Friday Fitness Finds 7/21

You’re squelching your emotions — All you talk about is old times
You don’t do what you want to — But you do the same thing everyday
No sense of humor — But such good manners
Now you’re an adult — You’re boring
It’s a life sentence — It’s a life sentence

This morning I busted out an old favorite of mine on the way to work — the Dead Kennedys Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death. As I drove down the highway blasting and singing along to classics like Police Truck, Pull My Strings and Too Drunk to Fuck I was feeling more carefree and bulletproof than I have in weeks. Then it hit me…

I’m 32 years old and I’m driving my fairly new (five years old) car through the security gate at work where I write descriptions using a controlled vocabulary for a multi-billion dollar corporation. While the lyrics may be tattooed on my heart, when I sing songs about fighting a potential police state, ripping on those who sacrifice their morals for money and being more concerned about having a proper career than being a decent human being, it’s actually 16-year-old me that’s singing along.

I’m living the old man life nowadays because I like paying my bills and going to bed before 10:00. But these hardcore punker songs still speak to me. I still feel them in my bones. They set raging fires in my heart. And today, they made me realize I’m doing the exact same thing old dudes do when they constantly relive their glory days of when they were the star running back.

As long as it’s pushing you to be a better you that day, have at it. Even if you were an asshole jock back in the day. Or a punker. Or a metalhead. Or a 32 year old that’s somewhere in-between.


As for this week’s stuff. Let’s get to it. It’s mostly food this time around.

  • The Top Ten Signs that Say “I’m a Real Fighter” by Doug Ward via TITLE Boxing
    If you’re able to read something metaphorically then this is a dynamite article. It’s from the archives of the TITLE Boxing Blog and, therefore, is directed as boxers-in-training but I think there’s a lot to take away from it even if you’re not a boxer. Showing up, having passion, respecting your journey and yourself are all things that can benefit every one of us in different aspects of our lives. Boxing just happens to be a great way to illustrate it. Maybe instead of the Sweet Science they should change the name to the Sweet Philosophy.

  • Quit Overeating by Defining Your Happiness by Alex McBrairty via Breaking Muscle
    Yes, this article does address overeating and yes it does quickly start talking about how willpower is a shitty crutch and yes it does touch on the philosophy of being happy and several other weird “how did we get here” topics. But it also mentions how eating a whole pizza can be good for you. It also makes a Bruce Lee reference. And if you’re a top-notch reader, you’ll find that it makes many really good points about how important it is to keep yourself in check and remaining the hero in your own story.

  • Turkey Taco Salad Meal Prep via Damn Delicious
    Chungah is back in the house again this week with a pretty killer meal prep idea, especially for those that are new to the game. This can’t get much easier and I’m confident it can’t get much tastier. Though I may not be a big salad eater, I can definitely make an exception if you include taco in the title.

  • {Comfort Food} Shepherd’s Pie by Frisky Lemon
    PaleoGrubs pointed me to this recipe this week and I think it’s such a rad idea I’m going to make it for meal prep next week. I’ve done Paleo Shepherd’s Pie before so I know it can be done and can be done well but it’s been a few months since I gave it a go. And come on, it’s Shepherd’s Pie for Christ’s sake! Paleo + Comfort Food = win/win if you ask me (did anyone ask?).

  • Apple-Basil Chicken Burgers by Cave Food Kitchen
    More Paleo foodage that’s going on the meal plan for next week. Ground chicken isn’t something I work with a lot but these look and sound super good. Probably going to serve with roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli but, I mean, there are no rules. Just tasty food!

  • Chocolate Cream Pie by Naked Cuisine
    The tags for this recipe include gluten-free, grain-free, Paleo, Primal, Raw, Vegan and Vegetarian. In case you missed the main point here, it’s also a chocolate !@#$ing pie! I can’t guarantee that I’m making it this weekend but I intend to.


Music to Run Fast-ish, Lift Heavy and Punch Hard To

It was definitely not a great week for heavy music. I’ve listened to tracks from about 12 or 15 new metal releases this week and came up with nothing worth sharing. This is a shame because in the non-heavy realm, it was a very good Friday for your humble narrator. My friend Brandon hooked me up with his band The Lees of Memory’s masters for their upcoming record The Blinding White of Nothing At All and it’s pretty sick. I don’t like using that term (see also epic and badass) so please know that I don’t use it lightly. I’ll probably make a full post when the record is officially released. If you’re into it, you can pre-order your copy with the link I just posted.

If you weren’t aware, sweet Lana Del Rey released her new record Lust for Life today. I haven’t listened to this one just yet but I did get my pre-order download early this morning and was hooked up with some of the preview tracks a few weeks ago. It will be gold, I know, because she always is.

