Tuesday 16 April 2013

Week 16 Nutrition Habit: Meal Prep

It is one thing to know about eating for optimal health, body composition and performance. It is another to be able to practically do it while juggling all the things in life (e.g. family, work, school, sports, training) that have demands on our time. The secret to making performance nutrition work in the real work is effective meal preparation strategies (or hiring a personal chef). I'm going to assume that the later option is not feasible for most people and therefore, in week 16 of our 52 Weeks to Better Nutrition and a New You series, let's look at meal prep.

Meal Preparation Prerequisites
# 1: Food containers
If you don't have these, go shopping and get some food containers. While you don't want to be obsessive about it, I recommend getting glass containers. These are healthier than plastic and way better if you are using a microwave to re-heat your food.

#2: Food packing device 
Hard core cooler
If you have access to a fridge at school/work then you don't have to worry about this. Otherwise, you need to get some type of cooler that you can cart your food with you throughout the day. This will keep your food accessible and safe while letting everyone around you know that you are hard core! If your goal is muscle gain, you will need a big one. If not, you can get some type of cooler bag that is small and more discrete.

#3: Go shopping. 
The next step is to hit the store. If you have been following this series, you will remember that Week 4's nutrition habit was a goal-appropriate shopping list. Be sure you have a adopted a habit of weekly shopping for goal-appropriate foods.

Once you have containers and food, it is time to get prepping. Depending on where you are at and what your goals are, this week's habit is to adopt one of the following meal prep habits.

Beginner Meal Prep
My Meal Prep
At night when you are making dinner, cook extra for the next day's lunch. In the morning, get up with enough time to make and eat breakfast. Click HERE for more details & ideas. While making breakfast, blend 1-2 power shakes as needed to take to work/school with you. Done! Simple and effective.

Advanced Meal Prep
This method is helpful for those who are more advanced and who need to make multiple meals. Take 2 evenings a week (I recommend Tuesday & Saturday). On Saturday, make meals for Monday & Tuesday. On Tuesday night, make meals for Wednesday, Thursday & Friday. Note: this assumes that you are not working on the weekend. When I teach weekend trainer courses, I add another night of meal prep on Thursday or Friday night for Saturday & Sunday.

What you make when meal prepping will depend on your goals and your body type. Standard items could be things like several baked or barbecued chicken breasts, broiled lean ground beef patties or fish pieces. You also need to get your veggies in. I personally like to do a big batch of steamed veggies (click HERE for details). Another great option is buying a tub of pre-washed salad greens and adding chopped vegetables (e.g. peppers, tomatoes, green onions, etc). Make a big salad and divide it into smaller containers. Set aside fresh pieces of fruit and place nuts (assuming no allergies) in small containers to go with you. Those needing to add extra carbohydrates to their diets can also prepare good carbs at this time. Examples include making a big pot of rice or quinoa or baking yams or potatoes. 

While you have all heard this before, don't forgot that quote: failure to plan is planning to fail. Adopt the habit of regular meal prep and you will be on your way to reaching your goals! 

Please click HERE for more meal prep info from my previous post entitled Meal Prep 101.

Here are the links to the previous 2013 weekly habits in case you missed them:

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