How to Meal Prep For Weight Loss

10 Tips How To Meal Prep For Weight Loss

Find tons of tips on how to meal prep for weight loss in our comprehensive guide. We’ve got advice on how to meal prep for weight loss, we’re offering some strategies on finding a system that works best for you, how to appropriately store your food and the best methods to defrost and there’s lots of inspiration for delicious recipes.

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Find tons of tips on how to meal prep for weight loss in our handy guide. We've got advice on how to meal prep for weight loss, offering some strategies on finding a system that works for you and lots of inspiration for delicious recipes.

Meal prepping (or food prepping) is a great way to stay on track with your weight loss goals by preparing healthy food in advance. And what’s more, you can also save money in the process.

Meal prep is more than a food trend. It’s a lifestyle change to help you make delicious food you’ll want to eat every day. The end results will look impressive, but it doesn’t require days of planning or overly expensive gadgets.

Our handy guide to meal prep for weight loss will teach you everything you need to know about making your meals in advance, including how to make sure your food stays fresh and nutritious.

What is meal prepping?

Simply put, meal prepping means to prepare your meals in advance. Typically single portions are the most popular form of meal prep. However, you can choose from a range of forms of meal prep depending on your needs:

Different types of meal prep include:

  • Full make-ahead meals: Cook the entire meal and store in the fridge or freezer for consumption at a later date
  • Batch cooking and freezing: Make multiple portions or meals, then divide out and store in the freezer. This approach is particularly useful for recipes you can cook in large amounts like soup, stew, curries, chillies and pies.
  • Meals for one: Prepare food and portion it in food storage containers which will normally last a few days.
  • Ingredient prep: If you prefer to cook and serve food in one go, this method takes some of the hassles out of the cooking experience. Just prep parts of the recipe in advance. Chop vegetables, mix spices or marinade meats to save time cooking later.

Typically, meal prep involves making the majority of your meals for a few days to a week ahead. You can choose to make Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in advance, However, some people (ourselves included) only make Breakfast and Lunch, then cook dinner in the evenings.

You can also choose to make some bulk snacks up in advance like these delicious trail mix bars.

This might sound like hard work, but you can start off easily. You don’t have to meal prep for the week ahead at first. Especially if this sounds like a daunting task. However, you can meal prep for a few days in advance and once you get into the swing of things you can think further ahead.

Deciding what food and recipes you will prep each week may take a little bit of time but it will get easier the more you do it. You will come to learn what your “staple” foods are and which recipes you’d rather eat more frequently.

We don’t typically spend a lot of time in the kitchen on our meal prep days, but we do set aside a few hours each week for food prep. No matter how you plan to meal prep, either for a few days in advance for prepping for the whole week, it will set you up for success and keep you on track to attain your overall weight loss goals by eating healthy food.

Why should you meal prep for the week ahead?

Possibly the most important thing you do for your health and fitness journey will be meal prep. This is especially true if your goal is to lose body fat and build muscle mass. Fueling your body with well planned, nutritious meals allows your body to function efficiently.

Having already prepared clean and healthy meals readily available solves the age-old dilemma of “what’s for dinner?” and also helps you to avoid making poor food choices when you’re hungry. Meal prepping gives you total control of what goes into your food, unlike eating processed meals. Which is particularly good if you’re looking to stay on track with your health goals.

Meal prep will save you time during the week which you can devote to other activities such as working out, meeting up with friends, relaxing after a long day or even catching up on your favourite box set.

The benefits of meal prep for weight loss

There are many benefits to meal prep for weight loss. In fact, once you become more practised, you’ll find that meal prepping can really change your life.

We’ve listed some of the benefits below:

  • Save money
  • Less food waste
  • Stay on track to meet goals
  • Save time
  • Less stressful

You can save money by prepping multiple portions of the same meal, or indeed by only buying what you need for each meal. This will also result in less food waste.

Carrying out your meal prep for weight loss will help you stay on track to meet your weight loss goals. You’ll know exactly what meals you are eating each week and when you should be having them. This can help you track your energy levels throughout the day and also help you to gauge if you need to make changes in future weeks.

Whether you choose to cook all of your meals for a few days to a week in advance, or you only prepare your vegetables and portion out your ingredients, meal prep will save you time in the kitchen.

As you become more experienced, you’ll only spend a couple of hours per week on your food prep, rather than a couple of hours per day. What will you do with all the extra time? You could spend it with your family or friends, fit in some chill out time, catch up on the latest box sets. It’s entirely up to you.

