To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.
(Inspired by a suggestion from @tjthejoyful on Instagram. Thanks, dude!)
In my three-part mini-series about cutting (Part 1), I covered my current way of eating, IIFYM. However, knowing what something is doesn’t necessarily help us implement it into our lives, especially when we already have a lot on our plate (pun intended).
In today’s article, I’m going to cover how I managed my nutrition when I had a full-time job in London. For one, I had a much different approach than the usual “meal prep weekend” strategy. If you don’t like the thought of spending hours making the same ten meals on a Sunday night, this will be right up your alley!
Weekly Food Shopping
Unlike a good portion of fitness people, I’m not fond of #MealPrepSunday. Not only do I find it time-consuming, I also like variety, so its limitations don’t appeal to me. Last but not least, my flat at the time didn’t provide enough storage space for all the containers required!
What I did instead was shop for food for the rest of the week on Saturday or Sunday. A big shopping trip took only about an hour to an hour and a half, including the walk to and from the store. Moreover, limiting the shopping to the weekend forced me to buy only what I needed. As a result, I spent less money, wasted less food, and made the right nutritional choices for me at the time because I couldn’t physically carry home the results of the bad ones.
Later in the week, if I ran out of fresh fruit or vegetables, I went to a nearby shop during my lunch hour. The trip would take about 15 minutes, it was a good way to stretch my legs, and it meant I wouldn’t have to work my way around some overcrowded store at peak time at the end of the day.
Minimal Meal Prep
To be fair, I did do a bit of meal prep, but I kept it to a minimum: only vegetables and one source of protein. For the veggies, I used a pressure cooker, an undervalued tool that you can get for cheap, lasts forever (mine has been with me since 2015), and saves a ton of time.
On Saturday or Sunday, I made a huge batch of vegetables in about half an hour – including the time to wash and cut them – while making lunch for the same day. The pressure cooker is big, so I could easily make enough portions to last three to four meals the following week.
On a separate day or even the same day, I would boil a pack of six eggs. You can just wrap them in tin foil and they fit pretty much anywhere. Boil them for at least 10 minutes and they will last for up to four or five days in the refrigerator.
Planning Every Day
After work, I jotted down all three meals for the following day on my Notes app and worked out their macros while I was travelling back home on the underground. Planning my full eating schedule helped me hit my macro targets and prevented me from thinking about it at any other time – a truly productive use of my commute!
At home, I prepped only one of the next day’s planned meals after dinner, that is my packed office lunch. This took 15 to 20 minutes in total. As for breakfast and dinner, I would plan for something quick to make in the limited time I had. My go-to choices for breakfast were Greek yogurt and oats with peanut butter; or a banana and peanut butter wholemeal wrap with Greek yogurt; for dinner, leftover vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, and pitta bread; or noodle stir-fry with chicken breast and vegetables.
All in all, I spent one hour to one hour and a half doing the shopping – give or take the occasional 15-minute walk to get fresh produce from a local store – followed by half an hour of minimal meal prep. Lastly, I would have all my work lunches covered in 15 to 20 minutes five days a week. The total is about three to three hours and a half, spread out across the week, not crammed into the only two days I had all to myself. It worked well for me, so it may benefit your lifestyle as well.
In Future Episodes:
Come back on Friday this week for a bonus post: my first recipe, including an estimation of the macros!
Do you live in shared accommodation? Do you have a busy life? How do you keep up with your nutrition?
A personal trainer who likes bodybuilding, superheroes, and bread.
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