This past week the family and I wrapped up a vacation out in California and got back home to amazing New Hampshire (and I say that with all seriousness) with one day to get ready for the upcoming week.

 

On the plane ride home (a red eye, which is good in theory but terrible in practice if you can’t sleep on a plane!) my mind began to go immediately to what I had to do in order to make the upcoming week easy, especially when it comes to having the right food on hand for breakfast, lunch and dinner…and a few snacks 🙂

While I could bring you all the way from making a food list, going to the grocery store and fighting with Caden over which cut if steak to get, I won’t bore you with those details…he likes a good sirloin by the way, nothing fancy.

Rather, I want to give you a few food prep strategies that I employ every week to ensure I have the right quality and quantity of food to support my training goals…those goals being to gain muscle, stay lean and be athletic.

 

Strategy 1: Prep your breakfast the night before.

Im a pretty simple guy, and when it comes to  nutrition I don’t waiver from simplicity.

I typically rotate through two breakfasts: oatmeal, and omelet with sweet potatoes. For each I prep them the night before.

1) Oatmeal

The night before soak 1 cup of steel cut oats in 2 cups of water and let sit overnight (I put them right in the pan I’m using to cook them).

Put 1 scoop of protein powder (whichever flavor you prefer), a few mixed nuts and about 1 tsp cinnamon into a Tupperware and place on the counter next to the stove.

Cut your fruit and put it in the bowl you will eat your oatmeal out of (I usually do half a banana, 3-4 strawberries and a few blueberries). Cover the bowl with tin foil and put it in the fridge.

 

Now all you have to do in the morning is turn the stove top on to start cooking the soaked oats. After about five minutes, or until the oats are done to your preferred consistency, stir in the protein powder mixture. Lastly, mix in your fruit and then put your oatmeal in your bowl that had the fruit.

You know what to do next!

2) Omelet with sweet potatoes

For your omelet, the night before, cut the veggies you prefer…I usually go with mushrooms, onions and avocado.

Place the cut veggies on a plate, cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. Cook up your sweet potatoes and place them in a pyrex and put them in the fridge. Place your omelet pan on the stove top.

The next morning, turn the stove top on and throw your cut veggies in the pan (except avocado if you are using it).

Throw some potatoes on a cooking sheet and put them in the over at 350 degrees to let them warm up (Again, I cook a lot of potatoes the night before or in the beginning of the week and just reheat them).

After the veggies are cooked (about 3-5 minutes), scramble up some eggs and throw them in the pan (I got with 3-5 eggs depending on if I’m training or not). Now you can either make an omelet, or simply scramble the eggs and have a veggie egg scramble.

 

By the time your eggs are done your potatoes should be heated…again you know what to do next.

For these two breakfast you can make various flavors of oatmeal and different omelets. So although it is only two rotating options, the varieties are endless.

**If you are trying to add size (muscle of course) add a scoop of peanut butter to your oatmeal, or simply eat it off the spoon. With the omelet add some cheese, and add a scoop of peanut butter and a banana.

 

Strategy 2: Cook up your main ingredients for lunch during the weekend or free day

I’m lucky as I have the ability to be home for lunch. But just because I am home doesn’t mean I want to, or always have the time to, cook up a meal.

So what I do instead is make sure that I have the main ingredients of my lunches already cooked and ready to go. I do this on the weekend, or another free day (a day with more time anyway).

What does this look like?

Every Tuesday my wife and I go down to our local grocery store and purchase 5 lbs of chicken breast and 2 lbs of beef.

I cook the chicken breast in the oven at 400 degrees for 43 minutes (yes not 40, not 45…43!). I usually sprinkle some seasoning on the chicken breast, and occasionally Jamie will ask me to put aside a couple of breasts for her to cook up.

If we are using the beef right away I will cook that up as well…we will usually just make some Mexican flavored beef to have on hand.

I cook up 3 lbs of oriental vegetables with a McCormick spice packet in a pan (a dutch oven I was told…which to me is just a big ass pan). This gives me a ton of veggies to use throughout the week.

If I am having rice or potatoes with my chicken I will cook those up as well.

With these main ingredients I can rotate through my typical lunches which include:

Spinach Salad with Veggies and Diced Chicken or Beef

-Simply put a large pile of spinach on your plate and top with your cooked veggies and chicken breast ( I usually shred my chicken breast, but you can cut it).

-Toss in some sunflower seed kernels, raisins or cranberries and some shredded cheese if you’d like.

-Use some dressing conservatively…I use Bolt House dressing which is yogurt based and very low calorie.

 

Buffalo Chicken Salad

-Place a couple large tablespoons of low fat plain Greek yogurt in a bowl. Pour in your buffalo sauce (I use Frank’s buffalo sauce) and stir into the yogurt…test of taste and add more if desired.

-Shred 1 chicken breast (more or less if you want) into the bowl and stir it into the Greek yogurt mixture until evenly covered.

-Chop up a little onion and celery if you’d like and toss it with some sunflower seed kernels and raisins…mix well and voila.

