The Thought Process and Planning Behind Meal Prep for 1 Week
This is what goes through my mind on a weekly basis – it’s how I know that I am in control of what my calorie intake is, and that if I don’t see results in the gym or notice something different with my system – it’s easy to point to the source or the problem!
One day a week to do grocery shopping – this means I have a serious list that accounts for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for at least 6 days. How to make that happen– pick one recipe for breakfast, lunch and dinner and calculate the number of ounces/cups/tbs needed for each ingredient (protein/carb/veggie) to feed the number of people in your house. I have staples like almond butter and jelly, tuna, condiments and bread to supplement the change in schedule and eating out that occurs on the weekends. I also have nuts, protein powder and cheese cut up and measured into individual servings for snacks. Also on the list is enough fruit for each of us to have 2-3 serving a day.
I know it sounds boring to eat the same thing every day for a week, but I make sure the meals I choose are flavor packed and filling so I am not left craving other things. Who cares if you don’t have a new fresh cooked meal every night for the family? They will probably appreciate having a relaxed spouse/parent who can spend more time with them and less time stressing and cleaning after an already long day. This is my gift of time to myself and my Patrick– who helps with meal prep by the way. I do the same for grocery shopping (imagine only going to the store 1x a week –and actually using a legit budget for it) and laundry – it is done on the same day every week so our free time is not chore time. Life is too short for me to be worrying if I have time to run to the store after work again or stay up and put a load of laundry in every night. If you have kids – they should be helping!! Think of the life lessons of preparedness and scheduling you will impart on them. Fail to plan, plan to fail - show them how easy it can be if you establish a routine, and have them help you!! Henry Ford had a great idea with that assembly line thing.
Time and money savers:
Mason jars, much cheaper than Pyrex, longer lasting (and in my opinion safer/better for the environment) than plastic. Get the - sold separately on the shelf above them - plastic lids so you don’t have to worry about hand washing the metal lids they come with.
Frozen Veggies – do I look like I have time to wash/chop/steam 10lbs of veggies a week? Thank you technology for alleviating that 1st world problem from my shoulders.
Measure and portion your food into containers once you cook it!!!! This means you will be 100% less likely to eat more than you need/budgeted for, will not have to go back to the store and get more and will stay on your calorie plan so when you splurge on the weekend it will be truly earned!
Cooking meats simultaneously - pick meals where one meat cooks in the crock pot or on the stove top and one that cooks in the oven or on the grill. With these recipes it is important to remember to adapt the size of the crock pot and the amount of seasoning to cook the amount of meat you require - not that the recipe recommends.
-Brown and drain ground beef and make your own spaghetti sauce - make a big batch and freeze some for later.
-Roast a couple of 5lb chickens stuffed with garlic, onion and lemon at 350 for 2hrs then de-bone, take skin off and chop the meat to be stored in 3-4 oz servings. Use in salads, casseroles etc. There will be extra - freeze it to save time on another week.
-Bake a spice crusted pork loin, seasoned pork chops, or a ham.
-Baked or grilled salmon covered in Old Bay seasoning, or Lemon Pepper seasoned Tilapia.
-Bake a giant ground turkey meatloaf held together with egg whites and oat crumbs (pulse some instant oats in the food processor).
-Buy pre-portioned salmon or turkey burgers and season them while on the grill (I live in an apartment and am too lazy to go to the grill, I put them in the oven in a roasting pan so they drain).
-Buy a couple pounds of frozen cooked and shelled shrimp to use in salads.
When I make rice or pasta, I make as much as I can, store it in 1-2 cup (prepared) portions and freeze what I don't need to save cooking prep later on.
For every Costco suggestion I make I am confident that there is a similar option at Sam's or other big box clubs in your area.
Example: List for 1 week for two people eating 1500-1700 calories depending on snacks
Breakfast: BTW it only takes me 20 mins to make this…I pack lunches, enjoy my coffee and watch the news while waiting for it to finish.
-Eggs - 4 whites for me, 3 whole for him x 7 days = 49 eggs or 4 dozen (I will cut out an egg or two to make the 4 dozen last all week) Costco sells free range organic eggs by the 2 dozen.
-Frozen hash browns cooked to package directions (just potatoes, no seasonings or oils added in packaging) 2 cups for me 2 cups for him x7 days = 28 cups, buy enough bags to have the servings needed
-Coconut oil – 2tbs/day to cook potatoes in
-Coconut or olive oil cooking spray (saves calories) to cook eggs in
-Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning – used to season hash browns
-Coffee or tea, we use around a lb/week
Salsa is always in our house – I get a tub every week – we will put it on something or other -at least breakfast. And yes you could make this from scratch, but the world has not come to an end yet…knowing how to is enough for me at this point.
You will never see cereal or milk in my suggestions...I have my reasons against grains, lactose and legumes - whether you are intolerant or not these are very difficult to digest, cause gut inflammation and water retention...just eat real food, stay away from the processed stuff. I'm not in the cult of Paleo, but there is a lot of good science behind some of their rules.
Morning snack – pre-workout (about an hour before training)
1 piece of fruit, 1 scoop protein powder = 12 bananas about 6.5- inches long and 1 container of protein powder (should last 2 wks)
I have tried many protein powders, they can suck, I get it. I have come to find Isopure is not terrible and they offer a "natural" option that has no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. Find something you like, try a few different ones... and get used to mixing it with water. Save the calories, save the money.