But enough of that. While I don’t have anything to lift heavy to, I do have some jams worth rocking while you’re moving your body. Since seeing the Aquabats last week (I swear to god there will be new photos this weekend) I’ve been rocking some of their newer material harder than I did when it originally came out. These are the two main offenders. Turn them up and go move those feet!

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A-Side Meal Prepping pt. 5

Well, it took six weeks to get here but we’ve finally made it — MEAL PREP SUNDAYOHMYGOD.

If you haven’t been following along, this is part 5 in a series on meal prepping and you’ll be better off starting with part 1 – then part 2 – then part 3 – then part 4.

In this post I’m going to cover a lot of ground including what tools I frequently use, some time-saving tips, a bit of pro-style kitchen efficiency and how to store your shit. Everybody put on your culinary adventure hats, it’s time to make some food!

Why I do it on Sunday
I’ve been consistently posting these blogs on Sundays because Sunday is my meal prep day. It has been for a long time now. Several reasons, really:

  • Sunday is a good get ready for the work week day in which I do other adult shit like laundry. If I’m already focused on getting prepared for the week, I’d may as well stay in the zone.
  • Sundays, for me, are the least likely to be booked. Sure, there are times when I’m out of town or have something strange going on, but chances are, I’ll have a few hours on Sunday to devote to meal prep.
  • I tend to meal prep my food for Monday-Friday, so Sunday is the earliest day (theoretically) possible for me to make food if I plan on eating it all week and it not taste like shit by day 4 or 5.

Sundays are just meal prep days at my house and they seem to be a common choice for a lot of folks with M-F jobs. With that said, it’s not imperative that you do it on Sunday! If you have a job with a strange schedule, you just do it on whatever day works best for you. The main idea here is that you have a day in which you do this consistently. It’s what you’re expected to do, it’s what you’re looking forward to doing and it’s what you schedule other shit around every single week. Pick your day and keep it.

I also realize folks like my parents have weird schedules where they’re not working the same shift on any certain day two weeks in a row. Consistent meal prepping on a schedule like this is challenging but it isn’t impossible. You may have to do it differently every week and yes that may require a bit of thought and effort but so does life in general. That’s just the nature of being healthy and reaching goals you’ve set for yourself. A hectic schedule is a challenge but it’s never an excuse.

“But, but, but…” I can hear you saying and I don’t want to hear it. Pick your meal prep day and get marry it.

Tools to use
At the bare minimum, if you want to do meal prep you’ll need food, a heat source and stuff to store shit in. But since y’all are reading this on super cool computers, fancy-pants tablets or an iPhone I’m sure is way too big, I’m betting you have more than the minimum or you at least have the means to go above and beyond. So let’s get there.

**I want to go ahead and say that very much like having a shitty schedule, NOT having this equipment is not an excuse to flake out. There’s always more than one way to do shit in the kitchen so you have to figure it out or just work with your limitations. This is merely a list of things that I benefit from nearly every week for meal prep.**

    • Slow Cooker

I’m not the religious type but I swear I would consider following a religion that worships the slow cooker. You don’t even have to be serious about meal prep to be in love with it. Growing up, I don’t remember the slow cooker being used for much outside of a pot roast with carrots and potatoes. This is probably why I always just assumed that was the only thing these devices were used for.

If, like me, you have a warped idea of what a slow cooker can be used for, I welcome you to forget all you know about them.

Slow cookers are gods in the kitchen. I have a pretty basic one — you know, the four setting kind — but I’ve slow cooked whole chickens, soups, Mongolian beef dishes, Mexican casseroles, Indian comfort foods and more in mine. Even a pot roast with carrots and potatoes. The point is they’re extremely versatile and they honestly couldn’t be easier to use. You put the shit in, you set it, you go on about your day and in 4-8 hours you have dinner…or a whole week’s worth.

Another big positive about slow cookers is they were basically made for healthy meals. Meat and vegetables can be made tender and juicy with the addition of a few herbs and a bit of moisture — oftentimes just straight water. I almost always include a slow cooker recipe into my weekly meal plan just because it’s so little effort and you should probably be doing the same.

  • Silicone Baking Mats
    I’ll admit, it took me a little while to get on this train. Not because I was skeptical or they’re expensive or anything. I was just using aluminum foil and parchment paper to line my baking sheets and thought they were doing a well-enough job. And they DO. They’re both very useful tools and I still use them from time to time.But there’s something about having an item you can just wash off and reuse over and over and over again. The silicone doesn’t make your food taste funny at all and it’s naturally non-stick so you’ll never have issues with anything sticking.One of my favorite things about them is that they don’t tear or burn. Oftentimes I’d pull out some veggies or chicken and find that my aluminum foil has torn and the juices from my food have leaked out onto my pan, has gotten sticky or has (sometimes) burnt.

