Meal Prep for Weight Loss – Can meal prepping really help you lose weight?
Meal Prep for Weight Loss
Hi everyone! I’m Theresa and Stephanie asked me to share a post on her site! I’m a Registered Dietitian at www.theresagentilerd.com helping busy families prepare healthy meals to help you lose weight, easy picky eating and have peaceful mealtimes.
So, can meal prepping really help you lose weight?
There’s no avoiding it – preparing meals in advance can jump-start weight loss, save you money and improve your health.
What is meal prepping, exactly?
It’s preparing whole meals, partial meals and snacks in advance. It can include batch cooking or just deciding ahead of time the foods that will be eaten over the course of the next few days. If you picture yourself imprisoned in the kitchen all day on Sunday to batch cook meals for the week, think again. There are various ways meal prepping can be done and still impart a positive impact on your health and waistline.
Why should you meal prep?
1. Meal prepping can save you time
Planning meals in advance can save you time. Lack of time is one of the main barriers to preparing meals at home. The time Americans spend cooking has decreased from 1.63 hours per day in 1965 to 58 minutes per day in 2006. Yeah, we’re busy people.
If weeknights are particularly harried in your home, planning and prepping a few dinners on the weekend will be helpful. If mornings are rushed and crazy, then plan out what you can keep around and grab on the go.
2. Meal prepping can save you money
Planning in advance for a few meals for the week saves you money. By creating a grocery list centralized around a few recipes, you can choose those with overlapping ingredients so things like condiments, vegetables and herbs don’t go to waste. Also, grocery shopping with a list has been shown to cut down on money an calories by decreasing the amount of impulse purchases. As stated in a study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, “A shopping list can function as (1) a memory aid, (2) a guide to limiting impulse purchases, and (3) a formal planning method that structures meals and eating habits and preserves financial resources”.
3. Meal prepping can save you calories
You wouldn’t go vacation without an agenda, right? Well, you shouldn’t begin a weight loss program without a plan.
If you sign up on www.theresagentilerd.com, I’ll send you a 3-day meal plan that will help cut your calories.
First, tell your family of your plans which holds yourself accountable.
Then, identify your weak spots. Is it breakfast on the run? Finishing your kids’ leftovers? Ordering takeout every night? Whatever, it is, start there and improve it. Then, you can build on that.
Consuming even just one dinner meal away from home per week is associated with considerably greater odds of a family being overweight/obese.
How should you meal prep for weight loss?
Breakfast can be fairly easy to prep, especially if you can keep some supplies at work.
Meal prep ideas for breakfast:
- Hard boiled eggs
- Egg muffins (if you have extra time to cook on the weekend)
- Overnight oats / hot oatmeal
- Chia seed pudding
- Low fat string cheese and crackers
- Homemade coffee smoothies
- Plain yogurt with nuts
- Toast and avocado (check out my avocado toast recipe)
- High fiber cereal + nuts
How to meal prep lunch:
If you’re accustomed to purchasing lunch out at work every day, perhaps start by bringing lunch from home 2 or 3 days per week. If you bring your own lunch for three days and eat out for 2 days, you’ve started to save yourself quite a bit of money and calories. (Not to mention fat and sodium.)
Meal Prep Ideas for Lunch
Grill a bunch of chicken (or fish/vegetables/hard boil some eggs). Chop them up and toss over salad greens. Pair with 1-2 healthy snacks and you’re ready to go!
How to Meal Prep for Dinner
You know what they say…eat breakfast like a king; lunch like a prince; and dinner like a pauper. But, in our society, dinner can be the only time families are sitting down together, sharing the experiences of the day, so it tends to be a bigger meal. And it’s an important one. Just as eating out or ordering takeout has been associated with overweight and obesity, t’s been shown that home-cooked dinners are associated with lower body fat and markers of chronic disease. Dinnertime is also a very stressful time for the cook. No matter what time you’re home in the evening, dinner takes some planning to keep everyone happy.
Meal Prep Ideas for Dinner
Over the weekend, pick out a few tried and true (simple) recipes with overlapping ingredients. Shop for 3 days of ingredients (depending on the number of perishable items). Try prepping the evening before if you can.
Another option is to plan out 2-4 weeks of recipes and rotate them. Make a list of your families’ favorite meals and plan them out for a few weeks. Write them out on a calendar. This takes the guesswork out of it and limits impulse choices.
So, what are you waiting for?
Which meal prep idea will you start with?
1. Ducrot P, Méjean C, Aroumougame V, Ibanez G, Allès B, Kesse-Guyot E, Hercberg S, Péneau S. Meal planning is associated with food variety, diet quality and body weight status in a large sample of French adults. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2017 Feb 2;14(1):12.
2. Kant AK, Whitley MI, Graubard BI. Away from home meals: associations with biomarkers of chronic disease and dietary intake in American adults, NHANES 2005-2010. Int J Obes (Lond). 2015 May;39(5):820-7.
3. Dubowitz T1, Cohen DA2, Huang CY2, Beckman RA2, Collins RL2.. Using a Grocery List Is Associated With a Healthier Diet and Lower BMI Among Very High-Risk Adults. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2015 May-Jun;47(3):259-64.
Theresa Gentile, MS, RD