“Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail.” You’ve heard it. You know it’s true when it comes to staying on track with your clean eating. So where do you begin when it comes to meal prep?
Let’s first clarify what meal prepping actually means. In a nutshell, meal prep means setting aside time one day to prepare meals for the next x number of days. This process will save you time, money, and a lot of aggravation when trying to build an elite physique. It’ll also keep you from falling off the bandwagon with impromptu cheat meals and items that aren’t going to help you hit your fitness goals.
Here are five top tips for mastering the art of meal prep:
(1) Find a Plan.
Before you start buying any food or preparing any meals, you need to decide what your actual goal is. Are you looking to achieve steady lean muscle gains, bulk up quickly, drop a large amount of weight, cut up for a competition, or even maintain what you already have built? Your ultimate objective will drive how often, how much, and what kind of food you should be eating to achieve results. Obtain a structured meal plan optimized to achieve that goal from your coach, online, or through another reputable source. This will provide the foundation for your meal prep and remove all the guesswork around what to eat.
(2) Cook All Your Foods at Once.
There are any number of ways to cook your meats, veggies, and carbs, but just know you’ll be spending the next few hours in the kitchen. One of the FASTEST methods is the “boil and grill technique.” Boil your chicken in a huge pot (after you’ve cut the fat) while you toss your beef and/or fish on the Foreman grill. You can also have a scramble party with your egg whites and roast a couple days’ worth of sweet potatoes on a pan in the oven. As an aside here, you’re going to want to buy in bulk, too – it’ll be cheaper and save you multiple trips to the grocery store!
(3) Find Meal Prep Shortcuts.
Depending on your food selections, there are plenty of quick and easy ways to avoid baking up a storm if that’s not your forte. Stock up on pre-cut veggies and fruits, rotisserie chicken, and cooked lentils. Tuna, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt not only pack large amounts of protein but also make perfect grab-and-go options for meals or snacks. And instant oats, high fiber English muffins, or whole wheat wraps are great, no-bake alternatives to quinoa or brown rice.
(4) Stock up on Plastic Microwaveable Containers.
Investing in plenty of reusable food containers in varying sizes makes all the difference when it comes to meal prep. Pick one particular brand or container type, then buy a bunch of different sizes that you can stack in the fridge containing your food for the week. Make sure you grab containers that won’t melt in the microwave or dishwasher and – if you’re ready to go all out with your prep – grab an insulated meal bag to carry your fare around wherever you go. Here are some top meal prep container picks to get you started.
(5) Stay Simple with Snacks.
Spend the bulk of your prep time focusing on your meals and keep your snacks as simple as possible. Pick items that don’t require much effort to pull together, such as celery stalks with natural peanut butter, fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, or rice cakes. Try to choose items that don’t need to be cooked or refrigerated so you’ll have them at the ready when a craving arises!