Diet is the biggest determining factor in any fitness goal. As a general a rule of thumb, diet determines body weight, while your workout determines body composition.
As with exercise, the only way to see progress with dietary habits is to be consistent. No matter the goal - weight loss, muscle building, or athletic performance, diet must be taken into consideration. Meal prep and planning is the best way to be consistent.
Choices are great, but where there is choice, willpower will trail close. Will power is a limited resource and must be spared. Decisions made throughout the day will effect motivation and energy later that day. Having food prepped and ready eliminates the stress added in trying to find healthy foods to eat, allows you to have a plan for salt and sugar cravings, and helps with adherence.
Food prep can seem daunting, but with some practice, it can be simple and enjoyable. The best way to start food prepping is knowing the basic equipment that you need.
What you need
You will need basic kitchen equipment such as microwaveable storage containers, and something to carry food (any bag works fine).
Basic Equipment For The Kitchen
- Dish Towels
- 10 ¼” Saute Pan
- 12” Skillet with Cover
- 8 qt and 4 qt Sauce Pan
- 9”x13” Baking Pan
- 1qt, 3qt, 5qt Mixing Bowl
- 4” Paring Knife
- 8” Chef’s Knife
- Serrated Knife
- 2 Cutting Boards (one for meat, one for veggies)
- Digital Kitchen Scale
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Vegetable Peeler
- Kitchen Shears
- Can Opener
- Salad Spinner
- Kitchen Timer
The above is not all required, but will make life easier. As you improve, you can add more to your kitchen. Make sure you always have a shape chef’s knife. A dull blade is more dangerous than a sharp one.
Meal Management Bag
A bag big enough to carry your daily meals is necessary. Get yourself a reusable bag or a meal management bag. Meal management bags are big enough to store a few meals, are insulated, come with freezer packs to keep food from spoiling, and many come with their own food containers.
Here are a few of the top ones:
- 6 Pack Fitness - http://www.sixpackbags.com/products/by-style/meal-management.html
- ISO Fitness Bag - https://isolatorfitness.com/meal-prep-bags
- Fitmark - http://fitmarkbags.com/fitness-bags/meal-management-bags
How much money you decide to spend on storage containers is up to you. Keep in mind that constant cooling and reheating wears out plastic containers and they will have marks from forks and knives if you eat out of them. There have been some studies that show BPA safe containers that still leaked out in the microwave. The safest option is to go with glass or ceramic containers. Alternatively, buy regular plastic to store and heat up in glass or ceramic.
How many containers you buy will be determined by the amount of food you eat. There will be foods you eat regularly for snacking, peanut butter, apples, Greek yogurt, and most of the time you will have three main meals. Three bigger containers and two to three smaller ones should suffice for one day.
In terms of meal prep, if you cook for an entire week in one day that means you will need at last 15 bigger containers and 10-15 smaller ones. Plan to cook one day for at least three days of eating and only for one meal (like dinner), so you will just need 3-5 bigger containers. As you gain experience and confidence you will start prepping more and can invest in more and better quality storage containers.