When you are trying to lose weight one important tool is meal preparation or meal prep. In this article I’m going to take a look at the ways having a meal prep routine can help you to lose weight.
What is meal prep?
Meal preparation is simply the process of preparing meals. But many in the nutrition world usually mean preparing meals in advance.
Meal prep can take many forms. You can do a Sunday meal prep ritual where you cook a bunch of meals for the week. If this doesn't work for you, there are other options.
You can cook certain parts of meals ahead of time to make meal prep time easier. If the plan is to stir fry for dinner, save time at dinner by chopping the vegetables ahead of time.
Or you could prepare the entire meal in advance. Breakfast prepared the night before is a common meal prep technique. A slow cooker is another option here.
Batch cooking is another way to do meal prep. It doesn’t have to be the entire meal. One idea is cooking a large pot of soup to have for lunch several days during the week. Another idea would be grilling several chicken breasts to use to top salads.
Planned leftovers work well if you are cooking for a smaller family or just yourself. Make a double or more recipe and divide it up into the correct portions before you serve it.
Make use of your freezer for storing a few backup meals. This is a much better option than frozen dinners you’ll find in the supermarket. Be sure you are only freezing meals that freeze well. Things like chili, spaghetti sauce, and some soups are good options. And freeze them in the correct portions.
Let’s take a closer look at how meal prep can help you lose weight.
Whether you are preparing entire meals or just parts of meals ahead of time, meal prep often means your meals will be healthier. When you have time to make healthy meals you can include the healthiest foods in your meals. When you are short on time and haven’t prepared meals they are more likely to include quick cooking processed carbohydrates, no vegetables or even heavily processed convenience foods.
Take breakfast for example. You could prepare a batch of sheet pan eggs to quickly heat up and eat in the morning, VS reaching for a bowl of sugary cereal to start your day. (Or even worse skip breakfast and pick up a donut later on).
Avoid eating out
If you are working in an office then eating out for lunch can be very tempting. But this won’t help with your weight loss efforts if you do it on a regular basis. Instead prepare lunch ahead of time and bring it with you.
And preparing ahead of time is key. Slapping together a sandwich before heading out the door is better than fast food, but a soup or stir fry you made on the weekend will make lunches for the week. Or make a healthy dinner with extra servings and save those for lunch the next day.
Making meals ahead of time allows you to portion meals out so you are eating the right amount. It’s easy to underestimate how much you are eating without considering portion control. When you prepare your meals in advance you can actually measure it out into the correct portions.
Make meals just for you
One issue many women have with eating healthier is not having their family on board. Meal prep allows you to make meals just for you. So when your family is eating something you know is off limits, you can pull a healthy meal out of the fridge or freezer.
Lower stress at meal time
Stress is a sneaky contributor to weight gain. And if meal prep (and worse planning and shopping) is left to the last minute this will likely contribute to your stress levels.
Having meals prepared ahead of time, removes some of the stress of meal time. You can even keep a few backup meals in the freezer for high stress, busy days.
And preparing meals when stress is lower, means that you are more likely to make healthy choices.
What if you just don't have time?
Meal prep does take time especially when you first start. Meal delivery and meal planning services can help you save some time. I have some great meal delivery services options and ready-to-eat meals that can help you stay on plan and keep winning.
When you’re trying to lose weight using meal prep can help. My programs include an extensive recipe library and help with getting started with meal prep. To book a free nutrition assessment click here.