As many as one out of three Americans are eating fast food every single day, according to a survey. One of the top reasons why people choose fast food (or quick takeout meals) is because of a busy schedule. However, when you eat fast food or takeout, you’re typically going to be consuming more saturated fat, more sodium, and more sugar than you would if you were cooking at home. Most fast food meals also include more food than the average person would regularly eat, which typically leads to them eating more since that’s the portion size that they’re served.
Meal planning is a tool that can be used to offset time scarcity and encourage home meal preparation. Meal prep can also help you save money, help with weight control (since you’ll decide the ingredients and portions served), contribute to a more nutritionally balanced diet, and even reduce stress as you won’t have to make any last minute decisions about what to eat. So, now that we know some of the many benefits that meal planning has to offer, let’s take a look at six spring-inspired meal prep recipes for weight loss.
Egg Salad Avocado Toast
There are certain foods that lend themselves well to meal prep as they’re versatile, can be stored easily, and taste good. Hard-boiled eggs are one of those foods. They’re quick and easy to make, and you can make a bunch of them all at once in the beginning of the week. You can also incorporate hard-boiled eggs into both your breakfast and lunch.
This Egg Salad Avocado Toast recipe takes only five minutes to make and is low-calorie, dairy-free, vegetarian, nut-free, and soy-fee. One serving provides 10.9 grams of protein, 17.2 grams of carbohydrates, and 5.2 grams of dietary fiber.
The ingredients that you’ll need for one serving are ¼ of an avocado, 1 tablespoon of celery, a ½ teaspoon of lemon juice, a ½ teaspoon of hot sauce, 1 chopped hard-boiled egg, 1 slice of whole-wheat toast, and a pinch of salt. In a bowl, mash the avocado with the celery, lemon juice, hot sauce, and salt. Then mix in the hard-boiled egg and spread on the whole-wheat toast.
Fruit and Yogurt Bistro Boxes
Fruit and Yogurt Bistro Boxes are a great meal prep option to get your morning and week off to a healthy start. Packed with protein, fresh fruit, and a little low-fat granola, these Fruit and Yogurt Bistro Boxes take only 10 minutes to make and yield four servings.
For this healthy breakfast option, you’ll need meal prep containers (divided containers will make it a lot easier for you to divide the portions), 4 cups of fat-free plain Greek yogurt, 1 cup of low-fat granola, 12 strawberries, 1 cup of blueberries, and 2 cups of pineapple chunks. To assemble these Fruit and Yogurt Bistro Boxes, all you need to do is divide the ingredients evenly into the meal prep containers. Then make sure to refrigerate the boxes after you make them. Each serving has 310 calories, 25 grams of protein, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 30 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of fat.
Blackened Fish Tacos
Not only do these Blackened Fish Tacos with tilapia, mango salsa, and Mexican cabbage slaw taste great, they’re also good for you as they’re made with only seasoned fish, fruit, and vegetables. It’s recommended that you prepare the mango salsa and the Mexican cabbage slaw the night or morning before you make these blackened fish tacos in order to speed up the process.
You can either make the Mexican cabbage slaw from scratch, or you can save time by using prepackaged slaw mixes. For the shortcut method, all you need to do is combine 1 bag of coleslaw mix, 1 bag of broccoli slaw mix (optional), a ½ head of red cabbage, and ¼ cup of shredded carrots in a large bowl.
To make the Fresh Mango Pico de Gallo Salsa, you’ll need 1 mango (peeled, seeded, and diced), 2 plum tomatoes (chopped), a ½ onion (chopped), 1 jalapeno pepper (seeded and chopped), ¼ cup of cilantro leaves (chopped), and 1 lime (juiced). Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and then you’re good to go.
To make the blackened fish taco, place the tilapia fish filets on a large plate or baking sheet. Sprinkle the Cajun blackening seasoning on each side of the fish filets. Then place a large skillet over medium heat and add oil. Once the oil is hot, add the fish filets and cook for about five minutes, and then turn and cook for another four to five minutes on the other side. Remove the blackened fish from the skillet and then place it on a clean plate. Slice the filets into small pieces so that they’ll fit into the tacos. Then wrap the tortillas in paper towels and place them on a plate. Heat for about one minute. Then remove the tortillas and add the blackened fish, Mexican cabbage slaw, and mango salsa.
