Preparing meals and snacks in advance can help a person stick to a nutritious eating plan, especially if they have a busy schedule. This may involve preparing full meals or components, such as baking chicken or cooking brown rice.

Meal prep for weight loss includes using cooking methods that experts recommend for a balanced diet. This entails broiling, baking, grilling, and roasting instead of frying. People can also season their food with herbs, spices, and lemon juice instead of store-bought sauces.

It is important to note that while meal prep can help people with weight loss, it is just one part of a lifestyle change that can improve health. People can also implement healthy lifestyle changes like getting more exercise, drinking more water, and reducing their stress levels.

When following a balanced diet for weight loss, experts say it is still possible to have favorite foods if they are an occasional treat and not a regular occurrence.

Keep reading to learn more about meal prep for weight loss, including methods, tools, ideas, and meal suggestions.

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Yes, meal prep can help a person reach their weight loss goals. Preparing meals in advance means that they can ensure each meal is nutritious and can help them reach their goals — for example, they can ensure that prepared lunches contain enough protein and vegetables.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a nutritious diet that reduces the risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions also supports moderate body weight. For this reason, meal prep for general health equates to meal prep for weight management.

Foods that comprise a balanced diet involve nutrient-dense foods, such as:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • legumes
  • whole grains

They also include protein sources, such as:

  • lean beef
  • seafood
  • skinless poultry
  • low fat dairy
  • legumes

It is best to prepare meals in ways that limit added sugar, refined grains, and unhealthy fats.

The USDA offers the below instructions for meal prep:

  • Choose baking, broiling, grilling, or roasting cooking methods: These methods are all lower in fat than frying. Limit frying, particularly deep-frying, to decrease calorie and fat intake.
  • Opt for healthy cooking methods for vegetables: Aside from the above, someone can steam or saute them in a nonstick pan with a small quantity of cooking spray or oil.
  • Sweeten with fruit: Instead of adding sugar to foods, such as oatmeal and yogurt, try sweetening them with fruit.
  • Chop up fruits and vegetables in advance: These may include pineapples, melons, broccoli, and carrots. Store them in the refrigerator so they will be available for snacks.

The below meal prep tools and ideas can help get a person ready to cook for health and weight loss at home:


Tools include the right equipment and food.


This includes kitchen equipment for healthy cooking methods, such as:

  • pans for roasting and baking
  • grill
  • skillet for sauteing


The American Heart Association recommends keeping the kitchen stocked with basic ingredients to use to prepare nutritious meals on busy weeknights. These may include:

  • olive oil
  • low sodium, fat-free broths for making soup
  • whole grains, such as:
    • oats
    • brown rice
    • quinoa
    • whole-grain bread
    • whole-grain flour
    • corn
  • protein sources, such as:
    • skinless chicken breasts
    • nonbreaded fish fillets
    • tofu
    • lean meats
  • frozen fruits and vegetables
  • ingredients for snacks and stir-fries, such as:
    • nuts
    • seeds
    • nut butter


It is a good idea to freeze leftovers in serving-size containers after preparing a meal. This helps with portion management and makes meals convenient to grab and go, which is a preferable alternative to fast food.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that a balanced diet can include foods high in calories, fat, and added sugar. However, it is important for people to eat these foods in moderation.

Below are a few ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks:

Breakfast ideas

These include:

  • overnight oats with fruit and nut butter
  • yogurt with fruit and nuts
  • hard-boiled eggs with toast
  • a smoothie with yogurt, spinach, and fruit

Lunch ideas

These include:

  • a green salad with roasted vegetables and tuna
  • whole-grain pasta with salmon, feta, and vegetables
  • whole-grain pasta salad with lemon and olive oil
  • a sandwich with smashed chickpeas, mayo, and mustard, with lettuce and tomato

Dinner ideas

These include:

  • baked salmon with brown rice and salad
  • baked chicken with sweet potato and green beans
  • meatloaf made with low fat beef, oats, and vegetables
  • lentils soup containing chicken broth, onions, garlic, spices, and canned tomatoes.
  • white bean chili with chicken, canned white beans, and green chilies

Snack ideas

These include:

  • an orange, apple, or serving of chopped fruit
  • carrot and celery sticks
  • a handful of nuts
  • avocado on whole-grain crackers
  • peanut butter on whole-grain crackers

Meal prep for weight loss consists of using cooking methods and ingredients that do not add extra fat, calories, salt, or sugar. The right cooking methods include steaming, broiling, baking, grilling, and roasting.

Additionally, rather than using high fat sauces for flavoring, it involves using lemon juice, herbs, and spices to enhance the taste.

An individual can use such methods to prepare meals that feature fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and lean meats.