Meal Prep 101

Gage Strength Training’s Meal Prep 101

Meal prep is a buzzword. 

People have even figured out how to make careers out of just taking pictures of their weekly meal prep. For others, it’s a tradition unlike any other. It’s that one time a week where you can become a kitchen ninja! Or is that just me?

Meal prep can mean 100 different things for 100 different people. Some people fill up 45 rubbermaid containers and 30 ziploc bags for their weekly meal preps. Others consider a successful meal prep portioning out 5 servings of protein powder for the week.

I want to take a deep dive into what I believe a successful meal prep should look like.

Every day you should have a plan for what you’re going to eat. It doesn’t always have to be perfect, and it doesn’t always have to be healthy, but you should have a plan.

Nutrition is the most important aspect of your overall health and body composition. Something that important should have some thought behind it, right?

All too often when it comes to nutrition, we wing it. We hope that if we buy some healthy foods and workout a few times a week, the pieces will just magically come together for us. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

We must have a plan and we must execute that plan.

So how do we make a plan for our nutrition?

The first thing to consider are your goals: Do you want to lose weight, gain muscle, maintain weight, or gain weight? Your goals will dictate your food selection, meal frequency, and portion sizes.

Once you know what your intended outcome is, you can map out your week. What days are you planning on working out? What days are you planning on taking off? What events do you have coming up that may impact your nutrition? When will you have time to eat? Are you dining out at all?

After you have your week mapped out, you can create your shopping list. What foods are you going to buy? What meals are you going to prepare this week? Does your cart match your intended outcomes? Does your cart contain all five of the same foods from last week’s list?

Next, it’s time for the fun part: meal prepping! 

Time to put your meals together for the week. Try and prepare as much food as you can to cut down on cooking time during the week. Once you get a system down, meal prepping can become very efficient. I prepare all my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks in about 2 hours every Sunday. It took a long time to find what worked best, but it’s worth it.

Lastly, it’s time to execute. Stick to the plan as best you can. If you stumble, that’s OK.. Get back on track as fast as you can. No one is perfect, but the most successful people are the ones that recover the fastest when they fall off track.

Here’s an example of what this all might look like

Goal: Lose 10 lbs of body fat

Schedule: Strength train 3x week, 1 hike, 3 off days, 1 work lunch, and 1 dinner out. Your meals are going to look different depending on your activity level on that particular day. For example, on the strength training and hiking days, the calories and carb counts will be slightly higher. On the rest days, most of the meals will be made up of lean proteins and vegetables. On days you’re dining out, the rest of you meals should be a little bit lighter. Even when you make a healthy choice out, most restaurants cook with a lot more butter and oil that you would typically use. Your day should reflect those increases.

Shopping list: Breakfast is going to be an egg, broccoli, and mushroom bake with a side of mixed berries and flax seed. Lunch is going to be a taco salad with grilled chicken, avocado, black beans, peppers and onions. Dinners are going to be pork tenderloin with rice and veggies, grilled Salmon with asparagus, and sweet potatoes, or rotisserie chicken with salad and corn on the cob. Snacks for the week will be protein shakes, greek yogurt, and apples with almond butter.

Meal prep: Time to get to work! A pro tip here: the grill is your best friend. Grilling meats and veggies not only cuts down on the cooking time but makes clean up so much easier. Prep/cook/portion–these are the three steps here. You can do as much or as little as you’d like, but I recommend preparing as much as you can in the time you have available.

Execute: The hard parts are done! All you have to do now is to stick to the plan. Pack your food the night before and make sure you have everything you’ll need. Run through your schedule for the next day one last time and make sure that your meals align with your schedule and your goals. If they do, great! If not, take a minute and adjust accordingly. Going to be busy all day? Pack some healthy snacks. Going out for lunch or dinner? Look at the menu online prior to getting there and figure out what best aligns with your goals.

The particulars are going to be different for all of you, but I recommend that your overall structure should closely resemble this.

This might look like a lot, and that’s because it is. Meal prepping takes a lot of time and effort, but I promise you, it pays off!

Once you have your nutrition dialed in, only then can you start to see the changes you want. If not, you’re fighting an uphill battle and that, baby, is steeeeeeeep!

If you have any questions, please let me know. I’d love to help.