One of the main reasons I managed to lose 190+ pounds in under 14 months is meal prep. I am a big fan of meal prep. Preparing food for the week ahead is something everyone should do, but especially bariatric patients. Meal prepping before your week starts will set you up for success. It doesn’t take long, and it isn’t difficult. It will save you time, a headache and calories later. When you meal prep for the week, you will have a successful week.
What is Meal Prep?
Meal prep is simply preparing the foods you are going to eat for the week so that you can quickly grab them and go. You don’t have to prepare the full meals, but if you can wash up your produce, make some hard boiled eggs, and have some chicken ready to go for salads or snacks, you are going to set yourself up for success. If you do want to prepare the full meal, then you should learn how to automate your meals.
Meal prep after surgery looks a little different for me. I tend to make my breakfast for the week (usually an egg scramble of some sort) because I can just heat it in the microwave for a few seconds and eat. If you’re anything like me, then mornings are a rush to get out the door and get to work on time. I also make a meal for the week, and dish out servings for lunch and dinner. I heat my food in the microwave, and I’m set for my meal.
This arrangement works for me right now because I’m single. I understand if you’re married with kids that it might not work for you. However, you can still prep your produce, and get whatever else you need ready for the week. If you prepare your food in advanced, it will save you time later during the week.
Meal Prep is For Everyone!
Meal prep is essential for bariatric patients, but everyone can meal prep. Simply taking the time to prepare your food for the week makes life a whole lot easier. As I was on my journey to improve my life and find ways to make life easier, meal prep was one of the things that I made sure worked for me. I know it sounds cumbersome at first, but if you plan your meals out for the week (even just dinner, then automate breakfast and lunch), you will be amazed at how much extra time and money you have.
Finding the Right Time
Look at your schedule and find the right time for you to meal prep. You should take an hour or two out each week to meal prep. Once you get the hang of it, it gets a little easier and faster. I work Monday to Friday, so I meal prep on Sunday so that my food is ready for the week. Make whatever time works for you. You know your lifestyle best, so get your planner out right now and mark down two hours at the beginning of your week to meal prep.
You’re going to want to make sure you’ve already gone to the grocery store and planned out what you’re eating for the week, or at least have a general idea. Below is a list of ideas of when to find the time to meal prep:
- After you finished your grocery shopping
- After church on Sundays
- Monday morning after you got the kids off to school (just make sure breakfast and lunch is ready for Monday morning beforehand)
- Before you clean the kitchen
- Anytime that works for you!
A Few Reasons to Meal Prep
The reason I spend this time is because there’s a secret to weight loss. It’s a magical formula that is so very simple in words, yet we struggle on a daily basis to put it into action. Are you ready for it?
To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn in a day.
In order for us to be successful at losing weight, we need to fuel our bodies with lower calorie foods. However, it seems like any of the quick food available in the supermarket are ones loaded with calories, sugar or fat. Therefore, we have to take some time to prepare quick foods for ourselves for the week.
Another great reason to meal prep is it’s going to save you time. You aren’t going to have to figure out each day what you’re eating. It’s already prepped and planned for the week. It’s amazing how simply knowing what you’re going to eat for the week can save you time. No more last minute trips to the store because you forgot something. You won’t need to hit the drive through on your way home because you have no idea what to make. Meal prep sets you for a successful week.
The Meal Prep
The first step you’ll want to do is actually buy the fruits and vegetables you like to eat. I do my grocery shopping on Friday, cleaning and laundry on Saturday and prep for my week ahead on Sunday. My go-tos each week are apples, grapes, lemons, onions, carrots, celery, eggs and boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I also pick up strawberries, blueberries, zucchini and cucumbers if they are on sale and in season. I usually always have regular white potatoes and sweet potatoes on hand. It’s important you pick the fruit and vegetables you actually like! All the preparation in the world isn’t going to matter if you aren’t actually going to eat the food!
Next, you’ll want to pull out a cutting board, some re-closable plastic bags, a sharp knife, a vegetable peeler, and a colander. You’ll want to be near your sink and have some paper towels nearby as well. I also pull out all of my fruits and vegetables at the same time and go through them one by one.