Prepping your food in advance will reduce your stress levels and help you to avoid the inevitable “what are we having for dinner tonight?” debate that no doubt goes on in every household for what feels like an eternity until a decision is finally made.

Avoid common mistakes in your meal prep for weight loss

If you’re new to meal prep then it’s a good idea to keep things simple. Try making meals you can cook in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Don’t make too many meals at once as it may be too complicated and end up putting you off meal prepping.

Plan meals that will keep you feeling fuller for longer and make sure you meet your macros target for each meal, depending on your diet and weight loss goals.

Make recipes you know you’ll love and actually eat. So long as your meals are balanced you won’t need to step too far out of your comfort zone. But it is important to eat what you cook to avoid a waste of food and money.

Make enough food to cover your schedule. We’ll touch on this a bit more, but making a plan will really help with your meal prep for weight loss. Once you have your plan it’s a good idea to figure out the quantities of your ingredients needed. This will ensure you make the right amount of food without running out or creating food waste.

How to meal prep for weight loss (the short version)

Meal PlanShopMeal PrepStorage
Create a list of all the meals you will eat over the next week (including snacks).
Use this weekly meal planner to easily keep track of your meals for the week ahead.
When you know what meals you will be cooking, check your fridge, freezer and cupboards for any missing ingredientsTo make the most of your time, use a slow cooker or pressure cooker (we use both, along with the hob top, oven and grill to cook multiple meals at once).Portion your meals so they are easy to grab and go on busy mornings.
Make sure to include the following in your meals:
– Lean protein
– Complex carbohydrates
– Healthy fats
– Vegetables
– Fruit
Make your shopping list and follow it in storeWash and chop your fruit and vegetables. Portion out any other snacks like nuts and seeds for easy grab and go.Use meal prep storage containers. A few of our favourites are these handy silicone bags, these space saving plastic storage containers and durable microwavable soup mugs.

How to meal prep for weight loss (the long version)

Firstly, let us say, don’t be frightened. Meal prepping is not difficult and it really won’t take you all day. We’re just going into a bit more detail here for those who really want to get to grips with their food prep.

How to get started with your food prep

Typically, food prep is done either weekly, or bi-weekly. You can either stick to scheduled days for your food prep, or you can do this on an as needed basis.

For example, Sunday is our day to meal prep for the week ahead. This is our one day per week that we usually don’t have to be anywhere and it means we can devote a couple of hours in the afternoon to our food prep.

However, you may wish to carry out your food prep on different days each week depending on your schedule or needs for the week.

So how should you get started? It’s quite simple

  • Decide on the meals you will eat for the week and fill in your weekly meal planner.
    • We typically start with planning breakfast and lunches as we normally have the same meals 3 to 4 times in the week which is easier to fill in.
    • Then decide what you will cook for dinner. For us, this take a little more time because we’ll mix it up a bit more.
    • Don’t forget to include your healthy snacks!
  • Make your shopping list and buy all the ingredients you need
  • Decide what you will cook or prep in advance
  • Set aside one or two days per week for your food prep

Determine your needs to meal prep for the week ahead

The amount of food prep you’ll have to do will be entirely dependant on your needs and that of your family. If this is the first time you will meal prep for the week ahead, or indeed if you made too much or too little food in previous weeks you may need to make some tweaks to your plan.

Start by asking yourself some of these questions to help get balance right for your meal prep for the week:

  • What do you want to eat?
  • How often would you like to change your meals?
  • Can you use ingredients that can be prepped in different ways to create different meals?
  • Are you or anyone in your family a picky eater?
  • Will your family be eating the same meals as you?
  • Which meals will you eat at home?
  • Which meals will you eat elsewhere? For instance, lunches at work?
  • Do you have access to a fridge and or microwave on the go?

If you’re carrying out your meal prep for weight loss we also have some key advice for you.

Your meal prep for the week should include meals that have different tastes but use the same (or similar) ingredients. This will allow you to create multiple meals out of one prepped ingredient. It will also save you some money during your weekly food shop.

If you can create different meals and flavours with similar staple food items, you will be able to fight food boredom during your meal prep for weight loss. This will also help you to stay on track and smash your goals.

Preparing your kitchen for food prep

In order to effectively meal prep for weight loss you’ll need to prepare your kitchen. This means having all the ingredients, gadgets, tools and storage options on hand to make your meal prep for the week ahead a complete breeze.

