By Jeremy Elder
Protein consumption is one of the most important nutritional considerations in the context of training and eating to get bigger and stronger. Unfortunately, it’s also the macro-nutrient target most people struggle to consistently achieve. As a rule of thumb, most strength athletes should try to consume one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight every day. This can be challenging due to protein’s effect on satiety (it can be quite filling), and the preponderance of cheap, easy to prepare, and tasty snacks that are heavy on carbs and fat.
In a perfect world we would all meal prep and this would be far less of an issue. But in our imperfect world, where we are often tired and crunched for time, it’s helpful to develop strategies that make it easier to succeed than fail. Below I’ll describe a strategy I find useful for hitting my daily protein targets. Hopefully you’ll find it helpful too!
I draw from this menu any time I need to eat but am short on time, motivation, or imagination. Once you’ve picked out your protein dish you can simply add a carb and/or fat source to round out your meal. Here are a few examples of dishes:
When it’s time to eat I’ll prepare one or two of these dishes (e.g. scrambled eggs with a side of Greek yoghurt), and round it off with another easy protein source, like a cup of milk (8 grams), or a protein shake (24 – 56 grams). At the end of the day it’s not as optimal as weighing, measuring and meal planning; but it does ensure I can consistently reach my daily protein target, even when life gets busy.
Guest Column - Amanda Soares
Hopefully by now youʼve gotten your hands on:
A big-ass Instant Pot
A Costco membership
An 8x8 baking dish or at least a good brownie pan
because without them, this installment is going to be reeeeeeeally boring for you. (Youʼve been warned!)
Today weʼre going to talk CHICKEN PREP.
AND! Because youʼve been so patient waiting for episode #2, Iʼm going to let you in on the secret of my delicious and nutritious CAULIFLOWER-BEEF STUFFED PEPPERS.
You can thank me later.
First up: CHICKEN! Donʼt blink or youʼre really going to miss this.
Itʼs going to take you THREE MINUTES or less to get it together, and then youʼre going to eat like a BOSS
All. Week. Long. Yes, itʼs that easy.
Yes it will keep that long.
Yes itʼll be moist and perfect and amazing.
Itʼs amazing because it is VERSATILE.
An often overlooked part of food prep is VERSATILITY.
The more things you can make with one component, the less sick of it youʼll get, basically.
For prepped chicken, you can eat it straight out of the storage container for a quick delicious protein snack. You can shred and throw in salads, put on a sandwich, or in a lettuce wrap, add to a stir-fry, put some curry or bbq or jerk sauce on it, shred it into a taco or burrito, add it to rice and beans.
Cold, hot, microwave it…. Have fun with it.
This is why chicken is one of my go-to meal prep staples week after week. Hereʼs how you knock it out:
STEP 1— GET THYSELF TO COSTCO and get yourself a giant pack of organic chicken breasts.
Like 5 or 6 pounds of boneless skinless raw breasts.
STEP 2— GET OUT YOUR GIANT INSTANT POT. Put 3 cups of water in it.
STEP 3— SEASON THE COOKING WATER by adding 2TBS of salt and 2TBS black pepper to the water. STIR IT UP.
(******BEEFBEAR LEVEL + TIP: this is the step later on…. When youʼre getting fancy in the future, you can play with the cooking water and add things like lemons, garlic, ginger, or whatever spices you like to party with and get a different FLAVOR PROFILE. Because once you realize how ridiculously fucking easy this is to do youʼre totally going to come back and play with this recipe A TON.)
STEP 4— put all that chicken in the instant pot water you just made. Layer it in and fill that pot. Donʼt be a dumbass and go past the “MAX FILL LINE” on the Instant Pot, nobody will be able to help you. If thereʼs not at least A LITTLE water on the top layer of chicken at this point, top it off. You DO NOT have to submerge the chicken. Just make sure thereʼs at least some water up at the top to hang out and poach it.
STEP 5— Close the Instant Pot, close the vent to SEALING, hit MANUAL at high pressure for 30 MINUTES and walk away because youʼre golden and you nailed it.
Whether you come back 40 minutes or 3 hours later…. Your masterpiece of cooking magic will be intact.
When you return, let the pressure out if there is any left, open that lid, and BEHOLD your delicious falling-apart chicken.
Remove carefully with tongs or a big spoon into containers or a giant ziploc bag. You may have to use a straining spoon to get the last juicy bits out because you just made chicken so delicious it is FALLING APART. Go you!
(********BEEFBEAR LEVEL + TIP: strain out that cooking liquid and put it in jars because itʼs gonna be tasty-ass chicken stock full of flavor. Make your rice with it, make your beans with it, sautéed veggies in it, or add veggies and more water to taste and make yourself some delicious SOUP.)
NOW THAT YOUʼRE CHICKEN GAME IS ON POINT….. LETʼS PARTY WITH PEPPERS!!!
While you were at Costco, I know you ALSO picked up some: diced tomatoes (2 cans)
a sleeve of 6 bell peppers (you need 5 of them. Use #6 for a snack, you saucy savage.)
a 2lb bag of organic riced cauliflower (weʼre using 1lb) some big-ass (1.33lb) packages of organic ground beef,
right? RIGHT! Letʼs do this!
Youʼre gonna have lunch ALL WEEK NOW. Just you wait.
Guest Column - Amanda Soares
So you wanna eat properly, but meal prep "takes too long," is "is too much work," or "is too expensive.
Here’s where I call bullshit on you, ladies and gents. Stop deceiving yourselves.
We all need to eat, multiple times a day. So we’re going to pay now, or pay later.
And I mean for all of it. From what you put in your facehole, to how long it took you to get there. Time and energy is going to get spent.
So, let’s get efficient, and work smarter not harder, to get better results.
Meals for an entire week take around 2-3 hours to create.
YES FOR THE WEEK.
And then you don’t have to think about it again.
YOU HAVE YOUR WHOLE WEEK BACK.
Think on that for a second. Think about all the time and energy it takes, MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY, to hunt and peck, gather and annoy yourself with repetitive prep work, figuring out what to make… breaking down in desperation and hanger (YES HANGER IS A REAL EMOTION), and eating crap, meal bars, or something way expensive... and on and on and on.
Wouldn’t you rather have it all there ready to go? Dishes got knocked out in one shot? Ready for the whole week to just eat as-needed, or quickly heat up?
It can be this way. And it feels so good when you’re done.
I promise, promise, PROMISE you that you can find your rhythm and knock this out.
“But Amanda…… I hate to cook! I don’t know how to cook!”
To which I say: “If you like to eat, you can like to cook.” And let’s be real: if you’re reading this you hate eating like shit too. So, let’s just get over ourselves and party.
This guest blog is going to help you get there.