If you’re looking to eat healthy ( and I mean super clean to lean down for the summer..bikini body maybe?:) or just get that body you’ve wanted), the first thing you’ll need to do is start having ALL your meals ready – for the ENTIRE week, ahead of time.
I’m far from perfect, but just to show you how you can make eating healthy easier, this is what my fridge looks like on a Sunday evening:
That’s all the meals put away for the entire week (sunday thru sunday) because you need to eat clean on the weekends too (as much as possible atleast). We (my husband and I) like to make sure that healthy food is always just a container away.
How can you do this? The answer is pretty obvious (and you probably don’t want to hear it), but the easiest way to do this is TO COOK IN BULK! You can do your groceries on a Friday night, prep the meat to be cooked on Saturday morning/afternoon ( for eg, you may want to marinate the chicken) and cook everything for the week in one go the next day. If you have the luxury of cooking your meals fresh everyday , then by all means feel free to do so, but..do DO SO ! However for most office-going people, I think cooking in bulk is the way to go if you don’t want to spend much time on this and still want to stick to your fitness goals. I’ve been cooking in bulk for the better part of six years now, and I get very uncomfortable when I don’t have my meals readily available this way!
I am going to post below, details of how I used to cook when I was competing. It was the easiest way for me to do this for the entire week and took me around 3 hours ( four if I was dilly dallying) ,end to end – one day of the week. It also saves you time because otherwise you’d be spending 35 mins- 1 hour a day on cooking ( depending on what you’re making of course). I would cook the same way even if I wasn’t competing – I would just add some carbs to the mix (eg: sweet potato, quinoa, lentils etc) and add a little more salt/sauces. The principles of healthy eating stay absolutely the same.
These are almost the exact same instructions I had sent my sister-in-law in NY last year to help prep my meals for the week when I was there on work. It was 5 weeks before my 2nd competition, so I couldn’t afford to veer from my diet & exercise then. The below was my instructions for 5 days worth of food – I was eating around 4 meals of these per day @ around 120g cooked meat and 1 cup of veggies per meal. You will need more or less depending on your age, weight and fitness goals. I’m still grateful to my super sweet sister-in-law who did all this without any complaints The instructions are long because I wanted to put in as much detail as possible so it’s clear, but please don’t be overwhelmed ! The entire process is SO SIMPLE in reality. Try it once or twice and you’ll be good to go after that. I used to buy all my groceries at Costco and that really was the most convenient ( and cost effective) way to go about it.
What you’ll need
For the meat/protein:
- 1 kg extra lean ground turkey
- 1 kg haddock ( white fish) — You could also just buy 6 cans of crab meat and sauté them with cumin , olive oil , chilly flakes . I used to find that tastier as well as easier, because it’s already so will only take few minutes to sauté/season.
- 1kg firm tofu –regular/firm tofu is very different from the silken or soft tofu. If you’re trying to lose weight/lean down please buy the FIRM tofu.
- Egg whites one or two ( if using large eggs, one is enough) – I normally use the pasteurized egg whites that come in a carton for this.
For the spices and flavoring:
- One tablespoon of salsa or one tablespoon of just cut ip tomatoes
- Black pepper
- mashed /minced Garlic (garlic paste)
- Cumin or allspice or paprika
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Red chilli flakes
- Salt to taste
For the veggies:
- 1 kg broccoli
- 500 g French beans
- Big bag of spinach or Arugula ( around 500g)
I had experimented with various ways of cooking ( crock pot, pressure cooker, oven, stove top etc), and I found cooking in the oven to be the fastest for me, because I could cook almost all of these in one shot. If you don’t have enough baking/oven trays, you can buy five or six big disposable oven foil trays so you can just cook everything at the same time in the oven.
I generally prep everything first so that I can put everything into the oven together at 375 degrees and just take them out at different times.
Ok first step- preheat oven to 375 degrees. Then:
Prepping the food:
In a large mixing bowl combine the turkey with an egg white, some lemon juice, black pepper , tsp of mashed garlic or some paprika, tbsp of olive oil . You can add any other herbs/spices that you like. Mix really well , and when the mixture is even, the turkeys ready to go in the oven. But prep the others first
2. White fish ( skip this if you’re going with the crab meat) :
I usually combine 1 tbsp olive oil, pepper, lime juice ( can add as much as you like..i usually add quite a bit) , 1 tsp garlic , chilly flakes and tablespoon of salsa or tomatoes and brush over the fish once you’ve placed them in the tray. I like to add some capers too.
Same marinade as for the white fish but no tomatoes. so 1 tbsp olive oil, lime juice, 1tsp garlic, chilli flakes. Brush the cut up tofu slices on one side with this on the tray ( keep half the marinade because after 20 minutes of cooking you’ll need it to brush the other side)
4. Brocolli: Same marinade as in step 3.Brush the broccoli with this mixture once they’re placed in the tray.
5. Spinach/Aragula: Chop /tear into small piece and stir fry with chilly flakes and olive oil .
6. French beans: I usually just microwave them for 4 minutes in a bowl covered with cling wrap with a small opening in the wrap. Then I just cut them into little pieces with kitchen scissors :))
Once you have the trays of food prepped you can put all of them into the oven at the same time and cooking times are as follows:
1. Turkey : This comes out last. 1 hour (this is for around 1.5 inch thickness of meat in the tray)
2. Tofu: (40 minutes total) first 20 minutes, then you take it out and flip the tofu pieces and rub the marinade on the other side and cook another 20.
3. Brocolli: 35 minutes ( I like it slightly overcooked so 35 minutes was good for me, but I think most people will prefer to take it out around 25 minutes)
4. White fish: 25 – 30 minutes ( till is not transparent at all and flakes easily with fork)
The process looks something like this :
I would quote this as around 30 minutes of prep time and an hour of cooking time. I used to use another 1.5 hours to portion out my food for the week and clean up. So that’s 3 hours of work but you’re all set for the week and you don’t have to wonder what you’ll eat for your next meal!
If you think you’ll get bored with the same food over and over again , do something different for the sauces for the meals, change up the spices and when you’re not competing there’s literally a world full of things you can experiment with to come up with healthy, non-boring recipes. One site that I really like for healthy recipes is this one . She has really amazing ideas and recipes for competitors and non-competitors alike plus her background story is pretty darn great too!
I realize this post was very long, but I hope someone out there will find it useful. I certainly would have found it very useful if I knew how to cook like this before I had started out. It took me quite a bit of experimentation to get it down pat.
P.S: Cover photo and abs, courtesy my husband:)