Preparing your cupboards, fridge and freezer

Stock your cupboards with the essential items that you’ll need during your food prep. These include herbs, spices, baking goods, tinned foods, dried foods and protein powders. You can also buy frozen fruit and vegetables that are washed, chopped and ready to be used.

If you’re planning to use certain items regularly, consider buying these in bulk to save money.

Items we suggest stocking up on include:

Herbs & SpicesBaking goodsTinned & Dried FoodsFridge & FreezerMisc.
CuminRolled OatsChopped TomatoesGreek or Natural YoghurtProtein Powder
TumericBaking PowderRed Kidney BeansAlmond MilkNuts:
– Peanuts
– Cashews
– Walnuts
– Pecans
PaprikaBicarbonate of SodaChickpeasFrozen BerriesSeeds:
– Flax seed
– Poppy Seed
– Chia Seed
Chilli PowderBrown SugarBlack BeansSpinach
Curry PowderPlain FlourWhole Wheat PastaBroccoli
Black PepperSelf Raising FlourBrown RiceOnions
Sea SaltCoconut FlourUdon NoodlesMushrooms
EggsCous CousPeppers
No Added Sugar JellyGarlic

Storing your non-perishables

Correctly storing your most-used non-perishables is an often overlooked area of meal prepping. Follow these steps to keep your cupboards organised and to extend your food budget.

  • Store your bulk products in large containers with labels to identify your foods. You’ll be able to find your ingredients much easier and you will also have a clear indication of when you need to add these items to your shopping list again.
    • These containers are particularly great for storing rolled oats, pasta, rice, couscous, and flour.
  • Organise your cupboard space and designate each group an area to save time and help you to see when you need to replenish. For example:
    • tinned goods area
    • baking goods area
    • dried foods area
    • herb and spice section

Must have appliances & storage solutions for food prep

Planning your shopping list to meal prep for weight loss

You may have guessed that in order to effectively meal prep for weight loss, you need to do a little bit of planning first. Part of your planning should be organising your shopping list.

We’ve given you some tips on staple items that are always in our cupboards, but planning your shopping list for your food prep goes a little bit deeper.

Once you’ve figured out your menu for the week, you’ll need to work out how much of each ingredient you’ll need. This is especially important for ingredients you’ll use in multiple meals to make sure you have enough to stretch out.

To do this, write down all your ingredients and quantities, then total them up. Check what is already in your cupboards so that you don’t end up buying more than you need.

Separate your shopping list into produce (fruit & vegetables), meat, poultry and fish, tinned goods, baking, dairy, frozen and miscellaneous. This will help you to complete your shopping quickly without purchasing too many impulse buys.

Meal prep for weight loss strategies

Once you have bought all your ingredients to meal prep for the week ahead, you’ll need to begin your actual food prep and cooking. Now, here’s the thing. You DON’T need to cook everything up in one go if you don’t want to or don’t have time to do so.

Some people may find it easier to prep their vegetables, proteins and carbs in advance, then taking a portion of each to build their meals. This is known as buffet style meal prep and is particularly good for meals like salads, wraps and even tacos, which use similar ingredients.

Meal prep for weight loss – buffet style:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Wash down any surfaces using an antibacterial cleaner that your food will come into contact with.
  • Wash all produce you will be using for your food prep.
  • Layout your ingredients on your worktop to allow for easy access during your food prep.
  • Chop some vegetables
  • Roast any vegetables or potatoes in seasoning for added flavour
  • Make up any salad dressing, vinegarette and sauces you want to use during the week
  • Cook up your grains, pasta or rice
  • Cook a large portion of protein to use in a variety of meals

Meal prep for weight loss – batch cooking:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Wash down any surfaces using an antibacterial cleaner that your food will come into contact with.
  3. Wash all produce you will be using for your food prep. Any fruit you are not using can be put away and washed before use.
  4. Layout important ingredients on your worktop to allow for easy access during your food prep.
  5. Start with cooking your first recipe. We’d recommend beginning with an easy meal that doesn’t require much effort once your vegetables are chopped and your meat is diced. We would usually start with a slow cooker or pressure cooker recipe.
  6. Once you have your first meal into your slow cooker or pressure cooker, start with utilizing the rest of your surfaces and appliances to speed up your meal prep. For instance, you could have meals in your oven, grill and on the hob top at the same time.
  7. Another piece of advice is to clean up as you go along. There’s nothing worse than spending a couple of hours in the kitchen cooking and then to turn around and see a mound of dishes waiting to be washed. If you clean up as you go you’ll have time for doing other things.

