By Alycia Israel Elite FTS
We’ve all been there. Whether you compete or not, we are all busy and food prep can sometimes be a hassle or even an afterthought. It’s extremely challenging to stay on track when you don’t have food prepared ahead of time, which in turn leads you farther astray from your goals. Not only that, but meal prep can be time consuming and overwhelming. So I created some of my favorite food prep hacks to share. These small tips and tricks have helped me stick to my plan without losing my shit on meal prep days.
First and foremost, let’s make sure you have the basics down pat.
Prepping Meals in Advance
This should be a no brainer, but it is really helpful to prep your meals for the week in one day. For most this day is Sunday, but whatever works with your schedule is fine. Making your meals fresh every day may taste better but it is a hassle.
Store Your Food Properly
They may seem over the top, but food coolers such as the FitMark Meal Management System are really helpful when traveling with your meals.
Do Your Research
Take the time to figure out how to prep your food in a way that makes it taste good. Meal prep is a lot more enjoyable if you actually like to eat the food you are making.
If you’ve already mastered these three basic tenants of food prepping, you’re ready for the next five techniques. These have really helped me in the past.
1. The Foil Pan Trick
I absolutely love this little trick and it is so easy. I use this when I prep my chicken but you can also use this technique for other meats and baked foods. I like to have a variety of flavor in my meals so instead of seasoning my foods differently and cooking them separately, I cook them all at the same time on the same pan. How do you ask? I use a baking sheet and line it with foil, but I pinch the edges of the foil to create barriers. This allows me to season my food differently in each section without the seasonings mashing together. This is especially ideal when I cook sweet and savory seasoned foods together. So simple and saves a ton of time!
2. Pre-Make Your Shake
You know that stomach sinking feeling you get when you slowly awake from your slumber and soon realize you forgot to set your alarm the night before? What’s worse is getting up in a panic only to realize you still have to prepack all your food and somehow get going on time. Sometimes I need to grab and go out the door, literally. So when I store my protein shakers, I pre-fill them all with protein so I can grab one and throw it in my bag ready to go. This may seem arbitrary but has saved me on many occasions.
3. Crock Pot Creations
One major mistake I made when I first started competing was under-utilizing a crock pot for food prep. When I am pretty far out from a competition I will use it for full meals with meat, potatoes, and veggies (as pictured) but when I start weighing my food out, I found I can still use it just as creatively. For example, a quick way to cook your veggies is to simply pop a bag of Steam Fresh in the microwave and call it a day. That definitely works, but can be a bit boring. Using a crockpot for veggies is a total game changer. Throw in your desired veggies, pour in a bit of chicken broth and preferred seasonings (minimal calories added), cook on low for 1-2 hours, and wah-la! You have cooked veggies for a week that taste delicious and make you enjoy your life again….a little.
4. Keep Your Measurements in the Jar
A picture that speaks a thousand life-saving words. Keep your measurement tools in the jar so you don’t have to dig through your kitchen to find it. Use it, wash it, and throw it back in. If the measurement tool is too big and won’t fit in the jar, simply place it on top or close by ready to go.
5. Keep Hard Boiled Eggs on Tap
Most folks prepping for a show tend to have some type of egg meal in their plan at some point. I don’t know about you, but as much as I love cooking eggs in a pan fresh each time, it just isn’t plausible. So I keep a handful of hard boiled eggs in my fridge at all times. If I am running late to work, or just don’t feel like cooking, I can stay on track. Another grab-and-go prep saver.
I hope these little tricks and tips help you stay on track, or at the very least save your sanity. A little creativity can go a long way, especially when you get to that hangry stage of prep. Also, I’m sure our readers have experimented and have a ton of great ideas as well. If you have food prep hacks of your own, feel free to comment below and share the wealth!