Want to know a secret? Making your own healthy meals at home is one of the best ways to support your weight loss goals.
And if cooking from scratch sounds overwhelming, we promise you can make different healthy meals with no fuss, no special tools and no need to spend hours in the kitchen.
This post is part of our healthy eating series. See also:
In this article we’ll –
👉 share our definition of healthy meals
👉 share 17 healthy meals to cook to lose weight
👉 let you in on a visual cue to build healthy plates
👉 give you plenty of lean healthy meal #inspo
We’ll also tell you what makes healthy food and meals, and explore a bunch of healthy living meal ideas:
- Easy Healthy Meals
- Best Frozen Meals for Weight Loss
- Cheap Healthy Meals
- Healthy Meals to Make in Bulk
- Heart Healthy Meals
- Healthy Microwave Meals
- Healthy Family Meals
- Healthy Breakfast Meals
So if you’re ready to get cooking, makeover your meal plan, and discover healthy meals to make to lose weight, let’s get started.
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What makes healthy food and meals?
Many people think low-calorie equates to healthy living meals, but that’s not necessarily true. While eating fewer calories than you burn is necessary to lose weight, there’s a lot of nuance.
The number of calories you need at each meal varies from person to person. That’s because we all have different metabolisms and activity levels which determine the number of calories our bodies burn in a day.
Instead of focusing on calorie counting, learning the components of simple healthy meals for weight loss can help you eat in a way that’s satisfying and still supports losing weight.
For the purposes of this article, we’re defining healthy meals you can make at home as having:
- A balanced portion of protein, fiber, and unsaturated fat that provides roughly 500 calories.
- Low amounts of sodium and saturated fat.
- Little to no sweeteners, no trans fats, and no artificial ingredients.
- A variety of ingredients to meet your vitamin and mineral needs.
Dividing your plate into sections is a helpful rule of thumb for building great healthy meals and learning portion control. For a healthy meal, fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of your plate with lean protein, and the remaining quarter with a complex carbohydrate.
Eating this way provides sustained energy, steady blood sugar levels, and fills you up so you’re not always hungry and in search of your next snack.
Healthy snacks are also important for weight loss, but they’re different from meals. Most people eat 3 meals each day compared to 1 or 2 snacks a day. Typically, breakfast is eaten in the morning, lunch is eaten mid-day, and dinner is eaten in the late afternoon to early evening hours.
Meals are bigger portions than snacks and provide the bulk of your energy and nutrition needs. Snacks can also be nutritious, but they’re smaller portions and eaten in between meals when you need a boost of energy.
17 Healthy Everyday Meals for Weight Loss
Trying to lose weight can be overwhelming, but your success is determined by the daily habits you adopt. After all, taking weight off is a long-term process and small, consistent steps add up to big progress.
Instead of trying to overhaul your lifestyle overnight to lose weight, it can be helpful to start by making one or two simple changes and then building on that foundation as the changes become routine. Adjusting to new habits takes time and making too many changes at once isn’t realistic or sustainable.
Learning how to prepare the best healthy meals for weight loss is key in changing eating habits. Here is some healthy meal inspiration to get you started.
Easy Healthy Meals
Healthy food and meals shouldn’t be complicated or time-consuming to make. Simple healthy meals that don’t require special ingredients or equipment or take hours to prep and cook make it quick and easy to eat healthier.
Here are some easy healthy living meals to try:
1. Shrimp and Veggie Stir-Fry: Stir-fry dishes are the epitome of quick healthy meals and a simple way to combine protein and vegetables. Shrimp is lean protein. Including more protein with meals helps you feel fuller for longer.
Simply saute one or more of your favorite vegetables, like broccoli, bell peppers, or onions in a tablespoon or two of avocado or extra virgin olive oil. Add the shrimp last, since it only needs about 5 minutes to cook, toss with a drizzle of low-sodium soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos before serving, and enjoy with a side of rice or quinoa. If you don’t eat seafood, swap tofu for shrimp.
2. Pork and Veggie Sheet Pan Dinner: Sheet pan dinners are a hands-free way to get a complete healthy meal on the table without dirtying lots of dishes. They’re as easy as prepping a protein, vegetable, and potato, tossing everything on a sheet pan with oil and seasoning, and letting the oven handle all the cooking.
Pork is another example of a lean protein. Pork chops can be tough to cook on the stove top, but turn out tender and juicy when baked till a meat thermometer reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This recipe pairs them with broccoli, sweet potatoes, and a honey-balsamic glaze for a one-pan healthy easy meal.
Best Frozen Meals for Weight Loss
Jam-packed schedules and hectic weeknights don’t leave a lot of time to prepare meals the same day you’re going to eat them. Planning ahead allows you to enjoy meals that may traditionally take a little longer to cook even when you’re short on time.
