5 Steps for Cooking the Perfect Flex Meal

Article posted in: Nutrisystem for Men
woman cooking a Flex meal

Nutrisystem weight loss plans are the best way to help you shed excess pounds right now. But that’s just the beginning. Nutrisystem works because the most powerful benefit comes in the years ahead, as you maintain your healthy lifestyle and weight. That’s because we don’t just teach you how to lose weight; we also teach you how to keep if off.

As you lose today, you are learning a new way to eat and to prepare food for yourself. Flex meals let you practice your new knowledge about healthy ingredients and portion sizes. And eating properly couldn’t be more simple! All it takes is choosing from five building blocks: SmartCarbs, PowerFuels, Vegetables, Extras and Free Foods.

We’ve defined each of these building blocks below and provided examples for each. We also put together some tasty Flex meal and snack combination ideas that you can refer to when you need a little inspiration!

Please note that Flex meal guidelines will vary depending on your specific Nutrisystem program. Use the NuMi app for your specific PowerFuel and SmartCarb goals. In your NuMi journal, simply go to the meal occasion your Flexing, then tap FLEX MEAL to turn it ON. This will show you how to build your Flex meal.

Step 1. Get Smart: Start with a SmartCarb

healthy carbs

Your healthy meals begin with picking from the many different kinds of SmartCarbs. You may have heard that you need to avoid carbohydrates of all kinds when you’re losing weight. However, Nutrisystem isn’t your average weight loss plan. We’re all about letting you enjoy the foods you love while you drop pounds and get healthy!

Not all carbohydrates are alike, though. SmartCarbs are nutrient-rich carbohydrates, which are packed with fiber and rank lower on the glycemic Index. This means that they may help to keep your blood sugar steady and prevent spikes after meals and snacks. The fiber helps them digest slower, keeping you feeling full for longer than other carbs.

When shopping for pasta, rice, bread and cereal, be sure to get whole grain varieties. Cans of low-sodium black beans, chickpeas and other beans are a quick and easy way to add protein along with healthy carbs to your meals. When you’re craving sweeter flavors, pick fresh fruit. You have so many options, from apples to oranges to peaches, that you’re sure to find one that fits into your meal.

Check out the Nutrisystem Grocery Guide for a comprehensive list of SmartCarbs. Here are a few examples:

  • 1 cup Fruit
  • 1 slice Whole Grain Bread
  • ½ cup Whole Wheat Pasta
  • ½ cup Brown Rice
  • ½ cup Sweet Potato

Step 2. Power Up: Pick a PowerFuel

proteins and healthy fats

PowerFuels satisfy your hunger and are essential fuel for your body. These high-quality proteins and healthy fats include delicious options like lean meats, fish, low-fat yogurt and nuts.

Chicken breast, turkey, fish and seafood are healthy choices when you want a hardy meal. Keep canned tuna or salmon, peanut butter and nuts on hand for when you need PowerFuels that are ready to eat. Pair protein-rich low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit or low-fat cheese with whole grain bread for a healthy balance of PowerFuels and SmartCarbs.

Need a super-quick PowerFuel on a busy day? Whip up a Nutrisystem Shake.

Check out the Nutrisystem Grocery Guide for a comprehensive list of PowerFuels. Here are a few examples:

  • 2 oz. Chicken Breast
  • 3 oz. Shrimp
  • 1 slice Cheese
  • 1 large Egg
  • 2 Tbsp. Nuts

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Step 3. Veg Out: Pile on the Non-Starchy Vegetables

Close up of various colorful raw vegetables

Starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn are SmartCarbs, but many other varieties are categorized as “non-starchy.” They are full of fiber, low in calories and packed with vitamins that keep your body functioning at its peak.

Eating four servings of non-starchy vegetables each day is an important key to successfully losing weight and keeping it off. A typical serving of non-starchy vegetables is a half-cup cooked or one cup raw. You can eat as much of these veggies as you like. They are unlimited on Nutrisystem, so you can use them to make filling snacks and side dishes for lunch and dinner.

You can choose from so many different veggies, you will never be bored by them. And if you’re not a big fan of vegetables now, you can slip them almost unnoticed into so many dishes. Add lettuce, spinach or cucumber slices to sandwiches. Replace ordinary white rice with riced cauliflower. When covered in sauce, zoodles look and taste like spaghetti, but they’re made with zucchini.

For a satisfying snack, dip carrots, celery or sweet bell peppers into salsa or hummus (a SmartCarb).

Check out the Nutrisystem Grocery Guide for a comprehensive list of Vegetables. Here are a few examples:

  • Broccoli
  • Bell Peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus

Step 4. Be Extra: Add Some Extras

different sauces and condiments in bowls.

You can take your Flex meals to the next level of tastiness with “Extra” ingredients. Some add sweetness to your dish, while others bring a bit of healthy fats that make your food just a little more satisfying.

One Extra has between 10 and 35 calories per serving. You are limited to three Extras per day on your Nutrisystem plan. Be sure to follow the recommended servings carefully because it can be easy to overdo it and load up on excess calories.

Salad dressing or balsamic vinegar make an ordinary bowl of vegetables more appetizing. Mayonnaise and ketchup help bring out the flavor of sandwiches and burgers. Sugar-free jelly or maple syrup are the tasty finishing touches on whole grain toast or waffles.

Check out the Nutrisystem Grocery Guide for a comprehensive list of Extras. Here are a few examples:

  • 1 Tbsp. Avocado
  • 2 tsp. Butter Substitute
  • 1 tsp. Honey
  • 1 tsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Light Salad Dressing
  • 1 tsp. Butter

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Step 5. Feel Free: Flavor with Free Foods

Herbs and spices in bowls

The best way to amp up the flavor of any meal is with Free foods. They have less than 10 calories per serving and they are unlimited, so you can enjoy as much of them as want. They come in all kinds of flavors, from savory to spicy to sweet.

Herbs and spices, such as garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper light up your taste buds but add virtually no calories to your food. Salsa brings a bit of zing to sandwiches and makes the ideal dip for non-starchy vegetables or SmartCarbs like whole-grain crackers. Vinegar, lemon juice and low-sodium soy sauce perk up many recipes. Zero-calorie beverages also fall into this category, including coffee, unsweetened tea and seltzer water.

Check out the Nutrisystem Grocery Guide for a comprehensive list of Free Foods. Here are a few examples:

  • Low-Sodium Broth
  • Garlic
  • Fresh Herbs
  • Hot Sauce
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salsa

Flex Meal Ideas

Using the grocery add-in examples above, we put together a few Flex meal combinations below to help you get started.

Example 1:

  • SmartCarb: Brown Rice
  • PowerFuel: Chicken Breast
  • Vegetable: Bell Peppers
  • Extra: Avocado
  • Free Food: Salsa

Example 2:

  • SmartCarb: Whole Grain Bread
  • PowerFuel: Cheese
  • Vegetable: Tomatoes
  • Extra: Butter Substitute
  • Free Food: Garlic

Example 3:

  • SmartCarb: Fruit
  • PowerFuel: Nuts
  • Vegetable: Lettuce, Tomatoes and Bell Peppers (Side Salad)
  • Extra: Light Salad Dressing
  • Free Food: Fresh Herbs

Example 4:

  • SmartCarb: Sweet Potato
  • PowerFuel: Shrimp
  • Vegetable: Broccoli
  • Extra: Olive Oil
  • Free Food: Lemon Juice

Example 5:

  • SmartCarb: Whole Grain Bread
  • PowerFuel: Egg
  • Vegetable: Tomatoes
  • Extra: Butter
  • Free Food: Hot Sauce

Get started with Nutrisystem today!

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