Post Workout or lunch
*It is important to get around 25g protein and 50g carbs after about an hour-long bout of vigorous training
3 oz lean protein
1 medium size piece of fruit
½ cup cooked rice or 4oz potatoes
1 cup Veggies
List for two people x 6 days =
-36oz meat (2.5 lb chicken, ground turkey, pork loin etc)
- 5lb bag of potatoes or rice (you will have extra for next time)
-1-2 heads of cabbage shredded with food processor and sautéed in a little oil or bags of frozen broccoli/green beans –take some out and microwave (Costco has 5lb bags of organic green beans and broccoli)
-12 apples about 2-2.5 inches in diameter
Lightly spray a baking dish or Dutch oven and bake or roast the meat (you could also grill it).
I like to use the seasoning mixes made by Weber– kickin’ chicken is what I use when I roast chickens and Smokey mesquite is what I use on pork. To season ground beef for tacos I usually brown meat and drain of as much fat as possible then use (per lb of meat) 1tbs chili powder, 1tbs cumin, crushed red pepper to your taste, ½tbs garlic powder, onion powder and basil.
Additional/Optional Snack (depends on calorie allowance and macronutrient ratios- but having these on hand always helps!) Cut up and measure out ahead of time so you won’t cheat and grab extra!
1 oz nuts x 2 people x7 days = 14oz – what the heck get 1lb and have the extra (to save money I usually get the 3lb bulk bags at Costco found with the baking stuff, usually priced better than the stuff in the snack area)
1oz cheese x 2 people x 7 days =14oz – go for the lb to have extra.
1 piece of fruit x 2 people x 7 days = 14 medium oranges or 14 cups frozen berries (Costco has organic mixed berries frozen in 5lb bags)
3-4 oz lean protein
½ cup cooked rice or 4oz potatoes ( I double this for myself because I am training really hard right now and need the carbs, otherwise you can probably live without them right?)
1 cup Veggies
Repeat steps from lunch planning
36 oz meat (2.5lb)
5lb bag of rice or potatoes (red skin or sweet potatoes)
-I like to cook my rice in chicken broth or sauté garlic, mushrooms, onions and carrots then add rice and broth, bring to boil then simmer until rice is cooked, for a pilaf
- I usually wash chunk and roast my potatoes at 425 in a lightly sprayed baking dish (usually takes two to hold them all) I mostly season by sprinkling them with crushed rosemary and garlic powder – I don’t measure, just lightly cover and toss.
Here we are deep in week three of the New Year, everyone still on the wagon? I am hoping this will be lucky thirteen for everyone. To make good on that hope I wanted to share a few tools I personally employ to reach my goals. Setting a goal is the easy part, figuring out what you have to do to get there involves some work, and then there is the business of actually getting it done.
A few years ago when I set out to become certified as a trainer and to participate in the Tough Mudder I was not sure exactly what I needed to do – just that if I started reading and exercising more I could make it happen. I came upon a planning gem while listening to Todd Durkin on a podcast interview; he mentioned a concept called “No Brown Days”. It is a planning system to help you see the bigger, quarterly and annual picture. This was a big idea for me – having a true “year plan”, who is that organized I thought? I checked it out and started thinking of how I could use it for my new goals, as a kind of check in every few months. By employing the strategies in this system, my goals became more defined, charting how to accomplish them became simpler – and I found out when I was biting off more than I could chew.
Starting this check up on myself helped me reach huge goals in small steps. The best part was developing coping mechanisms, like rethinking my path when I saw I was truly not making any progress. It allowed me to be honest with myself. If I saw my ideas were not working I started looking up different approaches and strategies to work around the obstacles I faced, both real and self-imposed. Today, I have accomplished both my goals and my annual roadmap for 2013 is the most detailed yet. As I continue to look for ways to streamline all the work that I do I have still take time each quarter to see what I have accomplished, what is still left to do and how to turn my setbacks into learning experiences.
Here is the link to the planning system http://nobrowndays.com/. I hope that you can use or adapt it to maximize your results this year and reach all your goals. One way I use it is to set a goal number of workouts for each quarter (this time it’s 60) and mark a “T” on each day I train. It feels good to rack them up and having a number to reach is so much less stressful of a constraint than saying, “I will exercise every Monday through Friday for three months”. Let’s plan to succeed rather than set ourselves up to fail!!
This is the daily planner I use - http://www.amazon.com/Action-Day-Planner-2013-8x11/dp/9935907414 - also an incredible tool that has made my life even less stressful!
All this talk about goals make you wonder what is you truly want? Robin Sharma has some great ideas on where to get started - http://blog.success.com/channels/wealth/sharma-the-8-forms-of-wealth/. One strategy to try is - once you decide on some goals, set three tasks for each quarter that will put you closer to reaching them.
One week since my certification and I am deep in getting myself off the gound. So far I have gotten insured, reworked my resume, edited my Ideafit profile (and became a member), discovered that CPA's know everything, found forms waivers for your guys, helped my first client, lost myself in Quickbooks and the list goes on and on. For anyone out there who would appreciate a trainer that understands that your life is busy and cannot always revolve around training - I get it, trust me!
Time -not having enough- is the number one factor that people list as the reason not to exercise, train, meditate...basically take care of ourselves. It is a barrier for myself some days, but just like the commitment I have to giving my clients 110% I have to remeber to give myself 110% as well.
Whether it's getting some you time to meditate, losing the weight that you feel is holding you back, or developing inner strength from your outer strength training - I truly believe that when we take better care of ourselves we can better serve those around us.
Time for you to get started. What are you going to do to start fresh today? Whatever your goal may be, once you commit to it, the time will be easier to find. Selfish or scary as it may seem for some, it's ok to put yourself at the top of the list.