As health & fitness professionals ... we help people with a variety of different struggles when it comes to getting in shape.
We'd have to say, in over 20 years of experience ... the main struggles we see always start with food.
From knowing what to eat and how much to eat ... right down to how to prep your food for the week for the week, which is one of the biggest keys to your health & fitness success.
It's hard to see the fitness results you want without proper preparation when it comes to your meals.
What we've seen over the years is that you tend to overcomplicate meal prep. You don't need a bunch of fancy containers to drag with you everywhere you go ... and you don't need to spend hours of your week in the kitchen either. You also don't need to break the bank.
Preparing your food for the week doesn't need to be stressful or complicated ... and today we're going to share with you 5 simple & easy meal prep tips to help keep you on track with your fitness goals.
Tip #1 - Prep 2-3 days worth of protein
No matter what fitness goals you have ... eating enough protein is KEY. You can't burn fat, build muscle ... or do any combination of both without a high-protein diet. So, that's always what we suggest starting with when it comes to your meal prep.
We like to keep it simple here. Pick your protein (chicken, fish, lean beef, ground turkey, etc.) and grab your cooking pan of choice. Toss enough in your pan to cover you for a few days (of course, the amount depends on you and your personal needs). Something as simple as lean ground beef can cook on the stove in as little 10 minutes or less ... and you'll have your protein ready to go!
You can also throw some chicken breasts in the oven, which doesn't take much longer than 30 minutes ... and you'll have chicken for multiple days. If you have access to a crockpot, pressure cooker, or air fryer ... they can be great tools for simple protein meal prep too.
And if you don't want to drag multiple containers with you to work, or wherever you're headed ... just throw enough protein for your day in one big container! You can portion it or weigh it out when you're ready to eat ... and just throw it on a plate, bowl, etc.
Notice that we say prep 2-3 days worth of protein ... and that's because no one loves eating protein that's been sitting much longer than that. So, prep enough for 2-3 days ... and then repeat when you run out. Prep time shouldn't take you any longer than 30 or less minutes if you're keeping it simple.
Side note ... save some money and try shopping at places like Aldi! They always have fantastic deals on lean protein sources that don't break the bank.
Tip #2 - Use seasonings & sauces
This is tip number 2 because it goes hand-in-hand with your protein prep. We know you can get sick of the same ole' chicken, beef, etc ... and we're right there with you. Luckily, there's countless seasonings, marinades, and sauces out there these days. And yes ... you can find many that very easily fit a healthy meal plan.
There's a diet-friendly version of literally ANY sauce you could name. Ketchup, BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, taco sauce ... you name it, and there's one out there that fits your plan. The same goes for seasonings and marinades.
Maybe you're feeling like some taco-seasoned ground turkey paired with some salsa?
Or maybe some BBQ-style chicken?
That can all be done very easily with the addition of a sauce or seasoning.
Oh and remember ... don't worry too much about things like sodium ... or a couple extra ingredients in some of these diet-friendly condiments. They aren't going to cause any harm to you or throw you off track in anyway.
Tip #3 - Keep side dishes simple
Did you know you can get pretty much any type of rice, pasta, potato ... or veggie that can simply be thrown in a microwave & be ready in minutes?
Minute rice, pasta pouches ... and microwaveable, steamed veggie bags can be found at any grocery store. They're usually no more than a few bucks for a package ... and for most people, one package will be multiple servings. This requires almost no preparation at all, and can make your meal prep life a lot easier.
Fruit is also very simple to grab. A handful of berries, an apple, or an orange can be the perfect side dish for a meal ... and also requires zero preparation.
And of course ... you can cook fresh sides at home while you're prepping your protein. We just want you to know that if you can't swing that, or you're too busy to make it happen ... you can grab sides on the go that work perfectly.
Tip #4 - Set a time for grocery shopping & food prep
For your shopping and cooking ... designate a time. Make it part of your schedule and routine. Just like you schedule and plan for other events in your life ... schedule and plan for your meal prep.
Because now you know it doesn't take hours in the kitchen to make quality meals ... you should have no problem making time during your week to get your meal prep done.
With that being said, you still have to make it a priority. If your fitness results are important to you ... you'll find the time to make meal prep part of your routine.
Tip #5 - Utilize supplements, snacks, and meal prep services
No matter how many meal prep tips we give you ... finding the time and energy to get it done can still be tough. If you're really in a bind or just have a crazy schedule that doesn't allow you much time ... consider using a local meal prep service. Even if it's just a couple meals per week ... these services can be life-savers when it comes to staying on track with your goals.
Quick snacks like tuna packets, protein bars, beef jerky sticks, cottage cheese cups ... and lean deli meats can fill gaps in your day as well. All of which are also very budget friendly. Even a simple turkey sandwich can be a meal ... it doesn't get much easier than that.
Protein shakes work very well for these situations too ... and also break down to be very affordable. The best quality protein shakes run you no more than $1.50 per scoop or "meal". You can even get carbohydrate powders that can be added to your shakes ... creating a full (and affordable) meal in just seconds.
You can also find diet-friendly & protein-packed pop tarts, cinnamon rolls ... and many other treats that can make eating on the go both easy & tasty!
We have many clients who bring no more than two prepped meals with them on the go ... and then fill the gaps in their day with these quick & easy options.
There's a lot of ways to go about your meal prep ... but these are some of the tips we feel make it easiest for you.
If you want more tips & tricks like this, or an entire meal plan written out for you 100% FREE of charge, make sure you stop into your nearest Supplement Superstores location ... and we'll make sure you're set up for success.
*This article was written by Casey Borgmann, who is also a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist.