Food Prep 101

Successful fat loss goals are achieved 70% in the kitchen, 20% by how well and often you move your body, and 10% from your mental state. Today I want to focus on the kitchen end of things.

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Food prep is where so many well-intentioned fat loss seekers (people who want to “lose weight”) drop the ball. For you to succeed at your fitness goals excuses like I have no time to cook or I didn’t know what to eat and was hungry so I just grabbed something must be removed from your lexicon!

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Now I’m not going to give you a meal plan to follow (although [shameless plug here] you can order a customized meal plan from my website www.workouts247.com and I’m not going to reiterate what I’ve stated numerous times herein about eating 6 small meals/snacks a day, and avoiding overly processed, sugary and salty foods. What I am going to address is food prep because that is the most time intensive aspect of nutrition and the area that usually intimidates people the most.

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As you embark on the journey to change your nutrition there are four (4) important steps you need to understand. The first step is to have a meal plan in place complete with recipes or “meal concepts” for each day of the week. The second step is to prepare a comprehensive list and then shop for the requisite ingredients. The third step (which I am focusing on today) is to prepare as much of the food in advance so that step four – the eating at regular intervals step – can be easily achieved.

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I always advise my clients to set aside one day for grocery shopping (which, if your list is in hand, should only take one hour at most), and a chunk of time for the food prep (can be the same day as shopping or a day or two later).

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Food prep can take anywhere from 1-4 hours depending upon how many meals and/or snacks you are preparing. The essential key here is to lock in the time required as a firm appointment you keep with yourself. Using cookbooks, Pinterest pins, or just your imagination, you can create several recipes ahead of time that will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Meals needed for the later in your week can still be made ahead of time and frozen until needed.

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The most important aspect to all of your food prep is to enjoy the process (do not see it as drudgery). As you become more comfortable with the planning and preparation process, you can expand your variety and pretty soon you’ll enjoy entire weeks of healthy, lean, flavorful meals and the “I have no time” excuse will be a thing of the past. Also, cooking together as a couple or family is a great way to spend quality time (without any electronics in front of your faces).

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Here are a few timesaving tricks to follow, and of course, if you desire more specific advice, direction or a meal plan, contact me directly:

Veggies can be cleaned and sliced and placed in a ziplock bag or food storage container for use later in the week.

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Pre-cooked snacks (like my quinoa, black bean, and spinach egg muffins for example), fresh fruit and veggies, nuts, and dried meats (like turkey jerky) can all be individually wrapped in bags or containers that you can “grab ‘n go.”

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Breakfast items can be made the night before and simply reheated in the morning when there is less time to cook (i.e., breakfast burrito, overnight oats, etc.).

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Crockpot (slow cooker) meals are a great way to easily create enough food to serve several lunches or dinners, and the prep work can be done the night before, then plunk everything into the pot, set it and forget it until you get home for dinner.

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Always have a few fast-but-healthy items on hand (fridge, freezer, pantry) such as turkey burgers, salad veggies, cans of tuna or salmon as all of these can be turned into quick meals.

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More time intensive items like brown rice, quinoa, or gluten-free pasta can be pre-cooked ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to four days. Then on any given night simply oven-roast or sauté your pre-sliced veggies and protein, sprinkle them with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and any of your favorite herbs and spices, then toss them all in one large pan and roast or sauté until done. Add in the already prepared side (rice, quinoa, etc.) and you’ve a dish that can serve for two family-sized meals (with correct quantity planning).

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2 comments

  1. sapphire20denier

    Hey guys! This article is absolutely on the money! It takes effort, thought, planning and investment to look after your body well, and I do get frustrated when I hear ‘flaky’ dieters making lame excuses for spontaneous snaking and poor choices at meal times. I have to say though that I have to be very strong indeed to ignore the psuedo-friendly mocking that I shoulder every day from work colleagues when I unpack my prepared meal and snack pots containing amaranth pudding one day, quinoa with honey and yoghurt on another and vast quantities of fruits every day BECAUSE I JUST LOVE THEM!!!!! It’s interesting that in the three years that I’ve worked with these people, the loudest sneering and mocking comes from people who binge diet. It seems that my willingness to work hard at maintaining my weight loss is something that earns me ‘freak’ label. The normal people it seems, that fit in to the group, are those who can’t resist the cakes, who eat massive sandwiches from the deli at lunch, who drink copious amounts of alcohol and whose drawers are full of sweets, biscuits and fizzy drinks! Ironic, eh?

    But I’m happy to look in my fridge and see huge quantities of beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables, and the time and money spent is worth it!

    • lifefitnessbydane

      Well said and I agree completely with your stance. We healthy eaters are often mocked by those who “wimp out” on their nutrition. I am also frustrated that healthy food options when eating out are more expensive than the crap options. Soda is cheaper than bottled water, etc. Ah well, we shall persevere!

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