Less than a month to go and I am feeling more and more prepared as each week passes. I think a big part of this is that I reward myself mainly with food. I rarely go out to eat at this point, but when I do I make sure it is something I can track easily such as a baguette and jam for weekend brunch instead of eggs benedict covered in who-knows-what-is-in-that sauce. It’s all about smart choices!
I wanted to take this week as an opportunity to let people know that it is possible to embark on a bodybuilding journey in a healthy way. I have complete trust in my coach Curt Griffin and I have been following my macros which has allowed for flexible dieting. I don’t deprive myself of anything and I am pretty satisfied with how much I eat. Now that the show is quickly approaching, people keep asking me, “So where are you planning to eat out after the competition?”. It is so hard for me to answer each time and this is why - I prep and plan delicious home-cooked meals, I am not starving myself, and I test out new recipes all the time. I plan when I want to eat chocolate so I don’t binge, and to be honest, I rarely crave anything in particular. What I do miss is being able to eat what I want, WHEN I want. I have been meal prepping and tracking for a quite a while now and this means that pretty much everything is planned… so my answer to the ‘where are you going to eat’ question is, “Whatever I feel like!”.
A lot of people think that I am following a “diet” and that I deprive myself of certain foods, but that’s not true. Most don’t understand how much I love food and this journey has been so easy for me because I put the effort to cook delicious recipes, and I plan ahead when I know I have an event that involves going to a restaurant or eating at a friend’s place. The way I eat has become part of my lifestyle and is definitely not considered dieting.
With that said, here are 10 tips and tricks to meal planning and prepping…
Make it a priority: You MUST schedule time to do groceries, find recipes, cook AND clean into your weekly schedule, otherwise you will find excuses not to do it. Decide when and how often you will have to do this. I personally usually aim for Sundays and Wednesdays but a few weeks ago I did a big meal prep on Sunday evening - chilli, breakfast quiche, chicken curry, sweet potato brownies, zucchini noodles, cauliflower alfredo sauce, mashed sweet potato, and baked chicken breasts... and I still have food! I had to put tupperware in the freezer for the first time and I had so many options of different meals that I didn’t get tired of anything I made. It also allowed me more time in the week to work and do other things instead of cook.
Do your homework: Decide what recipes you need before hitting the grocery store so that your time is spent more efficiently. It’s so easy to spend too much time in there and get frustrated when you don’t get inspired on the spot. I like to look up new recipes a few times a week. When I am watching TV or need a small break at work I just Google away or pick up a cookbook and note which ones I would like to try… this keeps it exciting!
Don’t waste food: Keep track of how much you are buying, how many portions it makes, and how long it lasts you. The last thing you want to do is to be throwing out food! Don’t be scared to put your meats or cooked meals like soup or chili in the freezer… you’ll thank yourself in the future. I try and cook my vegetables within 1-3 days of buying them so at least they are ready to be eaten and won’t go bad as fast. My last resort is to chuck them in an omelette or my breakfast quiches.
Decide what kind of meal prep you want: For me there are two types of meal prep. The first consists of ready dishes like chili, soups, and chicken vegetable curry - these are your grab-and-go’s. The second type is where you have multiple things cooked separately like chicken breast, asparagus, mashed sweet potato, cauliflower, vegetable stir fry and tomato sauce. This type is not necessarily grab-and-go, but it gives you the option to play around with it. By having your main (chicken) separated from your sides (asparagus and rice), you can mix and match and make it easier to have a different meal almost every day. I like to do this when I don’t have much time to cook. You don’t need to really follow a recipe so when you cook things separately like that it goes a lot faster. It may not be as satisfying as eating a nice hearty homemade soup, but it can be an option every few days. I like to make it interesting by cooking with different spices (curry is my favorite) or vegetable based sauces.
Prep with a friend: That big meal prep day I was talking about was done with my friend. It made it a lot more fun to share recipes and cook with a friend compared to doing it alone at home in front of the TV. I left with a bunch of bags and most of her tupperware, but it was good times and you should definitely think about doing this every few weeks. Make sure you have enough kitchen space, bring the ingredients and appliances you need, and use a dishwasher if you can!
Don’t plan everything: I try not to plan my suppers because I am usually home and I have time to cook or plan on the spot. I realized that planning everything all the time got annoying because there was no element of surprise and sometimes I would be eating a meal I wasn’t necessarily craving. By leaving supper out of the plan every few days I can eat what I want when I want, to a certain extent. It also allows me to have fresh food and not a tupperware that I have to heat up.
Multitask: Don’t be shy to get everything going at the same time. You don’t want to be wasting your whole Sunday cooking now do you? Get the oven going, rice cooker, crockpot, and stovetop! Okay, so maybe you might not be as good a multitasker as I am, but I believe it’s a skill that you can develop if you really want to. A crockpot is definitely a must since it’s so easy to find recipes and usually doesn't require that much work. While that’s going, you can prep another meal.
Figure out which recipes you don’t get tired of: You should already have an idea of meals you like to eat. If you keep this in mind when meal planning, it will be easier for you to eat the same thing all week. I personally can eat sweet potato, anything curried, asparagus, omelets, and protein pancakes every week, so when I am stumped on what to cook, those are my go-to’s. I make sure to always have eggs, egg whites, sweet potato, and curry powder in the house. Start to make a list of your favorite meals and recipes, and don’t be shy to share and get some new ideas from a friend!
Plan around eating out: Like I said, the way you eat should be part of your lifestyle and saying that you will not eat in restaurants is just not realistic. If you have a birthday dinner on Friday night, plan to eat less fat and carbs during the day leading up to the event because we all know you will be having a slice or two of cake and taking the opportunity to eat things you usually don’t cook yourself at home.
Know your kryptonite and plan for it: Chocolate is my kryptonite and it is so easy for me to eat a whole sea salted dark chocolate slab in one sitting. To prevent binging I hide my chocolate (yes it is out of my sight or I will eat it), and plan to eat one square every few days. I also started to make a batch of sweet potato brownies every week. I have one brownie a day which allows me to get my fix and feel like I am not depriving myself of chocolate. My other kryptonite is pizza and when I crave it I just make it at home. It’s all about healthy choices, so I make my own pizza on naan bread or pita bread and get the satisfaction of eating the WHOLE thing.
What is important is that you find something that works for you. If you make meal prepping a priority and plan ahead you will succeed. These are my tips and strategies based on my experience with meal prepping for about 10 months now. If you’d like help with a meal planning or more guidelines of how to make healthy eating part of your lifestyle, feel free to contact me!
“Success is not easy, and is certainly not for the lazy.” - Samantha Saifer-Berngard