In a recent survey of Power Athlete program participants, we discovered a common nutrition challenge is meal planning and prep. It is easy to get wrapped around the axle over prepping food. However, one simple principle should guide you: K.I.S.S Keep It Simple Stupid. Becoming a savage with nutrition does not need to be over-complicated, it is just solid fundamentals. So, grab some protein, carbs, fat, and vegetables!
As we at Power Athlete like to ask our training clients: Who are you as an athlete? But in the case of nutrition: Where are you on your nutrition journey? Are you a gourmet chef or someone with limited skills in the kitchen? How much time do you have? Are you a single student or a busy mom or dad?
The busier you are the simpler your food prep needs to be; remember to keep it simple. Instead of trying to make yourself a gourmet meal, consider having prepared proteins, carbs, fats, and some vegetables on hand to combine for easy meals. All these things can be prepared in bulk. So instead of “meal prepping”, focus on “food prep.”
Being prepared means having the necessary tools. Make sure you have some basic cooking necessities for prepping food. Your kitchen should have items to cut, measure, season, cook, and store food. Below you will find a basic list of kitchen items to help empower you in the kitchen and set you up for success.
- Various pots, pans, and skillets
- Slow Cooker/Instant Pot
- Baking Dishes
- Cutting board
- Chef’s Knife
- Paring Knife
- Steak Knives
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Food Scale
Varied spice rack to your taste. The more diverse your spice rack the more different flavors you can enjoy. It might be the difference between dreading eating in and loving it. Variety is the spice of life.
- Various sizes of glass storage containers
Pursuing your goals, whether it is getting those gainz or getting shredded, takes preparation and time. Again, this is based on who you are and what your life looks like. The most time-efficient way to prep is to take time on the weekend when you have fewer demands on your schedule.
To make things easy on yourself, focus your weekly grocery list on two to three different proteins (beef, fish, chicken, etc.) to prioritize during the given week, two to three different starchy carbs, variety of vegetables (for ease you can add in frozen vegetables as they are already cut and ready) and fats to have on hand.
Once you procure the food, it is time to crush food prep like Conan crushes his enemies. Bulk meal prep should only take about 90 minutes when you keep it simple. Focus on preparing protein, carbs, vegetables, and fats to be quick and efficient.
So, let’s go through a hypothetical case study of how some food prep might go.
The case study subject is Johnny Jacked Street, a mid to late 30’s dad with a wife and two elementary school kids. Between a full-time job and family obligations, his time is short. Each night there is a family meal together. The kids are somewhat picky. Luckily, they are decent meat-eaters, but veggies aren’t always their thing.
Johnny’s main focus is preparing breakfasts and lunches. The family is busy with kids’ sports so they use the crockpot a lot for evening meals and leftovers are rare. Crockpot meals are quick to prepare, great for bulk cooking, or meals for busy people.
For this hypothetical week, Johnny is focusing on ground beef, chicken breasts, and pork chops for his proteins, in addition to eggs and egg whites for breakfast. For slower starchy carbs he is going to focus on oatmeal, rice, and roasted potatoes. To get his ROYGBIV he is going to make a big ass salad.
Here is how his power hour of food prep goes:
1. Prepare cooking appliances. Total time about 3-5 mins.
- Turn on the oven to 400 for chicken.
- Light Grill
- Get out the pan for rice, glass baking dish for chicken, skillet for beef, and cookie sheet for roasted vegetables
- Muffin pan for egg muffins
2. Season beef, chicken, and pork chops with preferred seasonings.
3. Clean potatoes cut into 4 wedges, cut tops of carrots (or for even easier buy baby carrots and put in the dish), half or quarter brussels sprouts. Throw potatoes, carrots, and brussels sprouts together on a cookie sheet drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Approx 5-8 mins.
4. Whisk 12 eggs. Grab some frozen vegetables. Spray muffin pa. Pour in equal amounts of egg and frozen vegetables approx. 2-3 min
5. Put chicken, egg muffins, and vegetables in the oven. Set timer for 35-40 mins
6. Put Pork chops on the grill and ground beef to a skillet. Start the ground beef. 2-3 mins total time. Grill pork chops for about 15 mins until temp is 145. Brown beef for about 12 minutes until 165.
7. Measure 2 cups of dry rice and 3 cups of water. Turn on Burner. 1-2 minutes. Once the water boils turn it down to simmer for about 15 mins.
By about 45 minutes in, Johnny has several days of lunches and breakfasts ready to go. Once all the meat rice and veggies are ready, he partitions out his meat, rice, and frozen vegetables into his containers and puts them in the refrigerator. Johnny is set for a week of breakfasts and lunches.
Next Johnny makes a big salad to take care of ROYGBIV. Take a mixture of greens, spinach, romaine, spring mix, whatever you prefer. Chop up tomatoes (for even easier prep use cherry tomatoes, no cutting), red onions, multiple colors of peppers to round out your colors.
In about 60 to 90 minutes a week worth of meals can be made and ready to go, from soup to nuts. If a busy dad like this can make it happen single folks can do it just as easily. Crockpots are your friend if you are single because you can economically, and efficiently make plenty of food for yourself with leftovers ready to eat for the weekend.
PODCAST: PA Radio Episode 449 Ashleigh VanHouten
BLOG: A Heart Felt Dinner To Show A Carnivore How Much You Care by Samantha Flaherty
BLOG: The Dave Grohl Effect by John Welbourn
BLOG: Protein Packed Egg Bite Breakfast by Samantha Flaherty
COACHING: Power Athlete Nutrition Coaching
Rob has been in the fitness/strength and conditioning industry for 21+ years. For the last 12 years, he has owned and operated CrossFit West Houston. Through CrossFit, Rob found Power Athlete the methodology course and earning his Block One. Nutrition is a passion which lead him to currently pursuing a Masters program in Nutrition at Lamar University and Power Athlete Nutrition coach.
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