Nutrition Success Secrets: Buying and Cooking in Bulk
I don’t have time to make 6 meals a day!
Eating healthy is too expensive!
It’s too hard to make one meal for my whole family and then have to make a different meal for myself. I don’t have the time or energy!
Have you ever used one of the aforementioned excuses to justify why you can’t seem to get your nutrition in order and achieve the level of fitness success you are striving after? Well quit your whining! I have JUST the solution for you! This solution allowed me to successfully train and compete in two figure competitions while completing my Master’s Degree in an accelerated 11-month MBA program. I had class 45 hours a week, an internship 5-15 hours a week, I worked a “real job ” 10 hours a week… oh, and did I mention that I had homework, papers, exams and presentations weekly? Did I mention that I was also living on a very tight budget? How did I do it? you may ask?… BUYING and COOKING in BULK!!!
Having a preplanned weekly menu is good for several reasons. It makes grocery shopping easier, it allows you to budget your money properly, and best of all, it makes achieving your health and fitness goals MUCH easier! Once you have your menu set for the week, you can make your grocery list. If you’re like me, your list will look pretty similar week after week. This doesn’t mean that your meals have to be mundane and boring… just that your diet revolves around several staples: chicken, ground turkey or beef, different cuts of steak, eggs, cottage cheese, nuts, green vegetables, berries, oatmeal, olive oil, protein shakes, etc. The great news is, almost ALL of these items can be purchased in BULK! Keep your eyes peeled for great deals at your grocery store, and when you find them, stock up! My grocery store has chicken on sale at least twice a month. When this happens, I get some STRANGE looks from people. They are probably thinking, “Why on Earth does that girl have 22 lbs of chicken breast in her cart? The answer… because it’s on sale for $2.49 a lb! You can also find great deals on meat (especially steak) that the grocery store is trying to move quickly because it is nearing it’s expiration date. When you purchase this meat, or any other perishable item in bulk, stick it in your freezer until it’s time for you to use it. Chicken, beef and other meats are usually best if consumed within 6 months of being initially frozen. You can also be on the lookout for sales on fruits and veggies. These staples can be very inexpensive when they are in season. When they are out of season, however, they can be PRICEY! In this case, look for sales or deals that your grocery store might be running on different produce, and if you can’t find any… frozen is where IT’S AT! You can find broccoli, spinach, asparagus, mixed vegetables, berries, pineapple, mango, etc ALL in the frozen section of your local grocery store. Pay attention to prices, and then POUNCE and stock up when it’s on sale. You can also get great deals on JUMBO containers of mixed nuts, oatmeal, egg whites and olive oil. Buying in bulk may be initially pricier than you’d like, but you’ll be thrilled when you see how long these products last and how seldom you’ll have to purchase them again.
Next step: COOKING IN BULK! This is was the ONLY thing, short of having a personal chef (which I DID NOT have!), which allowed me to compete in figure competitions with the schedule that I described above. I would do my grocery shopping every Sunday afternoon. Then I would go home, unload my groceries and get to PREPPIN’! I would figure out exactly how much of each food that I needed for that week and I would put everything else away. Then I would preheat my oven, start my grill and begin to clean and chop my fruits and vegetables, and trim and marinate my chicken breasts and other meats. Soon enough, I would have sweet potatoes and red potatoes in the oven, broccoli and asparagus in the steamer, chicken and steak on the grill, and ground beef or turkey browning in a pan on the stove. This “preparation session takes about 2 hours… but it’s a very pleasant two hours. You can do this with your significant other, your Mom or Dad, or your best friend. Heck, even your kids can help! They can snap the ends off of the asparagus with the best of ‘em! Also, during this period of time, you can feel good about yourself. You are taking the time and making the effort to take care of your body and your health. Once you have all of your food cooked, portioning the first three days’ worth into container is a cinch! The food for the other 4 days should typically be frozen and then thawed as needed for the rest of the week. I like to also take some time to put my protein powder and my mixed nuts into baggies, and my cottage cheese into small containers and have them easily accessible so I can grab and go if need be. I also like to crack my eggs and measure my egg whites ahead of time. (I put these in containers and throw in some chopped vegetables so when morning comes I pour them in a skillet on low and go fix my hair or get dressed while they cook. They will cook all the way through while I get dressed and I have a yummy omelet with virtually no effort!) Finally, I stack all of my freshly prepared food (divided up by the day) in the fridge and breathe a sigh of relief because I KNOW I have NO excuse for not following my eating plans for the week. Doesn’t it feel good to be prepared?
So there you have it… NO MORE EXCUSES! Everyone should be able to find 2-3 hours a week to prepare their food according to their meal plans. How long do you think you would spend in a fast food drive-through during the lunch rush anyway?
Also, if you buy in bulk, you save a ton of money in the long run! I buy all whole food, mostly organic (which is best, but not necessary) and I eat 6 times a day for less than $100/week! That’s 6 meals a day for 7 days, or less than $3 a meal! How much is a Value Meal from McDonald’s again? ‘Nuff said!
Finally, if you choose to cook something different for your significant other or your children, you already have your food prepared. You can sit down together and eat as a family without having to go crazy making several different meals. (And by the way, your kids should be consuming a healthy, whole foods diet as well!)
Hope these suggestions help you eat better and save you money!
As always, feel free to let any of us know if you have any questions!
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