Sunday afternoons are all about food prep for me. I tend to batch cook lots of my food, two or three times a week. It makes life a lot easier and saves on firing up the oven just for one tiddly meal all the time. I know a lot of my bodybuilding friends prep food ahead of time, too, and it’s always interesting to see how differently everyone does it.
Here are a few of my tips and “recipes” (such as they are). I hope they help, or give you some ideas.
This is a really lazy option but very easy and I’ve yet to find one single thing which doesn’t taste good cooked this way. It’s simple: just get whatever it is you’re wanting to eat (one or more veggie choices, and your protein choice – fish, chicken, turkey work well), chop it into roughly the same sized bits, put in a baking tray (try to keep it to one layer so nothing goes mushy) and bake. Spray a bit of oil over the top if you want/if it needs it, or add any marinades or sauces you might like. I’m a fan of adding thick slices of lemon, garlic (have I mentioned I’m single), a chili (flakes or fresh).
That’s just chicken. I don’t have any photos of a chicken/veg mix but I’m sure you can imagine it! At any one time I’ll have one or two different variations on veg/meat or fish tray bake going on. I portion it out once it’s cooked – it makes for very quick and easy meals during the week.
Kind of the same thing, only for your veg. Again, I’ve yet to meet a vegetable which doesn’t respond well to being baked in the oven. Use fresh or frozen, it doesn’t seem to matter. Just make sure everything’s roughly the same size/shape (so it cooks evenly) and laid out in one layer. For even easier clean-up, line your baking tray with foil. Veggies I’ve done this way:
- brussels sprouts (!) (fresh are great, although you may need to halve the gigano-brussels. Frozen are really good for this, particularly the frozen baby brussels)
- fine beans/green beans. They go a bit crunchy and crispy. Maybe I’m deluded but it’s a bit like having a green chip/french fry. OK, so it’s been a while since I had an actual chip… Again, fresh or frozen work well
- broccoli. Yes really. Roasted/baked broccoli is lovely! Just watch that the end bits of the florets (I’m sure there’s a technical word for it) doesn’t burn. You do not want your home to smell of burning broccoli, just trust me on this.
- combos: try sweet potato or new potatoes, swede or squash, onions or shallots, brussels (!), cherry tomatoes. Anything you like. Most things sweeten up when baked like this
- sweet potatoes. Easy as you like – just cut them into the size/weight you need, stab a few times and put in a baking tray. Add a bit of water (seems to stop them burning and sticking).
From a food prep bodybuilder-y point of view, it’s very easy to keep track of your macros if you prep food like this. Just weigh out how much of each you put in the tray, then weigh it all once it’s cooked (when you transfer it to whatever you’re storing it in), then divide that all as required. Keep a pen and paper in the kitchen for scribbling or, like me, use a chalkboard (not a hope in hell of remembering what I’ve cooked let alone how much of it all is in the pan!)
I still praise the happy day my Mum bought me a slow cooker. I use it all the time. Just bung everything in! Mince and veg. Entire chicken breasts (cook them slowly then shred them with two forks). I even did a whole chicken in there the other day (which was amazing – I then made a stock with the bones which the dog then enjoyed for a few days). Trust me, I have no culinary expertise. A slow cooker just makes it so easy. And you can put stuff in last thing at night then wake up to a house which smells like roast dinner.
Bit more prep but, really, doesn’t take long! Make some kind of mince filling (in the slow cooker?) – turkey mince, beef mince, whatever you like. Obviously add in whatever veg, spices etc you’d normally add to your mince dishes.
Cut bell peppers in half, trim or remove the stalks (they smell nasty if they burn!) and remove all the seeds.
Stuff with your mince, and bake.
This is one of those easy things I just assumed everyone (or every bodybuilder anyway) made but recent Facebook chats made me realise that’s not so. Here, then, is my “.recipe”. I’m pretty sure I can’t take the credit for this; I think it was Kat Millar who first taught me this trick when I prepped with her in 2011.
Steam some cauliflower (I use the 1kg bags of frozen – much easier than chopping a whole cauliflower in my kitchen which is the size of a gerbil cage)
Drain it well. Then drain it again, cos cauliflowers really do get soggy.
Blend it up (I use a handheld blender)
Mix in protein powder (I like unflavoured pea protein or goat whey. Please don’t use your pina colada choco nutso fudge flavoured whey for this) I’d add about 60g for a 1kg bag of cauli.
Mix in anything else you like – pepper, chili, herbs, spices. I quite like curry spices for this.
Stir it all up, allow to cool, portion out and store.
This is great as a snack by itself, as a side dish to anything for which you’d usually use mashed potato, or with eggs (poached, on the top, is my favourite). I guess you could also use it for topping shepherds pie or something?
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.