So like most humans post-holidays, I have been considering a new way to lose a few pounds. I’ve tried many diets over the years. Calorie counting apps worked for a while, but then the novelty wore off. I needed a new way to stay on track. I decided to try meal prepping.
Meal prepping is essentially cooking all your food for the week ahead of time, then only eating what you have cooked and allotted for the day. I read a few blogs and perused a few plans, but ultimately I came up with all my own plans, filled with things I knew I would like. Some people make the same thing for all 7 days of the week, but I knew I would need VARIETY. Because of this, my prep time was crazy… 5 hours the first time, but I’m now on week 6, and getting much faster.
In this blog I’ll share my first meal plan and shopping list, but I’ll also share what I learned after eating all the meals, because I have changed a few things now that I’m experienced. (Ha.)
Right now I’m aiming for 1200 calories a day. I eat one lean cuisine or frozen meal per day, and the rest are prepped. The meals I prepped were 400 calories each.
The meals were:
1 1/4 cups spaghetti squash
1/2 cup marinara
1/4 package Italian seasoned turkey sausage
1 fruit or 1/2 fruit with sugar-free pudding
1/4 cup dry quinoa, cooked
4 oz chicken OR 1/8 package taco seasoned ground turkey with 1 tbsp black beans
sautéed veggies, peppers, onion, zucchini, tomato
1 tbps reduced fat cheese
4 oz chicken
taco seasoned ground turkey
2 tbsp black beans
1 tbsp reduced fat cheese
1 cup frozen potatoes o-brien
1/4 cup reduced fat cheese
sautéed onions, peppers, tomatoes
fruit salad: 1/2 apple, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup strawberries, tossed in lemon juice
I did pretty well with the shopping list. Including the containers I purchased, which were $2.89 for a 3-pack (and I had 2 containers already), I only spend around $80. I had leftover turkey, which freezes well for next time, and a few other things for next time like the potatoes, quinoa, and cheese.
The shopping list was:
a 3-pack of chicken breasts, which said 16 oz but cooked down to around 11
a package of italian-seasoned ground turkey
a package of taco-seasoned ground turkey (you could season your own, but the italian one is so good I decided to try the taco one too)
1 large bag of salad lettuce
4 small tomatoes
1 red onion
2 red peppers
1 large spaghetti squash
1 lb grapes
1 package strawberries
low calorie salad dressing
1 can black beans
reduced fat cheese
2 100-calorie yogurts
frozen potatoes o’brien
The first time through, I considered not pre-cutting everything, but I wanted everything to be all set and I wanted to take a nice picture of it all done! However, I don’t do this anymore. The apples tossed in lemon juice were fine (tossing them in lemon keeps them from browning), and the grapes and grapefruit were fine. The strawberries and bananas were mushy and gross by time I ate them later in the week, however.
I would also, if you can, purchase containers that are divided where the lid touches the divider. Mine had a divider but the lid did not touch it, so the smells mingled and my grapefruit halves ended up smelling like taco meat in some cases. A more expensive container that keeps food fully apart would fix that problem.
Lastly, when things could not fit, I simply placed a post-it on top saying “add 2 tbsp dressing” or “add 2 tbsp salsa.” (I now do this with the fruit too, so it stays fresh: “add 1/2 a banana,” and then cut it as I go through the week.)
I will say, though, I loved doing this! It was really easy to follow, and stick with, because I don’t want to cheat because then all the food I cooked would go to waste! As I went I also learned what I liked most. For example, I actually wanted more yogurt and granola bars because they were good when I was on-the-go, and I was getting a little sick of salads and apples by the end of it all.
My second week included buffalo chicken, chicken parmesan, and soup. You can see my post-it method at work:
From there, I made a few new soups (which are low calorie and heat up well. I recommend including soups in your meal prep). I did enchiladas one week, chili, spaghetti squash Alfredo, and even zucchini chip nachos.
So far starting week 6, I have lost 7-8 lbs, and I am cheating on Saturdays now. Last Saturday was Valentine’s Day and I went out for dinner, drinks, and even ate a doughnut and I still lost 3 lbs that week. So it’s working…