Meal Prep Ideas for Weight Loss that Really Work!

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Father Project

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Father Project

meal prep ideas for weight loss
You might feel overwhelmed when thinking about meal prep ideas for weight loss or aren't really sure how to get started.

Fortunately, with the right tools in place, prepping meals to lose weight has never been easier!

The key is determining daily calorie allotments for weight loss, preparing weight loss meals ahead of time, properly packaging them, and refrigerating or freezing meals until you're ready to eat them.

How Many Calories and Macronutrients Should I Eat?

Daily weight loss calorie needs for men often range from 1,500 – 1,800 calories per day, based on a recommendation from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

meal prep ideas for weight lossYou might require more calories than this if you’re very active, to lose weight at a rate of 1 – 2 pounds each week. Aim to eat about 500 to 1,000 fewer calories than your usual intake.

A good weight loss goal is to consume 4 – 6 smaller meals spaced evenly throughout your day if you can, totaling about 1,500 – 1,800 calories for the day. For example, you might choose:

  • Five or six 300-calorie meals
  • Five 350-calorie meals
  • Four 400-calorie meals

When seeking meal prep ideas for weight loss, aim to eat about 350 calories at each meal depending on your meal plan and individual weight loss calorie needs.

Ways to Tally Calories

Counting calories may sound tedious, but using the right resources can help! Once you get used to counting calories as part of your meal prep weight loss routine, it gets easier and easier. Use the following free (or low-cost) calorie-counting online resources and apps to get started:
meal planner meal prep ideas for weight loss

  1. Department of Agriculture food composition database
  2. WebMD food calculator
  3. MyFitnessPal
  4. Lose It!
  5. FatSecret

You can also read nutrition labels on your favorite foods to track calories. Be sure to note the serving size on nutrition labels so you can count calorie correctly and avoid overindulging.

How to Count Macros

If counting macros (macronutrients) is more your style, use that method instead of tracking calories. Simply count the grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fat you’re eating and stick within daily weight loss allotments. For a 1,600-calorie weight loss diet for men (containing 25% of the calories from protein, 30% from fat, and 45% from carbohydrates), you’d aim for daily totals of:

  • 100 grams of protein
  • 180 grams of carbohydrates
  • 53 grams of fat

Use food labels, a food analysis app, or the USDA’s food composition database to track macronutrients for weight loss.

Reasons to Divide Your Plate

If you just don’t have time for counting calories or macronutrients, divide your plate instead! Fill each small plate (or food prep storage container) the following way:
meal prep ideas for weight loss

  • Half full of non-starchy vegetables
  • One-fourth full of protein foods
  • One-fourth full of starches

Examples of non-starchy vegetables include cucumbers, tomatoes, leafy greens, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, and zucchini.

Starches include peas, dried beans, lentils, other legumes, sweet potatoes, corn, quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, other whole grains, and fruit.

Healthy protein foods include lean meat, chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, tofu, eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, nonfat Greek yogurt, reduced-fat cheese, plant milk, and protein powder.

Don’t forget to add heart-healthy fats to each meal! Examples include olive oil, other plant-oils, fish oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butters, and olives.

Sample Weight Loss Meal Ideas

The following examples include 350-calorie healthy meal ideas you can prep ahead of time to maintain healthy eating habits and achieve or maintain your goal weight:

Meal #1 (351 calories)

Meal #2 (338 calories)

healthy plate of fooddiet plan for men over 40

  • 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice: 124 calories
  • 3 ounces of grilled or baked salmon: 155 calories
  • 3 cups of leafy greens topped with 1 tablespoon of oil-based dressing: 51 calories

Meal #3 (351 calories)

  • A 3-egg omelet made with 1 cup of mushrooms plus spinach leaves mixed in: 241 calories
  • 1 medium banana: 105 calories
  • 1 cup of black coffee: 5 calories

Meal #4 (334 calories)

  • 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal: 150 calories
  • 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese: 81 calories
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries: 42 calories
  • 1/3 ounce of walnuts: 61 calories

Meal #5 (351 calories)

  • 3 ounces of grilled shrimp: 84 calories
  • 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa: 167 calories
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked asparagus prepared with 1 teaspoon of olive oil: 100 calories

Meal #6 (350 calories)

healthy food fitness hacks

  • 3 cups of leafy greens topped with 1 tablespoon of oil-based dressing: 55 calories
  • 2 ounces of grilled chicken strips: 84 calories
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, sliced: 72 calories
  • 1/4 cup of whole-grain croutons: 46 calories
  • 1 small apple: 93 calories

Meal #7 (342 calories)

  • 3 ounces of tuna steak: 156 calories
  • 1/2 cup of cooked wild rice: 83 calories
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked cauliflower: 43 calories
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil: 60 calories

These sample meal prep ideas for weight loss give you an idea of what 350-calorie meals look like. You can increase or decrease portion sizes based on your total calorie needs for weight loss and the type of meal plan you’re using. Season foods with salt (use sparingly), pepper, herbs, and other seasonings of your choice.

Weight Loss Meal Prep Recipes

In addition to the sample 350-calorie weight loss meals above, numerous meal prep ideas for weight loss involve delicious recipes you can make over the weekend to prepare for the week ahead. Examples of weight loss recipes containing 300 – 350 calories per serving include:

#1 Mediterranean Tuna Antipasto Salad

This Mediterranean tuna antipasto salad recipe contains:

  • 306 calories per serving
  • 8 grams of fiber
  • 28 grams of total carbs
  • 15 grams of protein
  • 16 grams of fat

The recipe is loaded with nutrient-dense foods including salad greens, chickpeas or other legumes, chunk light tuna, red bell peppers, onions, capers, fresh parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Prepare this salad ahead of time, place it in an airtight container, and keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to enjoy it!

1 day meal plan

Here’s A Free Weight Loss Meal Plan For Busy Men 40+

1 day meal plan
Discover exactly what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to lose belly fat & feel energized 24/7 without hard dieting...

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Father Project

Fit Father Project Fact-Checking Standards

Our Fit Father Project Team’s deepest commitment is to helping you live healthier for both yourself and your family. And when it comes to online content, integrity and trust is everything. That’s why our Fit Father Project staff-writers are all trained professionals in the field of health and wellness (registered dieticians, licensed personal trainers, and licensed physicians) – see the full team here. We rigorously run all of our articles through a rigorous editorial process to ensure the accuracy, simplicity, and utility of the information. And we aren’t just a team of “academics” sitting in an ivory tower. We are real people – with jobs, responsibilities, and families – working hard in the trenches and testing our tips & methods out to make sure you can stay healthy for family.

Here is what you can expect from us on our Fit Father Blog and YouTube channel:

  1. All of our content is written and reviewed by licensed health professionals (dieticians, personal trainers, doctors).
  2. In nearly all of our articles, we link to published research studies from the most respected peer-reviewed medical & health journals.
  3. We include research-based videos to accompany our articles to make it easier for you to consume our content, put it into action, and see results.
  4. Inside our articles & videos, we do promote our free meal plans, workouts, and/or paid programs, because we know they have the potential to change your life.
  5. We openly take feedback here on our contact page. We welcome your content suggestions… and even feedback on grammar (we’d like to thing that we’re pretty OK at spelling and “stuff”).
  6. Above all, we are a community of likeminded men and women committed to living healthier. We do not advocate any health advice that we wouldn’t personally implement with our families. Because as far as we’re concerned, you’re our family too.

Thanks for checking out the blog. We can’t wait to support you toward greater health, energy, and vitality. – The Fit Father Project Team


Terms of Service & Privacy Policy