 

Chicken or Beef, Veggies and Rice

-Shred or dice up a cooked chicken breast (or beef) and throw it in a pan on low to medium heat with some of your cooked rice and veggies.

-Add some seasoning or sauce if you’d like (I like to go with a little bit of orange juice, soy sauce and garlic). Let the mixture heat through and enjoy.

Those are my big 3 lunches that I rotate through, but I will also have other lunches that were leftovers from a weekend meal….which brings me to my next tip.

 

Strategy 3: Cook large amounts of a delicious meals on the weekend or in the beginning of the week.

Probably the best way to make sure that your dinners are solid (and you can use this for your lunches as well) is to make large meals on the weekend and have plenty of leftovers.

You can even take this a step further and divide the leftovers into meals sized portions and store them in containers that you can grab and go with, or simply grab out of the fridge and have at home.

These meals can really be anything, but my favorites to do this with include stews, soups, casseroles, stir fry, etc…pretty much any dish that is all mixed together and can be easily divided and stored.

But again, you can do the same thing with a piece of grilled chicken/steak, a sweet potato and green beans / broccoli for example. Most of the time we like to keep these separate so just make sure you have the right container!

 

4) Make your snacks ahead of time as well

While everyone talks about the 3 main meals and how to better prep for breakfast, lunch and dinner, not too many talk about prepping snacks…and we all know that snacks can make or break you.

Of course you can have “better” snacks on hand such as healthy nuts, jerky, apples, bananas, etc. but I am talking more about snacks that are like a “mini-meal”. These snacks are something you can have during the time of day when you feel your hungriest between meals, and they will not cost you too many calories…or if you are looking to put on some weight you can manipulate the ingredients of them to provide you with even a little more calorie (see below).

Here are my three go to snacks / mini-meals…

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Bowl

-In a bowl (I use the 2 cup pyrex container as it has a lid) add 2 tbsp flaxseed, 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I use NOW Naturals Whey Protein Isolate), 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp baking cocoa

-Add 1/2 can pumpkin puree and stir until all ingredients are combined

-Stir in 1/2 chopped banana and 1/3 cup berries (I use Wyman’s Triple Berry Mix)

-Optional, but recommended: sprinkle coconut flakes on top

Chocolate Banana and Berry Greek Yogurt

-In a bowl add 2 tbsp flaxseed, 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp baking cocoa

-Add 3/4 to 1 cup plain non fat Greek yogurt and stir until all ingredients are combined

-Stir in 1/2 chopped banana and 1/3 cup berries

-Optional, but recommended: sprinkle raisins on top

Banana and Berry Cottage Cheese

-In a bowl add 2 tbsp flaxseed and 1 tsp cinnamon

-Add 1 cup of low fat cottage cheese and stir until all ingredients are combined

-Stir in 1/2 chopped banana and 1/3 cup berries

 

One of my new favorite terms, via Dr. Mike Roussell, is food logistics. ➡️ Basically it means that if you have solid nutrition available, easily accessible and ready to be consumed, you will consume it. If not, there is no telling what you might shove in your mouth, crush with your molars and send down your esophagus to your stomach to be broken down before being absorbed by your small intestine (a little digestive tract knowledge for you). 🎯 This is why I take time on Sunday to put at least a few days worth of food together, or at least get the constituent parts ready to go. 👍This is a picture of my nighttime snacks for the next few night…2 pumpkin pie bowls, a Greek yogurt bowl and a cottage cheese bowl. We all know nighttime is dangerous if your don’t have a plan! 🤗 Try preparing a few days worth of food, or at the very least, having the ingredients ready to go…food logistics! #nutrition #nutrients #healthyfood #healthysnack #healthysnacks #foodlogistics #planning #preparation #foodprep #deliciousfood #protein #athlete #fitnesssuccess #fitness #fitnesslifestyle #theathleticway

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I use the 2 cup pyrex as it is pretty much the perfect size for these snacks, and I make 4 of them at a time (2 pumpkin, 1 yogurt and 1 cottage cheese) on Sunday and have 1 every night…the pumpkin for non training days / conditioning days and the yogurt/cottage cheese on training days.

If you are looking to conserve calories use non fat Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, and do not add the coconut flakes to the pumpkin or raisins to the Greek yogurt.

On the other hand, if you are looking to add size (and are training for it of course!) you can use low fat or full fat Greek yogurt/cottage cheese and add in the optional ingredients.

Now instead of grabbing a bag of chips, ice cream sandwich or housing a bowl of Cap’n Crunch (oh ya, Cap’n Crunch), you have 3 solid snack options to satisfy your cravings…especially because all of these have a sweet taste to them.

So there you go, a few food prep strategies that will allow you to make staying true to your solid nutritional regimen MUCHHHH easier.

It does take a little thought and time, but once you get into these habits they just become part of your day…whichever day you choose.

Start today by trying at least one of these strategies and you will soon see the enormous benefits a little food prepping can do for you.