In my youth, like many of us, I pretty much ate whatever I wanted to. We all know how this is not sustainable as life goes on. As I became a mature athlete in college I began to understand the importance of nutrition and its effects on body composition and strength. This article will touch on what I previously covered in “Staying in shape as a Coach With a Family”. There you can see proper food selection and a workout plan to follow. Here we will discuss how to easily prep meals for the week so you don’t have to think about them, and still eat like a human. Not going to going over anything like paleo of ketogenic dieting, just some good meal choices that won’t break the bank or drive you insane. Meal planning makes eating healthy easier because you have a plan. everything is easier when its planned out. Not having a plan for your meals you will eat, leads to convenience eating and poor food choices.
What To Cook With
When cooking your meals, what you cook with, is important as well. As a general rule, use and avoid the following items.
- Vegetable oil
- Canola oil
- Heavy Dressings
- Coconut Oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Balsamic Vinaigrettes
- Liquid Aminos
- Real Butter (yes its OK, just don’t go crazy)
What To Cook
The food choices to use and avoid can be found here in my last article (LINK.) In general for every meal you at least want 1 protein source and vegetables. Try to save carbs for after workouts only if you’re trying to lose weight. If not, then be light to moderate with carbs and heavier after working out. With vegetables, in most cases raw is better, so you’ll only have to worry about cooking proteins and carbs. There are lots of sources out there that will tell you eat so much protein per this and that, it can drive you nuts trying to count all that nonsense. Just eat a lot of protein, and eat lots of vegetables… nobody ever went wrong there. If you feel like you’re staying too sore for too long after working out, then eat more protein, drink more water and sleep more. 99% of the time, that will fix it.
How to Cook It All
I would only recommend cooking 3 days in advance. So on Sunday cook for Monday through Wednesday. Then Wednesday cook for Thursday through Saturday. This way you won’t get fed up (no pun intended) with the same meals over and over, and it reduces the chance of food getting wasted by going bad. For how to cook the food I recommend ways that allow you to cook the most amount of food with minimal amount of time and/or thought. Here are some easy suggestions
- Crock Pots
- A very easy and delicious way to cook a lot of food. The bigger the crock pot the better. Put in your protein source, your vegetables, and your carb source (if desired…I like potatoes lol) and then fill 2/3 the way with water. If your doing a pork roast a recipe my wife swears by is as follows:
- 3 lb to 4lb pork butt
- 1/2 cup soy sauce,
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp honey
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette
- 1 bag of baby carrots
- Cup of chopped celery
- 4-6 medium red potatoes cut in quarters
- Set it on low Sunday morning and then Sunday night evenly distribute it into Tupperware. (if you can manage not to eat it right then) allow to cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-7
- Fire up the grill, if your grilling on weekends anyways, what better time to throw some extra food on for your weekly meals? Grilling is very versatile and can cook every food item you want. When you are done, again evenly distribute the food into your weekly meal containers The foods I recommend cooking on the grill are turkey burgers, chicken breast, or a beef. You can easily do vegetables as well. The ones I have found I enjoy on the grill the most are zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, and even asparagus just watch closely as it does tend to wilt if the temperature is too high so if you have a double rack grill use the top rack for your veggies.
- A couple of oven pans and you can get a lot of food cooked very quickly. Choose your protein source, vegetables and carbs if desired and your good to go. I like to cook chicken for salads this way. Season the chicken up before I recommend using the Flavorgod seasonings they are salt and msg free, they taste good and lots of variety in flavors, putting them in the oven. You want to cook chicken at 325-350 as to not dry it out. While they are cooking, get the salads ready in the Tupperware and all you have to do is add the chicken when its done.
- A good trick to making a salad not suck is adding texture to it and by that I mean bell peppers, raw and diced, avocado, shredded cheese, are just some things to name a few that makes a subtle change with a big taste change.
- Another thing I like to do is cook eggs in the oven. Egg pop-ables as they are called are an easy low effort, nutritious, and convenient breakfast food that can be portable for the coach on the go. Take a muffin tin (make sure its not your wife, or girlfriends good one) and use coconut oil or extra virgin oil both can be bought in a spray can form and still be good for you-make sure to spray the sides well, to grease the individual units and crack one egg in each. Add other things if you like for taste, some combos I have enjoyed are cut up sausage and shredded cheddar, you can even get fancy and I say that loosely, and put bacon around the muffin cup lining then crack your egg and whisk it, add some salt and pepper to taste. Now you can cook 2 dozen eggs in less than 15 minutes. Set your oven to 375 and cook for 20-25 minutes depending on how done you like your eggs. Makes a good healthy snack or quick breakfast you can grab. Make sure to bag them in some sandwich bags grab 2-3 eggs and a piece of fruit and you are good to go
- As for in between food to make sure your staying satisfied between meals, practices, and meetings have some food on hand like, jerky or almonds, fruit etc…. and as always drink plenty of water.
Nothing here is cutting edge or super thought provoking. Again it goes to making adult decisions and deciding to be healthy for ourselves and our families. It doesn’t have to be hard, or bland. You can still eat good tasting food and be healthy. And as always if we practice what we preach to our athletes and lead by example we can help shape a more health conscious focused athlete who cares not just about playing well but eating well so that he can perform his best and lead a healthy lifestyle.
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Disclaimer: while I used to cook a lot, when I say “I” it’s really my wife these days lol. She does a great job and im lucky to have someone so supportive.