Meal prep takes the guesswork out of eating healthy. Choose a protein, choose a carbohydrate, cook in bulk, add some fat to the mix and BAM, you have balanced meals for days.
Meal prepping offers a variety of benefits:
- Improved nutrition: Meal prepping allows you to plan all the ingredients in your meals ahead of time. And it gives you the opportunity to holistically assess the food you would normally eat in a week. This gives you the opportunity to plan a diet that is balanced and nutritious.
- Weight management: Meal prepping can be helpful if you’re trying to manage your weight, whether your goal is to maintain, gain, or lose weight. All you need to do is make adjustment to your weekly meal preparation to account for caloric deficits or surpluses depending on your goals.
- Time management: While meal prepping requires an upfront time investment to prepare your meals in advance, some people find it helps them free their time during busy days. As an example, if you have more free time on the weekends, you can meal prep for your work week which gives you more time to focus on other tasks during the workday.
- Consistency: Meal prepping can help you stay consistent with your diet. Since all your meals are already planned out for several days, all you need to do is heat and eat your meal. This makes it easier to stick to your plan.
- Cost savings: Another perk of meal prepping is that it can potentially save you money. Having meals ready in the fridge reduces the need to order take out. And since meal prepping requires you to prepare several meals ahead of time, you’ll likely start purchasing more of your groceries in bulk which can cut some costs.
I can personally attest to the benefits of meal prep on physique and performance, so I want to share with you some tips for embracing meal prep into your own routine.
Do find a day that you can dedicate to meal prep
I recommend setting aside a couple of hours over the weekend to shop for and prepare your meals for the week. I like prepping my meals on Sunday because that's when I have free time and feel the most relaxed. Meal prep is meant to make your life easy, so choose a day that makes sense in your schedule and have fun with it.
Don't over prep
I recommend planning out 2-3 days of food at a time so your food stays fresh and you don't get bored eating the same meal every day. If you want to prep more than a couple of days worth of food, I suggest cooking extra protein that you can add to other carbs and fats on the fly.
Do use foods that can keep for a couple of daysProteins like chicken and beef are great for meal prep because they stay fresh for several days. Veggies like beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, and cucumbers are great options too. You can keep them raw in your containers for days without losing nutrients, crunch or taste.
Don't choose vegetables that will wilt or become soggy
While you may think that preparing salads ahead of time is a good idea, I advise against it. Salad greens wilt and become watery when paired with dressing, protein, and veggies. If you are hell bent on having salad, bring a separate container with the items you plan to add to your greens.
Do plan on preparing foods that you can eat cold
Meal prepping at its core is about eating healthy on the go. That means eating your meals straight out of a container. On the subway, in the office, out in a forest…wherever. So be sure to cook proteins all the way through, make sure quinoa or rice is not crunchy and your veggies are tasty enough to eat cold.
Changing up your menu weekly or bi-weekly alleviates boredom. I'll be the first to tell you that I get bored eating the same thing every day. So on prep days, I will grill 2-3 types of protein that I can add to different dishes throughout the week. Go online to sites like Pinterest for inspiration. You'll be amazed at all the healthy meal prep recipes you can find.
Don't over-complicate the recipesKeep your prep simple. Your nutrition should fit with your lifestyle and your skills in the kitchen. It's ok if you aren't a Top Chef. Just stick with the basics! Use spices to flavor your meals and choose ingredients that you feel comfortable cooking. As long as you hit your macronutrients and you enjoy the taste of your food, that's all that matters.
Do stick to the programWith meal prep, it's the small daily changes that count. Committing to 1-2 months of meal prep will pay off. If you are someone who is using meal prep for weight loss, you are going to be STOKED with how fast you can see change. Stick to the plan and kick ass.
Don’t feel like meal prepping is a ball and chain
Meal prepping should be fun, not a death sentence. If you grab your food from the fridge and cringe, you need to re-evaluate the food not the system. Forcing or restricting your nutrition is DIETING. Dieting does not work. When we enjoy eating, we achieve our goals faster. Prep with positivity!
Make your meal prep even easier by using a high quality protein powder. You need carbs and you need fat, but do you need them in your protein supplement? When you want the benefits of lean protein with minimal carbs and fat, COR-Performance Whey Isolate Protein Powder is second to none.
Getting stoked. Staying fired up. Enjoying every moment that life has to give. That is the mission of Athlete "EROCK" Eric Botsford. Personally, Eric's goal is to look beyond where others stop, finding that deeper drive both physically and mentally. Though he has made his mark as a 6 time CrossFit Games Regional Competitor and Tough Mudder MC, Eric is always looking for his "flow", leaping from planes, surfing, diving, skiing. Knowing that this ride is better shared, Eric has been a devoted CrossFit Trainer and Box Owner, Mentor, and NCAA Strength and Conditioning Coach helping to bring other athletes to their fullest potential. Eric constantly strives to be a clear voice in the health and nutrition world, blogging the most relevant and up-to-date science on health and performance. He believes that the key to inspiration is education.