I posted a picture on my Facebook page the other day; It gained a few responses and a few people called or messaged me about it so I figured I’d give everyone a little more insight into my weekly prep. You can view the full post here. Every Sunday, and maybe a Wednesday or Thursday (just two days), I lock myself in my kitchen, shuffle iTunes, and prepare my meals for the days ahead. It’s really simple if you have a plan and a menu, and it takes just 3 hours max, weekly.

Not only does planning ahead keep you on your path to success for your desired body composition, it also defeats your desire to gorge on those foods you shouldn’t because your healthy food is already prepped and ready to eat. Preparing food ahead of time also saves you tons of money because it keeps you from buying on impulse. How many times have you stopped by a fast food joint on your way home to hold you over until you make your real dinner? Or how many times have you hit up that vending machine, or taken just one more brownie from the tray your coworker brought in? Having portions at-hand and ready to grab will help you save time, money, and fight off temptation.

If you’re anything like me, when my stomach growls to alert me of a soon-to-be empty tank, you’re unpleasant to be around and would consider eating the legs off a chair if only you had a few shakes of Tabasco. Yes, food prep cures this disease. Your body, just like a car, has a gaslight and a chime that notifies you of low fuel. When you don’t fill it up, it stops running. This is your metabolism.

This simple preparation task helps you understand your eating habits and how your body reacts to certain foods. Overtime, this will allow you to make easy changes to your diet. You must commit to food prep at least once a week if you want to rid fat and gain lean muscle mass.

Let me walk you through the 3 steps of effectively setting up and executing your menu.

---> Step 1 - Assess the situation. Jot down every meal and drink you consume over a three-day period. If you can’t see it, you’re only guessing. This is critical.

---> Step 2 - Ask yourself these 7 questions:

1. What does the majority of my current meal plan consist of?

2. What nutrients am I not getting enough of?

3. Am I eating a lean protein with every meal? Yes/No

4. Am I eating 1-2 servings of vegetables with every meal? Yes/No

5. Is time always a factor? Yes/No

6. What foods do I like?

7. What and how much should I prepare for 3 days?

I’ve worked with enough people on their own plans and menus that I can already answer the above questions for you. You eat mostly starchy carbohydrates throughout the day, and you’re not eating enough protein or vegetables because time is always a factor and you like anything easy that doesn’t take a lot of it. Welcome to the majority ;) Now as far as what you should cook, I’m not going to touch that, that’s for you to figure out. However, I can tell you that you should cook less than you estimate so you don’t waste a ton of good food. Keep it simple. Begin the outline of your meal plan with the basics in Step 3.

---> Step 3 – Equip your meal plan with essentials like these:

Protein (chicken, fish, turkey, beef, eggs, etc) - it’s the staple of any healthy diet and muscle building plan. Figure out how many meals you will eat over the three-day period and precook the right amount that allows you to easily grab a few ounces of lean protein for each of those meals.

Carbohydrates (brown rice, sweet potatoes, asparagus, etc.) Look for as much fiber as possible per serving. Vegetables should also be the staple of a healthy diet. Simply cut up broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach etc. and place in a large Ziploc bag. This makes grabbing your veggies easy to do at any time. My favorite is sweet potatoes, bake ‘em , mash ‘em, and store ‘em. So good!

I’d love to know how this goes for you. Head to the Ambitious Athletics Facebook page and upload a picture of your kitchen and prep work or feel free to email your pictures or comments to me directly at Carmen@ambitousathletics.com and I’d be happy to share them for you.

Stay Competitive. Have Fun.