10 Tips for Quicker & Easier Food Prep
I follow a flexible diet. This means, I count my macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) and eat the foods I love as long as they “fit my macros.” I also count micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals essential to your health that help you digest and maintain a healthy diet, amongst other things. I also include sugar into this micronutrient category.
Our bodies do not make all of the micronutrients we need, so they must be supplied through our diet. Different foods contain different levels of vitamins and minerals, which is why it is SO important to eat a wide variety of foods to make sure you get in all the micronutrients your body needs.
Just Say No To Deprivation
This means you cannot eat tilapia, brown rice and asparagus for every meal in order to get lean. You may lose body fat temporarily, but your body will begin to shut down and become deficient in nutrients, setting you up for a major rebound and confusing your body even more. This is how you start the diet rollercoaster. You eat the same foods for such a long period of time, see your body lose body fat by way of deprivation and then close yourself off to the fact that there is a FAR better (and easier) way to get lean and build muscle.
You have to get out of your comfort zone to make a change. You want to keep making improvements to your physique, but you continue to under-fuel yourself and not provide your body with the nutrients it needs to change!
Number one rule: You can’t expect different results if you keep doing the same thing over and over again.
The bottom line is the way you eat (and train) will determine how your body changes.
Make sure that when you do start looking for a nutrition program that it is sustainable. You can’t follow an extreme diet for a long period of time, but you can eat healthy for life.
How I Eat & Prep My Food
With a brand new baby and a very busy career, I DO NOT have time to prep food all day (that was SUCH a luxury before I became a mom!). I have tried and usually end up burning my food, overcooking things until they are completely inedible and/or having to stop in the middle to change a diaper and forget where I was at with all of my cooking measurements.
As a result, I have found plenty of ways to grab easy meals on the go, prep just the basics and be able to eat out while still counting my macros and staying on track. Here are my 10 tips and a sample of what I eat Monday-Friday while on the go!1. My protein staples are chicken, ground turkey, flank steak, hard-boiled eggs and protein powder. I don’t overwhelm myself by prepping all of them at once, so I pick two for the week and quickly cook them. For example, one week I will use my counter top George Foreman grill to cook 4-5 chicken breasts at a time and also hard boil 2 dozen eggs. The following week I will make turkey meatballs (recipe below) and cook 2 flank steaks on my George Foreman grill. I chop all of my meat protein up with kitchen scissors into bite-sized pieces so it’s easy to grab and go all week long. Measure out your serving size of
1. My protein staples are chicken, ground turkey, flank steak, hard-boiled eggs and protein powder. I don’t overwhelm myself by prepping all of them at once, so I pick two for the week and quickly cook them. For example, one week I will use my counter top George Foreman grill to cook 4-5 chicken breasts at a time and also hard boil 2 dozen eggs. The following week I will make turkey meatballs (recipe below) and cook 2 flank steaks on my George Foreman grill. I chop all of my meat protein up with kitchen scissors into bite-sized pieces so it’s easy to grab and go all week long. Measure out your serving size of diced protein and put into individual baggies so you can always add it to take out meals (order a plain salad at a restaurant and add your protein to it).
2. Liquid egg whites. I purchase the short carton of these so it’s easy to transport around all day/weekend. If I’m traveling, I will freeze a carton so it’s cold during travel, and then I put it into my hotel refrigerator when I check in. That way, if I’m in a protein crunch, I can add a quick ½ scoop of protein powder and some liquid egg whites into my shaker cup for a super quick protein snack.
3. Mash your yams. To quickly prep yams, cook them as normal but when they’re done, mash them up and store them in your refrigerator in Tupperware. When you mash and store them, all you have to do is quickly scoop out your portion and mix it up into your meal!
4. Cook oats in bulk in a Crock Pot. When I’m in a rush in the morning, I notoriously turn my bowl of oatmeal into an overflowing volcano in the microwave – I know you’ve been there too. To save time and pain, I like to cook my oats (steel cut are my favorite) in bulk in the Crock Pot. I make just enough for 5-6 servings and have already done the math on what the macros are on ¾ cup cooked oats so all I have to do is scoop and enjoy on the go!
5. Cut an avocado in half, remove the seed, slice a crosshatch pattern into both halves, put in a baggie or Tupperware and pack a spoon. When you do this, it is SO easy to get your fats in for the day. In a crunch, you can stop by a fast food restaurant and order a salad completely plain (no croutons or dressing) – just add your avocado and your hard-boiled egg whites and you have a complete meal!
6. Frozen spinach. This is one of my favorites. I throw this into almost all of my NLA for Her protein shakes I blend at home to get my veggies in for the day. You can’t taste the spinach whatsoever and with NLA for Her’s Chocolate Éclair Her Whey – it tastes like a chocolate milkshake. What a treat!
7. Packets, packets everywhere! Every time you stop at a coffee shop, the airport, a restaurant or the grocery store – always keep your eyes open for travel packets! I have a giant collection of miniature condiments that I use when on the road. Tabasco packets (at Chick-fil-a!!), mini mustard jars from hotel room service, salt & pepper packets and sample packets of veggie greens, peanut butter and workout supplements are my staples. It makes it possible to order take-out food completely plain and add your own, clean condiments to them.
8. Stop at Starbucks. Almost every location has oatmeal for sale. Order it without any toppings and throw protein powder in it or your diced chicken (trust me, it’s good!) and you have a complete meal. If you need fats, bring a travel packet of peanut butter.
9. Don’t forget your veggies. I purchase frozen broccoli from Costco – they come in individual steam-in-bags so it is extremely easy to pop in the microwave quickly before I run out of the house. I just leave it in the bag it comes in and open it when I need to add broccoli to my meals. When I cook asparagus, I steam it just a tiny bit so that if I have to eat it cold on the go, it’s still crunchy (you do NOT want to experience cold, soggy asparagus). I ALWAYS have packets of Basic Greens (www.basicgreens.com). They are the only ones I have found that use organic ingredients and Stevia for sweetening, include probiotics and don’t taste like Earth. And they come in travel packet size – yay!
10. Measure ahead of time. Take the time to do some quick measurements at the very start. Know how many ounces are in ½ cup of cooked ground turkey, for example, so you don’t always have to pack a scale with you. You’ll have in your notes that ½ cup of cooked ground turkey is equal to 4 ounces so you all you have to do is pack the measuring cup to track your macros.
For a sample day of my quick meals on the go and my Turkey & Oats Meatballs recipe,