    What a pain in the ass.

    Buy some silicone mats like these on Amazon and you’ll never have to worry about that again.

  • Meal Prep Containers
    These aren’t required but they’re certainly helpful. I bought a stack of these from Amazon and their sole purpose is meal prep. This way there’s no way I won’t have something to put my lunches in, they’re perfect size for portioning out our meals, easily fit into my lunch box and are both freezer and microwave friendly.They sell these at Costco for hella cheap so there’s no real reason for you to not invest in a week’s worth, at least.
  • At Least TWO Cutting Boards
    This is way important mostly because of your health. Meal prepping is huge in helping you live healthier and you can’t live healthier if you’re dead from salmonella poisoning. I have three cutting boards — one for vegetables, one for chicken and one for beef. I don’t always use all three every week but having the extra one really comes in handy if you need to slice up cooked meat.
    Bottom line here is don’t use the same cutting board for everything. Never use the same cutting board you cut your raw meat on to cut your veggies on. Never use the same cutting board you cut your raw meat on to cut your cooked meat on. It ain’t safe and it ain’t smart. Don’t do it.
  • Kitchen Scale

    This little guy is worth his weight in gold. If you’re going to go through the trouble of calculating your macros per serving of each of your meals, why wouldn’t you properly portion it out? Otherwise your macros are shit. The one I have is pretty simple and it allows me to change measurements, compensates for the container you’re measuring your food with and is hella durable. Keep this in your closet and never guess at your portion sizes again.
  • Rice Cooker
    OMG NOT RICE you say and I say YES. If you’ve been keeping up you’ll know my opinion of carbs — they’re like my side chick. They’re way necessary for your health and well being. They’re often sexy. They’re comforting and they taste good. So far I fail to see why you’d want to avoid them. Rice is a great way to get some quality carbs in your system and it goes well with almost everything.My mom gave me her rice cooker a few years ago and I’ve used it, no shit, almost every week since. It’s a workhorse and it’s done me a lot of favors. The one I have is a steamer that can also be used to cook vegetables, though I haven’t done it before. I have, however, made a giant pancake in it before and that was way rad.Like the slow cooker, the rice cooker is a great effort saver. I drop in 2 cups of rice with 2-½ cups of water and in 45 minutes I have 10 130-calorie servings of steamed white rice with 30 grams of quality carbs.
  • Grill
    You guys know how much I love my grill. If you like playing with fire as much as I do, then you’ll invest in a decent little grill. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy and while I’m a big fan of charcoal, I started with gas and got a lot of good use out of it, too. Start one fire and you can cook a week’s worth of meat and veggies that are going to get a smoky flavor you can’t get on the stove or in the oven.Plus you just look really cool cooking over a fire. Looking cool is way important.
  • Large, High-Walled Skillet

    I have several skillets but for the most part I only use two of them and it’s because of their high edges. You can use a shallow skillet if you’re sautéing a batch of onions and peppers for dinner or something but if you’re making food for an entire week you’re going to need something bigger. I have a non-stick deep teflon skillet (pictured above) that I often use because it has a lid and I have my grandmother’s old cast-iron skillet. I use the cast-iron almost every week and am kind of married to it. The way it keeps an even heat across the bottom is unmatched, it’s oven-safe and can even be thrown over the fire if I wanted to (and have before).When it comes to teflon or cast-iron, you don’t have to stress about which one is best for you, just know that having something deep is going to help you out in the long run.

    That’s what she said…

  • A Good Set of Knives
    Knives are your best friend in the kitchen. You don’t have to get the most expensive knife set on the market. In fact, a starter set like you’d get from Target would do you just fine if you’re just now getting going. You can get by with whatever, but it’s best if you have the right tools for the job so with that said, if you can afford it, I’d make sure I had a good chef’s knife, a paring knife and a santoku at minimum. Honestly, I use my chef’s knife for almost everything but having the other knives at my disposal is super handy.
  • Various Tupperware
    Earlier we talked about getting the meal prep containers but it’s also important to have a variety of other storage options. Typically, I’ll portion out my lunches in the meal prep containers but I’ll keep my dinners in casserole dishes or large tupperware bowls that I can portion out easily in the evening. You don’t need to invest in a 100 piece set or anything but the more options you have available, the more control you’ll have over your storage.You’ll also quickly find that while your lunch/dinner portions may be good calorically, you’ll need to eat a lot more during the day and these extra containers will help you transport that shit to work with you.

