7 Step Meal Prep Guide For Busy Guys

Busy? Want to get a 6 Pack?

Thats where I was sitting 8 weeks out from my first mens physique show. I had never meal prepped before. I generally sucked at cooking anything worth eating (except for pancakes, I’m pretty awesome at making those).

  • I was taking 4 college courses (plus 10 to 12 studying & homework)
  • Part time job 10 t0 15 hrs
  • Training 5 days a week 5 to 8 hours after transportation)

Time to get shredded right??! Yup, I bit of more than I could chew. As usual….

However after a few early failures (first meal prep ever I made half cooked chicken in about 3 1/2 hours for a total of 9 meals. Which how I was eating at the time was good for about 2 days. Woo!

At this rate it would taken me about half a day to make my meals for the week. So I had to get better, fast!

After years of trial and error here are the steps I use to get my diet strategy on the right track and to making getting down to 6 to 8% body fat pretty easy.

So if your a guy who would like to learn how to getting ripped can be done with a beyond hectic life sit tight and buckle UP!

You can have you cake and eat it too.

Eating relatively healthy on a time poor schedule is not easy and sometimes feels impossible. I get you, I’ve been there….I’m still there, (time poor at least).

If you’ve been in this scenario then keep reading the following will show you how to GMD (Get meals done) for the entire week in less than 100 minutes.

That leaves time to have wings and pizza on Sunday before you get back to the clean diet on Monday.  Lets GMD!

Step 1: Getting Your Numbers Straight For Fat Loss (My Set it and forget it calorie counting approach)

This is a crucial step that you cannot skip if you want to see results. I’m going to guess that the whole reason why you decided to meal prep in the first place is to see RESULTS. There for we need to figure out some numbers first.

So grab a calculator I’m going to teach how to map out your cutting journey.

First step: Calorie needs for getting lean

We will multiply the ranges by your weight in pounds and divide by 2, see example below.

Example:

John 27 year old insurance salesman who works 40 hours a week and sits roughly 6 -8 hours a day.

His is moderately active training 4 times a week in the gym for 1 hour. Currently he is 200 lbs and 18% body fat and would like to get to 185 and 7% body fat.

His calculations are:

200 x 12= 2400

200 x 14= 2800

2400 +2800= 5200/2=2600

Fat Loss Calorie Goal 2600 calories per day

To lose weight (while maintaining muscle mass) John needs to hit this goal daily. 

So per meal is John eats 4 meals per day his need to keep them under 650 calories.

That’s 4 good sized meals of 3 meals and 2 snacks (325 cals).

NOTE: If you can just find 3 or 4 meals that meet this calorie meal of decent nutritious value you would see results by just being consistent.

Step 2 is where we perfect this by specifically figuring out where those calories should come from based on your body type.

If you goal is to maintain of build muscle while staying as lean as possible then download the calculator and following the steps in the excel file.

Step 2: What macro split are you?

Besides calories the next most important factor for getting absolutely lean and ripped by meal prepping is your macronutrient split.  (proteins, carbs, and fats)

Remember our goal here is about maintaining or even gain a little muscle while progressively stripping away layers of fat.

To do this we need to pay attention to what eat meal we will be prepping is composed of.

Depending on what body type you best fit this will look different.

Generally most people fall into 3 different types: ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph, we will describe recommended macro nutrient splits for each to help you determine what kind of meals and foods would best fit your specific body.

Ectomorph:  The skinny guy, long thin and lean.  Usually a hard gainer, fast metabolism and generally will be able to tolerate a higher carb diet. Don’t get fat easily usually don’t have a huge appetite. (Examples: Marathon runner, swimmer, soccer player)

Macronutrient recommendations:(if you’re a true ecto then you should be focusing on building muscle)

Protein: 25-30% of total cals coming from protein

Carbs: 55-60% of total cals

Fats: 15-20% of total cals

Mesomorph: Athletic build, build muscle easy, thicker limbs. Gain fat faster than ectomorphs; think of NFL Safety, blocky, athletic, but still pretty lean. (Examples: NFL safety, bodybuilder)

Macronutrient recommendations

Protein: 30-35%

Carbs: 40-45%

Fats: 25-30%

Endomorph: Soft, round pudgy, gain fat easily, slower metabolism, thick blocky limbs, wider waist and larger bone structure, very strong and generally do not tolerate carbohydrates as well.  (powerlifter, NFL offensive guard, sumo wrestler)

Macronutrient recommendations

Protein:  35-40%

Carbs: 25-30%

Fats: 40-45%

Since John is an endomorph and he is trying to burn fat his macros will be the following:

Protein: 228g (2600 X 35%=910/4 = 227.5)

Carbs:  162 (2600 X 25%= 650/4 = 162.5)

Fats: 115g (2600 X 40%= 1040/9 =115)

Now that we have figured out the true calorie intake and macronutrient number for the meal prep it’s time to do what call “backing into your meal prep”

When done right this completely eliminates the need for daily tracking or calories if you plan ahead and allows for flexibility within your diet while still making weekly progress.

