By: Elvin Garcia
COO | CPT | Sports Nutritionist
Over the years, we’ve gotten much more conscious about our nutrition. More and more people are getting educated about the importance of properly fueling the body for optimal results.
And, with the rise of flexible dieting in the last decade or so, we have more dietary freedom to enjoy some of our favorite foods and still reach our body composition goals.
However, there’s a problem with flexible dieting:
Some people take it to the extreme. Where the philosophy of flexible dieting is to eat mostly whole, nutritious foods and leave some calories and macronutrients for delicious treats, some people understand it as:
“I can eat all the junk I want, as long as I hit my macronutrient numbers,” hence the ‘if it fits your macros’ name.
I would know, I’ve done it before. I had a period in my life where I exclusively got almost all of my protein from supplements, and the rest of my calories came from pizza, chocolate, chips, fast food, etc.
And this is where meal prepping comes in to save the day.
You see, meal prepping is the simple act of cooking a lot of food in advance and preparing your meals for a period (e.g., for the week).
These are much like the ‘ready-for-consumption’ meals you can get at the local grocery store but are much cheaper to prepare and in most cases - much healthier, too.
With that said, you are probably wondering:
“Well, what’s wrong with ‘if it fits your macros’? Why should I prepare meals in advance?”
Meal prepping is the best way to ensure that you’re consistent with your nutrition. Think of it this way: if you go through the trouble to prepare one or two dozen meals in advance, you can bet your ass that you’re going to follow your diet. After all, that’s a lot of food and effort to throw away.
Second, meal prepping saves you a lot of time. For example, if you set aside some time to bulk-prepare your weekly meals on Sunday, all you need to do during the week is take out the Tupperware and enjoy your food.
No need to worry about “Oh what am I going to eat tonight? I’ll be home at 11 pm.”
No need to run around sporadically to prepare breakfast in the morning.
No need to resort to fast food because you didn’t pack a lunch for work.
It’s all laid out and ready for you.
And finally, meal prepping is much cheaper than any other option. Buying foods like rice, meat, and frozen fish in bulk is much cheaper than the standard packages.
Now, there are some ways to make meal prepping simpler to do, and we’ll cover them below:
1.Pick a day for meal prepping
Starting is often the most important step. Pick a time and day of the week where you can prepare your food without interruptions.
For me, that’s right after lunch on Sunday. I don’t have to be anywhere or do anything, and I can dedicate some time to prepare the food, cook it and distribute it to the containers.
At first, meal prepping for a whole week might seem a bit overwhelming, and it would be. My advice is to start small with just a few meals. Once you get the hang of it, you can start preparing meals for the whole week.
This is also a good idea for you to get an understanding of how food volumes change with cooking. You don’t want to be left with a bunch of cooked chicken breasts or potatoes that you simply cannot eat.
2.Choose the ‘meat and potatoes’ of your meals
Once you’ve marked the calendar for meal prep, it’s important to know what you’ll be cooking. This is the time to pick the foundation of your meals.
Good choices are baked potatoes and boiled or oven-baked rice as a carb source.
Pork, beef, chicken, fish (fatty and lean both work well), and turkey as your protein source.
Veggies such as cooked spinach, oven-baked broccoli, and boiled carrots as a side for some meals.
For example, you can oven-bake a bunch of chicken breasts and rice for delicious, and simple meals.
You can also boil 10-20 eggs at once and have some for each day of the week.
3.Get a crockpot
A crock pot (also known as a slow cooker) is truly a game-changer when it comes to prepping meals.
Unless you’ve got some cooking experience, most of the meat you’ll prepare won’t be very appetizing (let’s just say that I’ve eaten chicken breast so bland that I would have happily traded it for a piece of cardboard).
But with a crock pot, you can easily prepare some of the best-tasting meat. All you need to do is wash the meat, cut it, put it in the crockpot, add some spices, and cook for 6-8 hours on low setting.
Despite the simplicity, the meat comes out tasting heavenly.
And here’s an idea: cook the meat overnight before meal prep day and distribute it afterward.
4.Get good containers for your meals
What do you do when you have all the food cooked and ready? You put it in good containers.
If you, like me, adore simplicity, a set of Tupperware is going to work just fine. They are reliable, reusable, stackable, and tightly-sealed.
But if you want to divide your meals into different sections (God forbid your carrots touch the rice!), you can get special containers made for us meal preppers. They are divided in multiple settings and, once the lid is closed, each section is tightly sealed.
This is also a good idea if you plan on microwaving some of your meals. In that case, look for containers with the letters ‘BPA Free’ (safe to microwave).
Buy fruits such as pears, apples, bananas, or strawberries. You can include some to each meal (as a dessert and for some extra vitamins and minerals). You can also cut them up, put them in containers and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes.