Today’s post is written by another one of the PTs in my gym – Kim Barnard. She will give us practical tips on how to start prepping your meals in advance. But here’s her story first:
“My move into the fitness industry was fuelled after years of working within a high stress environment in the UK. I found that my career and lifestyle were having an effect on my health, so I decided that something needed to be done and found a harmonious balance through fitness, mindfulness and nutrition. This is when I discovered my passion was to help those who like me needed to step back and try to achieve that balance in their stressful day to day lives.”
Meal prepping has long been proven to help many people reach their fitness goals. It is true what they say about “abs are made in the kitchen”! Prepping ensures that you are calculating your macros accurately for you daily meals taking into account what training you have planned and therefore not resorting to those quick fix solutions on the run when you’re hungry.
Unfortunately, the experience of food prepping can be overwhelming for those who are new to it. Successful meal prep revolves around having a plan and if you do this ahead of time you are less likely to make mistakes when calculating macros.
Here are my top tips for meal prep that have helped me go from someone who picked up convenience pre-packaged meals on the run to an advocate for prepping!
1.Pick a day and time
Set out a few hours on your chosen day to get this done, especially for those who are new to meal prepping, this may take more time in the beginning but it will get quicker and easier with more experience. I usually set out a few hours on Saturday afternoon to get it all done for the week ahead.
2. Start planning
What does your week look like? Are there days where you have early morning meetings or have to work late? These meals can be prepped ahead of time to take the stress out of cooking when you get up or have to cook late at night. I like to make egg frittata muffins as an easy go to breakfast or protein hit when I am in a hurry, they can be baked ahead of time with your choice of extra ingredients and stored for a few days.
3. Stick with the staples
Choose foods that are easy to cook in bulk and store well. Proteins you can use are beef, chicken and fish. For fats use butter and coconut oil for cooking with, otherwise avocado, almonds and olive oil are all good sources of fats. Stick to the more complex carbohydrates like potatoes, sweet potatoes, white and brown rice.
4. Know your numbers
By planning what I need each day, the buying and prepping process gets easier. I invested in a set of scales to help prep each meal as at the beginning of my journey I was a bit naïve to what 100 grams of chicken actually looked like.
5. Go grocery shopping
Grocery shopping becomes easier when you have your meal plan. I have a full list of all ingredients required for the week and use a lot of the same ingredients across meals enabling me to keep prep easy. I buy meat and frozen vegetables in bulk which makes my weekly shop actually cheaper. Pre-planning also means that there is no getting distracted by naughty treats!
6. Chopping, Peeling & Cooking
Stick to recipes you know and enjoy cooking as this makes it easier especially at the beginning when trying to work out portioning. You don’t have to cook all the food you prep; I like to create big salads which can be divided into portions. There is no wrong or right way to prep, everyone is different and you can steam, slow cook, poach or try just about anything.
7. Invest in The Proper Equipment
Make sure you invest in a good quality cooler bag if you are out and about for long so that all your food remains fresh. Reasonable quality storage containers will ensure that your carefully prepared food won’t spill everywhere.