Step 3 How many meals do you need??

Five? Ten? Forty? This all depends on 3 KEY things:

  • Goals (how aggressive are you trying to get with your meal prep?)
  • Lifestyle (do you have time to microwave, reheat or do some of the prep when you eat it? Or does the meal have to be completely done?)
  • Storage Space (do you have a enough space to store it all?

My background in restaurants has taught me this one very important lesson don’t make what you can’t hold. If you don’t have enough space to store it then don’t waste time prepping it.

This is a huge mistake I see people make. So its important you figure out ahead of time how many you can actually store (properly).

Tip: Don’t prep more than what you need even if you have the space.  Take a good look at your week and figure out where you diet goes in the gutter and where its hard for you to make good choices.

Prep for those situations only to start. Don’t get fancy here. Just fix the holes in your diet by planning ahead.

So back to the example…..

John eats 4 meals a day.

So his per meal macros look like this:  2600/4=650

Since only 3 of those are actually meals and one is a mid afternoon protein bar (225 cals) his meal prep macros look like this 2600-225= 2375/3 =791.3333(round down to 790.

That’s 3 meals with 790 calories were going to prep for the week (work week we will target)

Of the 790 calories:

Protein: 790 x 35% (69 grams of protein)

Carbs: 790 x 25% (49 grams of carbs)

Fats:  790 x 40% (35-36 grams of fat)

This raises one question:

How creative can you get while staying within your numbers?????

(Tip: keep it simple and stick to food you know for a fact you will like)

Step 4: Choose your food sources (grocery list drafting)

Just like a menu in a restaurant what you cook and how much dictates the success entire meal prep. Will it be a failure or a success??

The ingredients determine, the length, difficulty level, equipment, seasonings, cost and storage of the entire week so prep accordingly with your available time.

Since your reading this I’m guessing you’re a busy dude who cares about a few things.

1. Efficiency

2. Simplicity

3. Taste

Therefore I’ll lay out the top 5 best foods for preparing simple fast meals that are damn good too.

Carbs: (Pick one)

  • Canned/dry beans (black, red, pinto, navy, black-eyed)
  • Oats (gluten free, steel cut)
  • Potatoes (sweet, red, white)
  • Frozen Yuca (super fast, and delicious potato replacement)
  • Lentils (red, green, brown)
  • Rice (brown, purple, jasmine)

Protein: (Pick two)

  • Chicken/Steak (Tip: Always thin cut cooked in a skillet takes minutes)
  • Canned wild caught Fish (Salmon, Tuna)
  • Eggs & Egg whites (hard boiled or scrambled)
  • Protein Powders (best for pudding, shakes and baking)
  • Greek Yogurt/cottage cheese (does very well when frozen, great high protein source and easy to measure)
  • Bacon (Nitrate free)

Fats: (Pick one)

  • Fish Oil  (2 per day)
  • Avocado (use lime to keep it from browning so fast or make a large bowl of guac, freeze it)
  • Eggs
  • *Organic Nut Butters
  • *Chia seeds, unsalted almonds, brazil nuts
  • **Coconut oil (extra virgin cold pressed)
  • **Grass fed butter (or Ghee)

*  Avoid salted, or honey roasted versions and save those for cheat days and meals.

** if you use these oils to cook your meats in then you don’t really need to add more fat if you take a high quality fish oil supplement daily.

Greens:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower, Cabbage
  • Green/Red/Yellow Peppers

Frozen Varieties are often overlooked but are EXCELLENT time saving alternatives that are not “bad” or unhealthy

Fruits:

  • Frozen dark cherries
  • Frozen blueberries
  • Frozen mangos chunks
  • Fresh Organic: Apples, strawberries, grapes, bananas

Used mainly for snacks and post workout

I don’t prep any fruits there usually a part of my post workout shakes.  But I’ve share a few recipes from high protein/fruit snack with the members of my online coaching program over at The Lift Club.

Step 5: Determine your meals (how many, when, what combo’s etc.)