Saving Time
One of the biggest benefits of meal prepping is saving time. There’s no more putting together a lunch in the morning for work that day or determining where and what you’re going to eat that evening. It’s already done! Now, if efficiency is one of our goals when it comes to how we use our meal prep, why wouldn’t we want to be just as efficient in the kitchen while getting it all prepared? Here are a few tips on maximizing your time in the kitchen:

  1. Cook as many things at once as possible
    If you’re going to cook 10 or 20 meals for the week you’re going to need to get a move on. I would suggest making a note of what tools you have at your disposal and which ones you’re going to need to use and get something in/on each of them. If you’re roasting vegetables in the oven, there’s no reason why you can’t start the rice. Are you waiting for the grill to warm up? Then there’s no reason you can’t be sauteing some spinach on the stove.I realize this can be tricky, especially if you’re just getting started. I know a lot of folks are very nervous about cooking multiple things at once because they can’t focus on them all at the same time. This will take practice but it can be easier if you…
  2. Really utilize slow and low cooking
    I kind of put this with the above because it’s seriously the easiest way to knock a lot out at once. Throw veggies in the oven and boom, you’ve got 20 minutes to do something completely different with no distractions. In rice cooker time, that’s 45 minutes. In slow cooker time that’s 4-6 hours. Set that shit and move on to the next thing!
  3. Plan out the cooking
    This may seem like a no-brainer but what I’m referring to here is way beyond having your meal plan made out. If you have a lot of food to cook and you’re particularly nervous about knowing what should go in where and when, there’s nothing wrong with taking 10 minutes and writing it all down. I can easily have a four-five item dinner prepared with all ingredients coming off the grill, out of the oven or off the stove at the exact same time if I plan it out appropriately. Make a timeline if you have to. This is extremely helpful if you have a lot of stuff that uses the same utensil or if you have something that cooks in one place and is then required in another.
  4. Label your portion sizes
    When I make my lunches, I portion everything out into containers so a whole lunch is crammed in there together. Like I said above however, for dinner I often dump each item into a large casserole dish or tupperware container so I can portion it out straight out of the fridge before I reheat it. I’ve found it’s way efficient to go ahead and determine your portion size as early as possible. Weigh that shit when it’s finished cooking, divide it by the number of servings you’re making and then write that number down on a post-it. You can put that on the fridge or something, but I prefer sticking it directly onto the container the food is in. That way for the rest of the week, there’s no figuring and no guessing — the number I need to see on my scale is already there and I can portion dinner out in record time.

Mise en Place

This is actually number 5 in the above list but I think it’s so important that I’m giving it its own heading. Mise en place is a French culinary term that means “Everything is in its place.” What does this mean to you and your meal prep? I’m glad you asked.

If you’re cooking or baking something, it doesn’t really make sense to go back to the fridge or the pantry every time you need a new ingredient. Yes, your Fitbit might say you had a helluva day if you did that but we’re in the kitchen to make food, not break a sweat!

A lot of people will drag out all of the ingredients they’ll need and then grab them off the counter as necessary. While this is a little better than going back to get them wherever they live each time you need them, there’s still a better way.

Enter mise en place. The idea here is that you’ve already done all the prep work and each ingredient you’re going to need is there and ready. And I don’t mean the bags, boxes and cans.

Remember in the last post when I talked about the first draft of the grocery list that included the precise measurements for each recipe and the link to each recipe? This is the point when that list will come in handy. Reference it and you won’t waste your time prepping shit you don’t need. You’ll also be sure to not forget something this way.

Go ahead and spend some time cutting each and every vegetable you’re going to need for every dish you’re making at once. Not only will this get your veggies ready to go in the pan/oven/grill but it will also keep you in cutting vegetables mode. I always start my meal prep days by getting my sweet potatoes, zucchinis, broccoli, green beans, brussels sprouts, onions, garlic, bell peppers and whatever other produce I’ll need to cut prepared and in their own bowls. Later on when the recipe says “add one diced onion…” I won’t have to switch from cook mode to cut mode — I’ve already got that onion ready to rock.

Next, I’d go for meat. Go ahead and get everything unwrapped and cut up if necessary (using a different cutting board and different knife, of course). This way the meat is ready and there are no weirdo juices lingering from whatever packet it came in. Just a sexy piece of protein ready to meet the heat. This is usually the step where I go ahead and get eggs ready (cracked and/or scrambled and in a bowl) if I need them.

Finally, I go ahead and portion out the “other shit”. This includes dry ingredients like AP flour, almond flour, seasonings and cheese. Go ahead and measure all of it out. Utilizing prep cups like these have made that so much easier for me but you can use bowls, plates or glasses in a pinch.

