Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tip Tuesday : Preparing Your Meals for the Week

As you know, I participated in Bikini competitions in 2012 and 2013. One of the things fitness and body building athletes are known for is the food. Most of us bring our meals along no matter where we go. I do it even for family celebrations when in contest preparation. 

This is ideal because I know what I eating and I have the food that I need at hand any time I want it. I cannot imagine not finding a descent place to eat when the hunger hits hard. My gains!!!!

So for this Tip Tuesday, I will be sharing some tricks I have learned the past years. You will see that even a can't-cook like me is able to get things done.

Tip Tuesday : Preparing Your Meals for the Week

Build a grocery list

Why did I use the word "build" instead of "write down"?

I prefer to have my list close by the whole time. We do the groceries weekly on Friday evenings. Generally, I get home from my workout and my boyfriend and I rush to the supermarket (the opening hours in Belgium are REALLY limited). In other words, I never have time to check cupboards before leaving home.

So to make sure I have everything I need, I write them down (or add to a shopping list app) as soon as I notice that I am low on some product. Personally, I have a 'stock' mentality. I never wait until a product is completely over to get a new one, mainly the ones I constantly use.

If I realize that I will not find all the goods that I need in that shop, I already plan a visit to another market on Saturday. It is all about planning, remember?

Choose products wisely

Not always the most expensive is best or the cheapest, worst. Learn to read labels, understand ingredients and start to select products by what they really are and not what they want you to believe.

I am not going to get into dietary matters. Some follow very strict diets, others IIFYM; some are meat-lovers, others are vegetarians. This is something you choose for yourself. It gets harder if your issue is related to allergies or intolerance. 

For example, I have gluten and lactose intolerance. It is not because it says "rice cake" on the package that I can assume it is gluten free. Oats, for instance, are frequently packaged in 'gluten contaminated' environment. And the list goes on and on. Unless you carefully read the labels, such details might pass by unnoticed.

There is also price comparison. Here we have noticed many times that larger quantities not always implied in lower costs. Be attentive with the price per kg, lb, liter or ounce.

Choose foods of different colors! - Various nutrients!

Get enough food variation

For quite some time, I used to eat exactly the same meals for a certain period of time. Personally, I did not bother it at all. I have my favorite dishes that I looked forward to and I knew what to expect when they were not the most delicious ones.

Even though the diet served its purpose and taught me a lot about getting organized, I prefer now to vary things as much as I can. It is not in my nature (I could eat oatmeal all day long), but the trick of behind food variation is nutrient variation. That you must aim for!

It is not as simple as saying this food is good and that one, bad. Each vegetable, fruit, grain, dairy product and meat has specific nutrients that our body needs in more (or less) quantity. If you limit yourself to just a handful choices, chances are your diet will not be offering everything that you need.

You can find great charts online based on the color of the vegetables and food classification. It is never too much to read about the subject.

1, 2, 3, go!

I like to start with everything that goes in the oven. While the oven is warming up, I get the food prepared and when it is cooking, I can already start something else.

Since our kitchen is small, I leave greens to steam for last. I use the time to start with the dishes and put away things. So when they are time, chances are I can sit down and relax.

I must warn you that cooking is not my specialty at all! Until I started with fitness competitions, I could only master noodles and rice. I am a no-cook under development. I do not have the brains of a chef, so every little detail needs to be explained or I miss the point.

If you are like me, there is hope. Internet is a life savior for all those complicated terms and you can find references of herbs and spices combination quite easily. Take one step at a time and you will get there!

Enjoy preparing your meals


After food is cool, it is time to pack it. I weight and label the ziplocs I use. Yeah, I use ziploc instead of containers to save space (small kitchen => small fridge). 

In the fridge, I only keep the meals for the next 2 days. The rest, I place in the freezer. In the evening, when I am organizing my stuff for the next day, I also grab what I will be taking with me to work.

I use a 6packbags Voyager backpack everyday to bring my food with me. I have to admit that it is huge and quite heavy, but since I go by car and walk just a little bit, it is no big deal.

Some people get scared away by the idea of having their food prepared in large quantities in just a day. There are those who think it is way too much or others who just cannot see it happening. In my case, I had a real hard time in the beginning, but it got easier and easier each week. I would not know how to do it any different any more.

So the idea is simple:

  1. Build a grocery list
  2. Choose products wisely
  3. Get enough food variation
  4. 1, 2, 3, go!
  5. Storage

Did I get you in the mood already? Let's do it!

Got tips your own you would like to share? Join the Tip Tuesday Linkup! Grab your button now and join the fun. It is open until July 22nd, 2014.

Have a great day!

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