Spring Green Salad with Hard-Boiled Eggs
Individual salads without dressing on them can be refrigerated for up to 4 days, making salads another ideal option for your weekly meal prep. This Spring Green Salad with Hard-Boiled Eggs uses fresh spring produce and offers a protein boost thanks to those hard-boiled eggs that you already made. All in, this low-calorie, dairy-free, and vegetarian recipe will take 20 minutes.
To make the garlic-Dijon vinaigrette, you’ll need a ½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil, a ½ cup of lemon juice, a ½ cup of red-wine vinegar, a ¼ cup of Dijon mustard, 4 small cloves of garlic (minced), a ½ teaspoon of salt, and freshly ground pepper. Then combine the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and garlic in a blender or a bowl. Blend or whisk until smooth, and then season with salt and pepper.
The ingredients required for the salad are 2 cups of spring vegetable salad, 2 hard-boiled eggs (sliced), 2 tablespoons of fresh dill (coarsely chopped), ¼ cup of whole-wheat croutons, and 2 tablespoons of garlic-Dijon vinaigrette. Pack the salad in an airtight storage container, and then add the hard-boiled eggs, dill, and croutons. Make sure to put the vinaigrette in a separate jar. When you’re ready to eat this spring green salad, then you can add the vinaigrette.
Simple Grilled Salmon & Vegetables
Warm spring weather allows us to get outside and cook on the BBQ again. This Simple Grilled Salmon & Vegetables recipe is one that’s sure to be an instant favorite. This heart healthy recipe is low-calorie, low carbohydrate, low sodium, and gluten-free. The ingredients that you’ll need are 1 medium zucchini (halved lengthwise), 2 red, orange, and/or yellow bell peppers (trimmed, halved, and seeded), 1 medium red onion (cut into 1-inch wedges), 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, a ½ teaspoon of salt (divided), a ½ teaspoon of ground pepper, 1¼ pounds of salmon filet (cut into 4 portions), ¼ cup of thinly sliced fresh basil, and 1 lemon (cut into 4 wedges).
Turn your grill on and preheat it to medium-high heat. Brush the zucchini, peppers, and onion with olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Then sprinkle the salmon with pepper and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt. Place the vegetables and the salmon pieces (skin-side down) on the grill. Cook the vegetables (turning once or twice) for about four to six minutes per side so that they’re tender, and grill marks appear. Cook the salmon (without turning) until it flakes when tested with a fork. This will take around eight to 10 minutes. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, you can chop and toss them together in a bowl. If you’d like, you can remove the skin from the salmon filets and then serve the salmon with the vegetables. Garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon of basil and serve with a lemon wedge. You can also round out the meal with brown rice or quinoa.
Garlic Herb Chicken and Asparagus
This Garlic Herb Chicken and Asparagus Sheet Pan Meal Prep recipe is easy to make and also features cauliflower rice. The ingredients that you’ll need for this Garlic Herb Chicken and Asparagus recipe are 2 teaspoons of onion powder, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1½ teaspoons of Italian seasoning, a ½ teaspoon of sea salt, a ½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper, two tablespoons of olive oil, 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 4), and 1½ pounds of trimmed asparagus (the woody ends removed). For the cauliflower rice, you’ll need 1½ pounds of cauliflower rice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a ½ teaspoon of sea salt, a ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, a ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and half of a large lemon that’s cut into 4 wedges.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and then line two baking sheets with parchment paper. To make the Garlic Herb Chicken and Asparagus, mix together the onion powder, garlic, Italian seasoning, sea salt, pepper, and olive oil until combined. Then place the chicken thighs on the end of the baking sheet. After that, arrange the trimmed asparagus spears on the other end. Divide the garlic herb oil mixture evenly over the two, and bake until the chicken is done, which will take about 25 minutes. If you have thin asparagus, you may want to add it to the pan during the last 10 minutes of cooking time so it doesn’t overcook.
While the chicken and asparagus are cooking, it’s time to toss the cauliflower rice together with olive oil, sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. Then spread it evenly on the prepared baking sheet. When the chicken and asparagus are done cooking, remove them from the oven to cool and then bake the cauliflower rice for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until it’s tender.
When the cauliflower rice has been cooked and cooled on a baking rack for about 10 minutes, portion out the chicken, asparagus, and cauliflower rice into containers with lids. Add a lemon wedge to each container. You can store the containers in the refrigerator for up to three to four days.
A good tip to make almost any vegetable into a ‘rice’ is to cut it up into pieces under two inches. Then place the pieces into a food processor and process the veggies until a rice texture appears. Using this technique, you can make all types of rice veggies like potato rice or sweet potato rice.