Storage & how long food will last

How long your food will last depends on how quickly you’ll eat it and also how and where it is stored. If stored improperly, what would normally last 3 – 4 days, may only last 2 days.

Large food containers are great for storing dried food in your cupboards. Such as pasta, rice, oats and even homemade granola.

Single portion food containers are an excellent option for storing meals in the fridge that would typically be taken to go. They are safe for microwave use, dishwasher safe and perfect for travelling with. They can be used in the freezer but you may find they take up more space than silicone storage bags.

Silicone food storage bags are a great option for storing food in the freezer. They have a tight seal meaning they are leak proof, and even holding soups they can be laid flat to save space.

Storing frozen foods

The storage of frozen food is very important, especially if you buy your ingredients in bulk to save money. Any meats should be wrapped properly, making sure they are airtight to avoid freezer burn.

How long to store frozen foods

Following UK standards on food storage, we’ve detailed the foods below that can be safely stored in the freezer for a certain duration before needing to be eaten.

Raw FoodsDuration
Chicken, turkey, duck and goose3 Months
Beef, veal, venison and pork3 months
Cured meat3 months
Lamb, ham and bacon joints2 months
Sliced Bacon2 months
Fish
Vacuum sealed fish portions12 Months
Whitefish6 months
Oily fish3 months
Shellfish (not raw)3 months
Fruit and Vegetables
Open frozen fruit6 Months
Blanched vegetables12 months
Unblanched vegetables3 months
Tomatoes6 months
Prepared foods
Soups, stews and sauces3 Months
Stocks6 months
Prepared meals6 months
Cakes3 – 6 months
Bread3 – 6 months
Bread dough1 month
Pastries3 months

Defrosting frozen food

When you’ve decided to eat your frozen food, you’ll need to defrost it. There are a few methods you can use to defrost your food, choose the best one to suit your timeframe.

  • BEST: Defrosting in the fridge. This usually can be done overnight but for larger meals or pieces of meat such as whole chickens, it can take 24 hours.
  • BETTER: Defrost in cold water. Your frozen item should be in an airtight bag and the cold water should be replaced roughly every 30 minutes. Cook the food immediately once thawed.
  • GOOD: Defrost in the microwave. How long it takes to defrost your food will depend on the weight and power of your microwave. You should check the manufacturer’s guidelines for your microwave. Cook immediately once defrosted.
  • ACCEPTABLE: You can cook your ingredients from frozen. It may take a little longer and you will need to check the temperature of your food before plating up to check it has been cooked through.

Storing raw food

How long you can store raw food in the fridge will depend on the item. Always consult the best before and use by dates on your food to make sure you don’t get food poisoning. If it doesn’t look or smell right, bin it!

  • Ground meat, poultry and seafood will usually keep in the fridge for 1 – 2 days.
  • Roasting joints, steaks and chops will keep for 3 – 4 days.
  • A carton of egg whites will normally need to be used within 3 days of opening. However, you should check the instructions on the box.

Storing cooked food

When storing cooked food it’s typically a good idea to label your meals with both an indication of what it is and the date it was made. For example Chicken Curry 30/7/20. This will save on food waste and if you have multiple meals stored in your fridge, you can easily see what you’re reaching for.

Typically cooked meals will last 3 – 4 days in the fridge if stored correctly.

Popular meal prep for weight loss recipes

Some of our favourite recipes to meal prep for weight loss include:

Conclusion

Meal prep for weight loss doesn’t have to be an arduous task. If you’re a beginner, you can start simple and prep multiple portions of one meal. More advanced meal preppers might want to consider prepping their meals for a few days in advance, or undertaking meal prep for the week ahead.

If your aim is to meal prep for weight loss then you should cook healthy balanced meals that fulfil your macro targets.

The key is to finding a strategy that works with your lifestyle and sticking to it. Meal prep will save you time, money and from wasting food if done correctly.

By utilising certain tools and appliances you will be able to prep multiple recipes at once.

It’s important to store your prepped food correctly and using appropriate storage containers will help to save space in your kitchen and make your meals easy to grab on the go. It’s equally crucial to ensure you defrost your food appropriately to avoid food poisoning.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of delicious recipes that you can meal prep for weight loss. We’ve listed some of our favourites, but you can get creative or indeed search google for some more inspiration.

