Meal Prep Ideas to Help You Save Time and Lose Weight

Finding meal prep ideas can undoubtedly be just as grueling as meal planning when you’re so busy every day. I get it– kids and work and quarantine (if that’s still going in your area). But the truth is, partnering meal planning with healthy meal prep ideas for weight loss can keep you on your diet (or get to losing that quarantine 15), keep you on budget, and also save hours in your week! It also saves loads of stress off you, which is why I include meal planning and easy meal prep in my definitions of self-care and stress management.

These things can be automated as routines that don’t take brainpower. You need some stuff off your plate, stat. And my philosophy is that when we merge healthy + efficient, we get a magical area ✨ that makes awesome health and ideal weight a doable daily thing. So let’s start with meal prep ideas to enhance your meal planning and weight loss efforts, shall we?

meal prep ideas to save time and lose weight

What Should I meal prep to lose weight?

The first obvious answer to this is to find healthy meal prep ideas that follow your chosen dietary style for weight loss. So if you’re doing keto, for example, you’d search ‘keto lunch meal prep’ or something similar. It’s easier and faster to find meal prep ideas for weight loss by using search terms that are very specific. Otherwise you’ll have loads of stuff come up that you don’t need.

If you’re not following any dietary style, search using the word ‘healthy’. In general, including protein, healthy fats, smart carbs (like whole grains– nothing refined and no added sugars), and fiber in the form of lots of veggies is the perfect formula for a filling meal that will fuel your body correctly. This means plenty of energy for walking, work, and taking care of kiddos the rest of the day.

To actually lose weight using meal prep, you’ll need to determine the number of calories, carbs, or macro ratios you’ll need for each meal, then plan accordingly. There are several apps that can calculate numbers for each recipe in this way. I use the Whisk app because it calculates all that automatically when you pull in a recipe.

{Recommended article: How to Find the Best Meal Planning App for your Family}

Can you meal prep for 7 days?

You can definitely prep for 7 days, but I recommend splitting the types of meals into ones that are fine for 3-4 days in the fridge, and then the rest for either the freezer or will store well in the fridge that long. This usually means meals to be reheated. Salads typically don’t do well sitting for that many days in the fridge. Produce can go bad at any time, plus when you mix veggies that way, one can make another go bad faster, especially when sealed up. 

I recommend being a little strategic about how you prep if you need a full 7 days. If you’re only doing meal prep salads, bowls, or wraps, go ahead and prep all the proteins and grains or starches, and maybe even chop the veggies. Then prep 3-4 days completely, but have the components of the last days of the week in separate containers in the fridge. Then you’ll need to do a quick prep session for the last few days of the week. 

Can you freeze meal prep?

This depends on the recipe. If it’s a recipe that you reheat, typically yes. If it’s a salad, no. You can, however, freeze some of the components of your healthy meal prep recipes. So any of the proteins like chicken, ground meat, shredded meat… those can usually just be frozen. Many of the veggies can be frozen as well. Veggies that contain a lot of water or are more fragile like cucumbers or lettuce don’t do well at all being frozen. Think about what you’d find in the freezer section. Those are the veggies and starches that will do fine freezing for a bit. 

If you want to freeze your recipes, though, I recommend doing batch prep with freezer meals. {Head to THIS PAGE to get 10 free freezer meal recipes!}

Where Can I buy food prep containers?

I usually use two different types of containers for my weekly meal prep, and it totally depends on whether or not the meal will go in the microwave to be reheated, OR if I’m doing a salad that’s on the go. 

If I need to reheat it, I use a glass pyrex-style dish. They’re rectangular, flat, and stack really nicely in the fridge.

{Check out this post for the Best Tools for Meal Prep recommendations!}

If I’m making a salad or bowl, I’ll either use the plastic meal prep containers (shown below) and add dressing right before eating it (because if you add it before it’ll make everything soggy), or I’ll use the Mason jar salad meal prep method if I’m taking it somewhere. The mason jar method is great because you can put dressings and anything more wet, like cut up tomatoes, at the bottom and then stack the rest of the greens and veggies, etc, vertically so nothing gets soggy before it’s time to eat it.

Cheap meal prep ideas

When it comes to cheap meal prep ideas, the general rule is to choose recipes with fewer ingredients. Yes, fancy seeds and sauces are nice and good. But when you need meal prep ideas on a budget, hitting your main macros will give you a delicious, filling, and nutritious lunch that’s easy on the bottom line cost. BudgetBytes has some awesome meal prep idea recipes that are extremely affordable.

What meals are good for meal prep?

Here are some awesome meal prep ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinners:

Breakfast meal prep ideas-

Lunch meal prep ideas-

Grab your free editable meal planning template by clicking below! 👇

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meal prep ideas to lose weight
Laura Brigance, MS, CHC

Author: Laura Brigance, MS, CHC

Laura is a Nutrition Specialist and Certified Health Coach with a Master of Science in Nutrition. Her goal is to help women reduce inflammation, balance blood sugar, and regain natural energy with an Anti-Inflammatory Diet + Lifestyle.

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