This may take a while — like half an hour or longer — but when you’re finished, all you have to worry about is putting heat on your ingredients, not cutting and finding and measuring. SMART.

Portioning and Storing Shit

Alright, you’ve spent an afternoon cooking everything and now it’s all done. What’s next?

Personally, I like to lay everything out on my dining room table for some time so it can cool off. If you portion everything while it’s warm, seal it and immediately put it in the fridge, a lot of moisture will build up in your containers that at best will make your food taste funny and at worst make you sick. You spent too much time working on tasty food to have shit that tastes gross and I don’t want anyone getting sick, so please use this time to take a break. Let it all cool for a bit.

When it’s time to start portioning, I line up all of my food prep trays, bust out my kitchen scale and a small bowl. I’ll start out by measuring the whole of whatever the ingredient is — say it’s broccoli. I’ll then divide that total weight by the number of servings I’m making and I’m left with the serving size.

You know…Math.

Simple so far, yeah? That’s because it is.

I then spoon out bits of broccoli (or whatever ingredient) into the small bowl until the desired portion is reached, then dump it into one of my containers. Over and over again until I have my containers filled with each of my ingredients.

Just to be safe, I’ll usually leave the containers on the table while I do the dishes just to let them cool a bit more before I seal them up.

If you look on the internet you’ll find a variety of opinions both science-based and otherwise regarding how long you can store certain foods in the fridge. I’m going to go ahead and add another one.

Typically I will keep enough lunches in the fridge to last two days. For us, that’s four lunches. The other six portions will go in the freezer and each night after I clean the dinner dishes, I’ll take two out to replace the two that were taken out that day.

Honestly, though, I’ve not had any issues with not freezing any of them. I merely freeze part of them just to save room in my fridge. This is seriously up to you and whatever sciencey opinion you choose to believe.


So there it is. You have the tools, you have the knowledge, you have the power…to meal prep. Use it wisely but also don’t be afraid to get creative. Find out what works and what doesn’t both in your kitchen and in your schedule. If it works, keep doing it. If it doesn’t or it can be improved, do something different.

The only way you can fail is if you don’t try.

 

This is part 5 of a 6 part series on meal prepping. A lot of clients and potential clients ask me about meal prepping and I want to give as thorough of an explanation as I can. Over the next few weeks, I will be covering how to eat, how many calories you need to eat, calculating your macro requirements, finding good recipes to use, making your grocery list and shopping it, smart ways to prep a week’s worth of food and other shit I know to be true. I will illustrate as much as I can with my real-life meal planning/prepping processes so hopefully it will make more sense. Along the way you get to enjoy my wit and my foul mouth.

I also want to go ahead and state that while I am a certified personal trainer, I am NOT a certified nutritionist. I can give you tips on eating better and point you to FDA guidelines, but unless I’m married to you I can NOT make custom meal plans for you. Not even if you pay me or send nudes but thanks for the offer.

 

A-Side Meal Prepping pt. 3

Alright, guys, we’re moving right along. This is the halfway post — HALFWAY! Are you caught up? If not, read A-Side Meal Prepping pt. 1 about finding an eating philosophy, then go read A-Side Meal Prepping pt. 2 about determining how many calories you should be eating and calculating your macros.

Now that we know how we want to eat and how much we need to be eating, the next step is finding good shit to eat and making a meal plan out of it. That’s what I’m calling this post.

Finding Good Shit to Eat and Making a Meal Plan Out of It

So you know you want to start meal prepping and you’re eager to dig into good recipes and learning about reheating it and storing it and losing that pesky weight that’s been dogging you forever. But before we research anything or even spend a single dime on groceries, we need to ask ourselves a few questions.

What do you know how to cook and what kind of shit do you have in your kitchen?
It’s kind of amazing how many people I help during the week that have little, or sometimes no, experience cooking any kind of food outside of microwave dinners and frozen pizzas. If this sounds like you, then you already know where you’re starting – the absolute most basic of the basic of the basic. And that’s good! I recently heard some of our Food Network talent (I think it was Geoffrey Zakarian) say that a sign of a good chef is when they’re above getting fancy with strange ingredients and methods, preferring to rely on the natural flavors in their main ingredients and the common spices used to make them. Is it fun to experiment? Absolutely yes, but there’s no reason to dive into advanced shit until you’ve gotten comfortable doing basic shit.