Have you found this guide helpful for your meal prep for weight loss? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Find tons of tips on how to meal prep for weight loss in our handy guide. We've got advice on how to meal prep for weight loss, offering some strategies on finding a system that works for you and lots of inspiration for delicious recipes.

What is meal prep?

Simply put, meal prepping means to prepare your meals in advance. Typically single portions are the most popular form of meal prep. However, you can choose from a range of forms of meal prep depending on your needs:
Different types of meal prep include:
Full make-ahead meals: Cook the entire meal and store in the fridge or freezer for consumption at a later date
Batch cooking and freezing: Make multiple portions or meals, then divide out and store in the freezer. This approach is particularly useful for recipes you can cook in large amounts like soup, stew, curries, chillies and pies.
Meals for one: Prepare food and portion it in food storage containers which will normally last a few days.
Ingredient prep: If you prefer to cook and serve food in one go, this method takes some of the hassles out of the cooking experience. Just prep parts of the recipe in advance. Chop vegetables, mix spices or marinade meats to save time cooking later.
Typically, meal prep involves making the majority of your meals for a few days to a week ahead. You can choose to make Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in advance, However, some people (ourselves included) only make Breakfast and Lunch, then cook dinner in the evenings.

Why should I meal prep?

Possibly the most important thing you do for your health and fitness journey will be meal prep. This is especially true if your goal is to lose body fat and build muscle mass. Fueling your body with well planned, nutritious meals allows your body to function efficiently.
Having already prepared clean and healthy meals readily available solves the age-old dilemma of “what’s for dinner?” and also helps you to avoid making poor food choices when you’re hungry. Meal prepping gives you total control of what goes into your food, unlike eating processed meals. Which is particularly good if you’re looking to stay on track with your health goals.
Meal prep will save you time during the week which you can devote to other activities such as working out, meeting up with friends, relaxing after a long day or even catching up on your favourite box set.

Should I meal prep for weight loss?

There are many benefits to meal prep for weight loss. In fact, once you become more practised, you’ll find that meal prepping can really change your life.
Carrying out your meal prep for weight loss will help you stay on track to meet your weight loss goals. You’ll know exactly what meals you are eating each week and when you should be having them. This can help you track your energy levels throughout the day and also help you to gauge if you need to make changes in future weeks.

What are the benefits to meal prep?

There are many benefits to meal prep. Some of the benefits include:
Save money
Less food waste
Stay on track to meet goals
Save time
Less stressful
You can save money by prepping multiple portions of the same meal, or indeed by only buying what you need for each meal. This will also result in less food waste. As you become more experienced, you’ll only spend a couple of hours per week on your food prep, rather than a couple of hours per day. Prepping your food in advance will reduce your stress levels and help you to avoid the inevitable “what are we having for dinner tonight?” debate that no doubt goes on in every household for what feels like an eternity until a decision is finally made.

How do I meal prep?

Meal plan: Create a list of all the meals you will eat over the next week (including snacks). Make sure to include the following in your meals:
– Lean protein
– Complex carbohydrates
– Healthy fats
– Vegetables
– Fruit
Shop: When you know what meals you will be cooking, check your fridge, freezer and cupboards for any missing ingredients. Make your shopping list and follow it in store.
Meal Prep: To make the most of your time, use a slow cooker or pressure cooker (we use both, along with the hob top, oven and grill to cook multiple meals at once). Wash and chop your fruit and vegetables. Portion out any other snacks like nuts and seeds for easy grab and go.
Storage: Portion your meals so they are easy to grab and go on busy mornings. Use meal prep storage containers.

How should I store frozen food?

The storage of frozen food is very important, especially if you buy your ingredients in bulk to save money. Any meats should be wrapped properly, making sure they are airtight to avoid freezer burn.

How long will cooked meals last for?

When storing cooked food it’s typically a good idea to label your meals with both an indication of what it is and the date it was made. For example Chicken Curry 30/7/20. This will save on food waste and if you have multiple meals stored in your fridge, you can easily see what you’re reaching for.
Typically cooked meals will last 3 – 4 days in the fridge if stored correctly.

What appliances will I need for meal prep?

Must have appliances & storage solutions for food prep
Slow cooker
Pressure cooker
Blender
Large food containers
Single portion food containers
Silicone food storage bags
Digital kitchen scales
Meat thermometer
Knife set
Chopping boards
Non-stick frying pans and saucepans
Oven trays and Pyrex baking dishes
Measuring cups and Measuring spoons
Measuring jug