Hot take alert: If your nutrition isn’t under control, you’re wasting your time with everything else.
High-level training, performance enhancing equipment, and all the supplements in the world mean nothing if you don’t have a solid (not necessarily perfect) nutrition strategy. We’ve told you what to eat and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. But in order to eat with abandon, you’ve got to be able to prep with abandon.
We hit you with a list of solid Black Friday deals back in November. If you missed the boat, don’t worry, because this article will help lay the framework on what to think about when outfitting your kitchen for success. We’ll also give you a quick and dirty list of items you’ll need to seamlessly and effortlessly get your meal prep game in check.
We like our food choices to be nutrient dense, so we can get the most bang for our buck. When it comes to tools in our kitchen, we look for the same with their functions. Try to avoid items that are “one-offs”, or only have a single, specific function. Think “strawberry corer”, “single egg pan”, etc. First, why would you need to fry only a single egg? Moreover, they aren’t going to get much utility. If you’re trying to get your nutrition in check, you’ll need to rely on a few staple foods. Again, using the egg example…eggs are a great staple food. Great source of Vitamin D, Choline, Selenium, B-Vitamins, and cholesterol. They are what we would consider a “nutrient dense” food. We love nutrient dense foods because we can check a lot of boxes with one item. Our approach to kitchen tools is no different. We want functionally dense tools, kitchen equipment that can serve multiple needs. But be careful, because there is a fine line between functionally dense and overbuilt.
Sometimes we like things that are overbuilt. If you’ve been paying attention to Power Athlete CEO John Welbourns’s Instagram feed, the most recent indication of that just finished up with The Shop Truck. There is no reason that your daily driver would need to have that much power, but that doesn’t take away from how badass the truck is. However, there are times that we don’t like to overbuild things, like our Bedrock program. It’s the basic lifts, essential movements, drilled to perfection. Highly effective without being overly complicated. Just like training, not everyone is looking for the same functions. Are you a struggling college kid looking for simple gains: ground beef, rice, and veggies. Or are you one of our faithful members on Grindstone and have a whole family to feed with little time for meal prep. Or maybe you’re an elite level athlete who has a daily schedule of train, eat, and sleep. Your situation will dictate the type of equipment you need to empower your performance.
Bang for Your Buck
Last but not least, you’ve got to make sure whatever you are looking to snag is economical. Don’t mistake this with cheap or expensive, but economical. Some things are worth the big price tag but, again, it depends on how often you’ll use it. For example, chopped veggies are a staple of my diet, so I sprung a little more cash for a nicer knife to do the chopping. On the other hand, I don’t eat a lot of bread so my toaster is about as cheap as they come. If you’re just getting your kitchen going, you don’t need the best.
It’s like your garage gym. You can start with a $100 beater barbell and some mismatched iron because all your looking to do is to get the party started. But, as you stay in the iron (or kitchen) game, you’ll want to upgrade your most used pieces. No need to buy a whole set of Sorinex Bosco Bumpers if you barely know how to squat, you know?
Just Tell Me What To Buy
Using the themes we’ve laid out above, here are a few items that are must haves in order to truly fuel your fire. First off, grab yourself an Instant Pot. This is the epitome of functionally dense kitchen equipment. You can cook frozen beef in ~20min, rice in ~7min, slow cook a stew, and make homemade yogurt all in one machine. Choose a size that best fits your needs, but I’d recommend at least a 6 quart sized option. This will put you back about $60. You’ll also want to get a 12” pan (not a saute pan). You can grab a stainless steel option for $40. While a nonstick pan sounds good, stainless steel proves to be more durable. You’ll want a couple simple aluminum baking sheets, about $8 per. This will make veggie prep a breeze. A decent chef’s knife will run you $40, a honing steel to keep it sharp will cost about $10. And lastly, you’ll want a simple kitchen scale that measures in both grams and ounces, another $10.
And there you go. For about $180 you have everything you need in your kitchen (assuming you already have a stovetop and oven) that you’ll need to crush the meal prep game. Take the next few weeks to pick these items up and stay tuned for a playbook on how to attack meal prep.
PODCAST: Power Athlete Radio Episode 298 – Richard Bradford
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BLOG: Empowering Your Black Friday – The Kitchen by Ben Skutnik
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Ben grew up a football player who found his way into a swimming pool. Swimming for four years, culminating in All-American status, at a Division III level, Ben grew to appreciate the effects that various training styles had on performance and decided to pursue the field of Exercise Physiology. After receiving his M.S. from Kansas State University in 2013, Ben moved on to Indiana University - Bloomington to pursue a PhD in Human Performance. While in Bloomington, he spent some time on deck coaching swimming at the club level, successfully coaching several swimmers to the National and Olympic Trials meets. He also served as the primary strength and condition coach for some of the post-graduate Olympians that swam at Indiana University.
Currently, Ben is finishing his PhD while serving a clinical faculty member at the University of Louisville, molding the minds that will be the future of strength and conditioning coaches. He also helps support the Olympic Sports side of the Strength and Conditioning Department there as a sports scientist.
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