Thursday 26 July 2012

Meal Prep 101

Oh to have a personal chef who could make you whatever you wanted whenever you wanted it! Oh to have someone to clean up the kitchen afterwards as well! For most of us, this is not the reality. We need to cook our own food if we want to reach our training goals, but we need to be as efficient as possible because life is busy. If this is you, then you need to meal prep!

If you can afford this guy to cook for you, then you can stop reading this post
There are many ways to meal prep. Here are a few examples and their pros and cons:
Extra dinner
This is where I encourage most newbie meal-preppers to start. It is a great option for those who are home in the evening. All you do is cook extra dinner at night and then take that for lunch the next day.

Dinner multi-tasker
This option picks up on the previous one and is great for those who need multiple meals throughout the day. While you are cooking dinner, cook extra for one meal while simultaneously cooking other meals at the same time.

Morning person
This is basically the same as the dinner multi-tasker, but done in the morning while cooking breakfast. I usually do some things (e.g. get together ingredients for my power shakes) at this time. This is a great option for those who are busy in the evenings, have time in the morning and are conscious enough in the morning to work in the kitchen without falling back asleep over a hot stove.

Sunday meal-prep extravaganza
In this option, you block out some time on Sunday afternoon and do all your cooking for the entire week. Yes, it is a big job and will take a good chunk of time, but when you are done, you will be free for the rest of the week. I used to do this method when I was single. The big downside I found was that I lost every Sunday afternoon (and Sundays are often my only day off). The other downside is that your food doesn't taste as good towards the end of the week and may start to become less safe to eat. You can work around this buy freezing some of the cooked meals for later in the week.

Twice weekly cook-fest
I have found this method to be a great alternative to the Sunday meal prep option. With this option, I can meal prep during Saturday evening’s dinner for Monday & Tuesday and then meal prep Tuesday evening for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (I don't meal prep for the weekends unless I'm teaching a course/workshop on the weekends). Eating fresh food is superior to reheated food, so choose this option when time allows.

Application: Remember these two things:
  1. This is not an exhaustive list of possibilities. All that really matters is that you find a way that works for you. Also, this may change with different phases of life and as you advance in training. 
  2. Remember, meal prep is an investment. Saying "yes" to meal prep means saying "no" to something else (e.g. some of your TV, web surfing, Facebook time, etc.). However, the payoff for your health, performance, body composition, and the rest of your schedule is HUGE!

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