Everyone wants a secret recipe to health and nutrition. I’ve been in the field long enough to know that there is no magic pill, quick fix or special diet that will be the end all be all answer to health. If there was, and I knew about it, I’d be a millionaire or at least a celery juice god (just kidding 😉 )
Sure, there are some things we can all do to improve our health like drink more water, get more sleep and eat more vegetables. However, since we are all so uniquely awesome, we need to recognize that what might work for others won’t inherently work for us. It’s just not that simple.
I’m hoping that I can be your resource for all things nutrition whether it be my opinion on energy drinks, help with digestion, or just a question about how to cook your broccoli. Nutrition is not as simple as it appears so if there’s a topic you want to know more about let us know.
Nutrition & Meal Prep
Today I want to talk about a subject that so often gets overlooked and ignored when discussing nutrition, and that is meal prep.
We all want to know what super food or supplement we can take to improve our health, performance, weight, etc. However, if you’re not doing the basics, then those superfoods and supplements aren’t worth an ounce of your attention or your paycheck. Once you start doing the basics (i.e. eating real food, meal prepping, etc.) CONSISTENTLY (aka not just a day) and doing them well, then and only then can we talk about next steps.
We all know that the more consistent we are in the gym the more results we see over time. However, we seem to forget that nutrition is no different. If we are consistent with our diet we will see results that reflect our efforts. If we build a skill like pull-ups and then ignore them, you can bet that while they might still be there, they will suffer if given no attention or practice. Meal prepping, today’s topic, is similar. You might know how to meal prep but if you are out of practice, then it might be a struggle to start back up or even to know where to begin.
Today I figured I’d give you some pointers on how to meal prep and why you should even care about meal prep in the first place. Let’s dig in.
What is meal prep?
Meal prep is nothing more than preparing your food for a dish, a meal, a day, or even a week. It involves getting food ready so that you can eat it and/or have it ready to cook in a more efficient manner when you are hungry or need food.
Meal prep is one of those things that needs to happen after you meal plan and grocery shop. If the food isn’t prepped, it ends up going to waste AND means you’re probably more likely to rely on old habits, convenience foods, or *gasp* fast food.
While not a magic pill, meal prep is one of those things that I know can help everyone. This doesn’t mean having every single meal planned and prepped perfectly. It means you’ve given thought ahead of time to what you will be eating so you have a plan and resources to rely on.
Why Meal Prep?!
Have you ever gone to a work presentation without preparing, rehearsing, or practicing? Probably not. Or if you had to wing it chances are it wasn’t nearly as good as if you had prepped for it, be honest. Meal prep is similar. Sure, you can piece something together time of but if you had prepared ahead of time chances are your plate would look significantly different.
Meal prep matters because your health matters. In the short term you can get away with fast food, frozen dinners and candy for dinner but sooner or later you will notice things like: reduced energy, lack of performance in the gym, poor mental clarity, poor recovery, and eventually chronic disease and potentially injury. If you want to thrive as a human, eating food that supports health (most of the time) should be a priority. Meal prep can help you with that.
There are many ways to meal prep but I’ve come up with a few areas that people struggle with. By building these as a foundation you can start to be a meal prepping champ!
Sassy’s Meal Prep 101
While this is not an exhaustive list it can help you get started. Next time you see a nutrition WOD with meal prep use these tips & tricks to help you crush it!
Have a plan. That means plan out your week especially those meals that usually get overlooked. For some that means honing in on dinners, for others it’s breakfast. Write it down and make a plan.
Stock your kitchen. If it’s knives, electronics, cutting boards and/or storage containers you lack, stock up! Save your money from buying the latest CrossFit gear this month (gasp!) and stock a kitchen that can set you up for success in the long term.
Set a time or two on your calendar. You sign up for class, so why not sign up for meal prep? It doesn’t have to be the same time every week but set time aside on your calendar whether it’s 2 hours on Sunday, 1 hour Monday & Thursday night or 30 minutes every evening to make sure you show up to meal prep. We all know if it’s not on the calendar it’s not getting done.
Keep it simple. While I too love browsing Pinterest, Instagram, & cookbooks, sometimes simpler is better. Maybe just start by preparing a meat, veggie & starch and go from there. Leave the complicated recipes for holidays, vacations, or for your friends to cook for you 😉
Find convenience. If you find you are wasting food because you aren’t prepping it maybe it’s worth your while to buy food already pre-prepped. Yes, it comes at a higher price but what’s worse: buying food that you eat at a higher price or buying food that you throw out at a lower price while also spending money on other food?? Think about it. Some options include: pre-cut veggies, pre-cooked meat, meal prep delivery, etc.
Where to start?
If you don’t currently meal prep, start by trying to plan one meal this week. A few of my favorites to prep:
PB&J Overnight Oats: https://thesassydietitian.com/peanut-butter-jelly-overnight-oats/
Salmon Salad: https://thesassydietitian.com/easy-salmon-salad/
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas: https://thesassydietitian.com/sheet-pan-chicken-fajitas/
Mongolian Beef: https://thesassydietitian.com/instant-pot-mongolian-beef/
Peanut Butter Protein Balls: https://thesassydietitian.com/crunchy-chocolate-peanut-butter-protein-balls/
Once you’ve done one meal, see what you could’ve changed (i.e. simplify, stock up your kitchen, set a time aside, etc) and then do it again next week with those changes. Stay consistent with it and soon enough meal prep will be a habit you never want to live without.
Let us see your meal prep by tagging @crossfitaevitas & @thesassydietitian on social media!
What other nutrition topics would you like to see addressed?! Let us know!