Have you ever hit the drive-through or ordered take-out simply because you didn’t feel like preparing or cooking a meal? If you have, you’re not alone—it’s a common diet detour. That’s why meal prep can be one of the best ways to keep your weight loss plans on track. We’ve rounded up five of our best meal prep tips to help you achieve your weight loss goals with some simple meal planning.
1. It’s all about the right container.
Successful meal prep starts with stocking up on the right containers to support your efforts. These days there are so many options for meal prep storage. You can even get creative and think outside of the “typical storage box.” As an example, for salads, mason jars make a lovely way to stack ingredients and create beautiful and delicious salads for grab-and-go meals.
But there are also many great food storage containers with pre-portioned sections or in various sizes, all ready to meet your specific needs. Some storage containers even come with built-in utensils so you can just grab them and head out. You might even consider containers that are safe to heat in the microwave so that you can literally heat and eat!
2. Make use of your free time.
A lot of people say that they are most successful with meal prepping when they dedicate specific weekly time to the effort. If you set that same time aside each week, it helps to stick to it on a regular basis. It becomes part of your weekly schedule.
Of course, meal prepping is more than just preparing the food. It starts with creating a plan for the week, shopping for those food items and then moving into the prep period. Many people use Sunday to complete these tasks for the work week ahead. But you can choose the day or days that work best for you. The idea is to set that time aside so that you consistently stick to it.
3. Go frozen!
You can also take advantage of your freezer and prep meals much farther in advance. Whether it’s a healthy casserole or a crockpot or instant pot meal (prepared in a gallon baggie that just has to be “dumped” into the pot), this is a great way to take advantage of some free time and stock up your freezer with meals you can heat up later when time is of the essence. Your future self will thank you!
We’ve even heard that some people take a weekend day and prep meals for an entire month. This is a great way to make a busy month less stressful—and avoid ordering out too often. Just be sure to label meals—not only what they are, but also how to cook them and what date they were prepped. This will ensure you stay organized.
No time for cooking? Try one of the best meal prep tips of all: Stock up your freezer with frozen Nutrisystem meals to make healthy eating even easier!
4. Make sure there’s variety.
One way that things can go awry with meal planning is when the meals get boring. If you find yourself saying, “I don’t feel like having that again,” you might fall into the trap of ordering take-out instead. But with meal prep, it’s not like you have to prepare the same meal for multiple days of the week. What works best is preparing some staple foods that can work well in a variety of dishes.
For instance, you could batch cook a large quantity of grains but then use them as part of a few different meals, such as a salad, a power bowl and a stir fry. Roasted veggies are another great food that can be batch-prepped but then eaten in various ways. Ensuring that you fit some variety into your weekly meals will help prevent you from getting bored and falling off track.
5. Think about all your meals and snacks.
If you meal prep for lunch and dinner but fail to think about breakfast or snacks, you could still fall victim to the drive-through for an unhealthy breakfast or the vending machine for an easy snack. But you can avoid these traps by thinking ahead about all meals and snacks, too. Overnight oats have become very popular thanks to their ability to be prepped in advance. Hardboiled eggs, pre-cut fruit and yogurt parfaits are other breakfast ideas that can be made in advance of eating.
Prepping healthy snacks in advance is another great way to avoid grabbing for something unhealthy, just for convenience’s sake. A lot of times people tell us that they’re more inclined to enjoy veggies and dip if they pre-cut all the vegetables and have them ready to eat!
Nutrisystem can also help you simplify meals and snacks with plenty of grab-and-go options or frozen meals which just need to be heated up. This can remove all of the guesswork for weeks that you’re too busy to meal prep or plan ahead. At the end of the day, the more simplified you make the process, the easier it will be to stick to your weight loss goals.