No matter what you’re training for, nutrition is going to be a big part of you reaching your goals. The problem is that most of us aren’t professional athletes, and have things like jobs, spouses, and children that make it hard to drop everything and cook a well-balanced, nutritious meal several times a day.
If you still want a good diet, then the key (as with most things in life) is preparation. Preparation makes it so much easier to stick to your plan. If you’re trying to lose weight, then making sure that you’ve got a healthy meal with you means that you don’t end up going and getting a meatball sub with the rest of the office. If you’re a young footy player trying to bulk off in the off-season, then you need to make sure you’re getting enough food into you to make that happen, and running out the door in the morning because you slept in and don’t have time to make breakfast isn’t going to help.
I work pretty long hours, and my wife and I had a baby a few weeks ago; I don’t have a lot of free time during the week. For me, if I don’t prep my meals ahead of time, I don’t eat as well as I want to. So today I thought I’d give an example of what I do for my weekly meal prep. Obviously this is only one way of doing it, and it’s designed for my goals, but it should serve to give you an idea of how easy meal prep is, and how much time you can save yourself.
Step 1 – Choose a protein source. I try and rotate my protein source each time. This time I used kangaroo mince. If you’re doing beef, lamb shoulder, pork etc then the best way is to throw it in the slow cooker with a nice spice mix. It literally takes five minutes to prepare.
This week I had roo mince, and so I just put two kg in a saucepan with some pepper and apple cider vinegar. I let that simmer while I took care of the other stuff.
Step 2 – Choose a carbohydrate source. This one is going to depend on your goals. For a footy player you’re going to want something that will add a bunch of calories like rice or potatoes, and if you’re trying to lose weight then you might pick something like steamed vegetables.
Today I used white potatoes, though I often use sweet potatoes as well. I peeled and sliced them, and then layed them out on trays. I drizzled some olive oil over them, and then topped them with some cracked pepper and sea salt. Ten or so minutes in the oven and we’re done.
If you’re going to use potatoes or rice for your carb source, then make sure you add some dark, leafy greens in to get some vitamins and minerals. I just buy a mixed bag of rocket and spinach and put them on the side, but things like broccoli also work well.
Step 3 – Add some fats. This one is pretty simple: just throw in a source of fat with your meal. My main sources are olives, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, butter from grass-fed cows, and nuts. I stay away from vegetable oils and the like.
Step 4 – Breakfasts. I always have eggs for breakfast. They’re cheap, healthy, filling, and delicious. I try to change them around enough that I don’t get too sick of them. Sometimes I’ll stir in some seeded mustard when I’m scrambling them; sometimes I’ll add heaps of chili and garlic; sometimes I’ll do them with bacon or ham; and sometimes I’ll make a vegetarian omelette with lots of mushrooms, spinach, feta, and haloumi.
Every Sunday I make up five lots of five eggs. I can do ten at a time on my frypan, and then I just divide them between two tupperware containers. The whole five breakfasts takes about half an hour to make, and is so simple trained monkeys could do it. Hell, even untrained monkeys could probably figure it out eventually.
This whole process took me an hour and thirty-four minutes. I made three trays of potatoes, 2kg of kangaroo mince, five lots of bacon and eggs, and some rice. That gave me five breakfasts, seven meals of mince and potato, and three meals of tuna and rice. That’s three meals a day Mon-Fri. Not bad for an hour and a half’s work.
It’s also quite cheap. You can find Kangaroo mince for about $9/kg, you can get chicken even cheaper, and if you’re using the slow cooker then you can buy the cheaper cuts of meat like chuck steak because they soften up after eight hours of cooking anyway. A whole week of breakfasts is only two dozen eggs, which you can get for $5 a dozen for free-range.
Rice is obviously as cheap as anything, and I bought a 4kg bag of potatoes for $5 yesterday. Considering the amount of food I eat, my grocery bill is surprisingly low.
And there you have it. An hour and a half’s work means that I have fifteen meals sitting in my fridge, and I don’t have to worry about not having time to cook, or getting caught out. If you’re busy throughout the week (and aren’t we all?) then you can get your meal prep done ahead of time, and still hit your nutritional goals.