In most people’s version of nutrition and lifestyle changes, the propensity to over complicate things is astounding. Usually, looking something like this:
Armed with this useless notion of “good intentions”, the foray into Shreddedville starts on a Monday – always.
With no real plan, it seems like a great idea to just “be good” while embracing neurosis.
Unfortunately, they have lives. Life is a whirlwind, teeming with distraction, temptation and, if not prepared, disorganization.
Disorganization leads to frustration, in turn leading to the realization that they “messed up”, and the eventual climax of “Screw this shit! Why would anyone do something so hard?”.
Allow me to remind you of an easier way to go about realizing your body composition goals. Batch Cooking is nothing new, nor is it magical. It just works.
For those of you normal humans who have an extremely busy schedule, are away from the home, and have multiple things going at once, Batch Cooking can save your ever-expanding stomach.
Granted, the easiest way to ensure you get the nutrition you need is to employ a custom meal delivery service to do all of the work for you. To the less than stellar chefs with enough disposable income to forget about shopping and meal prep, I highly encourage you to try a good service. Often, they take your requirements for macronutrient counts, meat weights, and food type to produce everything you need.
For the rest of you, a little more work is in store.
Food prep is not sexy. At least, not in the traditional sense that is shoved down your throat by the bodybuilding and fitness community.
Fortunately, there is a lot that can be done to enhance the process, making it slightly less monotonous, reducing pain, while adding hours to your life.
Not to mention, if you master cooking in the process, sex appeal will be elevated by two points. Thus, if you’re a 7 on the coveted scale of 10, you will henceforth be know as a 9 to your piers and partners.
Personally, I despise talking and writing about this subject, as it’s always been second nature. I owe this to my Mother, who to this day holds the ability to make me drool by simply flipping the “on” switch on the barbeque.
With a small amount of brain power, this vital process isn’t as difficult as you might believe.
Yet, due to the volume of emails and colleagues stopping me mid-bite, I’ve put together a few steps to quell the culinary confusion.
1) Planning for Success
For the majority of the population, three questions need to be asked: “Where are my proteins? Where are my fats? Where is my fiber?”
For the fellow trainees out there killing it in the gym, and those that can handle it, the fourth question is, naturally: “Where are my carbs?”
Establishing your weekly needs for each of the above is the first, and most simple step to ensuring your success.
The most effective way to do this is to utilize your current nutrition plan (you do have one, right?) to determine your daily needs for each macronutrient.
This is where following a macronutrient breakdown for the day becomes extremely valuable, as prepping for success becomes simple.
As an example, let’s take Jane, who’s macronutrient count for training days involves 200g carbs, 160g protein, and 50g fat. Now, Jane is a lean girl, carrying an appreciable amount of shapely muscle, and has trained her body to use those carbohydrates optimally. The glorious carbohydrate. A weapon of power in your physique-enhancement quiver.
Knowing her macronutrient breakdowns, Jane can determine how much meat, potatoes, veggies, rice, fats, and whatever else she needs for the day – preferably by weight.
By no means does this have to be exact. From here, she’d multiply her values for each by the number of training days she has. Then, she’d simply repeat the process for non-training days, and come up with her totals for the week.
Let’s say, for example’s sake, Jane needs roughly 10lbs of cooked meat to last her throughout the week.
As a general rule of thumb, raw protein will yield around 75% of it’s weight when cooked.
So, Jane would do the following : 10lbs raw divided by 0.75 = 13.3lbs of raw protein to last her throughout the week.
For vegetables, these should be shopped for more often (covered below), and a ball park estimate is often best.
Carbohydrates from rice and potatoes, are often much simpler to guestimate as well. As you become accustomed to your nutrition plan, knowing the exact amounts to buy will come easier. Whether you measure them raw, cooked, or simply eyeball, establish a tentative amount in the same way as your proteins.
Most of your fats will take care of themselves through your various cuts of meat. However, avocado, organic butter, coconut oil, and other whole food sources are easy to pick up. These will be emphasized if you’re following a low-carb approach.
With an estimate of the totals for each of your macronutrients, you’ll be equipped to storm the grocery store with speed and efficiency.
Of course, if you don’t have a solid nutrition plan, and don’t know how to go about crafting one specific to your body type, weight, body fat percentage, age, training goals and other variables, I offer personal coaching to take you exactly where you need to go.
Fill out this simple sheet, and get on the road to your dream body.
Shopping is a pain in the ass. Zero dispute across the board. And unless you have an enjoyable Saturday/Sunday Farmer’s Market to explore, there isn’t really much to look forward to other than a stocked fridge.
Thus, efficiency is the name of the game.
Meat, sauces, spices and non-perishable carbohydrates should be shopped for on a once per week basis. What’s even better, is signing up for a monthly delivery service of local, organically raised meats. Just be sure to have the freezer space needed to accommodate all that muscle-building flesh.
