Food Prep: 5 Tips To Help You Dial In Your Nutrition

Want to know something funny about nutrition? It has less to do with food and more to do with habits.

Here's what I mean:  the vast majority of people know enough about nutrition to get by.

For example, just about everyone and their mom can tell me they need to be eating lean meat, veggies, some fruit, and quality fat.  While that approach won't cut it for the advanced athlete looking to flirt with the boundaries of his or her potential, it'll get the job done for the "average joe/jane" in the crowd.

So what gives with all these people having shitty diets?

Although the list is long, one near the top is habits.  People simply don't have the habits in place to carry through when it's game time.  They have "enough knowledge," but fail to act on it when it comes time to eat--they merely fall back on their normal routine.

While habit building is a science within itself, here are 5 things I've found to be extremely helpful not only for myself, but with my clients as well:

1.  Have a Shopping/Cooking Day

What's the hardest thing to do during the week?

SHOP and COOK.

It's a major pain in the ass right?  You bust your ass all day at work (or whatever you do during the day), and the thought of cooking a full meal for yourself when you get home is laughable.  Add in having to stop by the grocery store and you have a recipe for failure.

You're going to get home, grab whatever is most convenient, and then chill the fuck out in front of the TV and watch some Netflix.

While it'd be great if you we're motivated enough to come home and cook a full fledged meal, sometimes you have to be honest with yourself:  IT ISN'T HAPPENING.

Don't worry, you're really not alone in this.  I'm the same way.  The last thing in the world I want to do after a long day is shop and/or cook.

So...how can you get around this?

Designate Sunday (or some other day of choice) to be your shopping and cooking day for the entire week.  Yes, you'll get strange looks at the checkout counter, but that's all part of the game:

Fantastic convo with awesome online client.
Fantastic convo with awesome online client.

Believe me, you'll thank yourself when all you have to do is throw something in the microwave to have an awesome meal.

2.  Start Loving the Grill, Oven and Crock Pot

There's an obvious next question at hand:  how in the hell do I cook all that food without wasting an entire day.

This is fair, but something you don't need to worry about.  In fact, I've gotten it down to where I can prep and cook all my food in under 1.5 hours.

How does this happen?  I cook with things that allow me to do a lot at once.

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Here are your three best options:

1.  The Grill

2.  The Oven

3.  The Crock Pot

Learning to use those wisely will save you tons of time, and make food prep a walk in the park.  For example, when it's nice out I can often cook all my meat and veggies on the grill in one go.  I just turn on some country music, grab a good craft beer, and go to work.

If you can't get outside to a grill, or just don't have one, then fall back to the oven and crock pot.  Both are very easy to use, and allow you to cook all your food in bulk.

Cook Breakfast the Night Before

This one depends on your morning routine/schedule.

For early risers such as myself, making breakfast in the morning isn't an option.  When I get up at 5:20 I'm not trying to make myself an omelette.  Thus, I make myself breakfast the night before (usually while I'm eating my pre-prepared dinner), put it in some pyrex, bring it to work, and eat it whenever I want.

Embrace Supershakes

side note:  I tend to love anything with the word "super" in it

Depending on your goals, it can be incredibly difficult to cook enough meals to get in all the quality calories you need.  In fact, my max is cooking three meals a day.  If I have to go beyond that I'm screwed.

This get's problematic if I'm trying to gain weight though because I need more than three meals worth of calories to put on the lbs.

Enter the Supershake.

A fast, convenient, and super easy way to get in a quality meal with minimal effort.

Here's what you need:

A blending device (nutribullet)

A protein source (protein powder)

A veggie (spinach)

A fruit (blueberry)

A dense carb (oatmeal)  *optional based upon your macronutrient needs

A fat (almond butter)

A liquid (almond milk)

Simply throw all the goods in the blender, mix up to desired consistency, and drink away.

Have an Ample Supply of Quality Snack Food

One of the hardest things to do throughout the day is satisfy yourself between meals.  Granted, if you're meals are set up right you should have minimal "hunger spurts" throughout the day, but they do happen and you need to be prepared.

Instead of stocking your shelves with Cheetos, why not be a step ahead of the game and have quality snack options in the event you want/need to snack.

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Here are some of my favorite options:

Greek yogurt

Beef jerky

All kinds of nuts, seeds and nut butters

Berries

Apples

Oranges

Protein shake with almond milk

And that list could easily go on.  I just try, and you should to, to fill your cupboards with easily accessible proteins, fats and carbs that you can eat on the go.

That's a Wrap

The moral of the story today is to plan ahead.  It's very difficult once you get into the week to put a quality nutrition plan into action.  BUT don't feel down about that.  Just understand and respect the limitations that exist, and do what is necessary on the front end to set yourself up for success.

about the author

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James Cerbie is just a life long athlete and meathead coming to terms with the fact that he’s also an enormous nerd.  Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram for the latest happenings.