When you have some free time to spend in the kitchen, try preparing double batches of a recipe so you can freeze half to eat at another time. You can freeze entire meals or portion them into separate containers to freeze single servings.
Keeping a few made-ahead meals in the freezer is a great time saver and can help you stick to a healthy routine even when things get busy. Here are a few ideas for frozen meals that are healthy and hold up well in the freezer.
3. Meat & Vegetable Sauce: Prep a big batch of pasta sauce for topping whole wheat or lentil pasta. Simply brown a pound of ground beef, turkey, or vegan substitute, and then saute a mixture of chopped veggies before adding fresh or canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and Italian seasonings like oregano, basil, parsley, and garlic. Try a mixture of onion, bell peppers, carrots, and mushrooms.
Adding assorted veggies bulks up the fiber content which helps you feel satisfied with a smaller portion of pasta. If you’re really pinched for time, you can make this with a jarred sauce—just choose one made with extra virgin olive oil that doesn’t contain added sugar.
4. Lentil Soup: Many soups are good choices for healthy freezer meals. This Creamy Lentil Soup recipe tastes indulgent thanks to light coconut milk and is loaded with onions, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, and spices. You could add additional vegetables or protein, like shredded chicken breasts, if you’d like.
Lentils are a highly nutritious ingredient. They’re a good source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc, and polyphenols, or plant compounds, that benefit health. Research suggests eating more lentils helps curb appetite and reduce body weight.
Cheap Healthy Meals
It’s a myth that healthy eating is expensive. There are plenty of nutritious foods that won’t rack up the grocery bill. The best part? Some of the most affordable groceries, like beans and eggs, are also the easiest to prepare.
Below you’ll find two ideas for healthy meals on a budget
5. Beans & Rice: Whether you use dried or canned varieties, beans are an affordable pantry staple that offer maximum nutrition. Beans are an excellent source of protein, fiber, iron, calcium, and magnesium. Eating more protein and fiber rich foods, like beans, helps reduce food intake and promote weight loss.
This recipe uses canned black beans, canned tomatoes, and instant rice to make a quick and filling healthy meal. Or you can skip the tomatoes and add fresh and frozen veggies, like onion, shredded carrots, peas, and corn for a colorful bean and rice dish like this one.
6. Veggie Scramble: Eggs are an affordable protein source compared to many cuts of meat, poultry, and seafood. They’re also an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Eggs aren’t just for breakfast. Try a veggie-filled scramble for a healthy meal any time of day. Saute finely chopped vegetables, like onion, broccoli, spinach, or tomatoes in a bit of olive oil or ghee and season with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. When softened, add beaten eggs and scramble until cooked through. If you like, you can add a sprinkle of shredded cheese or top with cubed avocado and salsa. Don’t eat eggs? Try crumbled tofu instead.
Healthy Meals to Make in Bulk
If you don’t already own a crockpot, or slow-cooker, it’s worth investing in one. Crockpots make it easy to cook healthy meals and save you time and money in the long run. They can also be used for healthy meals to make in bulk and fill your freezer with make-ahead meals.
A couple healthy crockpot meal ideas are provided below.
7. Turkey Chili: Typically made with meat, beans, and vegetables, chili combines protein, fiber, and fat into a one-bowl weight loss friendly meal. This slow-cooker chili recipe uses lean ground turkey and canned beans and tomatoes.
Spices in chili, like chili powder and cayenne pepper, contain capsaicin which adds spicy flavor. Research has found eating capsaicin can aid weight loss by boosting metabolism and enhancing satiety.
8. Chicken Fajitas: If you love fajitas but dislike standing over a hot skillet or cleaning up oil splatter all over your stovetop, the crockpot is the way to go. Start by placing whole chicken breasts with sliced onions, bell peppers, a few spices, and a can of tomatoes in a slow cooker and this Tex-Mex favorite will be ready to eat for dinner.
Make fajitas even healthier by serving with grain-free tortillas, like almond flour tortillas, for added protein and fiber. Or, you could stuff lettuce wraps with the chicken filling for a low-carbohydrate option. Top with guacamole, a source of unsaturated fat, instead of sour cream for extra staying powder.
Heart Healthy Meals
If you’re trying to lose weight but also want to support your cardiovascular health, here are a few meal ideas that include heart-healthy ingredients.
9. Roasted or Grilled Salmon: Salmon is an example of a fatty fish. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are a type of unsaturated fat that can help decrease inflammation that triggers heart disease.
Individual salmon filets are quick to prepare and only require about 10 to 15 minutes in the oven or on the grill depending on thickness. Season the salmon simply with olive oil, lemon slices, and a bit of fresh or dried dill. Pair with a green vegetable and a whole grain or roasted potatoes
10. Oatmeal: Oats contain soluble fiber, which can help regulate cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol in the intestines and eliminates it from the body. This can help lower total cholesterol levels.
