If you are up to date on athlete trends, you'll have heard about meal prepping. Not only are there countless articles you can read on how to actually meal prep, but also instagram accounts showing others' gorgeously stacked tupperware for their week's meals. But who is actually using this and using it well? And is it actually benefitical for athletes?
I was certainly skeptical of the trend when it first came around. It seemed like it was only for the people who decide to restrict their nutrition for a certain reasons, or for the elite body builder. After speaking with many nutritionists and dieticians, I started seeing the benefits of what could be of meal-prepping and decided to give it a shot.
I incorporated meal-prepping into the 2015-2016 year leading into the Olympics. I was noticing that I would have a hard time with snacks and being consistent with my nutrition in between practices. Have you ever found yourself so desperately hungry before a workout that you resort to eating an entire box of mac and cheese, only to still be hungry? Yup, that was me too. Once I started incorporating structured meal-prepping, I discovered that I remained fuller longer, and I was no longer having to cook when I was fatigued after a workout. Here's some tips that help you get started with meal prepping:
Get yourself a serious tupperware collection
I used big ones, and meal sized ones to store all the food I prepped. You don't have to divide all your meals up day by day into smaller tupperware. Unless I took a meal to go, I typically kept everything in larger containers and served myself as needed. You can employ whatever strategy works best for you.
Plan to cook twice a week
It's helpful to change things up half way through the week, and it's also difficult to have a lot of your cooked items remain fresh for a full 7 days. Schedule time to meal prep at the beginning of the week, and half way through.
Stick to a protein, carb, and veg for each meal
Make things simple and use a plate model. Depending on how much you are training, your protein/carb/veg proteins will change, so be prepared to prep the right nutrition pertaining to where you are in your training cycle. Never seen a plate model? I'll be doing a blog on that soon!
Be prepared to get sick of eating the same way
Consistency means sticking to a plan, and sometimes that plan can be boring. However, it certainly works! You are getting the proper nutrition you need for each meal, and often that is well worth the monotony. Read up on others who are trying new things for their meal-prepping to get inspiration for changing up the routine!
Rice cookers are an added bonus
There aren't a million tools you need in your kitchen in order to meal prep. However, having a rice cooker that will make perfect rice can make your life easier. Cooking rice in a pot often requires your attention, which is not ideal when you already have the other components of your meals to prep. Something simple that makes a few cups of rice (check a local thrift store!), will do just the trick in making your meal prepping a little less involved.
My sample meal prep
Sunday Meal Prep:
Cook One 5oz chicken breast per meal
Roast sweet potatoes for a snack or instead of a grain
Roast mixed vegetables for about 1 cup per meal
Cook brown rice or quonia for about 1 cup per meal
Have apples sliced for snacks with peanut butter
Wednesdays or Thursday Meal Prep:
Prepare Turkey/Beef Chili
2-4 cups of rice
Apple slices for snacks
I made my breakfast fresh each morning, which included 2 eggs and 1 cup of oatmeal. Either can be prepped if you have limited time in the morning. If you've tried meal prepping, post what you liked or didn't like about the process!