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MEAL PREP 101

SEPTEMBER 7, 2016

MEAL PREPPING: For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, essentially it is planning and prepping your meals in advance for the week. Eliminate the stress and time factor of having to cook every single night by meal prepping! Meal prep has proven to be the key to reaching their fitness goals. Successful meal prepping revolves around having a plan. Try winging it on the fly and you’ll likely end up with mismanaged macros, forgotten veggies, or, worse, foodborne illness. Meal prep is only going to last if it feels manageable to you. Depending on how many meals you’re making, doing all the prep on a single day can add up to quite a bit of food and time. The amount of prep you do, depends on how much time you have to dedicate to prepping and your personal preferences.  

WHAT TO COOK: The biggest mental hurdle of meal prep: what to actually make. Meal prepping is already complex enough, so there’s no need to complicate matters with culinary wizardry. Unless you are a hardcore clean eater, cooking up 2 kilos of plain chicken breast and steamed broccoli probably won’t float your boat. I love experimenting with flavours, in particular spices and homemade marinades and dressings. I like to accompany my lean proteins with some sort of sauce or spice coating, or a lemon and olive oil dressing to jazz up my veggies. Try to incorporate as much variety as you can so that you don’t get bored of eating the same thing each day. This can be as simple as switching up your spices or protein. You can marinate your chicken breasts, place them in the freezer, and defrost when you’re ready to use them. The same thing applies to homemade turkey burgers etc. Another example is to make one larger batch of your favourite sauces and refrigerate it, rather than make several smaller batches. If you like your vegetables freshly cooked, then you can portion them out for each meal and put them in containers ready to be steamed or cooked. If you know you will be making a meal that requires a lot of chopping, you can do this in advance as well. You can also wash all fruit and portion the nuts that you will be using as snacks, so that you can easily eat them on the run. Using recipes that require a trip to a separate grocery store or time poring over a cookbook will only make you less likely to stick with your meal-prep plan. Dedicating your prep time to the meal you’re least likely to cook during the week will actually make a dent in your expensive, unhealthy takeout consumption.

WHENMeal prep Sunday is a holiday widely observed in the fitness community. Prepping on Sunday doesn’t interfere with your Friday and Saturday plans, and it’s close enough to the start of the week to prevent having funky-smelling food by Thursday. 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. Don’t even think about meal prepping until you know exactly how much you’re shooting for in terms of number of meals and what those meals are made of. Some people find that preparing only their lunch for each day of the week is sufficient, because they’re able to eat breakfast and dinner at home. The amount of prep you do, depends on how much time you have to dedicate to prepping and your personal preferences.

THING YOU MAY NEED: Before beginning any meal prep, I advise you to have a plethora of tupperware containers on hand, you are going to need them! I suggest buying tupperware of similar sizes/shapes so you can easily stack them in your fridge, making your meal prep more space efficient so your fridge doesn’t become a war zone of toppling tupperware containers.

In the beginning, focus on making meal prep a habit. As you become a more experienced prepper, you’ll start making adjustments, trying more advanced preps, and further refining your strategy. Remember, the physical benefits of meal prep will take time to manifest. While you may notice the convenience or money saved immediately, it’s the long-term adherence to your plan that will bring you closer to your goals. Be disciplined, but don’t sweat it too hard if you find this challenging in the beginning. Meal prepping isn’t about perfection, it’s about improvement.