Sunday, 21 Apr 2024

Seven Tips for Meal Prep to Fuel Young Athletes for the Week

Meal prepping is a valuable strategy for busy parents looking to provide healthy meals and streamline weeknights, especially when they have a young athlete with a packed schedule and a big appetite at home. However, meal prepping can be overwhelming, and not everyone has hours to spend in the kitchen on a weekend.

Thankfully, meal prep doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process. In this article, we will share expert tips from TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, to help you simplify and succeed in meal prepping.

Planning is Part of Meal Prep

To make meal prep efficient, it’s crucial to carve out time once a week to plan meals for the upcoming week. This includes planning for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The busier your schedule, the more important this step becomes. Review your family’s schedule and determine which days require quick dinner options. For example, if your child has soccer practice until late on Tuesdays, plan for leftovers from the night before.

Build a Regular Grocery List

Having all the necessary ingredients on hand is essential for successful meal prep. Once you have decided on the meals for the week, create a comprehensive grocery list. Avoid randomly shopping at the grocery store, as this often leads to additional trips. Consider using a digital format for your grocery list to easily update it each week based on the contents of your fridge and pantry.

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Redefine What Meal Prep Means

Meal prepping doesn’t have to involve elaborate organization and perfectly labeled containers. Adjust your mindset and think of meal prep as an ongoing process. Instead of spending hours on a single day, cook extra portions whenever you prepare a meal. These extra portions can serve as leftovers for lunches or be used to create new dinners with additional ingredients.

Herb omelette with chives and oregano sprinkled with chili flakes

Apply Meal Prep to Breakfast Too

Meal prepping is not limited to lunch and dinner. Simplify your mornings by preparing breakfast in advance. Overnight oats are a quick and easy option that saves time in the morning. Another idea is to make a large egg and vegetable frittata using any vegetables that are starting to wilt in the fridge. This way, you’ll have a ready-made breakfast for several days.

The Right Equipment Helps

Investing in the right kitchen equipment can significantly streamline your meal prep process. An Instant Pot or pressure cooker is highly recommended. It can cook an entire chicken in under an hour, slow-cook chili or stew all day, or make rice in just minutes. The Instant Pot is especially useful for quickly cooking frozen meat and vegetables. Additionally, using one pot minimizes cleanup. Set it and forget it, allowing you to return to a perfectly cooked meal.

Look for Whole Food-Friendly Shortcuts

While traditional meal prep involves cooking everything from scratch, you can still save time by incorporating convenient and healthy shortcuts. Consider using frozen vegetables, which are just as nutritious as fresh ones. Swap out some fresh vegetables in your meals with frozen options that can be sautéed or added to stews and chilies. Keep pantry staples like canned wild-caught salmon, five-minute brown rice, canned black beans, and salsa on hand. These items can be quickly combined to create a healthy burrito bowl.

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Use Spices and Condiments to Keep It Interesting

To add variety to your meals without needing to cook entirely different dishes, experiment with spices and condiments. You can transform basic ingredients into flavorful meals by seasoning them differently. For instance, a chicken and brown rice dish made in the Instant Pot can be turned into a Thai-inspired stir-fry with the addition of peanut sauce and frozen peppers and onions. Alternatively, you can create a curry by adding curry powder, coconut milk, and frozen cauliflower. Another option is to make a burrito bowl by adding shredded lettuce, guacamole, and pico de gallo. By utilizing spices and condiments creatively, you can avoid taste fatigue and make each meal exciting.

FAQs

Q: How often should I plan my meals?
A: It is recommended to plan your meals once a week. Adjust the menu based on your family’s schedule and commitments.

Q: Can I use frozen vegetables instead of fresh ones?
A: Yes, frozen vegetables are a convenient and equally nutritious alternative to fresh vegetables. They can be cooked or added to various dishes.

Q: What equipment is essential for meal prep?
A: An Instant Pot or pressure cooker is highly recommended for quick and efficient cooking. It can save time and simplify the meal prep process.

Conclusion

Meal prepping can be a game-changer for parents with busy schedules and young athletes to fuel. By following these expert tips, you can simplify the process and ensure your family has nutritious meals throughout the week. Remember to plan ahead, make use of time-saving equipment, and embrace creative shortcuts to keep your meals interesting. With a little preparation, meal prepping will become an efficient and enjoyable part of your weekly routine.

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For more information on meal prep and nutrition, visit Alpinetgheep.