Back to Basics…Food Prep 101
by Nicole Darabi on Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Weekly food prep is an instrumental part of living a healthy lifestyle and giving your body what it needs so it can do what you ask it to do every day; day in and day out. Unfortunately too many people let this crucial component fall by the wayside.

I know because I was one of those people.

Before I began competing in bodybuilding I was an avid athlete, training for running events, lifting weights, hiking, climbing…you name it I was involved in it! I thought that I always ate healthy. But, when I started my first nutrition program with my coach, she asked me to log everything I ate for three days so she could evaluate my starting point as I entered my first competition season.

Holy moly.

I was shocked to learn that I was not eating enough calories AND my nutritional ratios were off. No wonder I was sluggish and couldn’t build the muscle that I desperately wanted. Right away she increased my intake by 500 calories and corrected my macro intake to better suite my daily lifestyle and fitness goals. If you aren’t familiar with the term “macro intake” let me explain:

The body needs carbohydrates, protein, and fats in the right amount at the right time. Learn more by visiting the details here: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutrients_calculator.htm

Things completely changed for me when I began prepping my food weekly and paying close attention to what I was putting in my body.

4 years and 10 lbs of muscle gain later, I have a higher metabolic rate, more energy and better performance in the gym, sound sleeping habits, and my general health has improved. Although I no longer compete, I’ve completely adopted this lifestyle of preparedness while remaining flexible within that lifestyle.

If you simply want to get your health on the right track and you’re a beginner with this, or you are crazy busy with life in general, food prep can and WILL make your life easier, your body healthier while giving you a lift in natural energy.

Now for a real life example! Let’s see how I helped my friend Jarod, owner of FIT Academy, start his journey into the food prepping world!

Because Jarod is fairly new to food prepping, I wanted to teach him how to cook and store basic proteins, carbs and fats so he could have multiple choices in his fridge to mix and match meals as he wishes. I always suggest sticking with basic foods in the beginning until you become more familiar with cooking larger quantities and remember you don’t HAVE to cook everything. Keep it simple and don’t get fancy just yet! 😉 (I mainly focus on cooking lunches and dinners. The other items are can be thrown together for quick breakfasts and snacks throughout the day.)

Start with Basic foods that will last you 4-5 days. Here are some examples for you…

Proteins

  • Ground turkey 99% fat free or 93/7 (93% fat free)
  • Chicken breast
  • Salmon, cod, sole, Tuna, halibut
  • Have a stock of canned tuna in your pantry
  • Eggs – the most perfect food & versatile protein on the planet in my opinion
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Low fat cottage cheese
  • Almond Cheese
  • chicken sausage
  • I also ALWAYS have a few tubs of protein powders for quick alternatives Here’s my fav! http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/body-nutrition/trutein.html

Carbs

  • Jasmine or brown rice, quinoa – can’t get any easier than frozen rice (most health foods stores carry this in the freezer section…you’re welcome!)
  • 4-5 sweet potatoes which you can use in other meals like my sweet potato hash) http://nicoledarabi.com/sweet-potato-hash/
  • Quick carbs – I always stock rice cakes, Dave’s Killer bread, Ezekiel Bread, Oatbran, and oatmeal in my pantry for the times when I need something fast and easy to prepare

Fats
Can be easily added to any meal you just need to have them handy.

  • Avocados
  • Coconut Oil/Avocado oil, Olive oil
  • Nuts
  • Hummus
  • Flaxseed
  • Chia seeds

Veggies & fruits
I prefer to wash and chop my fruits & veggies right away so they’re readily available which means you’ll be more apt to eat them. 🙂

Timing: Don’t over complicate the process

  • Before I food prep, I always start the night before with meats that I may want to marinade. Let those sit overnight in the fridge to create flavor and tenderness.
  • Heat up your oven & bbq/traeger – put on some nice music with good energy-while that’s heating I like to wash and chop veggies/fruits (get labor intensive items out of the way first)
  • Always start with food that takes longer to cook or bake. i.e. sweet potatoes, protein muffins
  • While those are cooking I will throw my proteins on the Traeger and/or start cooking a “one pot dish” on the stove.
  • Since you’ve got all those foods cooking already, why not toss a few bags of frozen brown rice or quinoa into the microwave? You are the master of the coming week!
  • Once all your items are cooked, store all “like foods” in larger containers. Like you see pictured here…
    store-cooked-foods0in-large-containers-nicole-darabi-blog
    OR…measure out and contain lunches individually like you see here…
    food-prep-101-nicole-darabi

Hopefully these pointers will help get you on the right track to eating a balanced nutritious diet, save you time, and teach you how you can be prepared with healthy foods throughout your entire day. Don’t get frustrated. Stick to it, you will learn as you go and more of it will become second nature. (Hey, when you picked up a pencil for the first time in kindergarten, you didn’t whip out calligraphy script, did you? Be patient with yourself.) Subscribe to my blog for new recipes, encouragement and general positivity. Remember, it’s YOU vs. YOU!

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