A couple of years ago I entered a contest at work where the prize was a cookbook by accomplished chef and Food Network superstar Anne Burrell. I’m a fan of Anne’s and her food so when I won the contest and the cookbook, I was super excited to dig in. When I got the book, however, I quickly learned that most, if not all, of her recipes included ingredients or equipment that not only did I not have, but in some cases had no idea how to even acquire it. I shelved that book and I’ve never made any of the food. Will I eventually? Maybe, but right now, it ain’t happening.

And that’s okay. Same goes for you, new guys.

For my advanced freaks out there, now’s the time to determine what you have in your kitchen. Do you have a rice cooker? A slow cooker? Pressure cooker? Cast iron skillet? Are you comfortable using a grill? Know your oven inside and out? Awesome! Knowing what tools you have will greatly help you out as you make your meal plan.

We’ll cover useful tools to have in your kitchen in the next few weeks, but for now, let’s focus on what you have and what you know and run with it. Are you good? Good. Let’s get on with it.

What meals are you prepping for?
The next thing we’ll need to determine is what meals you’re hoping to prep for. Breakfasts? Lunches? Dinners? How many times are you planning to eat? This may seem obvious and silly, but it’s way important, for real.

I once heard a friend say “If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail” and she’s totally right. For this step, you’ll really need to consider what your lifestyle is and what your day looks like. What are your weak points? What times of day are you the most rushed? When do you feel like you’re most pressured to eat poorly? I’ll illustrate with my personal situation.

Breakfast is huge for me. If I don’t eat within 30 minutes of waking up in the morning, I get sick. With that in mind, I keep some protein bars at home that I chow down on before hitting the gym in the morning and hold off on having a proper breakfast until I get to work. Breakfast temptation at work is a real motherfucker because we have the Food Network Kitchen and their amazing bacon, sausage and biscuits (but not their gravy — they suck at southern sausage gravy and it’s the easiest thing to make, I swear to the gods). However, I’m able to avert the temptation most days by keeping oatmeal at my desk. I love oatmeal and don’t mind eating it most days. I buy the big boxes of it at Costco and they last me a very long time — like a couple of months. As a result, my breakfasts are safe, I get a few filling calories in the morning and a shot of fiber to help my coffee give me a good old-fashioned cleanse.</p.

TMI?

The takeaway here is that I don’t meal prep my breakfast because I feel like I’m sufficiently covered. This may be different for you. Making breakfast sandwiches or boiling eggs ahead of time so they’re ready and packaged up in the fridge for you in the morning may be beneficial as long as it’s something you’ll look forward to eating and it can regularly prevent you from making poor breakfast decisions.

I started meal prepping by working on lunch only. This was a good way for me to get my feet wet because I only had to make one giant batch (read: 10 servings — 5 for me, 5 for Erin) of a single meal and reap the benefits during the week as I kept my weight off, never had to guess what I was eating and saved hella money in the process.

As Erin got deeper into her weightloss journey, I decided to go ahead and start meal prepping dinner, too. This was a double-edged sword for me.

I didn’t want to meal prep dinner because I love cooking too much. I don’t like someone (even if it’s me) telling me what I’m having for dinner tonight. I like being able to find a new recipe in the afternoon, stopping by Publix on my way home and making it that night. I learned how to make so many awesome meals this way and I didn’t want to change it.

That’s the shit side of the sword.

Flip the sword over and we’ll find that meal prepping dinner should have been a no-brainer. Erin has been working her butt off running 2-3 days a week and she’s been lifting weights on a program I design for her every week. She’s been doing it for months now and has gotten amazing results. With that said, it’s not impossible but it’s way way way difficult to go run with her or go to the gym with her in the evening and then come home and make dinner from scratch. When you get home at 8pm and you want to be in bed by 10, the idea of starting a healthy dinner from scratch and then clean up is overwhelming.

There’s a second positive side to that sword — nutritionally Erin really needed dinner meal prep. As much as I like to kid myself, when I’d make new recipes at night, even if they were “healthy,” they were likely sabotaging both of us. In the past, I’ve promised to help Erin get healthier and I dropped the ball because not having dinner plans would usually turn into pizza delivery, Chinese takeout or a faux-healthy homemade meal that would crash our caloric intake for the day. My main motivating factor in deciding to meal prep for dinner was her diet and not only has it helped us both in the nutrition department, but it’s also saved us, again, hella money.

Bottom line: currently I meal prep lunch and dinner for us both for Monday through Friday. That’s 10 individual servings for dinner, 10 individual servings for lunch, totalling 20 servings of food.

Don’t run away yet. That sounds like a lot of cooking but it’s not. I promise.