Vegetables, including tubers, should be hunted for at least twice per week to ensure freshness and sufficient variety.
What this means:
Pick two dedicated days to shop for everything you need. Map out what you will buy on each day, the amounts, the time you go, and schedule it for every week.
In, out, home, eating. Simple, fast and effective, eliminating that awkward moment when your fridge is suddenly a barren wasteland of catabolism.
Saturday: Meats, eggs, fish, potatoes, rices, bulk, spices, fruits and veggies
Wednesday: Veggies and fruit, any extras
3) Choosing a System (Intermittent Batching or Epic Batching)
In reality, meal prep can become a shit-storm, slamming your patience into the cutting board, and rubbing your nipples across the cheese grader. Avoid this at all costs by implementing systems.
Iv’e written on systems before, particularly how they pertain to training rituals and crafting the perfect day. In regards to food prep, systems can make or break your physique. How you prepare, determines how you will look at the end of the week.
Will you progress? Or will you stagnate and regress?
Choose one of the systems below, and ensure you never question your eventual success.
Intermittent, or Epic Batching?
You can establish whatever system rubs you the right way. Below, however, are two of the most tried and proven systems of success in the fitness community when dealing with significant body compositional change.
Intermittent Batching (IB):
My method of choice. The variety, flexibility and unwillingness to slave for hours in the kitchen are what drew me here.
- Cook meat every 2-3 days
- Construct meals every morning or night before
- Have veggies pre-cut or in easy packages, ready to go
- Master an efficient meal construction system
- Good for disciplined individuals
Epic Batching (EB):
The classic. A timeless Sunday ritual repeated by thousands across the land. Essentially, prepare to buy an inane amount of tupperware, commit a couple of hours to turning your kitchen into an assembly line, and stripping yourself of all clothing to compensate for the sauna you’re about to create.
- Cook meat once or twice per week (store meat pst 3 days in the freezer)
- Construct all meals for 3-5 days in advance
- Be extremely organized in assembling said meals
- Good for people who tend to be inconsistent
- No excuses when everything is done ahead of time
To irrefutably enhance the chopping, searing, slicing and dicing about to go down, shake the cabinets with some uplifting beats. Music can set the mood, making this entire process breeze by.
4) Establish Meal Schedule
Another piece of the puzzle here is taking into account your daily schedule. Those of you like me, who are always on the go, need to prep some meals ahead of time.
However, I enjoy the process of cooking, and make a rule that if I’m home, I cook my meals fresh. The act of cooking, seasoning, constructing and devouring a meal is gratifying. Thus, my breakfast, and last two meals of the day are almost always made at home, at the time of enjoyment. For the rest of the day, it’s all sealed in glass, in the bag, and ready to go.
So, establish your daily schedule to determine how many meals you actually need to prep ahead of time. Obviously, if you are eating 2-3 larger meals, this becomes somewhat irrelevant. 4-6 meals, however, increases the chances of you crumbling beneath temptation, laziness, or both.
Place the following systems into action. Simply choose a method of cooking each component of your meals, do them at the same time, and streamline your process.
How to cook the meat?
If you own, or have access to a BBQ, I deeply and passionately hate you. This is the penultimate tool in the realm of batch cooking mastery. Fish, meats, veggies, potatoes and almost anything else can be kissed by the flame of a good barbeque.
If you’re like me, however, other tools are needed.
High quality pans are an efficient way to cook a moderate amount of protein very quickly. Be sure to avoid teflon – unless you enjoy chemicals and toxicity pulsing through your veins. This is perfect for those implementing an Intermittent Batching approach.
The only other option that can throw down with the barbeque in terms of sheer volume, the oven is an essential tool. Bake poultry and fish to perfection, then broil to sear.
The lazy man’s best friend. Cook 3-5 days’ worth of meat while you sleep, work or play. Come back later to a house filled with delicious aroma, and meat that will fall off the bone.
Batch Boil Eggs
I’m known to boil entire cartons of eggs for an easy “peel and go” addition to any dish.
Perfect Steak Method
Phil Caravaggio over at Precision Nutrition wrote an excellent article that will forever change the way you prepare red animal flesh. Observe.
How To Prep The Veggies?
Raw – Nature’s Way
Being honest, most of my vegetables are consumed raw. Not from some perceived elevation of health benefits – I just cannot be bothered to do it any other way unless cooking a “special” meal. Laziness can appear in many forms. This is one that manifests with me.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that over cooking your vegetables can negate a large percentage of their health benefits. When in doubt, under cook.
Straightforward here. Steamers are extremely common, and easy to get a hold of. An alternative, however, is to partially fill a large pan with water, and bring it to a simmer with the veggies covered. Cook them just long enough, and you’ll have perfectly steamed sprigs, without ever using a steamer.
