Weight-loss meal plans are key if your goal is to lose weight in a sustained and healthy way—the more you plan ahead, the less actual on-the-spot thinking or decision-making you have to do around your food choices. That's why meal prep is such a gift, if a potentially time-consuming one—batch cooking to make sure you have enough healthy meals and snacks to last you throughout the week helps lower the chances that you'll wind up hangry and give in to the siren song of takeout or office treats when you hadn't planned on indulging. If you think about it, it's a little effort up front to avoid a lot of effort down the line.
For this story, we've rounded up a breakdown of different breakfasts , lunches , dinners , and snacks , along with their calorie counts, that you can mix and match to add up to around 1,500 calories per day. That might not be exactly right for you depending on a number of factors, so you should read How Many Calories You Should Be Eating For Weight Loss to get a better understanding of the math here. And also remember that your daily caloric needs may vary based on things like exerting yourself in a hardcore high-intensity interval workout , so you should definitely eat however much your body needs for proper fuel. The key to sustainable weight loss is to do it in a healthy way; crash diets don't help you, they're counterproductive.
And one more quick note here about weight loss in general, before we get more into it: Weight loss is so, so, so personal, and there are a ton of different factors that play a role in it—from your sleep to your stress to your hormones. What works for one person may not work for you, so it's important to do what feels right for your body, and also to set realistic expectations about your own goals (and, not to mention, check in with yourself about why exactly those are your goals in the first place). And if you have a history of disordered eating , it's important to discuss any dietary changes with your doctor before jumping in to any kind of weight loss plan.
With all that being said, here are make-ahead breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you can prep to help you eat healthy, and yes, possibly lose weight while you're at it.
Breakfasts: about 300 calories each
Cook 1/2 cup quick oats as directed on package (it will yield 1 cup).
Top with 1/4 banana, sliced, 1/4 cup mandarin orange slices, and 2 tablespoons chopped cashews.
Heat 1/2 cup frozen raspberries (or frozen strawberries), 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, and 1 tablespoon maple syrup in a small nonstick pan over low heat until warm, about 2 minutes.
Toast two Kashi GoLean Original 7 Grain Waffles.
Spoon berry mixture over waffles.
Heat vegetable oil cooking spray in a small skillet over medium-high heat.
Sauté 1 cup fresh spinach until wilted, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from skillet.
Beat 1 egg and pour into skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, about 1 minute.
Add 1 tablespoon shredded cheddar and stir until melted, about 1 minute.
Wrap spinach, scrambled egg, and a splash of hot sauce in a warmed (microwave for 8 seconds) whole-wheat tortilla (8 inches).
Serve burrito immediately with an orange.
Mix 1 cup cottage cheese, 1/4 cup natural unsweetened applesauce, and 1/4 cup raisins in a bowl.
Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste.
Alternate layers of plain Greek yogurt (1 cup total) and blueberries and/or strawberries (frozen, thawed; 3/4 cup total) in a parfait glass, ending with a yogurt layer on top.
Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped almonds.
Lunches/Dinners: about 400 calories each
Toss 3 cups mixed greens with 1/4 cup roasted potatoes, 1/4 cup snap peas, 6 cherry tomatoes, and 6 Kalamata olives.
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Top with 4 ounces baked salmon.
Quick Chicken Quesadilla
Place a whole-wheat tortilla (8 inches) in a large pan over medium heat (no cooking spray).
Cover half of tortilla with 1/8 cup shredded cheddar, 1/4 cup diced cooked chicken breast, and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro.
When the cheese begins to melt, flip empty half over and cook 1 more minute. Flip and cook 1 minute more.
Serve with 1/4 cup salsa and an apple.
Combine a 3-oz can chunk-light tuna in water (drained) with 1/4 cup chopped celery, 1 tablespoon plus 11/2 teaspoon Greek yogurt to replace mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives, and 1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper.
Pile on to 2 slices whole-wheat bread.
Serve with 1 cup raw veggies and a piece of fruit.
Serve with 1 cup cooked whole-wheat couscous and a piece of fruit.
Layer heated veggie burger, 1/2 cup salad greens, 4 cucumber slices, and 1 tablespoon healthy salad dressing between 2 slices whole-wheat bread.
Serve with 11/2 cups cooked broccoli with 1 tablespoon shredded cheddar, melted in microwave.
Snacks: about 200 calories each
Hard-boil 1 egg.
Cut it in half, remove yolk, and mix with 1 1/2 teaspoon Greek yogurt to replace mayonnaise, 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh chives, 1⁄8 teaspoon paprika and a pinch of salt .
Spoon mixture onto whites.
Serve with 5 Triscuits and 7 cherry tomatoes.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crunch
Spread 1 level tablespoon peanut butter over 3 Triscuits.
Top each with 4 semisweet chocolate chips.
Curried Cashews (serves 4)
Mix 1 cup unsalted, raw cashews with 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon curry powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Bake at 350° on a cookie sheet until nuts look dry, about 20 minutes.
PB&B Burrito (serves 2)
Spread a whole-wheat tortilla (8 inches) with 2 level tablespoons peanut butter.
Top with 1/2 banana , sliced (leaving a 1/2-inch border without banana on one side).
Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Roll up toward border and cut burrito in half.
While still hot, toss contents of a 100-calorie microwave popcorn bag, popped, or 4 cups air-popped popcorn with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1⁄8 tsp salt (spritz air-popped popcorn first with vegetable oil cooking spray to help topping adhere).
Chips And Salsa
Cut 2 6-inch corn tortillas into 6 equal wedges each; brush lightly with 1 tablespoon olive oil , and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake at 425° on a cookie sheet until edges are crisp, about 10 minutes.
Serve with 1/2 cup salsa (mix a 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles, 1/4 cup diced red onion, 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice). Makes about 2 cups salsa. Refrigerate unused portion.
Melt 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips in a small bowl in the microwave for about 40 seconds.
Core and cut 1 Granny Smith apple (or other fruit of your choice) into 8 wedges, then dip into chocolate.
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