If you are prepping boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the week, pre-heat your oven to the desired temperature. I usually do 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take your chicken breasts, put them in a baking dish, and season them to your liking. Put them in the oven for about an hour, or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hard Boiled Eggs
While the chicken bakes, you can work on the prep for your other foods. The next thing I usually do is get a big pot of water boiling on the stove. Once it’s boiling, I lower about a dozen eggs carefully into the water using a handheld strainer. Set the timer for 13 minutes and continue prepping your other foods. Once the 13 minutes is up, take the eggs out of the boiling water using the handheld strainer and into an ice bath immediately. Doing it this way makes the eggs much easier to peel. Peel the eggs, and put them into a plastic container for the week.
Now it’s time to tackle the fruit and vegetables. I like to start my prep with lemons. Because I drink lemon water every day, having lemons cut up makes flying out the door in the morning extra easy. I wash the outer skins in warm water for a few minutes. I dry them on a paper towel and place them on my cutting board. Slice off the ends and then make slices as thick or as thin as you’d like. Put them in a re-closable plastic bag and wipe off your cutting board with a paper towel.
Prep your strawberries next. Place them in the colander and run warm water over them. Swirl them around in the water a little bit and get all the dirt off. Wipe each on a paper towel and place on your cutting board. Cut off the tops, and then you can either leave them whole or quarter them. I like to quarter them for the week. Once finished, place in a re-closable plastic bag and clean off your cutting board.
For blueberries, I simply put them in the colander, rinse them under warm water, and lay them between two paper towels to dry them. Store them in a re-closeable plastic bag and enjoy the sweet bursts of flavor and nutrition throughout the week!
Apples are the easiest to prep. Just rinse each in warm water and dry with a paper towel. An apple wedger that cores and slices the apples in one step is my best friend during the week. I just take my clean apples and slide the slicer through them. So quick and easy – exactly what I need on busy weekday mornings.
Grapes are prepped similarly to blueberries. However, I portion out my grapes in snack-sized bags because otherwise, I think I could eat the whole thing in one sitting! My nutritionist told me that 15 grapes is a serving, so I count out 15 grapes to each bag and place a string cheese in each one. These are my morning snacks during the week, and it is so delicious!
Carrots and Celery
Carrots get peeled with the vegetable peeler and then sliced into about three-inch sticks. Celery gets rinsed in warm water, the ends and leafy bits chopped off, and also sliced into three-inch sticks. Place these into your bags, and store in the refrigerator. (BONUS: Keep your carrot peels, celery ends and leafy bits, and your onion peels in a freezer bag. Store them in the freezer for making soup broth in the future!)
For tomatoes, I prep them with a rinse and pat dry. Sometimes I cut them into slices beforehand for sandwiches or salads, and other times I like them whole. It really depends on my mood at the time and what I am going to be eating during the week.
Cucumbers are peeled with the vegetable peeler, then sliced into ¼ inch rings. I like these for quick salads during the week. I also sometimes toss them in vinegar and a little sugar for a quick snack during the week.
Zucchini, Potatoes and Squash
Next, I leave zucchini, potatoes and squash whole until I am ready to use it during the week. I do like to wash and dry them during my Sunday prep time though. Again, I am trying to set myself up for success during the week by making healthy foods easily accessible to grab and eat.
Finally, I chop the onion. I usually save the onions for last, since they will smell up my cutting board and knife. Slice the ends off, and then cut it in half. Peel the outer layer and then chop each onion how you like it. Beware: chopped onions tend to give off a strong odor. Do not place them near your fruit, otherwise, your fruit will taste like onions. Onion flavored, lemon water anyone? Nobody wants that!
Once your chicken breasts are cooked to their proper temperature, let them rest for a few minutes, then chop them up for salads during the week or to eat by itself. Do a quick clean up in your kitchen, so that it’s prepared for the week ahead. You have now set yourself up for success for a whole week. Not too bad!
Meal prep will set you up for a successful week. It’s important to have your foods ready to go, so you can quickly grab them when you need them. As a bariatric patient, meal prep will be key to losing weight. Do it at a time that works best for you, like Sunday evening before your week starts. It’s so easy, and in no time, you’ll be set up for success!
If this article gave you some great ideas to incorporate into your life, just imagine what other amazing strategies I have for you! Share this post on social media by clicking one of the sharing buttons, and don’t forget to join my email list! You’ll be the first to get updates, access to my new products and lots of tips, inspiration and motivation to help in your bariatric surgery journey. Just for joining, I’ll send you a free weight loss coloring chart, as well as some other pretty awesome goodies to keep you motivated. Join today!
1. Buy the foods you’ll eat during the week
2. Start cooking your meats to your liking
3. Wash and chop fruits and vegetables as applicable
4. Divide into serving sizes