakfast or sliced and served as the protein portion of a salad for lunch.
Did you know that you can easily hard boil eggs in an instant pot and the shells come off easily? This post explains how.
6. Put together a large grazing snack tray – if you’re a grazer or have kids who love to snack, then putting together a large grazing snack tray is a good idea.
I put together a variety of healthy snacks for the week into a single, large rectangular container, and place that in the refrigerator. Everyone knows that this is the “snack container” so whenever we’re feeling snackish, we’ll just go into the refrigerator and see what’s left.
Some ideas for your grazing snack tray:
7. Cook up a huge bunch of quinoa
Quinoa is one of the best meal prep foods you can make. Most people think quinoa is a grain, but it’s actually a seed, and it’s incredibly healthy, versatile and easy to cook.
Some of the health benefits of quinoa include:
- Excellent source of protein
- Excellent source of fiber
- High in vitamins and minerals including magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, folate, copper, iron, zinc and potassium
- Low glycemic index
- High in antioxidants
If I’ve convinced you that quinoa is a good meal prep idea (and I really hope I have) then make up a big batch of it during your meal prep session and add it to salads, have it as a side for dinner with a little lemon juice and crumbled feta, or have it for breakfast with some almond milk, berries and a tiny drizzle of maple syrup, if desired.
8. Schedule in Your Meal Prep Time
Have you heard the saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail?” When it comes to meal prepping, merely thinking about doing it won’t make a difference. You actually need to set aside a period of time each week to get your meal prep done, otherwise I can assure you it won’t happen.
It actually took me a few weeks to get into the swing of things. I had the best of intentions, telling myself “I’ll find some time in between everything else this weekend to meal prep.”
And guess what?
It never happened. I never just “found the time.”
But once I started intentionally blocking out a few hours every weekend to meal prep, it got done.
9. Switch Things Up
If you make the exact same thing every week, you’ll start to get bored and that’s when you’ll find yourself ordering takeout and throwing out all your healthy, prepped food.
While there are some things that I always make, like my “ziplock smoothies” I don’t enjoy just having chicken, quinoa and veggies for dinner every single night.
Once you’ve gotten a good handle on the basics of food prep, start switching things up a bit. Instead of steamed veggies to have with your chicken and quinoa, make a big tray of roasted vegetables and chickpeas for example.
10. Keep it Simple
Part of the point of meal prepping is that it saves you a lot of work. So if you spend the entire day on Sunday slaving away in the kitchen, you’ve kind of defeated the purpose, right?
When it comes to meal prepping, don’t feel as if you have to cook extravagant meals in huge batches to freeze. Hard boil some eggs, cook some quinoa, make a snack tray, cook your chicken in the slow cooker, make some energy bites, portion your ziplock smoothie bags. This won’t take more than a couple of hours, maximum, and you’re good to go for the week.
Then, if you have time during the week and want to make something special, go for it. But if you just get those few recommendations done, you’ll know that you’re set for the week.