Nutrition is key in order for you to get the best of the time and effort you’re putting in at the gym. Not a gym rat? Keeping your nutrition on point can help you maintain a healthy weight. Think of your body as a car. In order to keep it running at its optimum level, it needs the proper fuel.
The number one reason people fall behind on sticking to their eating regime is a lack of planning and preparation. One of the best tools you have at your disposal to be successful and keep you accountable to your goals is batch cooking. Batch cooking is the practice of setting aside one or two days that you prep your meals for the week. Personally, I like to meal prep on Sundays and Wednesdays, but some people choose to prep for the entire week on Sunday. Below, I’m going to give you 5 of my best tips to ensure long-term success!
To start off with, pick 1-3 recipes or meals to tackle
Plan your recipes ahead of time and make a grocery list
Check your kitchen to make sure you aren’t double-buying ingredients
Now get cooking!
Here are some recipes and ideas:
Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken
6 -12 organic, free range chicken breast (use as many as you want)
1/2 cup chicken broth, low sodium
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or minced garlic
Place the chicken breasts in the crock pot. Mix water and spices together and pour over the chicken.
Cook on the low setting for 8-10 hours.
Remove chicken breasts, shred or pull the meat from bones, removing skin (it should all fall off easily at this point anyway)
Use fresh, in a recipe or place meat in individual freezer bags or containers and freeze until needed for recipes.
Defrost and add to any recipes that call for cooked chicken.
No slow cooker?
Place 4-5 chicken breasts in a large skillet on the stovetop. Add 1 cup of broth and seasoning from recipe above. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium and let simmer covered for 15-20 minutes (you may need to add more broth)
Then turn to medium low and cook for 40 more minutes, until it can be shredded easily.
3 to 4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
Avocado oil (this can be purchased at Costco for a great price!)
1 large onion, diced
2 (or more) cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 325°F. Remove the chicken from its packaging and pat it dry.
In a Dutch oven or heavy pot (with a lid) heat a drizzle of avocado oil over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until quite soft. Add the smoked paprika and stir. Add the chicken piece by piece, stirring to mix well with the onion. Stir in the salt and a few generous grinds of black pepper. Turn off the heat.
Cover the pot with a heavy lid and put in the oven. Bake, covered, for 90 minutes, or until the chicken is extremely tender. Remove from the oven and use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken to a large bowl. Use two forks to shred the chicken finely.
Avocado Chicken Salad
*This would be a great lunch option! Eat it inside a piece of kale or romaine, on top of whole-grain bread, or add it to the top of a salad. Don’t eat meat? Use quinoa, tempeh, or your vegetarian protein of choice in place of the chicken!
2 or 3 chicken breasts, shredded (from above)
¼ chopped onion
Juice of ½ lime
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
How To Pack the Perfect Salad in a Jar (adapted from thekitchn.com)
Makes 1 salad (double, triple, quadruple as necessary!)
1 to 4 tablespoons salad dressing
Mix of raw and cooked vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, nuts, cheese, and other salad ingredients
Wide-mouth canning jars with tight-fitting lids:
pint jars for side salads, quart jars for individual meal-sized salads, 2-quart jars (or larger) for multiple servings
Large bowl, to serve
Salad dressing: Pour 1 to 4 tablespoons of your favorite salad dressing in the bottom of the jar. Adjust the amount of dressing depending on the size of the salad you are making and your personal preference.
Hard vegetables: Next, add any hard chopped vegetables you're including in your salad, like carrots, cucumbers, red and green peppers, cooked beets, and fennel.
Beans, grains, and pasta: Next, add any beans, grains, and/or pasta, like chickpeas, black beans, cooked barley, cooked rice, and pasta corkscrews.
Cheese and proteins (optional): If you'll be eating the salad within the day, add a layer of diced or crumbled cheese and proteins like tuna fish, diced (cooked) chicken, hard-boiled eggs, or cubed tofu. If you're making salads ahead to eat throughout the week, wait to add these ingredients until the day you're planning to eat the salad and add them on top of the jar.
Softer vegetables and fruits (optional): Next, add any soft vegetables or fruits, like avocados, tomatoes, diced strawberries, or dried apricots. If you're making salads ahead to eat throughout the week, wait to add these ingredients until the day you're planning to eat the salad and add them to the top of the jar.
Nuts, seeds, and lighter grains: Next, add any nuts or seeds, like almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. If you're making a salad with lighter, more absorbent grains like quinoa or millet, add them in this layer instead of with the beans.
Salad greens: Last but not least, fill the rest of the jar with salad greens. Use your hands to tear them into bite-sized pieces. It's fine to pack them into the jar fairly compactly.
Storing the salad: Screw the lid on the jar and refrigerate for up to 5 days. If you're including any cheese, proteins, or soft fruits and vegetables, add these to the top of the jar the morning you plan to eat your salad (have them prepped ahead of time in a separate container so they are easy to throw in!).
Tossing and eating the salad: When ready to eat, unscrew the lid and shake the salad into the bowl. The action of shaking the salad into the bowl is usually enough to mix the salad with the dressing. If not, toss gently with a fork until coated.
Cut up a bunch of your favorite vegetables, put them on a sheet pan tossed with some salt, pepper, and avocado oil, and bake them at 425 until tender (about 20 minutes)
Bake a bunch of sweet potatoes or squash (acorn and spaghetti are my go-tos!)
Cook up a large batch of quinoa, brown rice, or whatever grain you prefer for an easy addition to meals