There are innumerable ways we prepare ourselves to achieve goals. We study for exams, we pack for our trips, we make plans for special events and holidays. We all prove to ourselves on a daily basis that planning in advance decreases our stress, makes us feel prepared, and – most importantly – allows us more brain space to focus on other things!!
When we don’t plan ahead for that 2 week trip to Europe we forget things. Maybe the pet resort is booked. Perhaps you forgot it’s rainy season and packed the wrong clothing. Either way, your lack of preparation inevitably causes you additional stress as well as costing you time and money. The exact same thing can be said about planning your meals.
Meal prepping is your golden ticket to diet triumph! It’s the one thing you can do to solidify success regardless of your training goals. I’ve been meal prepping for years and let me tell you…it prevents a laundry list of problems that can sabotage your training efforts, stall your progress, and leave you feeling lost and frustrated.
If you are prepared ahead of time you are less likely to go too long between meals. This prevents those dreaded fluctuations in your blood sugar that leave you reaching for that coffee room doughnut, or vending machine candy bar, or sprinting to a drive-thru. If bulking is more inline with your goals it keeps your calorie loading heavy and consistent throughout the day. Missing a meal can mean sending your body into a catabolic state AKA eating the muscle you’re working so hard to gain. Why would you let either of these happen!?
I’ve put together some strategies that save time during your prep as well as keep you motivated to stick to it. These are recommendations to streamline the meals in your life. So take a look. I promise if you implement a few of these strategies you’ll find you aren’t wasting money on your box membership anymore. You’ll be getting way more out of it!!
PREP TIP #1: MASS COOKING
I highly recommend taking 1-2 days a week to do the majority of your cooking. This means taking the time to plan your daily meals and cook the food well in advance.
A) Breakfast is easy. I make protein pancakes. I place all my dry ingredients for each batch into ziploc bags. All I have left to do is add the wet in the blender and cook. If I have a tough week, I’ll make all of them ahead of time and freeze them. They heat up ok. You can thaw them out overnight for better results.
B) Oven baking your chicken breasts or using a double sided grill can cut your prep time in half. I can cook 6 days worth of chicken in an hour this way. If you can get 6-8 breasts in the oven and another 6-8 on the grill you can easily cook 2 rounds of grilled chicken before the oven baked is done. This works great for turkey burgers, chicken, lean steaks, and lean ground beef burgers. Fish cooks up faster so it’s a great alternative to your poultry and meats. **I hate leftover fish. I cook this 1-2 days within consumption**
C) You can hardboil dozens of eggs while cooking your meats!! If you’re eating the yolks great! If not, take the time to pop them out and store them in the fridge for easy snacks.
D) Carbohydrates are easy. Rice cookers allow you the freedom to set and walk away to do something else. Plus, most cookers can prepare more than your weekly requirement in under 20 minutes! (Sorry, that’s exciting to me.) Sweet potatoes (a staple for my Paleo friends) can be popped into the oven with your meats although to get them soft they need a while. They can be microwaved/boiled/grilled as well.
F) For my Micros, I make a big salad to keep portioned in the fridge as well as cut up portions of low glycemic vegetables like cauliflower, peppers, broccoli and celery. The easiest thing you can do is buy frozen veggies and just toss them into your Tupperware as you portion off your meals. The water from them thawing keeps meat moist when reheating!
PREP TIP #2: PORTION-PACK-GO!
So, you did it! Everything is cooked! Now, it’s time to refer back to your calories and macro information we discussed in my previous blog. Whatever diet you follow, take your daily caloric needs and divide them into Tupperware! For most of us that’s Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and 2 snacks. If you’re new to the game each meal should have a protein the size of your fist, slightly less carbs and up to 2 cups veggies. Fruit can be eaten at breakfast or snacks. Once everything is in Tupperware I keep the food that can’t be frozen in the fridge as well as the meals for my first 2 days. Everything else goes into the freezer. Everyday I remove one day to let it thaw in the fridge. It stays much fresher this way.
PREP TIP #3: A COOLER
Now that you’re a pro you need food transportation. Any cooler will do. However, I am a huge fan of the line of products at 6 Pack fitness. They have the Tupperware included! plus the bags are durable, super stylish and keep your food very cold. They also have the most clever compartments for your supplements,protein shakes, even your laptop if you need it. These bags are also great for people who work long hours or eat a lot. You can fit 5-7 meals in some styles. Check them out www.sixpackbags.com
To keep you on your meal plan throughout the week, plan your cheat days in advance. I personally cheat once every 7-10 days unless I’m preparing for something. Your cheat day is a well earned reward for nailing your diet! I also make deals with myself. I’ll put money away for reward items for ‘X’ amount of clean food days or maybe a holiday is coming. Whatever helps you stick to it. You’ll save so much money eating your own prepared food anyways. Why not get those new shoes?!
Now you’re ready to take over the world! Well,maybe not – but you won’t go hungry, you won’t fall victim to temptation due to that hunger, and the fire that is your metabolism will be burning!! With the stable insulin levels you’ll achieve through healthy meal prep, your body will use more of it’s own fat for fuel!! How awesome! So go forth and conquer your training goals now that you have your jet pack ready to go!