Meal prep, as the name suggests, is the process of prepping meals in advance. It’s a cooking trend that is gaining traction and can save you time, money, and possibly improve your nutritional intake (1).
The act of meal prepping can include planning meals for the week, batch cooking meals, making grab bag containers to store for ease later on, or just prepping components of the meal, like cutting up vegetables for lunches the night before. All of these practices play a role in making things easier when it comes to mealtime and helping improve your diet (1).
In general, our readers are always running around, be it to-and-from practices or to campus for classes. Therefore, meal prep can be a very helpful tool in making sure that you are properly refueling your body and meeting your body’s nutritional needs.
Meal Prep Tips for Athletes
Keep it simple
Just like most things, it is best to start off small. If you start meal prepping, start with meals that you enjoy and are easy for you to make. This has an added plus because if you're batch cooking these meals, you’re less likely to get sick of them (1).
Consider each food group
When you’re prepping these meals it’s very important that you make sure all the food groups are present in your plan and meal. Healthy meals should consist of whole food, whole grains, high-quality protein, and healthy fats (2). For example, if you’re prepping lasagna for your Tuesday meal, make sure that your plans for that meal also involve some form of vegetables. Some examples include roasted vegetables or a salad.
Prep pre and post-workout meals
As humans, we need to eat to fuel our bodies and a lot of the time as student-athletes we are very busy and can miss meals here and there. But it can be very helpful to pre-make pre-workout and post-workout foods like smoothies, wraps, or bento boxes that are really easy to just throw in your bag and eat on the go (3).
Pick one day of the week to be your meal prepping day
In addition to making a shopping list before you go to the grocery store or market, it’s best practice to select a day of the week that you have more time to do most or all of your meal prep (1). Weekends or days off usually work best for most people.
Have a good storage system
Prepping food is great and all, but if you don’t have a way to store the prepped food, it’s not worth it. If you want to portion meals, get individual, reusable containers. If you want to make larger meals, consider that it will take up room in your fridge, pantry, cupboards or freezer (1).
For more delicious recipe meal prep ideas, check out more recipes from SNAP members here.
Ruhs B. Healthy Eating Is Easy with Meal Prep: These 4 smart meal prep strategies can lead to easy, healthful meals. EN. 2018; 41 (1): https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&u=lond95336&id=GALE|A520582301&v=2.1&it=r
Hill A. How to Meal Plan: 23 Helpful Tips. Healthline [internet]. 2020 Aug 20 [ 2020 Nov 22];  Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/meal-prep-tips#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3
NCCP Sport Nutrition: Reference Material. 2019 Ⓒ Coaching Association of Canada; Date [ October 24, 2020]. Available: https://coach.ca/nccp-sport-nutrition