A few spices, some vinegars, sauces, and love. Stir frying a vegetable medley is one of the simplest ways to enjoy your fiber. Lightly kiss – not destroy – your veggies so they maintain a certain level of crunch.
As stated above, my personal favorite method. Either on skewers, or in a large tossing grittle, there is nothing like some browned BBQ veggies tossed in salt and organic butter.
How to cook the carbs?
Much like the meat above, tossing a monstrous pan of potatoes with spices, butter and seasoning, then shoving it in the oven, is pretty damn low maintenance. A few days worth of muscle-sparing potatoes (or whatever else) can be complete in an hour, with 5 minutes of prep.
If you’re notice a theme here, congratulations. This is not rocket science. Boiling your rice and/or potatoes is yet another easy way to cook a army’s volume of food.
Again. If you have a barbeque, bless your soul. Everything tastes better when prepared over the flame. It’s science.
How to construct meals?
The assembly line. The ultimate obstacle, it seems, between the average trainee and shredded obliques. In an effort to keep things painfully simple, we will focus on the easiest method of meal construction. Nothing fancy, but delicious, nonetheless.
Regardless of which prepping system you employ (I.B. Or E.B.), you will need to arm yourself with meal containers – preferably glass.
Once you’ve established your daily schedule, determined how many meals you eat per day, and how many meals will need to be eaten away from home, you will come to the amount of fuel needed for your nomadic escapades.
Armed with your (glass) containers, simplify the process for yourself. In certain meals, you will need all of the “components” (protein, fats, carbs and fiber). In others, you’ll only need two or three.
Because of your amazing cooking skills and irresistible sex appeal, you will have already seasoned your carbs and protein foods to create a delicious, anti-inflammatory party in your mouth. Putting them together is the easy part.
One component at a time, measure out your carbs into each meal container (if you are having any at all), then your proteins, then your added fats if you don’t already have enough animal derived sources. From here, shove as many vegetables as humanly possible into each meal (an exception here may be your pre-workout meal, alkalinity = a no-go for hypertrophy).
When using the Epic Batching Method, you will be constructing meals for many days. Thus, it’s important that you put any meals that will be eaten more than 2-3 days ahead from the time of prep in the freezer. So, if having a kitchen party on Sunday night, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday’s meals can go in the fridge, with Thursday to Saturday’s meals placed in the freezer.
How to enhance taste?
No excuse can be made for hating the food you eat due to poor taste. You can possess ZERO culinary inclination, yet produce delicious meals every day with a few simple steps.
The first, is to actually cook your meat with skill. Over-cooked, dried out flesh is never a good time. I like to enjoy the process of building muscle and shredding fat – this includes being able to chew my food. Refer to the “Perfect Steak” link mentioned above. If you’re at a loss, invest in a slow cooker. If you screw that up, may the training gods have mercy upon your soul.
The second, and most essential, is to foster a basic understanding of spice and seasoning combination. Not only will they enhance the eating experience, these natural powerhouses can enhance your body through increased detoxification, antioxidant content, and thwarting inflammation from training and the environment around you.
Third, of course, are low-calorie sauces. Mustard is king here. Anyone who knows me, knows I have a deep and passionate love for quality mustard. I put that shit on everything. In fact, for my birthday this year, my old roommate bought me pickles and a large jar of gourmet dijon mustard. I will forever love her, and hold a special place in my heart.
6) Clean Up The Carnage – Look Like A Pro
Admittedly, I’m often terrible for this. Nonetheless, a sanitary cooking environment is a must, and clean-up is just as important to your physique enhancement goals.
A clean kitchen speaks volumes about a man or woman. This is my greatest downfall, and what I’m working on improving.
Making The Time and Eliminating Excuses
Very few of you have the time to sporadically tackle the beast that is food-prep. Scheduling it like your training, or an appointment of high importance. Using the same days and time every week will ensure you engrain the process into your habitual tendencies, instead of flopping on the couch.
You take planning your training seriously, so why not treat your nutritional preperation the same way? In fact, this should be the number one priority on your list if seeking substantial results in the shortest possible time.
This is my system. There are many – just as there are endless diet programs. Keep things as simple as possible, and expand your pallet as you become confident and proficient.
Armed with this step-by-step process, it is safe to say that we never have to speak of this subject again. Enjoy and cherish your food, and be mindful of how it affects your body and mind.
Closing Note: Even if you understand the above, and simply desire a done-for-you road to success, let me show you what’s possible through targeted, personalized and realstic success-based coaching. Check it out here, and join men and women from North America and abroad.
To stay up to date, sign up for my free Newsletter by throwing down your best email. It’s time to ramp things up for competition, and I’ll be documenting my entire process from where I am now, to shripped, stage-ready condition.