“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” I love that quote from John Wooden because it applies to every single area of life. Whether you are wanting to be successful in a sport, climb the corporate ladder, run a half marathon, or reach your fat loss goals the more prepared are typically more successful in reaching those goals.
When it comes to reaching your aesthetic fitness goals I’m sure you have heard that nutrition is around 80% of the battle. You would think that would make you want to put a lot of thought, effort and planning into nutrition.
How many times have you been in a rush and grabbed something unhealthy because “that was the only choice”? Well part of the reason you had no option is because you did not plan your day or your week. Food prep is the answer to this problem. Remember the most prepared are the most successful.
Food prep in relation to this article is simply cooking or preparing large quantities of food ahead of time so that it is ready and available when you need it. Some of the benefits include:
· Healthy food already prepared
· More time to workout, study, relax with family
· Less stress
· Save money since you won’t have to eat out as much
· Stick to plan more easily since you can plan meals ahead of time
Okay it sounds great, so where do I start? What foods and cooking tools do you recommend? Glad you asked, here are some of my favorite foods and methods for cooking them.
Crockpot: This is the easiest method to cooking large quantities. Simply dump everything in the crockpot, then go watch football or do other cool things for a few hours while it does the work for you.
My favorite foods to cook in crockpot include:
However, heres’ a much bigger and more creative list of 77 dishes you can create with a crockpot:
Grill: This one is simple. Instead of grilling one or two chicken breasts for dinner, grill enough for several meals. Same applies with other meats, I just find chicken healthier and tastier to eat for several days in a row than some other options.
I could go on about every possible way to cook meals leaving leftovers, but you get the idea (oven, stovetop, etc.). Cook more than you need for just one meal and you will have healthy options ready simply by heating them up for a couple minutes (if needed).
One of my favorite foods to cook in bulk is sweet potatoes. Simply put 4-5 sweet potatoes in a pot of boiling water. Boil until the potatoes are tender enough to eat. You will probably have to add water to the pan at least once due to evaporation. Once they are finished, just refrigerate them and you have one of the healthiest carbs for a lifter ready to eat for the next few days with no hassle of having to wait an hour for them to cook.
Also if you’ve never tried it, sweet potatoes make for a very filling and nutritious shake. Try it out:
10-12 oz water (sometimes I do half almond milk, half water)
1 sweet potato
Drop of vanilla extract
Sprinkle of cinnamon
1-1 ½ scoops of vanilla whey protein
Again, I could go on and on about what foods you can cook in bulk, but the general idea is to have several healthy options cooked or prepared and ready to eat quickly.
An additional tip is to know your schedule for the next day and plan accordingly. As a personal trainer, every day is different so I have to really stay on top of my schedule. If you are someone who is lucky enough to have a consistent schedule with regularly scheduled breaks/lunch that makes it even easier to plan your meals. Either way, take responsibility and don’t use the excuse of not being prepared. Look at your next day, schedule what foods you will eat when.
When I was teaching I would always have my lunch prepared the night before, preventing me from eating unhealthy cafeteria food or snacks available at school. I would have apples with almond butter, whey protein, tuna, and my lunch packed each day. I rarely got to a point to where I was starving out of my mind without a healthy snack already prepared. Food prep is all about planning ahead.
I find that for most people Sunday evening is one of the best times to food prep. That way you are prepared for the next few days. Use Ziploc bags, Tupperware, whatever you need to store them conveniently. If you have the room in your fridge or freezer, try storing a portion in it’s own individual bag or Tupperware, making it even easier to grab on the go.
Stop making excuses and be prepared. Stop letting your lack of preparing hold you back from making gains, because at the end of the day….
Jonathan Brawley, BS, NASM-CPT