So you’ve figured out you calories needs for your goal, you have your macro split you have some idea of the foods your going to buy. But what are the meals going to look like and how many are you going to prep?

Here are some good questions to ask:

1. Do I have any dinner/ lunch obligations that will force me to eat something other than prepped meal?

2. After how many days will I still consider this “okay” to eat??

(“For some this is 2 days for others this is 6-7” There’s a lot of grey area here but don’t lie to yourself and end up coming to the realization that you prepped too much stuff and its going bad faster than you can eat it. My rule of thumb is prep for 5 days or on smaller occasions 3 days.)

3. Exactly how many meals can I store all of this and how well will it keep?

These questions will help you come up with the definitive number of meals.

For John he’s got a quite week and has enough room in his freezer and fridge, so he will be going for 15 meals.

Sample Meal Combos:  790/per meal

Breakfast: 3Egg, 4 bacon, 1cup spinach and100g avocado bake with 2/3oats (5)

Lunch/ Dinner: 10 oz Mashed Sweet Potato and 7 oz Salmon with 1 cup  Brussels sprouts cooked in olive oil.(5)

Lunch/Dinner #2: Baked Pork and Lentils with Steamed broccoli, peas and carrots (5)

So here are my ingredients/grocery list for the example meal prep I’ll be making: (12 in total)

  • Bacon
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Lentils
  • Olive oil
  • Pork chops
  • Peas (frozen)
  • Broccoli
  • Avocado
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Eggs
  • Sweet potato
  • Salmon

Step 6- Shop (ideally done a day ahead of time)

Do the shopping ahead of time so you have some time to go back if you forgot something or find out that your local store doesn’t have or ran out of an item on your list. I typically do my shopping a day before just to break it up since I don’t have time to shop and prep all in one day.

Shopping Guide Tips 101:

  • Make a list and stick to it. Scout out the route and know where things on your list are and if you don’t then be a real man and ASK!
  • Have a set budget, bring cash only leave the cards at home.
  • Place a timer on your phone and make it challenge or a bet with a buddy to see who can finish their shopping the fastest. Aim for less than 25 minutes in and out.

Helpful Shopping Apps:

Out of Milk: Keep inventory at home and make lists easily.

Grocery Pal: Best for the budget shopper, locate deals and discounts near you.

Grocery IQ: Allows users to create and sync shopping lists from an extensive product database using texts, product barcodes, and even voice search. 

Anylist: Great little list making app for anything (like the name implies), allows for lots of customization of the lists to get really detailed.

Coupon Sherpa: Coupons for the stuff you buy

Groupon: Local retailers and smaller stores near you may be posting groupon deals you re missing out on??

Alternatives to Shopping (Get Someone to do it for you)

Before you go shopping make sure you have the other necessary non-food items for the meal prep things I have forgotten in the past are:

Common things forgotten:

  • Seasonings for the meal prep.
  • Non spray cooking oils if you choose to use them
  • Utensils
  • zip lock bags (sandwich and gallon bags)
  • foil
  • Wax Paper
  • Bowls, pans, or any other necessary things needed to prepare the meals for the one I’m doing I only need.
  • New Tupper ware

Step 7 – Game Day…Gather you stuff and get it DONE.

This is the beginning of the actual meal prep. Here’s what you need to do.

Step 1:  Morning of Game Day: Thaw out food that need to be thawed a few hours in the refrigerator or in a bowl of cold water for a few 2 to 4 hrs.

      Step 2: 10 -15 Minutes Before Prep: Pre Game Warm up’s

    • Get all the ingredients out on the table.
    • Gather tools (cutting board, knives, pans, bowls, spoons, food scale).
    • Pre heat ovens (if needed) for this meal prep were going to need the oven at 375 F

     Step 3: The Meal Prep Kickoff: Boil water if needed

General Work Flow:

  1. Gather All Ingredients
  2. Boil & Preheat
  3. Wash/Trim/Cut
  4. Cook Longest Item
  5. Cook Others
  6. Prepare Non cooking foods (i.e. overnight oats)
  7. Portion/package
  8. Store

Vegetable Steam Times

How Long To Steam Vegetables (variable with cooking method):

Bonus Tip  – Start With The Longest Cook Time Item First

The first thing to do is to get the longest taking item first and get it cooking. This is a crucial task to ensure your finish in good time. I made this mistake many times when I first started meal prepping, which caused lots of wasted time in the kitchen and made me hate meal prepping.

So what takes longest to cook?? Great question I can tell you from experience that baking potatoes in the oven takes a while and cooking thick cuts of meat (over 2 inches)

Here’s a list of foods/dishes that take long (over 30 minutes cooking) I would avoid these and go for faster options….

