Many people find that meal planning and preparation has been the key to achieving their fitness goals, and when someone gets the ideas right for this, their results really go through the roof.
This whole process can prove overwhelming for an inexperienced individual though, not only can a week’s worth of meal prep take up a whole afternoon, if done wrong, can turn you off from the idea completely, leaving you scavenging for fast food.
Successful meal preparation revolves around having a good plan, this is crucial, trying to wing it can have you end up with mismanaged macros, forgotten veggies or even a foodborne illness, before starting in the kitchen, commit these 5 meal-prep rules to memory.
Meal prep Sunday is a day widely observed in the fitness community. It may even be more popular than international chest day (Monday in case you don’t know). The reasoning behind this is so it doesn’t interfere with your Friday or Saturday plans and it is close enough to the start of the week to hopefully prevent having dodgy smelling food come Thursday.
Depending on how many meals you’re making, doing all the prep in a single day can add up to a lot of food and time. Plus, depending on your protein of choice and cooking method, you may still end as that guy or girl in the office known for smelly lunches.
Meal prep is only going to last if it is manageable. If Sunday doesn’t work, split meal prep into two days. This will cut down on the session length and definitely preserve the quality of your food. Sunday and Wednesday are usually a good pair, but find any two that work best for you.
There is no point in any meal prepping until you know exactly what numbers you are shooting for in terms of number of meals and what those meals contain.
Determine the number of meals and number of days you will be preparing at one time. Some people find that preparing only their lunch for each day of the week is enough as they are able to eat breakfast and dinner at home. Others have more success packing multiple daily meals for the entire week or even all their meals. Regardless of where you fall on the meal-prepping spectrum, choose a spot that sets you up for success and plan accordingly.
Macros: If you are cycling carbs and need 350g of carbs one day, but only 200g the next, know this information ahead of time. Outline your daily macros or needs with specific meal by meal guidelines, and post it somewhere in the kitchen, the refrigerator works best here.
You don’t have to count macros to make this work but having concrete guidelines ahead of time will ease the shopping and prep to come, you can even take it to the next level and label containers by day and meal.
I am all for variety in meals during the week, however, spending time making gourmet concoctions such as creme brulee, French toast or bacon-wrapped scallops in bulk may keep you in the kitchen much longer than you wanted. Plus, normally, the fancier something is, the worse it tastes when it’s been sat in a Tupperware for a few days.
Save the fancy stuff for a fresh meal. When prepping, focus on picking easy to cook, bulk-packaged foods that keep well. Things I recommend can be mix and matched from the list below:
I’m not really a fish guy in prepped meals but you can always experiment, just be sure to use a well-sealed container.
Grocery shopping might seem obvious but beginning meal prep with the remnants from your fridge and pantry is never a good idea. You might get the odd meal or two out of it or be forced into using your protein powder as reinforcements for nearly every meal but that gets expensive fast.
Once you know your numbers, make sure you have everything to meet them. If you are lucky enough to have a chest freezer you may be able to plan weeks at a time. If not, make a weekly or bi-weekly trip part of your prep routine, it will help you efficiently navigate the store, save money and avoid food waste.
The look of a fridge stocked with meals for a week is very rewarding. Lots of Tupperware perfectly aligned with perfect macros is a sight to see. Come Monday however and you will be having a difficult time carting your suitcase, gym bag and many containers to work. Many meals have ended up on the floor this way.
If you are prepping just one meal a day, you might just swing it, f you are a two or three a day type. a cooler, insulated meal bag or backpack of some kind is a requirement. Their controlled temperature can also help protect you from food borne illnesses.
The extra purchase may seem like a luxury but it has the potential to save you lots of frustration every day. If you are going to do this consistently (it is the only way to do it), then cutting out all unnecessary hassles is essential, make it easy for yourself.
All of these meal planning ideas will help you stay organised when it comes to the gym and eating during the week at work etc.
Click here to learn how a diet plan created by a specialist can change everything in just 3 weeks.
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