I just wrote a post on Like A Boss about time management, in which I briefly touched on the subject of planning ahead. I gave the example of meal planning, a tool used by many fitness enthusiasts (be it bodybuilders, powerlifters, athletes in other sports or just casual lifters and weekend warriors) to make dieting more efficient.
Considering the nature of this blog, I figured I would go a little more in depth on that specific topic with this quick article about meal prepping. Preparing meals ahead of time for either half the week or even the entire week can greatly benefit anyone who wants to eat appropriately for their fitness goal(s).
While I certainly have strong opinions on nutrition as a whole and its various roles in a variety of training programs, this isn’t an article about that but rather some basic guidelines on how to successfully prepare meals in a manner that allows you to manage your time more wisely.
Step 1: Figure out how many days you need to prep for.
As an example: You train 4 days per week and 3 days per week you have a couple hours of extra time because you aren’t training. Use this time to prepare meals for the training days. In this scenario, you would prepare meals for 2-3 days three times per week.
Of course, like many things, this will vary from person to person. Figure out what’s best for you personally.
Step 2: Figure out the total meals and snacks you are prepping for.
This also depends on various factors, so I can’t make a blanket statement. But you need to know how many meals per day you plan to eat, then multiply that number by however many days you’re preparing meals for. It’s really not rocket science, so that’s all I will do to elaborate on this step.
Step 3: Make a plan.
Now that you know how many meals and snacks you’ll need to prepare during each meal prep session, you should make a plan of what those meals and snacks will consist of. I’ll give you some ideas at the end of this article, but the meal plan needs to be tailored to your individual needs and should also offer as much variety as possible. So, unless you want to eat chicken, rice and broccoli for every meal, you should consider what other things you could be combining those three ingredients with to include more variety in your diet with little extra effort.
Adding variety could be as simple as making different marinades for your chicken. If you marinate chicken breasts with different flavors, you can still cook them in the same batch and have them ready for the days that follow. The same goes for all kinds of different foods. Make them taste slightly different and combine them into different meals to avoid monotony. Rotate what kind of foods you use from meal prep session to meal prep session for even more variety.
Once you have the meals planned out and shopped for all the ingredients needed, you can move on to the next step!
Step 4: Prepare your meals.
With time set aside for meal prep and a solid plan to execute the task, you’re armed for meal preparation domination!
Step 5: Eat.
Meal and snack tips: (These are just a few items I have found to be nutritious and delicious, even if kept for a few days! By no means is this even close to a complete list.)
– Hard boiled eggs
– Various rice and pasta dishes
– Mashed potatoes – sweet or regular (They taste pretty good reheated.)
– Meat patties (Stuff some feta in there.)
– Thinly sliced chicken breast (Great for sandwiches!)
– Salads (Pro tip: Throw the dressing on when you’re about to eat it, if you’re using lettuce. Cucumber and carrot salads are great too.)
– Chocolate covered bacon (WHAT?!)
– Homemade energy bars or energy balls (There are a TON of recipes for these available all over the Intarwebs.)
– Homemade beef or turkey jerky (High in protein, very little fat and it keeps for a very long time. Pick up a dehydrator to make the process easier.)
I hope this helps make meal prep more efficient for you and allows you to manage your time a little more effectively! If you never thought to prepare meals ahead of time before… you’re welcome.