I love spring. To begin with, the change in weather means a new batch of ingredients and lighter recipes that feel fresh for the season. However, I sometimes find that my diet needs a bit of a reboot after the winter (winter weight gain, anybody?). If you're just like me, then I've got a special treat for you. I've come up with a spring meal prep guide that includes healthy meal prep ideas for weight loss.
Preparing nutritious yet delicious meals might seem impossible with everything else you have going on in your life. However, by following my simple tips and planning ahead, you'll see just how easy cooking delicious food can be. I'm going to share 11 yummy plant-based recipes and a shopping list to make reaching your health goals a little easier.
WHY WE LOVE MEAL PREP
- Healthy eating choices. When you don't know what to eat or let yourself get too hungry, you tend to eat foods you didn't plan on. With this in mind, meal prep ensures that you have healthy food at the ready and can avoid overeating or making poor choices when you're feeling "hangry."
- Ingredient control. Planning meals ahead means you dictate the quality and source of your meals, as well as avoiding processed or poor quality ingredients.
- Great for weight loss. Making use of healthy meal prep ideas for weight loss ensures that you know exactly how many ounces of protein, vegetables, and carbs you're getting.
- Time-saver. Instead of spending time trying to figure out what to cook or whether you should order take-out, meal prepping assures that you will always have a healthy meal waiting for you.
GROCERY SHOPPING LIST
These are the fruits and vegetables needed for the spring meal prep:
- Kelp noodles
- Blueberries or blackberries
- Wakame sea vegetable
- Sweet potatoes
- Spaghetti squash
- Red cabbage
HOW TO PREP THE FRUITS AND VEGGIES
Carrots, fennel, and sweet potatoes: First, briefly soak the vegetables in a large bowl filled with cold water, around 2 minutes. Next, use a vegetable scrub brush to clean them and then rinse under running water. For the carrots and fennel, use a knife to remove any brown spots and trim the ends. If the carrots are not as fresh, you can peel them as well. Finally, pat the veggies dry if you're not using them immediately.
Baby kale, arugula, and parsley: Put the greens in a salad spinner and fill it with cold water. Remove any yellow leaves. Drain the water and spin the leaves. Pour out any remaining liquid. Finally, place the greens in a container lined with paper towels if you're not using them right away.
Cauliflower: First, let the cauliflower sit for 1-2 minutes in a bowl filled with cold water. Next, cut away any brown spots. Using a sharp knife, carefully trim off the leaves and the core.
Scallions: Soak in a bowl full of cold water, around 2 minutes. Peel off the outer leaves. Next, trim off the tips and roots. Finally, pat dry and wrap in a paper towel, then store in a container or reusable plastic bag.
Berries: First, swish the berries around in a bowl of cold water and then drain them. Lay them out on a dishtowel and pat them dry. If you're not using them immediately, store the berries in the fridge in a single layer in a container lined with a paper towel.
Spaghetti squash: Wipe the outer skin with a damp towel. Alternatively, use a vegetable scrub brush to clean the surface under running water.
Leeks: First, briefly soak the leeks in a bowl filled with cold water and then trim the end. Next, cut it in half crosswise. Put the separated leaves from the top half in cold water. Take the lower half (the end with the root) and slice it into half lengthwise. Finally, separate the leaves and rinse thoroughly to remove any dirt and debris.
Wakame: Put the sea vegetable in a bowl and fill it with cold water. Let it soak for about 10 minutes. Then, rinse under running water and drain using a fine-mesh strainer. Squeeze out any excess water and transfer them to a covered container if you're not using it right away.
Kelp noodles: Rub baking soda and fresh lemon juice into the kelp noodles. Let the noodles sit until they completely soften, around 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.
HEALTHY MEAL PREP IDEAS
The above ingredients can be combined in numerous ways. Here are some of my favorite meals that I assembled from these seasonal fruits and veggies.
1. Roasted Spaghetti Squash
An easy way to cook spaghetti squash so that those silky strands turn out perfect every time. It's a delicious, low-carb, veggie-alternative to pasta that is simple to prepare.
2. Kelp Noodles
Kelp Noodles are fat-free, gluten-free, and a rich source of iodine. Paired with my homemade tiger nut sauce, it's the perfect no-cook, plant-based meal that is perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. Moreover, it's vegan, dairy-, and soy-free and contains no refined sugar.
3. Sautéed Dark Leafy Greens
This is one of my favorite healthy meal prep ideas for weight loss. To begin with, there's no need for prolonged boiling or steaming times with this quick and easy method for sautéed greens. Also, it makes the perfect healthy side dish. In addition, it is packed with vitamins A and K, fiber, antioxidants, and much more!
4. Berry Fruit Compote
This mixed berry sauce is quick, easy, and simple. Perfectly sweet with no added sugar, this compote is the perfect topping for your favorite breakfast or dessert like yogurt, pancakes, rice pudding, or parfaits.
