How to Cook Healthy Meals for the Week in Under an Hour

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Cook Healthy Meals to Lose Weight

Dinner Food
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The key to weight loss is smart organization. If you have a healthy, weight loss meal ready to eat when you're hungry, you're more likely to keep your calorie count in control and lose weight. So, how do you always have a calorie-controlled meal ready to go? You cook healthy meals for the week in advance.

This is my weekly ritual for healthy meal preparation. I shop and cook on Sunday evenings, but you can do it whenever you have an hour to spend in the kitchen. These instructions will guide you through the entire process of healthy meal preparation, storage, and reheating. I eat these meals for dinner, but you can also pack and reheat them for lunch. Need breakfast ideas? I've got a great 300-calorie breakfast that you can prep for the week as well.

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Grocery List for Healthy Meals

healthy grocery shopper
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Before you begin to prepare your week's worth of healthy meals, you need to have all of your ingredients ready. I use these items:

  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  Each of your six meals meal should contain 3-5 ounces of protein. If you don't like chicken, choose lean pork, fish, or lean beef. Or if you are a vegetarian, choose hearty beans or tofu.
  • 1-2 pounds green vegetable. I like green beans, but you can choose any green veggie that you can steam on the stove top. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus work well, too. These veggies are very low in calories and super healthy, so you'll load up on these in each of your healthy meals.
  • 1 pound brightly colored vegetables. Add a pop of color to your meal with a colorful vegetable. I like carrots because they are cheap and easy to cook, but choose the veggie that you enjoy most. 
  • 6 medium potatoes. Yukon gold potatoes work best, but red potatoes work too. Skip the russet potatoes because they are often too big.

In addition to these foods, you'll need to have six resealable containers. I like Ziploc 3.5 cup round containers because they stack nicely in my refrigerator. But many companies make containers that work just as well.

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Wash and Steam Veggies

green beans for a healthy meal
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Start the cooking process by washing and steaming your green and colorful vegetables. Trim the ends off of the green beans and throw them into a colander to rinse under the faucet. Then, peel and slice your carrots.

Steam the vegetables separately on the stovetop. It should take just 10 minutes or so for the vegetables to cook. You'll know when the veggies are cooked when you can pierce them with a fork. But don't cook them too long! You don't want mushy vegetables in your healthy meals. 

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Wash and Steam Potatoes

potatoes for weight loss
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While your veggies are steaming, take five minutes to scrub the potatoes. Then, pierce each potato with a knife. You'll steam the potatoes on the stovetop as well. But these will take a little bit longer. Plan 20-30 minutes for the potatoes to cook.

If you don't like potatoes, you can use a healthy grain instead. Sometimes I use wild rice, couscous, or flavored quinoa instead of potatoes. Grains are a good source of fiber, and some grains, like quinoa, provide a healthy dose of protein as well.

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Roast and Slice Chicken

chicken breast for weight loss
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To prepare the chicken, lay each breast out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can also add flavor and crunch by sprinkling flavored bread crumbs on top. Some healthy eaters even drizzle balsamic vinegar on their chicken for a savory taste.

Place the baking sheet into an oven that has been preheated to 375 degrees. Roast for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked. Then, cut each breast into thick slices.

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Assemble Your Healthy Meals

healthy meals
Malia Frey

Once all of your ingredients are cooked, it's time to assemble your healthy meals for the week. First, put one potato in each resealable container. Then, add a big handful of green vegetables and a few colorful vegetables. Finally, add a few slices of chicken breast and seal each container.

Stack the containers in your refrigerator or freezer. I usually keep a few meals in the refrigerator and a few meals in the freezer for later in the week. If you maintain a diet-friendly refrigerator, you'll have plenty of space next to your healthy protein snacks and drinks.

Each meal provides approximately 260 calories, 3 grams of fat, 17.4 grams of carbohydrate and 31 grams of protein. The nutrition in your meal may vary depending on your portion sizes.

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Enjoy Healthy Meals During the Week

Healthy chicken dinner
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To reheat your healthy meal, simply grab a container from the refrigerator and pop it into the microwave. Cook on 70 percent power for one minute. Then, remove the container from the microwave and place the chicken on a plate. Heat the remaining ingredients on high for 2-3 more minutes. Add the remaining ingredients to your plate and you're ready to eat!

To prepare a frozen meal, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw in the freezer overnight. Then, follow the same instructions (above) for reheating.  

Because the dinner is so low in calories, you can add your favorite sauces or condiments. Drizzle low-sugar barbecue sauce or another flavor on the chicken, add butter to your potato, or sprinkle almonds on the meal for added crunch. Just be sure to add these toppings in moderation to keep the meal calories low and your diet plan on track.

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