The Best Weight-Loss Meal Plan

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Eating out has its pros and cons: It's convenient and there is no clean-up, but on the other hand, it costs much more than eating at home and you can't control which ingredients go in your food or how it's prepared. (Watch out for added fat, salt, calories, and generally not-so-good for you ingredients!)

My husband and I have noticed recently that when we dine out, we're guaranteed a 2- to 5-pound scale spike in the days that follow. Sure, it may not be real weight gain, but what it does mean is the food is loaded with sodium. Besides the scale increase, that bloated feeling makes clothes feel tight, fingers swell, and an overall feeling of "ugh," which is less than motivating when you're trying to drop a few pounds.

Because of this, my family decided to take on a "no eating out" challenge for a month in the hopes that we would pick up better habits and also to avoid the bloat. 

The key to averting the hassle of cooking at home is weekly planning. Every Sunday we go shopping so we can ensure the fridge and pantry are stocked adequately for the week ahead. Then I schedule out the meals according to food expiration dates. As for those crazy busy days when the kids have sports and I have volunteer meetings, I put my handy crockpot and rice cooker (great for quinoa too!) to work.

RELATED: Top 12 Healthy Weight-Loss Tips From Real Women 

The results have been pretty grand. First, we're saving money, and second, both Jeff and I have been losing weight. Our plan has actually made me less stressed since our routine is more streamlined, and I don't have to debate whether we should go out or not. My husband and I are both down several pounds this month (I'm almost into a new decade!), and we haven't felt bloated or sick after eating once since we're eating freshly made food from our own kitchen.

This is one weight-loss secret you can't go wrong with, plus—it doesn't even feel like a diet!

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