Often there are nights when we have to be places — meetings, pre-arranged dates with friends, appointments or other randomness. With this in mind, I go ahead and cut 2 dinner servings from the meal plan assuming we’ll make a good choice on that wildcard night. We’re now at 18 servings of food.

I also quickly found out that I was being an anti-social dickhead at work and was no longer going to lunch with my friends like I used to. That bothered me and it should bother you, too. Your friends are going to understand that you’re getting your nutrition in order and will respect your decision to cut back, but if you’re any kind of friend, you’ll cut them some slack and go out once a week. You can make good decisions at restaurants and even if you don’t, one bad lunch isn’t going to hurt you. So I cut 1 lunch per week for us. We’re now at 16 servings of food.

Told you it wasn’t a lot of cooking.

So what are we making?
I guess now we get to determine what it is exactly that we’re going to cook. The internet is a huge place, you guys, and there is an endless amount of recipes out there. I can’t tell you how to organize and reference but I can definitely pass you links to the places I frequent for meal prep ideas. You’ll find those below but a few quick things first:

  • Find stuff you know how to cook or want to learn how to cook.
  • Never force yourself to eat shit you don’t like or don’t want to eat.
  • Don’t flip out if the recipe calls for something that doesn’t fit your eating philosophy.
  • If a recipe looks good but has questionable ingredients (say, added sugar or something) research a bit online to find what can be used as a substitute. Believe me, speaking as a Paleo believer, someone has tried and damn-near perfected every sloppy nasty junk food recipe and converted it to fit your diet so give it a go!

Places I Get My Recipes

Fit Men Cook
Fit Men Cook is a rad little website that includes recipes intended for meal prepping. Everything is mapped out to make multiple servings and he always includes the macros per serving. He often includes helpful meal prep tips and sometimes does fun challenges where he goes to specific chain groceries with a certain amount of money and preps a week’s worth of food with it.

Damn Delicious
The name says it all here. Don’t spaz out after seeing so many pasta dishes. The photos are nearly pornographic as far as food goes and there’s lots of gratuitous cheese shots but for real — the food is great and usually isn’t a diet-crasher. She’s recently been including macros, which is a big plus, but be warned that her site has gotten quite ad-heavy. I hope that means she’s making a buck or two off her hard work, though, because she deserves it.

Budget Bytes
It would be false if I said that Budget Bytes taught me how to cook but it’s not far from the truth. Beth has amazing recipes that are simple and do not require a lot of thinking. There’s a lot of pasta here, too, but don’t let that scare you. Pasta can be your friend. If you’re just getting started cooking, this is a great resource for simple recipes.

Slow Cooker Gourmet
This is a fun website for all things slow cooker. You’ll find out soon that the slow cooker is a beast when it comes to meal prep and you’re going to want to use it as often as possible. This is a great resource for finding good stuff to throw into your new best friend but be warned that not all of these are macro-friendly no matter what your macros are.

Stupid Easy Paleo
This is a fun website for Paleo freaks or those interested in giving it a shot. She doesn’t have the recipe index most of the other websites have but what she does have it quality…and a podcast. A damn good one.

Nom Nom Paleo
When it comes to Paleo, this girl knows her shit. Her website is well-organized and she has some quality cookbooks on the market. Tons of meal prep-ready recipes hanging out in here and you can learn a lot about the lifestyle from her, too. It’s no wonder she’s a beast in the community.

Gimme Some Oven
Veggie city, y’all! And beautiful photos. And treats! Great treats! Lawd. Gimme Some Oven has easy-to-follow recipes that are tasty and manageable macro-wise.

Paleo Grubs
This is a great website if you want to get quality content in email. Their recipes are already top-notch but they send out emails with links to various Paleo recipes around the web that are just as high quality. I’ve tracked down a lot of good eats through this little hub.

The Domestic Man
NOT for the beginner. Let me get that out of the way immediately. This website is wonderful, though, and the author takes you around the world with some of his international dishes. One of my favorite recipes of all time comes from this website but be aware that a lot of recipes are time-consuming and require you to track down oddball ingredients and make friends with your local butcher. Those aren’t bad things.

PaleOMG
Finally, this is one of the Paleo sites I’ve followed the longest. The content is a bit scattered because not only does she cover Paleo recipes but she also talks about Crossfit, fashion, Crossfit fashion and just general wellness. She also has a super cute dog so if nothing else it’s worth following her on Instagram.

Other good resources include…

Amazing Ribs
Primarily Meathead but there are other authors on this site that give quality information on how to properly grill and smoke everything you can imagine. From pork, beef, chicken and fish to sauces and even cocktails. It can be grilled and they’ll show you how to do it.

