If you want to achieve a body transformation, then you need to prepare your meals in advance.
In fact, we advise all our clients at Ultimate Performance that where possible they should have their nutrition game plan in place for each day at least 12-hours in advance.
For the best results, you need to avoid finding yourself in the situation where you wake up wondering what you’ll be eating that day.
It is much harder to lose sight of your goals and eat something you shouldn’t if you have the food you are supposed to eat ready made with you.
And don’t worry, meal prep doesn’t have to take hours out of your schedule.
This article will break down my top five tips for speeding up meal prep, without sacrificing the quality and taste of your meals.
1. Weigh your food in advance.
If you know that you will be eating a lot of the same type of food during your transformation, then it can be cost effective to buy in bulk, especially meat, and store it in your freezer.
Before you lump kilos of meat into the freezer, split it up into smaller portions so that you only have to defrost what you need the following day.
To make things even simpler, weigh your meat out into your exact portion sizes before you freeze them. You can store portions in sandwich bags or containers before freezing and label them with a permanent marker if you have various weights that you require.
Then, simply remove a portion from the freezer the night before you need it to save time, or remove several portions if you are going to be batch cooking a recipe.
This method is very effective as it prevents waste and it also helps you to get a better idea of your correct portion sizes. It may take a little time initially, but it saves you weighing out meat every time you need it.
2. Batch cooking recipes
If there is a recipe that you particularly enjoy or make a lot, try doubling or tripling the quantities to make a few portions at once. You could make very large batches and portion them out into Tupperware, storing some in your freezer for a later date.
If you’re short on time or just want to minimise how long you spend in the kitchen, then using a slow-cooker can help out here.
Load the slow-cooker with your fresh ingredients in the evening and leave on overnight as instructed. In the morning, your meal will be ready to go and you can easily portion it out and save the extras for a later date.
A great recipe for this would be our Lean Beef Chilli, which you could easily multiply to batch cook and portion out to last for several meals.
This recipe is particularly versatile as it works well with a variety of pairings such as with a sweet jacket potato or beneath a layer of sweet potato mash as a warming ‘pie’.
You could create burritos with a tortilla wrap, fill lettuce cups like tacos topped with guacamole or simply serve with cauliflower rice.
As you can see, preparing a large batch of a recipe and splitting it into individual portions gives you a little more flexibility with your meal choices.
3. No-Cook Meal Prep: Yoghurt Pots
One of the simplest ways to make your meal prep easier would be to look at foods that require little to no cooking.
Greek yoghurt is a source of protein and seriously easy when it comes to meal prep. Depending on your meal plan, your choices for additional toppings and flavours will vary, however below are some great suggestions to discuss with your trainer.
- Whey protein
- Nuts and seeds
- Nut butter
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc
- Oats – try these overnight oat recipes
Weigh out your yoghurt into a Tupperware or mason jar and add various toppings and flavours, to suit your preference. Store in the fridge and grab and go as and when required.
(Storage: keep refrigerated for up to three days, although if you’ve added whey protein consume within one day.)
4. Snack Hacks
When it comes to snacks, you need to prepare healthy options in advance, so that non-diet friendly alternatives do not tempt you when in a rush.
Today, there are so many bad choices readily available to us when we are looking to bridge the gap between meals, so don’t set yourself up for failure by skipping this step.
There are lots of quick and easy snack ideas to try, below are a few of my favourite suggestions.
Boiled eggs – you can boil eggs in advance, and they will keep in the refrigerator for up to seven days. Save time by boiling all your eggs for the week on one day, then just add as many as you need for that day to your breakfast, salads or just as a snack.
Nuts – portion out your nuts into small containers when you buy a large bag. Nuts are very calorific, and it can be easy to overeat if you don’t portion them in advance, so save time by distributing them out when you do the rest of your meal prep.
Tip: Roasting nuts can add flavour – why not try a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper, chilli powder or even cinnamon to give your nuts some variety.
Nut Butter sachets – Nut butter can be a tasty snack, but as with nuts, it can be challenging to stick to your portion sizes if you don’t measure out in advance. You can now buy sachets of nut butter, which are easy to take with you and saves weighing out portions all the time.
Vegetable crudités – Slice up vegetables and store in containers or sandwich bags. Crunchy vegetables are a great idea like celery, carrots, cucumber, and peppers. Depending on your nutrition plan you could potentially pair with homemade guacamole, hummus or yoghurt dip. Alternatively, just enjoy them with a sprinkle of black pepper and paprika.
Kebabs – Prepare meat and vegetable kebabs in batches. Marinade the meat and vegetables, portion out into sandwich bags and freeze. Defrost a portion overnight, skewer on a kebab stick and grill until cooked. You could also grill several in one go and store in the fridge for up to three days.
Protein Shake – A quick and easy high-protein snack. You can buy single-serving sachets or small containers dedicated to holding several servings at a time. There are so many different flavours available to buy that will easily satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Berries – Berries like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are relatively low calorie and can help satisfy your sweet tooth. You could enjoy them by themselves or add them as a topping to your yoghurt or porridge.
5. Salads and Vegetables
If you prefer to cook your meals fresh, in particular when preparing vegetables or even salad, you can still be time efficient. To save a soggy salad, prepare a big bowl full of mixed leaves, chopped vegetables and any other additions such as nuts and seeds and decant into Tupperware. Keep any dressings separate and add when you’re ready to eat.
With vegetables, try roasting large trays every other night when making your evening meal or if you are cooking green vegetables, steam or quickly par-boil and blanch in cold water to prevent them losing colour and going soft.
It is a good idea to allocate yourself a specific time slot during the week when you know you have a spare hour, and form a good routine.
For some people, preparing extra portions of an evening meal may be the easiest solution, but others may find one or two bigger cooking sessions a week is the most time efficient solution.
Give these top five tips a try next time you are looking to meal prep, and you will be on track to getting great results.