Hate to count calories? Don’t have time to cook? If you reach for convenience meals at the end of a long day, you could be filling up on empty calories and carbs that do little to nourish your body and but really help you pack on fat and weight. Pre-packaged weight loss meals make it easier for people who hate to cook – or simply don’t have time to do the shopping, weighing, measuring and cooking for themselves.
And thanks to the fact that consumers have made their preferences clear, you’ll find a lot of choices when you go looking for prepared, pre-packaged weight loss meals. From major food suppliers to the best-known weight loss chains, it seems nearly everyone is putting out a line of delicious, nutritious and low calories meals to help you stick to your diet and your resolve to lose weight. Here’s a quick overview of the different types of weight loss meal plans you’ll find available.
A number of large weight loss and health chains offer you the option to sign up for weight loss meals delivered directly to your door. Some of them provide 3 meals and 2-3 snacks daily, with no need for you to buy or supply anything else. Others only supply the main dishes and require you to add some of your own ingredients. These are typically the most expensive option for weight loss meal plans, but can be surprisingly cost effective when you consider the quality of the meals and the amount you save on buying everything you’d need to prepare the same meals yourself.
Cost: Plan to spend $140 to $300 a week, depending on the meal plan you choose
Don’t have time to cook from scratch, but don’t mind running out to the supermarket? You’ll find a wide range of low-calorie, healthy meals in your grocer’s freezer. These tend to be heavily weighted toward dinner/lunch entrees, but you’ll find desserts, snacks and breakfast foods as well. Each meal is portion-controlled and meets specific calorie and nutritional guidelines that will be listed on the package – but it’s important to read those labels. It’s also important to know that various consumer watchdog groups have found that many of the supermarket weight loss meals weigh in at up to 20 percent more calories than the package claims, so do your research.
Cost: If you shop wisely, you may be able to stock up your freezer with weight loss entrees for as little as $2.50 a meal, but $5 per meal is far more common. Watch for sales, and stock up when you can.
Another popular option for weight loss meals are meal replacement diet plans. The best known of these meal replacement plans is Medifast, but there are many others, including Physicians WEIGHT LOSS plan, OPTIFAST and Slim-Fast. While there are differences among them, they all rely on the same basic premise: you replace 2 meals and all your snacks daily with weight loss drinks, weight loss shakes or weight loss bars (or cookies), and eat a low-calorie meal that includes protein and vegetables for your final meal of the day. If you follow the meal plans precisely, your daily calorie intake will be 800-1,200 calories daily.
Cost: $12 to $30 daily for the meal replacements, plus groceries for one meal daily.
Pre-packaged weight loss meals can help you lose weight without all the measuring and weighing and planning, but they can be expensive. Take the time to evaluate each meal plan for benefits and costs, and make your decision accordingly.