16 Ways to Hack Your Meal-Prep Routine For Faster Weight-Loss Results
A healthy diet is essential to weight-loss success. So instead of being at the whim of choosing meals in the moment, you'll need to plan out and prep your week's meals and snacks. Unfortunately, we're not talking about making seven day's worth of brownies. If you're looking to slim down and eat healthier, certified dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD, of Whole Health Nutrition shares these meal-prep hacks.
Spend time over the weekend to look over healthy recipes and plan out your week's meals. If you're new to meal prepping, maybe you just want to plan out dinners. Or maybe you're going full force into meal prepping and you know what you're going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, too. After you plan, make a shopping list and hit the grocery store so you have everything ready by Monday.
DIY Smoothie Packs
The hurdle of having to prepare you protein- and fiber-packed smoothie can make you want to skip it for a scone. So prep all the fruits and greens you use in your smoothies and freeze individual DIY smoothie packs. It not only makes a fast breakfast even faster, but it ensures you stick to a portion-perfect calorie amount.
DIY Salad Bar
Here's a salad hack that will make those dinner salads happen. Wash and cut all your favorite veggies, then store them in closed mason jars. Each night, take out the six or so jars and you've got a DIY salad bar.
Pack (Crisp) Salads For a Full Week
Don't have time to cut up a salad every single night? Here's a way to make all the salads you need for your workweek at once.
Freeze Your Greens
Tired of tossing greens week after week? This ice-cube hack is a must. Pick up some BPA-free ice cube trays or baby-food trays, and buy a variety of greens. You can puree them separately in a food processor or blender or puree them together, adding a little water to yield a smooth consistency. Pour the puree into the little wells, attach the lids, and freeze them. When you're ready to make your smoothie, just grab a few and throw them in your blender — it's a great time-saver. You can also freeze greens as is in baggies — just be sure to wash and reuse them.
All that meal planning won't do you any good if you don't actually follow through. One way to make each dinner happen is to get a head start on the prep. Cut up veggies you'll be using for all your recipes, like sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and squash for roasting, or carrots, celery, and onion for soups.
Make-Ahead Overnight Oats
How do you make the quickest breakfast even quicker? Prep your entire week of overnight oats all at once.
To prevent mindless snacking between meals, pre-make a batch of protein balls to keep in your fridge or gym bag. Try these delicious recipes:
If you're a fan of steel cut oatmeal for keeping you full all morning long, this freezer hack is a huge time saver. Just make a big batch on the stove, and freeze smaller portions using a muffin tin. Pop the little oatmeal pucks into a freezer bag and a week of healthy, fiber-full breakfasts is ready.
If you're into protein in the morning to sustain your energy and always seem to be running out of eggs, this freezer hack is for you. Just scramble a dozen eggs, freeze them in muffin cups, and they'll stay good up to six months.
Don't stop at oatmeal! You can cook up other grains such as quinoa, rice, millet, and barley and freeze those, too. You can even combine two or more grains, and it's a great, quick way to get some protein and fiber into your meal without having to spend 20 minutes cooking them up each time.
Freeze Cookie Dough
If you love to bake but know you can't just stop at one cookie, whip up your cookie dough and freeze the batter into ice cube trays. That way you can pop out one or two, bake those in your toaster oven, and you'll indulge a little without the temptation to keep reaching for more.
Steel cut oats are lower on the glycemic index than quick or rolled oats, which means they'll stabilize your blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full longer. They take over 40 minutes to cook though, so make a batch of this pumpkin pie overnight steel cut oatmeal and it'll be ready for you first thing in the morning. Store leftovers in separate glass containers so you can quickly warm them up all week.
If you know you have a sweet tooth, indulging it can satisfy cravings and prevent you from binging on an entire pint of ice cream later. Make a batch of a healthy dessert like these no-bake vegan brownies, so you can grab one and be done.
Prep Fresh Snacks
We tend to reach for chips and crackers because they're easy and right there. Make fresh fruits and veggies just as easily accessible by washing, cutting, and storing them in containers at eye-level in your fridge.
Freeze Pureed Veggies
Not just for baby food, freeze pureed veggies like green beans, butternut squash, and carrots and add them to soups, smoothies, and sauces to increase the fiber and other nutrients.