  • Thick cuts of meats (over 2 inches)
  • Thick cut vegetables in crock pot/ oven
  • Thick cut vegetables (potatoes, carrots, Yuca etc..)Cut them ½ thick or less for faster cook times
  • Bison
  • Stews
  • Duck
  • Goulash recipes
  • Pork Shoulder
  • Lamb

Fast Cooking Foods:

  • Seafood’s (tilapia, Cod, Swai, Salmon, Shrimp)
  • Chicken (thin cut ½ inch)
  • Thin cut steak
  • Ground beef /Turkey in a high heat deep skillet
  • Yuca (buy frozen and boil)
  • Squash (cut in ½ inches pieces and boil till soft)
  • Frozen veggies

Identify your longest cooking item and start with that prep it and get it started cooking before you work on other things.

On cutting and washing:

It you don’t care about appearance and just want fast, delicious food then always cut animal proteins into small pieces. Trim fat where needed but don’t be anal about getting every piece of it off.

You can easily tear it over after when its cooked (which is much easier in some cases).

Remember thinner and smaller cook faster and easier.

Bonus Tip: When To Buy Organic and When NOT To

Some fruits and vegetables require more pesticides than others to be produced on a large scale. Its important to both your health and your wallet to know when its smart to buy organic and when it may not be necessary.

The Dirty Dozen (now 14) (AKA Please try and buy organic when buying these.)

These foods have been found to contain high amounts of pesticides in them. 

Source: Ewg.org

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet Bell Peppers
  11. Cherry Tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers
  13. Hot Peppers
  14. Kale /Collard Greens

The Clean 15: Even when conventionally grown these fruits and vegetables have substantially less pesticides

1. Avocados

2. Sweet corn

3. Pineapples

4. Cabbage

5. Sweet peas frozen

6. Onions

7. Asparagus

8. Mangoes

9. Papayas

10. Kiwi

11. Eggplant

12. Honeydew melon

13. Grapefruit

14. Cantaloupe

15. Cauliflower

Recommended Seasonings & Spices

  • Allspice
  • Basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Chili powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves, ground coriander
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Ginger
  • Ground Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Lemon pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Onion powder
  • Oregano

Also see this article I wrote a while back:   

http://leanrippedandhealthy.com/how-to-add-flavor-to-your-meals-without-a-st-ton-of-calories-and-getting-fat/

Bonus Tip:  General Steps for preparing meat: TCC (Trim Chop Cook) Method

Mapping things out step by step and not worrying about 23 different things all at once is how I operate best. I stick to this simple 3 step method when preparing most of my meat.

  1. Trimming fat (if needed, remember don’t be too anal you can peal some off later when portioning)
  2. Copping: remember small thin piece means faster cooking.
  3. Cook: Have your oven, pot, or grill ready to go ahead of time so there’s not down time.

Done

Bonus TOOLS: Wash/Cut fruits and veggies

The art of cutting can be dangerous and time consuming to common man. Don’t pretend your on American’s Next Top Chef and end up cutting a finger off.  If you have the extra cash, a veggie chopper is useful but a regular chefs knife will do too.

Focus on safety and simplicity. Don’t stress over irregular cuts more practice will help with this.

When you have a minute though there cutting videos may help you hone your skills a bit faster.

Videos:

Basic Cutting Skills

       2 Basic Cuts to learn 

     

Bonus Tip– Down Time Clean Up/set up (Maximize cooking time for less clean up at the tail end)

Once all the items are cooking and you should be cleaning.  Wash the utensils your not going to use any more, fire up the dish washer and get out the Tupper ware. Take advantage of the wait time by cleaning dishes, setting up Tupper ware, and clearing out space in the fridge for storage space.

You will likely have about 15 minutes to get as much cleaning and preparing done so use it wisely.

My example Meal Prep down time tasks step by step

Step 1: Gather all dirty utensils and place in dish washer wash them.

Step 2: Get your Tupper ware and lay it out.

Step 3: Clear out space in the freezer.

Step 4: Get out the food scale if you weighing your meals. (this is important if you for things like rice and pasta and most animal proteins)

Step 5:Portion food into containers and store in the freezer and fridge.

Your pretty much done not minus the clean up which should take NO more than 20 minutes if you were hustling while the food was cooking.

Recommended Tools but not necessary.

  • Veggie Chopper
  • Identical Meal Prep Containers
  • Rice Cooker
Luis Diaz

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