7 Simple Meal Planning Tips That Create Huge Weight Loss Results
By: Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
The hardest part of weight loss is what you put in your mouth. As humans, we all need food in order to survive. Unfortunately, we tend to over consume during meals, which puts us in a caloric surplus — causing us to gain weight. That’s where meal planning can be your saving grace.
For the majority of people, they over consume during meals because they fail to plan and prepare. They merely grab a plate, fill it up, and dig in (sometimes going back for seconds or even thirds before walking away from the table). By leveraging meal planning, you can put yourself in a position where everything is planned out, there are no more excuses, and as long as you follow the plan, you can experience the weight loss results you desire.
In this article, we will look at seven simple meal planning tips that you can use to achieve the best weight loss results possible.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak to your doctor or dietician before making any drastic changes to your nutrition plan.
Figure out what food you need to eat
To kick things off, you first need to figure out what food you’re going to eat based on your dietary requirements. Are you going keto? Low carb? Vegan? Will you be utilizing intermittent fasting? Pick the direction you’re going to go with your food and work from there with your meal planning.
Once you decide on your food choices, start putting together meals you’d like to eat. It could be something like chicken breast with asparagus, ground turkey with mixed vegetables, lean steak with a sweet potato… you get the point. Write all your meals down and what days you will eat them.
You should also break down your meals into calories and macros to ensure you are in a caloric deficit at the end of each day. A simple and easy way to do this is to put everything into MyFitnessPal and then check to see where your numbers fall.
Plan a grocery list and stick to it
Next on our meal planning tips is to make a grocery list of all the food you wrote down in your meals from the section above. This is the list you will work from when you head to the grocery store.
Be sure to ONLY purchase the food that you have on the list. And the biggest tip of them all is to NOT go to the grocery store when you’re hungry. Quite literally, everything you pass by is going to make you even more hungry, and the chance of you buying something not on your list goes way up.
When you get to the grocery store, most of your items should be found on the outer perimeter. And again, be sure to stick to your list and don’t get sidetracked. If you can, buy items in bulk. Doing so will help you save money and prevent you from needing to frequent the grocery store as often.
Simplify the process by using shortcuts
Next on our list of meal planning tips is using shortcuts to minimize the time needed to prepare your meals. Now, if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to skip this part as you’d assume, convenience means a higher price tag. But if you want to get your meal planning done as quickly as possible, using shortcuts can drastically reduce your overall time spent on meal planning.
So, what are the shortcuts? Think of them as cheat codes in the video games you used to play. You’ll never tell anyone you used them, but the end result is a great advantage in your favor.
Utilize things like pre-cut fruits and vegetables, boneless/skinless chicken breast (or better yet, a rotisserie chicken where you can pull away the skin and remove all the chicken without having to cook anything), bagged/steamable vegetables, individual pre packaged cups of rice or oatmeal, prepackaged hard boiled eggs, etc.
Anything you can purchase that has some of the work already completed for you will save time.
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Invest in quality cookware and meal planning items
It’s lame at this point, but the saying, “Buy once, cry once,” really applies here. If you buy junk, your meal planning is going to be a trainwreck. Buy a good grill, buy an electric grill indoors if you don’t have room for a grill outside, invest in quality Tupperware, good pots and pans, utensils, a food scale, etc.
If you buy junk, you’re going to hate meal planning, and that’s going to ruin your process and may cause you to give up. Think of these items as investing in your health and the necessary things you need to achieve your health and fitness goals.
Cook everything in bulk batches
Just like when you purchase items in bulk to save time and money, the same goes for when you prepare your food. Some people enjoy cooking and want to prepare all of their meals fresh — more power to you if you fall into that category. For everyone else who has minimal time for meal planning and wants to cook once and be done for the week, this is by far the way to go.
Load up your grill, oven, etc., with your protein sources of choice (even your veggies if you prefer them grilled), put a large pot of rice or quinoa on the stove, and make meals in bulk batches. This will allow you to not only save time, but you can mix and match the various items you cooked in order to keep your meals fresh and prevent you from eating the exact same meals seven days in a row.
Get creative with your toppings and seasonings
When you are meal planning in bulk batches, things can go from exciting to boring in a matter of 24 hours. You could eat a meal today, enjoy it, and then not be hungry for it the following day. That’s where spices, herbs, and low-calorie condiments come into play. Many of the spices you’ll find have zero calories, and there are even things like plain yellow mustard that won’t add to your overall total daily calories.
Want even more flavor? Add some vegetables, like onion, tomato, spinach, etc., to your meals to change up the flavors. The key is to get creative with your toppings and seasonings when meal planning, as it will help keep things fresh and exciting (the last thing you want to do is literally eat the same thing for several days in a row).
Put whole meals in Tupperware containers
The whole point of meal planning is having everything ready to go when needed. If you have to make more items or spend time creating meals from items in the fridge before heading out the door, you’re less likely to actually follow through with the diet, and your meal planning efforts were for nothing.
Invest in some quality Tupperware with secure lids and put COMPLETE meals in each one. What this does is provides you with options to choose from (mix and match the food items to create various meal varieties).
Before you head out the door, all you need to do is grab one of your premade meals in a Tupperware container, and out the door you go. There’s really no thinking involved, your macros will be where they need to be, and you’ll save a bunch of time every day not needing to cook meals or figure out what you’re going to eat.
Give these seven simple meal planning tips a try and experience for yourself how easy dieting can be and how quickly you can achieve your weight loss goal.