I think that the easiest way to stick to a healthy diet is to meal prep. Personally, I just don't have enough time in the day to cook a healthy meal every few hours. Between commuting to work, hitting the gym after 5, housework, grocery shopping, and a hundred other things, it can be very difficult to find the time to cook and prepare 3 healthy meals a day. People who meal prep typically spend one evening per week preparing a majority of their meals for the week. They store these meals in airtight Tupperware to reheat later when they're ready to eat. Meal Prep is the easiest way to save time during the week and ensure that you're eating nutritious meals. on a regular basis

In this article, you'll learn how to meal prep, what to cook, and how much to eat. We will also be sharing some tips from Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition on how to put together a grocery list with fresh produce and lean proteins, and how to cook and portion your meals in a way that support your goals.

Best Proteins for Weight Loss

Most meal preppers choose to include a main source of protein in their meals. If you're trying to lose weight, then lean protein is key. Protein will help you from feeling hungry shortly after a meal while also aiding in muscle recovery and growth. Don't worry, you won't be eating baked chicken every day for lunch and dinner. Amy Gorin, suggests prepping salmon, tofu, and pulses.

In an interview with Popsugar, Amy said "a 4-ounce cooked portion of salmon has fewer than 200 calories yet offers 25 grams of protein. Salmon (and other fatty fish) also provide EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids that can help lower your risk of heart disease and boost brain health."

Tofu is not only a staple for vegans and vegetarians anymore! Many people who mainly get their protein from meat also occasionally eat tofu because just a half of a cup provides you with 22 grams of protein and fewer calories and fat than meats.

If you're currently losing weight on the Smart for Life Program, we suggest you stick to chicken, fish, tofu, and other white meats for protein. If you already lost the weight and are now in the maintenance phase you can also get protein from pulses like chickpeas, lentils, black beans, and dried peas. "They make it quick and simple to prepare nutritious meals, like vegetarian rice bowls," Amy said. "One study found that eating pulses daily can lead to a weight loss of close to a pound over a six-week period. It may not sound like much, but it adds up over time."

Best Fruits and Vegetables to Meal Prep

Fruits and veggies that are high in fiber are what you should be stocking up on. These will help you feel fuller, regulate blood sugar, and prevent cravings. All fruits and veggies have various health benefits so it's best to eat a variety. Remember that if you're trying to lose weight on the Smart for Life Program, we recommend that you avoid fruit until the maintenance phase because of the high sugar content.

If you've had enough zucchini noodles this month, try making another noodle alternative with squash. "Butternut squash noodles are delicious when tossed with tomato sauce or pesto, or you can use them as a base for a cold salad," Amy said. "I also love spaghetti squash because you can make low-calorie 'pasta' dishes with it." If you're following the Smart for Life Program, use a zero-calorie sauce like Walden Farms or a homemade sauce that follows our guidelines.

Another vegetable that is great for meal prep is the tomato. "Tomatoes can be used in so many dishes, and they add flavor for very few calories," Amy said. "The nutritional benefits are impressive, too. Tomatoes provide lycopene, which can protect your skin from UV damage."

Add spinach to your shopping list because it is super low in calories and a good source of filling fiber. This versatile vegetable can be used in salads, omelets, and smoothies. Just three cups of spinach provide you with two grams of fiber.

As for fruit, Amy recommends eating blueberries, mango, and grapes.  She said that blueberries are "so versatile to use in healthy recipes, like smoothies or nicecream." Blueberries also have the power to help lower the risk of cognitive decline thanks to the antioxidant, anthocyanins, which gives them their blue color. Amy suggests using mango to add dimension and flavor to oats.

Best Grains to Meal Prep

If you're trying to lose weight on the SFL Program, we recommend that you get your carbs from our healthy cookies and protein bars. The carbs in our products are complex carbs which mean they are derived from fiber and will help aid your weight loss efforts.

Other grains to eat once you've lost the weight and are in the maintenance phase include oats, barley, and whole-wheat pasta. "You can use oats to make overnight oats, a savory dinner oatmeal, and snackable protein bites," Amy said. Barely is a heart-healthy grain. "The filling fiber content of barley is one of the highest of any grain, and it can be used in a variety of ways, from soups to sides to breakfasts," said Amy. She also suggests combining whole-wheat pasta with a lot of veggies and lean protein for a filling meal.

Cooking Methods

Now that you're all stocked up and ready to start meal prepping. The next important stage is cooking. The way you cook your food can either make or break weight loss efforts. Amy suggests grilling, roasting, steaming, and sautéing using low-sodium broth or water. "If you're trying to eat healthier, you'll want to avoid frying your food or cooking in a lot of oil or butter," she said.

Sample Meal-Prep Menu For Weight Loss

(Chose one item from each category for your breakfast, lunch, and dinner)

BREAKFAST:

- Healthy fiber cookie

- Egg white omelet

- Protein shake

- Oatmeal with blueberries and cinnamon (maintenance phase only)

LUNCH:

- Grilled chicken, cauliflower rice, and spinach

- Butternut squash noodles with homemade tomato sauce or pesto

- Protein bar

- Roast turkey on whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato (maintenance       phase only)

DINNER:

- Salmon with sauteed spinach and asparagus

- Smart for Life soup

- Tofu with quinoa, broccoli, and cauliflower

- Turkey breast with sweet potato, carrots, and bell pepper (maintenance   phase only)

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