Do you ever look at pictures of fitness chicks posting all their meals and Tupperware containers, and wonder- HOW they find the time and the energy for it?! Well, I was once one of the girls. I would spend hours, even days, cooking pounds of chicken and sweet potatoes, weighing out exact portions for my six meals per day and washing crap loads of Tupperware and measuring cups. It was like my second full-time job, except I was the one paying and torturing myself to do it! Now I have mastered some time saving nutrition tips.
Once I finally grew out of this meal-prep craze, I realized there is an easier, saner approach to nutrition. Sure, you might lose out on the hashtag #ispendallmyfreetimeinthekitchen, but it will in fact help you find time for your other hobbies so you can start a new slogan #mealprepaintgottimeforthat!
- Flexible Dieting
The first step to saving more time and energy with your nutrition plan is to adopt a flexible dieting approach. IIFYM (IF It Fits Your Macros) is one of the easiest and most popular diets, as it allows individuals to achieve and maintain a lean physique without the hassle of a restrictive meal plan. With IIFYM, you can essentially eat as many or as few meals as you want, as long it fits your macronutrient goals. Of course, IIFYM does encourage dieters to primarily consume “clean” foods, but no food is off limits. For more information on IIFYM, check out the AT blog Tracking Your Macros Can Help Increase Calories and Carbohydrates.
The crockpot has to be one of the best nutrition time-saving devices. There are literally hundreds of healthy crockpot recipes (thank you, Pinterest) to turn you into a lean, mean slow-cooking machine. I typically make shredded chicken (see recipe below) in the crockpot at least once a week to have ready for a variety of meals: chicken salad, chicken tacos, chicken wraps…the possibilities are endless!
Easy Crockpot Chicken
1 lb chicken breast
2 cups chicken broth
Seasonings of choice (Salt, pepper, garlic, etc.)
Combine all ingredients in crockpot. Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. After cooking remove chicken, and place on a cutting board. Shred with two forks and use with your favorite recipes!
- Pre-packaged Healthy Snacks
While many snacks tend to get a bad rep for being high in saturated and trans fats, salt and preservatives, there are some out there that are healthy and can save you a ton of prep time. Some of my favorite are 100-calorie pack raw almonds, Greek yogurt and ABOUTTIME Prohydrate and Fruit and Nut Bars.
Leftovers are also great dieters that like to cook but do not always have the time. When I cook or grill, I try to make enough to have for at least two or three extra meals. Not to mention, many dishes, like chili and pasta, tend to taste better the next day, after the flavors have mixed and settled!
- Ziplock bags and measured containers
Using ziplock bags and measured containers is another great way to save time while meal prepping. I like to use ziplock bags for boiled eggs, breads and even salads to save clean up and space. Measured containers are great for salad dressings, peanut butter and protein shakes so you don’t have to go through that extra step of weighing and measuring.