5. Carrot Marinara Sauce
A vegan marinara sauce that is as easy and healthy as it gets, and it's just as satisfying as a traditional tomato-based sauce. In addition, it's creamy, tasty, and a great way to get some more nutrients into your pasta sauce. I love this served over the kelp noodles.
6. Arugula Beet Salad with Fennel
This green salad is flavorful, filling, and versatile. The combination of earthy beets, sweet apple, and the unmistakable flavor of fennel makes this a perfect meal for lunch or as a dinnertime side dish.
7. Cauliflower Tabbouleh
A grain-free version of the traditional bulgur-based salad, making it low-carb and gluten-free. It's light, flavorful, and packed with fresh veggies like leeks, cucumbers, and carrots. Moreover, the use of riced cauliflower and lemon scallion salad dressing makes this dish so close to the original that you won't believe it's not the real thing!
8. Lemon Scallion Salad Dressing
A dressing that is ridiculously easy to make and super delicious. The fresh ingredients create complexity and flavor that store-bought dressings can't match. In addition, it has a tangy, zippy, slightly sweet taste that will perfectly complement all your favorite salads.
9. Cucumber Wakame Orange Salad
A light and flavorful salad using wakame, a nutrient-rich sea vegetable. The orange pieces add sweet contrast to the saltiness of wakame, while the cucumber slices add some crunch to the salad.
10. Berry Salad Dressing
A simple yet delicious dressing that transforms any salad into a colorful masterpiece bursting with flavor as well as antioxidants.
11. Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Homemade baked sweet potato fries are easy to make. It's a delicious side dish that will satisfy your craving for French fries. Baked in the oven with a bit of olive oil, these sweet potato fries are healthy and lower in carbs than white potatoes.
DOWNLOAD THE SPRING MEAL PREP GUIDE
The subscribers of the NCKS weekly newsletter will be the first to receive the useful PDF guide that I've created for these yummy weight-loss-friendly dishes. It includes a breakdown of each recipe, including serving portions and substitutions where possible. If you're not already subscribed, make sure to sign up and you'll get this spring meal prep guide as well.
Also, if you're interested in more healthy meal prep ideas for weight loss, then I recommend that you check out the Healthy Meal Prep Summit. More than 20 chefs and nutrition experts from all over the world share valuable cooking secrets and how to plan healthy, delicious meals. In addition, you also get a FREE Healthy Meal Prep Guidebook where each expert shares their top meal prep strategy (there are plenty of recipes, too!).
- Make an organized shopping list. Decide what you're going to cook ahead of time. Pick all the recipes you want to cook for the week and put together a grocery shopping list.
- Multi-task when cooking. Cook multiple things at once. For example, you can bake a tofu dish while roasting your veggies at the same time. This will help you get things done much faster.
- Don't meal prep too many meals. Try and keep the meal prep to 5 days' worth of food. You can freeze the meals that won't be eaten immediately. To thaw a meal, remove it from the freezer the previous night and defrost it in the refrigerator.
- Pick glass over plastic. I love using freezer-friendly glass food storage containers for my meal prep recipes. They can be used in the microwave and won't alter the taste of food, even if it's left in there for a few days. If you choose to use plastic containers, make sure they're BPA-free.
- Set a goal and keep it in mind. Set a goal that you want to achieve through meal prep. For example, my spring meal prep guide can give you healthy meal prep ideas for weight loss. Keep in mind why you're meal prepping, and you'll be less keen to opt for a take-out meal.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is meal prepping good for weight loss?
Yes. How much you eat and what you eat are critical factors in losing weight. One of the problems faced by many people struggling with weight loss is skipping meals during the day and binging on unhealthy foods in the evening. Healthy meal prep promotes clean eating and helps you track your food intake. In addition, planning healthy meal prep ideas for weight loss makes it easier to stay away from take-out, processed foods and eat healthily.
How long do meal preps last in the fridge?
If you're using meal prep containers and have stored your cooked meal prep well, it can last in the fridge for up to 5 days. Once you're done cooking food for your meal prep, make sure to let your meals cool down before transferring them to airtight containers and storing them in the fridge. However, make sure you don't leave out your food at room temperature for more than two hours. To keep your food as fresh as possible, you can prep your meals twice a week.
Is it safe to meal prep for 5 days?
A general rule of thumb for food storage in the fridge is three days for salads and seafood and up to 5 days for cooked veggies. However, to lower the risk of growing spoilage bacteria on your food, it's better to plan for two meal prep days a week.
MORE SPRING-INSPIRED RECIPES :
- First, make some grilled vegetables using my simple guide that shows you the best type of grill to use and which vegetables are best for grilling.
- Next, try my perfectly seasoned roasted Brussels sprouts recipe that is guaranteed to convert veggie haters.
- Finally, whip up my spring quinoa with chickpeas recipe that is an easy, tasty, and vegan way to pack a big protein punch in a meal.
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