If you guys are following a lifting program and trying to pack on muscle, you gotta eat. I foolishly had to learn this the hard way and wasted two years lifting while not eating enough for muscle growth. To put on muscle, you need to eat, and you need to eat a lot of wholesome, clean foods,but things like family, work, and other time constraints can get in the way of the nutrition you need. Today, I’ll go over what meal prep is, how I prepare all my food for the week, and how even non-lifters can benefit from cooking all their food at once.
Meal prep is exactly what it sounds like. You attack this in one of two ways. First you either spend a few hours on the weekend and you cook up everything you’re going to eat for the week, or you put together all the ingredients you’ll need so you can just open it up each day and toss it in a pan. I actually use both methods, so we’ll go over each of them.
This is how I handle my lunch for the week. I spend about an hour making lunch for myself each Sunday. I try to get as much protein as possible during lunch. My breakfast is 5 eggs just to hold me over so I like to make lunch a big meal.
Typically I’ll get a pack of pork chops or chicken breast while grocery shopping that will be my base for my lunch for the week. I usually spend about $6-$9 on 3-5lbs of protein. That breaks down to $1.80 per day for lunch. Not bad and way better than anything you can get on the go.
For flavor, I try to come up with different ways to season the meat to keep it interesting. It can be kind of fun to see what spices and flavors you can come up with and experiment with. I’ve done things like sriracha barbecue sauce, habanero mango salsa, lemon pepper garlic with honey etc. You know what flavors you like, and pork and chicken go well with a huge variety of spices and marinades. I let the meat sit for about an hour minimum to let the spices do their thing.
During the warm months, I grill the meat outside. The sauces really get locked in that way and the char tastes amazing. When it gets cold, I cook them in a cast iron skillet.
When done, I weight out portions on a food scale and bin it all up for the week. I typically get around 50-75 grams of protein in each bin which is great for building muscle, and a no brainer as you just grab and go.
My wife and I both work full-time jobs, but that doesn’t mean our family eats unhealthy processed foods or fast food for dinner. We eat about four meals a week out of our slow cooker. While I’m preparing my lunch, shes binning up dinners for the slow cooker for the week. We have everything from ribs, to whole chickens, to fajitas all cooked this way.
We’ll get everything all ready to go in bins and leave them in the fridge. Whomever comes home first dumps the ingredients in the slow cooker, sets the temp and it frees us up to pick up kids, take them to their various activities, and not have to worry about having to cook a whole meal when we get home. Also, cleanup is pretty easy with the slow cooker as everything is cooked in one place.
Even if you don’t use a slow cooker and plan on making each meal the traditional way, having all the ingredients ready to go into a pan or the oven will save you a ton of time.
Doing meal prep is great for lifters, but anyone can benefit from the methods above. Doing meal prep ahead of time saves you:
Time: Sure it takes time out of your weekend to do meal prep, but getting it out of the way for the week frees up your evenings with your family. You get to bond over a meal that you already prepared, so you get more time to relax after the day is over.
Money: I told you above that I only spend about $9 a week for my lunch and I get enough protein and calories that I need. What I didn’t elaborate on is how much money I save on using the slow cooker. On average, I spend about $110-120 dollars on groceries a week for a family of 5. We eat a home cooked meal 6 nights a week and every time we have protein, and vegetables. With our busy schedule, I know we’d have to resort to going out to eat or buying crap food if not for this method.
Health: Eating food you cook at home is typically better for you than shit you get on the go (generally speaking, microwaving Elio’s pizza for yourself is not cooking.) I know that me and my family are getting proper nutrition and even more, the kids are being exposed to a variety of different foods to hopefully prepare them to eat healthy for their entire lives.
I want to note here that I get all of my protein macros hit by food. No supplements or shakes, all home cooked food. Not that I’m opposed to supplements, I just find it more enjoyable to hit my macros using food.
If you’re a lifter, you need to eat, and if you have a life outside the gym, hitting your macros can be difficult. Next time you buy groceries, think about doing meal prep for a week. See if it works for you. If you don’t have a slow cooker already, get one. The possibilities are almost endless as to what you can cook in there. Finally, meal prep is great for saving money and time.
If any of you guys would like any of my recipes let me know.