Food52
This site is beautiful. It’s kind of like an e-version of your grandmother because the food is always amazing and not only do they show you how to make it but they show you how to make it the right way. The full-fat and sometimes high calorie way. The no-shortcuts way. Paired with Budget Bytes, this is a good site to follow if you really want to learn.

The Protein Chef
I like following this guy because he focuses primarily on sweets. Sweets that are modified to be macro-friendly and protein-heavy. He often spends time trying to sell his special baking whey protein but I’ve never tried it and likely won’t. I’ve found whatever whey I have at home works well for anything I’ve tried of his. Maybe I’m missing out but what I’ve made so far has been quality. Great resource here if, like me, you enjoy cookies more than occasionally.

My Favorite Meal Prep Recipes

Making the Meal Plan
So you’ve picked through the above links and you’ve bookmarked several recipes you think may be good. Now’s the fun part. Let me start out by saying that at first I did not like the idea of eating the same thing every single day for lunch and the same thing every night for dinner. YOU DON’T HAVE TO. Just know that if you want variety, that’s even more effort than you’re already putting into this. I’d recommend going with just one thing at a time and slowly building yourself up to multiple meals a day. Once you get to that point and you feel confident in your skills, your planning and your free time, then you can throw in a fourth or fifth meal that you can put in throughout the week so you don’t get sick of stuff.

Honestly, you shouldn’t get sick of it if it’s good food and you’re going to be making good food, right?

With any luck the recipe you pick out will also have the calories and macros attached to it. I know a lot of fitness-minded websites are including that a lot more lately so use it! It won’t be entirely accurate because they likely won’t be using the exact same recipes you’re using, but it will be close enough to ballpark it. Keep that general calorie count in mind.

***PRO TIP*** If a recipe seems to be relatively light but their calorie count is super high, take some time to consider why it may be and what you can do to fix it. I recently put together a honey ginger chicken recipe that was super light but was showing 665 calories. I couldn’t understand where they were coming from but then I noticed the recipe called for 2 cups of uncooked white rice for four servings. Rice tends to triple when cooked, so that’s 6 cups of cooked rice broken down into four servings, thus 1.5 cups of rice per serving! Cooked white rice is about 200 calories per cup, so 300 of the 665 calories was from the rice alone. I typically cook 6 cups of white rice and split it into 10 servings — That’s a little more than half a cup, or 120 calories per serving, bringing the honey ginger chicken recipe down from 665 to 485. A bit more manageable, no? **/PRO TIP**

Once you have your meals picked out and a ballpark caloric count in mind, you can now start considering the rest of your day. Most of these recipes won’t go above 500 calories and if you’ve been following along since part one you’ll know that 1,500 calories likely won’t cut it for you and you’ll need snacks. That’s where I like to get recipes from people like the Protein Chef involved because snacks are great when they’re sweet.

You could also eat, you know, fruit.

Or nuts (not deez nutz but LOL if you thought that). Mandy, I can hear you laughing all the way over here.

This is when you get to determine what else you can do with your deficit. What I’m trying to say is…Junk. Never, under any circumstances, refer to it as cheating. It’s not cheating if you’re doing nothing wrong. If you’ve set your calories at a deficit and you still haven’t met your caloric goal for the day, by all means, have a treat. My personal favorites at present are oatmeal Little Debbie cakes and caramel apple pie gelato from Talenti.

This shit will change your life, y’all, for real.

If your recipes don’t include a calorie count and you’re not sure how well it will fare based on ingredients alone, don’t stress. We’ll calculate all that soon enough. It’s early on in the process and you’re allowed to fuck up. You’re only going to learn if you dive in and get your feet wet.

And fuck up.

Like…A lot.

Next week we’re going to take our meal plan for the week and break it down into a few lists for efficient grocery shopping. It may be overkill and it may be “duh” for some of y’all, but it’s going to help someone out there. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go ahead and get going on your meal prep for this week, though!

For real. Get going.

This is part 3 of a 6 part series on meal prepping. A lot of clients and potential clients ask me about meal prepping and I want to give as thorough of an explanation as I can. Over the next few weeks, I will be covering how to eat, how many calories you need to eat, calculating your macro requirements, finding good recipes to use, making your grocery list and shopping it, smart ways to prep a week’s worth of food and other shit I know to be true. I will illustrate as much as I can with my real-life meal planning/prepping processes so hopefully it will make more sense. Along the way you get to enjoy my wit and my foul mouth.

I also want to go ahead and state that while I am a certified personal trainer, I am NOT a certified nutritionist. I can give you tips on eating better and point you to FDA guidelines, but unless I’m married to you I can NOT make custom meal plans for you. Not even if you pay me or send nudes but thanks for the offer.