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Meal Prep for Success

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Healthy eating can be one the hardest parts of the fitness journey to master but is often the most influential in helping you reach your goals. Focusing on more whole foods rather than highly processed foods will help you feel full and provide you with various micronutrients that will fuel your workouts and aid in recovery.

Step 1: Create A List of Foods You Like

Create a structure around meals and snacks by planning menus for the week and writing out grocery lists. This will help you reduce impulse purchasing, give you better control over the foods you’re eating, and could help you save money. The first step in planning your meals is understanding what types of foods you prefer. Break it down into proteins, vegetables, fruits, fats, and grains/starches, then create a list of what you like in each category. A sample list could look like this:

Step 2: Write Out Daily Meals

Once your preferences are listed out, you can start building each meal by building a plate using your hand as a measuring guide. The size of each person’s hand is correlated to the amount of food you need. Use the following measurements as a starting point for building each of your meals throughout the week.

  • Protein: 1 palm-sized portion for women, 2 palm-sized portions for men
  • Vegetables: 1 to two fist-sized portions for both men and women
  • Fruits & Grains: 1 handful for women, 2 handfuls for men
  • Fats: 1 thumb’s length for both men and women

An example meal for a woman could look something like this:

  • 1 palm of chicken breast
  • 2 fists of broccoli and cauliflower
  • 1 handful of roasted potatoes
  • 1 thumb of olive oil or a light dressing on the chicken and vegetables

An example meal for a man could look something like this:

  • 2 palms of top sirloin steak
  • 2 fists of fresh salad mix
  • 1 handful of croutons, 1 slice of whole grain bread
  • 1 thumb of Italian dressing on the salad mix

Depending on your activity level, the number of portions can be adjusted to ensure you’re eating enough for your workouts and daily activity levels. If you tend to get hungry between meals, eat a light snack like an apple, a handful of raw nuts, or a couple hard boiled eggs.

Step 3: Batch Cooking & Meal Prep

The final step of meal planning is to make larger batches of food one to three times throughout the week. For example, grill three or four chicken breasts, slice or roast a pan of vegetables, and divide salad mixes into multiple containers. Once your main ingredients are cooked or prepped, you can combine them with different sauces or seasonings to add variety to your meals.

Many who currently meal prep will spend two or three hours each weekend shopping, cooking, and portioning out all or some of their lunches, snacks, and dinners for the week. Alternatively, you can meal prep in smaller chunks, tackling two or three days’ worth of food at one time instead of the whole week. It will be up to you and your schedule which approach works best but pick the option you’ll be able to do 80% of the time.

If cooking isn’t your thing, you can always opt for partially prepared foods like rotisserie chicken, canned tuna, premade salads, or frozen vegetable packs that make it easy to combine ingredients and eat whole, relatively fresh foods.

Making positive changes for the long-term requires planning regardless of your area of focus: fitness, nutrition, mobility, or stress-management. Having a plan and sticking to it, while still allowing for a little flexibility, is the key to success.

Here are some great recipes that you can try as you plan out your weekly meals.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs chicken breast (can make larger or smaller batches depending on slow cooker size)
  • 2 cups salsa
  • Salt & pepper
  • Optional: Taco or Ranch seasoning

DIRECTIONS

Put all ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Once the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, take it out of the slow cooker, shred with a fork, and place back in the slow cooker to simmer. You can eat this for dinner and use the leftovers for your other meal prep recipes and dishes.

Sides that pair well with Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken:

  • Sliced peppers, tomatoes, or cucumbers
  • Salad mix with extra virgin olive oil or a light balsamic or Italian dressing
  • Avocado
  • Rice

Baked BBQ Chicken

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs chicken breast or chicken thighs (can do larger batches depending on size of casserole dish)
  • β€’ BBQ sauce (check out this Sugar Free option here)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Place all your ingredients in a Ziplock bag and shake or knead until the chicken is completely covered in sauce. Let the chicken sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes. While the chicken is marinating, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray or cover your casserole dish with oil so the chicken doesn’t stick. Once your chicken is done marinating, place it in the dish and bake it in the oven for a total of 30-40 minutes. After 15 minutes flip the chicken, and then check the temperature every15 minutes to ensure the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees before removing it from the oven.

Sides that pair well with Baked BBQ Chicken

  • Sliced peppers, carrots, or cucumbers
  • Salad mix with extra virgin olive oil or a light balsamic or Italian dressing
  • Avocado
  • Rice
  • Roasted vegetables including sweet potatoes, broccoli, onions and/or Brussels sprouts

Like to cook your meat on the grill? CLICK HERE for our favorite marinade recipes for meal prepping on the grill.

*Please note: Registered Dieticians and Nutritionists are the only professionals who should provide specific meal plans for you, especially if you have medical conditions that may be directly or indirectly affected by your diet. Personal Trainers can provide individualized guidance to assist clients in reaching their goals but may need to refer out to a licensed professional if the clients’ needs are outside their scope of practice.

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