When you’re a bodybuilder or someone looking to get into shape, meal prep is going to be one of the most important things you do.
It takes up a lot of your time, but it’s necessary.
You can’t just go around willy-nilly eating whatever you find around you.
That certainly isn’t going to help you get the body or shape you want.
If you’re looking to pack on muscle and stay in shape, you need to follow a carefully planned and timed diet.
This means constantly having food cooked and available for you.
Although there are meal prep services out there, the average person is going to be doing their own meal prep.
I’ve been doing my own meal prep for a long time and have learned a lot of tricks.
Over the years, I’ve seen people make their bodybuilding meal prep very difficult.
That does not need to be the case for you.
I’m sure you have enough going on without having to spend extra time and energy on your meal prep.
I absolutely love simplicity and I promise this brief guide will be simple and actionable.
These 10 meal prep tips are going to save you time and energy on meal prep without going crazy in the process!
# 1- Choose simple recipes
I cannot emphasize this enough.
While stuffed Italian flank steak sounds delicious, the normal person doesn’t have the time or patience to make enough of it to last them several days.
This is bodybuilding meal prep. It needs to stay simple.
You’re eating so much and so often that you can’t afford to invest your time in complicated recipes.
I hesitate to even use the word recipe because even those are too complicated for what I’m talking about.
When I say simple, I mean SIMPLE. Choose a protein, a carb and/or a veggie. That’s it.
For example, right now I am on a ground turkey and white rice kick. Plain ground turkey, rice cooked in the microwave and some ketchup on it. That’s it.
You’re not looking to make a work of art here. Just something to meet your macros and keep you going.
Put aside all the recipe books because you don’t need them for daily meal prep.
Salt, pepper, ketchup and barbecue sauce will become your best friend.
# 2- Use glass containers
I cringe when I see people using plastic containers.
For me personally, I find that the food tastes so much better in a glass container.
Do yourself a favor and get a good set of glass Tupperware you can take with you on the go.
You’ll find that the food tastes a lot better reheated with glass.
# 3- Fall in love with an Instant Pot and slow cooker
These two kitchen gadgets are priceless when it comes to making a ton of food at once.
I just started actually using my Instant Pot and I’m in love with it.
I can make tons of rice or meat at once without any effort. You just put your ingredients, set the time and go on living your life.
It’s been a huge time saver when it comes to cooking ground beef and turkey. You can put in pounds of it and it all comes out perfectly.
You don’t have to sit there cooking it on the pan.
Although a slow cooker takes much longer than an Instant Pot, it cooks meat and other things perfectly.
I don’t use a slow cooker as often since it usually takes a few hours, but if you have a little extra time you can make some great recipes.
These two appliances along with a microwave are all I really use for my meal prep.
# 4- Eat the same foods
This is a good idea both from a time saving standpoint and a digestion standpoint.
While I don’t have any scientific evidence to back it up, I think that the body becomes efficient at digesting foods that you eat often.
I’ve noticed it recently as I’ve eaten a lot of the same meals over and over.
On top of that, when you make the same meals repeatedly, you learn how to make them as fast as possible.
You are used to making them and don’t have to sit there and remember exactly how to cook everything.
After a while you can make them with ease.
I prefer to eat the same few protein, carb and vegetable sources over and over again.
It makes shopping and cooking much easier.
# 5- Cook every 3 days
There is some debate on this, but I’ve found the magic number to be about every 3 days.
If you really don’t have the time, you can cook enough for 7 days, but most food will get pretty stale towards the tail end of the week.
I’ve found that three days is enough for most food to stay fresh while minimizing the amount of time you spend cooking.
It’s fairly easy to make three day’s worth of food in a short amount of time if you follow the other tips on this list.
# 6- Steam-in-bag and frozen veggies
Fresh vegetables are great, but they’re too time-consuming for our purposes here.
You have to wash them. You have to cut them. You have to peel them. Too much.
I know it’s lazy, but like I said this is all about keeping it simple.
Frozen and steam in the bag veggies are your friend.
I prefer steam in the bag over frozen, because they take even less time to cook.
You just pop them in the microwave for a few minutes and you’re good to go.
Frozen vegetables are nice because you can cook a lot at once however, it will take a few extra minutes since you have to boil the water.
It’s still a lot quicker than using fresh vegetables.
If you do absolutely insist on using fresh vegetables, buy them pre-cut and proportioned to save yourself some time.
# 7- Keep quick foods on standby
As diligently as you plan, there will still be times when you run out of food.
When that happens, you need some quick things you can make.
For protein that can be canned chicken, tuna or salmon. You literally just have to open the can and you’re good to go.
I like to keep a container of baby spinach on hand so I can make a ten-second salad with canned chicken and the spinach.
No cooking required.
Other good options are whey protein, protein bars, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and sliced deli meat.
Always have quick options so you can throw something together if you need to.
It might not be the best meal, but it’s something.
# 8- Invest in a good cooler
You’re going to be taking a lot of food on the go with you so it’s important to have a quality cooler.
Something big enough to fit a few meals that can keep everything cold.
This is the one I have and the one I recommend. It comes with several meal prep containers, a shaker cup and ice packs that fit inside perfectly. I use it every day and it’s held up great.
There are a ton of meal prep coolers out there.
If you can’t afford one, a big cooler from Walmart or Target is more than enough.
Just get something on the bigger side to make sure you can fit everything.
# 9- Make a plan
Before you do your cooking, make a quick plan of what each meal is going to look like.
Make sure you have enough food to last you for three days.
Think of what each meal is going to look like, so you don’t get halfway through the first day and realize you forgot to make something.
It takes a whole minute to visualize each meal for the next three days, but it can save you a ton of headaches.
It’s a good idea in the beginning to sit down and write out each meal until you know exactly how much of each food you need to last you until you plan to cook again.
After a few times of meal prepping, you will learn exactly what you need and won’t have to write it down anymore.
Always have a plan.
# 10- Buy in bulk
This is fairly commons sense, but since you’re making a lot of food at once, you will need to buy a lot.
Bulk stores like BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s club are perfect for this.
You can buy huge portions of food at a discount.
I do almost all of my shopping at these stores.
You can buy enough food for the week without breaking the bank.
Keep it simple
That’s the best piece of advice I have for your bodybuilding meal prep.
Watch a few YouTube videos of professional bodybuilders cooking and eating. You’ll find that they keep it very simple.
Plain chicken. Instant rice. Instant oatmeal. Frozen veggies.
Those guys and girls are not making complicated recipes.
After a little while you’ll get used to it. You’ll find you don’t need to have complicated meals to reach your goals.
We’re not trying to win Top Chef here.
We’re trying to look good and be healthy.
Keep these tips in mind and meal prepping will be a breeze.
P.S. Do you have any other time saving meal prep tips I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear them below along with any other questions or comments you have!