Plain oatmeal isn’t the most delicious on its own. Try adding a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter and a handful of chopped fresh strawberries for a twist on peanut butter and jelly.
Healthy Microwave Meals
The microwave is another useful kitchen appliance that can help you prepare healthy meals quickly and easily. Here are two healthy meal ideas that can be fully cooked in the microwave.
11. Quesadilla: The key to making a healthy quesadilla is to add high-protein ingredients, like chicken, meat, and/or beans, to the filling and limit cheese to about ¼ cup per serving.
Arrange shredded cheese and leftover chicken, beans, corn, and/or sliced olives on one half of a whole wheat or grain-free tortilla. Fold the other half of the tortilla and microwave in 30-second intervals until the cheese is melted, then cut into wedges and serve with salsa, guacamole, and shredded lettuce.
12. Stuffed Potatoes: Potatoes tend to be more satisfying than other carbohydrates, like rice or pasta, thanks to their fiber and resistant starch content. Potatoes are also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Leave the skin on potatoes whenever possible—they contain about half of the vitamin and mineral content.
You can use the microwave to “bake” a potato in just a few minutes. This recipe fills potatoes with a mixture of chopped asparagus, ham, and Swiss cheese.
Healthy Family Meals
When you’re trying to eat healthier, you don’t have to do it alone or eat different meals than everyone else in your household. The following are healthy meal ideas the whole family can share and enjoy together.
13. Egg Casserole: Baked egg casseroles are easy to customize with whatever vegetables, protein, or cheese you have on hand and leftovers reheat well. These dishes are a good way to incorporate more vegetables for kids and adults alike.
Here’s a recipe for an egg bake that’s filled with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, and feta cheese. Pair with a side salad or whole grain toast for a filling breakfast or dinner.
14. Stuffed Peppers: This is a fun meal to share and serve since each person receives their own complete meal packed into a pepper. This is also a versatile meal idea since the filling can be made with a variety of proteins, whole grains, vegetables, and seasoning.
Cut several bell peppers in half and remove the seeds. Saute a filling of lean ground turkey, brown rice or quinoa, onion, mushrooms, and tomato sauce. Scoop into the hollowed out peppers and bake or grill until warmed through.
15. Cauliflower Fried Rice: Enjoy the taste of Chinese take-out but make it lower in calories and upping the veggie content by swapping riced cauliflower for rice or using a combination of the two. Research has linked higher intakes of cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower, to reduced body weight.
To make it, use a grater to “rice” a head of fresh cauliflower or save time by purchasing frozen cauliflower rice. Saute the rice over medium-high heat for just 3 to 4 minutes to preserve the crisp-tender rice-like texture.
Healthy Breakfast Meals
What you eat for breakfast can set the tone for the rest of the day. Start yourself on the right foot by including protein, fiber, and fat at breakfast. Doing so will help you prevent mid-morning munchies and give you energy to power through your AM to-do list. Try the following healthy breakfast meal ideas.
16. Avocado Toast with Egg: Top a slice of toasted sourdough or sprouted wheat bread with mashed avocado and a scrambled or over-easy egg for a simple and filling breakfast.
Avocado is a source of monounsaturated fat. Including unsaturated fats at each meal can help reduce appetite and prevent post-meal cravings and snacking, which can sabotage weight loss efforts.
17. Greek Yogurt Parfait: Greek yogurt is higher in protein than other varieties. Choose plain, whole-milk or reduced-fat yogurt so you get some fat in to help enhance satiety. Steer clear of flavored yogurts, which often contain lots of added sugar. Pair yogurt with fiber-rich berries, slivered almonds, and hemp or flax seeds. If you miss sweetened yogurt, add a drizzle of honey to your yogurt parfait.
Eating healthier starts at home with the everyday foods you include with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These meals are more than just times of the day—they are opportunities for you to fuel and nourish your body.
Meals provide you with the bulk of the nutrition you need to feel and look your best. Eating enough at mealtimes and combining the right amounts of protein, fiber, and healthy fat helps satisfy your appetite and reduce cravings so you don’t feel the need to continually snack throughout the day.
For meals to be healthy, they should include a variety of foods, fit into your lifestyle, and be enjoyable. No matter your level of cooking skill or the time your schedule allows, it’s possible to make small and simple changes to your eating habits.
Learning to build a healthy plate no matter what time of day it is and recognize which foods are sources of protein, fiber, and healthy fat is the first step in putting together healthier meals. Having a go-to list of healthy meals for weight loss is the tool you need to know how to prepare and pair those foods together.
Whether you need meals to be quick and easy, make-ahead, family-friendly, or on a budget, there are healthy meals that fit your demands. With a little planning, you can incorporate more healthy meals that will support your health and weight loss efforts.