Apr 27th, 2016
It’s 7 weeks out from the CrossFit Wichita Oldtown Throwdown, and so far we’ve talked about macros, the importance of eating nutrient-dense foods, and pre & post workout fuel. However, one of the trickiest things I’ve seen people/my clients struggle with after they learn more about the WHAT part of eating, is the HOW part.
HOW do I implement a healthy eating plan with the crazy, busy life we Crossfitters (and most of the population) all seem to have?
The tool that I’ve found most helpful, dare I say essential, has been two words: MEAL PREP.
Meal prep may seem like a daunting task at first, but as anyone who has eaten my cooking knows, if I can do it — most anyone can do it! I’m no pro chef, organization is a skill I REALLY have to work on, and cooking wasn’t something I did until college.
Also, it SAVES a lot of time throughout the week. The initial investment may be 2-4 hours per week spread throughout a day or two (I usually pick Sundays), however, throughout my week I spend wayyyyy less time in the kitchen or stressing about “what will I have for dinner”?
So, with all of that in mind, let’s get into the HOW…
First, meal prep requires making a PLAN:
Become clear about your goals, and write them down: Yes, write. Doing this process may seem like an extra step, but it’s important to have a visual reminder you can put on your fridge to keep you motivated & reminded to meal prep while you’re getting the hang of it for the first few weeks. (And this step can be bypassed after week 1!)
Create meal ideas without Pinterest: Create a list of all the healthy whole foods you like and divide them by category (i.e. fats, proteins, and carbs, *seasonings). Once you’ve written these down, try to come up with combos that includes atleast one of each. The graphic below is a short example of this:
Make a Grocery List: After you’ve figured out some great combos that you like, choose 3 or 4 to incorporate into your week full of meals. After that, you can easily calculate how much of what you’ll need. I typically stick to about 3 of each option (3 different proteins, carbs, and fats) and buy enough for 5 servings per the 9 different foods you’ve chosen. You can double or triple this as needed. Costco can be one of the best places to shop if you’re short on time and needing to feed multiple people on a budget.
Go to the store & bring home the goods! Make sure you also have plenty of containers for all the meals that you’re cooking OR you can buy big containers to place each of the different meats, and bulk carbs/fats you have and combine them as you go throughout the week.
The second piece, is the actual PREP:
Turn on your oven and start pre-heating if you are going to be baking things (this is usually for things like potatoes, grilled veggies, and meats). You can also begin boiling water or turning on your rice cooker as well.
Chop, peel, and defrost any frozen meats & veggies. This will also be important for fruits. This can help you save time while you’re waiting for the oven to heat or water to boil.
Begin by cooking what takes the longest first. This will usually be things like baked potatoes/sweet potatoes, rice, and bulk meats. For more info on how to cook different foods, you may want to check out different sites like: http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-batch-cooking/ or simply pull out your smart phone & google “how to cook ____ (insert food here) in the ____ (insert appliance here).” That usually does this trick when I forget or buy a new kind of food I haven’t had in a while.
Portion out meals as you go into the containers based on your macro needs/goals. Once you’ve cooked all the foods and portioned them out, wait 20-30 mins before putting lids on it and placing it in your fridge or freezer (especially if you are working with glass containers).
Place in your fridge/freezer and voila! You’re done.
For more tips & tricks, I’d highly recommend watching videos on YouTube. For me, the visuals earlier on were helpful. And again, when in doubt how to cook something, Google is your friend.
I wish you happy meal prepping as I know this is one of the most important tools that a busy person can use to have success in eating cleaner and for improving their performance. It’s just the cherry on top that you will also save time & money!
None of the above is intended to replace or to be taken as medical advice. It is best practice to consult a trusted physician (or many) when implementing dietary changes that may impact your health or when you have a medical condition. To leave feedback or ask questions, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.