Tip Tuesday: Meal planning & prep!
As most of us know, good nutrition goes hand in hand with all the training we do in the gym. Ever wonder what it would be like to open your fridge & have a healthy, delicious meal ready to go for each day & meal of the week? It would sure make sticking to your goals and life a lot easier!
Meal planning and prep is a great way to keep on track with your eating throughout the entire week.
The idea is to plan out, shop for, and prepare all of your meals at one time, for the entire week. Most people use Sunday as prep day. It takes a lot of work, but once you’re done, you have meals ready to go for the next 5 or 6 days. A couple of hours of work can set you up for success for a week- how good is that?!
A lot of Crossfitters follow the Paleo, Primal or Zone way of eating. Here are some resources on each of those, courtesy of CrossFit Mayhem:
The paleo diet essentially allows lean meats, fish, veggies, some fruit, tree nuts (not peanuts) and seeds, little starch, and no sugar. This excludes… grains, legumes, white potatoes, dairy, and corn. Think about it this way… the things that are excluded are the food items that people are more often allergic to or just have issues digesting. White potatoes and corn just turn into sugar.
The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet – http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2010/10/04/the-beginners-guide-to-the-paleo-diet/
The Paleo Diet – http://thepaleodiet.com/
The primal plan allows foods like the paleo diet, but includes some dairy. Such as creams, butter, greek yogurts, and some cheese (but don’t go overboard).
The Definitive Guide to the Primal Eating Plan – http://www.marksdailyapple.com/definitive-guide-to-the-primal-eating-plan/#axzz21dppwIBH
Getting Started with Mark’s Daily Apple – http://www.marksdailyapple.com//welcome-to-marks-daily-apple/#axzz21dppwIBH
This plan is much more rigid. There is weighing and measuring and lots of planning to this one because each meal or snack is in blocks. You have to really lay your meals out ahead of time. This is great for a person who wants to really watch everything they eat and is organized. It does allow for some grains, but some people will choose to do a cross of paleo/zone. This would exclude the grains and only include for the paleo foods. I am honestly not as familiar with this one. I am not organized enough to try it really!
Zone Diet Explained – http://crossfitimpulse.com/the-zone-diet-explained-edited
Zone Diet Meal Plans – http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/cfjissue21_May04.pdf
A couple good resources about eating right –
The last days of the low-fat diet – http://grist.org/scary-food/2011-03-04-low-fat-diet-fad/
YouTube Video – Mind your Mitochondria http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc
The main thing is to find something that works for you & that you’ll be able to stick to for a while- even for life! If you have questions, reach out to one of us coaches & we can help guide you in the right direction!
While it’s easier to meal prep for one person, it can certainly be done for more- even your whole family! It just takes a little work and dedication.
- Start by grabbing a notebook, pen & a calendar. Jot down any special events & whether or not you’ll need to prep for those. Write out each day individually- that way you’ll know exactly what to expect.
- Start finding your favorite recipes. Peruse Pinterest and different websites- looking for your favorite healthy recipes. Find recipes that you know you’ll be able to recreate & actually eat. Nothing too crazy- save that stuff for the weekend!
- Finding recipes that use similar ingredients, that way you’ll cut down on prep work
- Write down or print out the recipes- that way they will be at your disposal & you won’t have to keep unlocking your phone to look at the recipe while you’re cooking!
- Make a list of what ingredients you need exactly for each recipe. Don’t forget the spices and flavorings, too!
- Go through your kitchen and pantry & see what ingredients you already have- cross them off of your list, so you don’t have any duplicates & won’t spend any more money than necessary.
- Get your containers out. Find ones with lids and have them ready to go. There’s nothing worse than not being able to find the lid or bottom to a container! If you have them out and matched up, you’ll be golden!
Now it’s time to make the grocery list. The way I write my list is in order of how the store is setup. That way I can get in and out and I don’t forget anything.
My grocery store starts with Produce, so I go there first. I try to base my recipes off of what is in season at the time. Like for Fall, I wouldn’t pick a recipe that required watermelon or fresh corn, because it’s not in season. I shop the perimeter of the store, because that’s typically where all the “good” stuff is! They keep most of the processed junk in the middle aisles. Every once and a while you’ll have to go down there to get pantry items, but don’t get stressed! Get what’s on your list & move on!
Now it’s time for the prep work! My favorite part! I love being in the kitchen and trying new things, so this part is never really a chore for me. If you’re someone who doesn’t love cooking, make sure your recipes are easy and not too time consuming.
You have options when it comes to the actual prep of each of your meals. Some recipes you’ll be able to fully make right away and pack in the fridge. Other recipes you’ll want to simply do the chopping, measuring and organizing in order to make the meal hot and quick before you plan to eat it.
Once everything is cooked, in containers, and cooled, pop it in the fridge and you’re ready to go. You can mix and match lunch and dinners so you don’t get bored. Keep your fridge and pantry packed with healthy snacks, so when you are in Hanger-Mode (Anger…Hungry…Hangry…Hanger) all you have to do is grab and go.
Here a few quick tips:
- Try an old recipe, but use new spices- It’ll be the same prep work, but you’ll get a different taste
- Use your crockpot or big sheet pans to batch cook chicken and vegetables. You’ll cut down cooking time and dishes!
- Make sure your food has cooled down completely before you put it in the fridge. If you put stuff away hot, it brings down the temperature of your fridge & could potentially cause issues with your food. Just let it cool & you’ll be good.
- Make sure you have plenty of bottled water or a reusable bottle full in the fridge. It’ll be nice and cool when thirst strikes!
- Ask your friends for recipe ideas. Chances are they need some fresh ideas too- it will keep you out of a food rut.
- Be flexible with your plan. Life happens. You don’t want to be the person showing up to a party with a yogurt in your purse. Remember, that every once and a while it’s okay to go off plan. It just can’t happen that often!!
Ask a coach if you have questions or concerns! We will try to send you in the right direction!
**photos courtesy of Michelle Masone, who had AMAZING results with her own personal nutrition challenge! Talk with her if you need suggestions!!**