Cyclist's Guide to Meal Preparation
In an effort to get our bodies fine-tuned before we get into the thick of racing season, Corey Morenz and Roger Parmelee got together to discuss nutrition, meal prep and the ever important question - what to drink with what you eat.
Meal prep may sound intimidating, monotonous, bland, expensive, or any combination of those terms. All those Instagram pictures of Tupperware lined up and symmetrically filled. Who wants to waste their time doing that? I’m sure you are thinking that you already know how to diet; the quickest way to up your watts/kg is to simply not eat. Right?
Fasting is a sure fire way to achieve one thing – forcing your body to catabolize your muscle tissue so you end up with a sickly, Froome-like physique. Maybe that is what you are after… but if not, we are here to break down some proper dieting essentials and food prep skills for you.
Menu du Jour
Amuse Bouche: Shopping and Planning, best enjoyed with Evil Twin / Omnipollo Lemonade IPA
Appetizer: Multitasking (Podcasts!) and meal Prep, paired with Half Acre “Double Daisy Cutter” DIPA
Entrée: Slow cooked chicken, Chili, Rice, Veggies and Lost Nation “Mosaic” IPA
Dessert: Fruits of Labor with Evil Twin Brewing “Lost Souls” IPA
Meal prep is popular to do on a Sunday evening, prior to starting the work week. With this in mind, I setup a FreshDirect order to be dropped off at my apartment that afternoon. Pro tip – if you are time crunched, make a grocery list and do your shopping online. You’ll make fewer impulse purchases and save a bunch of time. I did all my “shopping” and checked out in less time than I would have spent just waiting in line at my local Whole Foods. Soon Roger arrived, and like any good teammate, he brought another meal prep essential – beer.
The key to successful meal prep is multitasking. When I’m doing it solo, I’ll usually catch up on podcasts. Doing it with a friend of course makes it more fun – so designate an “accountabil-a-buddy” if you need extra motivation to get this done each week.
We started with “mise en place” –an organization technique chefs use to assemble meals quickly and effortlessly. We unpacked our FreshDirect boxes, laid out the ingredients on the counter, set out mixing bowls, pans and other utensils and then measured, cut, peeled and sliced everything before we started cooking. We decided on making two recipes – chili and rice and Greek salad with chicken - since we were splitting the work and no one wants to eat the same meal 5-10x in one week.
After the mise en place, the rest of the work came together quickly and easy. We put the rice to a simmer, began to braise chicken and then got to work on browning the beef and setting up the chili. Once that was done, we were left with some downtime to discuss training plans, download data and analysis wattage – because what else do cyclists do when they are together??
45 minutes later, all the food was prepped. I like to enjoy a meal while everything is fresh. Torn between classic chili and rice or pulled chicken with Greek salad we turned to the original tie break – the coin flip. The coin may or may not have been caught in the air – those IPAs take a toll – but Greek was a clear winner. We sat down for a romantic teammate dinner and felt our body fat percentages dropping. Just remember – even on a diet, friends don’t let friends drink bad beer.
By this time, the food had cooled enough so that we could portion out the meals into individual plastic containers. Investing in some symmetric, re-useable containers is another great way to keep yourself organized and save time from looking for different size brands, tops and containers in your cabinet. 28oz volume is usually a perfect size – we each picked up a set of these to use - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0128YT76S
You can eyeball the ingredients if you like, but I find using a kitchen scale is actually a quicker way to evenly distribute your ingredients and meals. Buy a kitchen scale, put a container on it, tare it, then measure away. Target 3 – 4 ounces of protein (chili or chicken in this case), a slightly larger portion of “carbs” (rice, etc) and then try to fill the rest of the container with vegetables (quick options are salad greens or quickly steamed/microwaved frozen vegetables).
Cut out some of the excessive small talk and waxing poetic on the current batch of stellar, small batch IPAs that Roger brought and start to finish was under 60 minutes. End result was a seated dinner for two plus 12 meals packed for the week. Cost was somewhere around $40 (with organic meat and vegetables), or just under $3 per meal.
Remind me again why you don’t have time or money to meal prep? I know I would spend that much time waiting in probably two lunchtime rush lines downtown. Let’s quickly recount the benefits – assuming you can avoid procrastinating and pick a night (or even a morning) to get this done, you’ll save $$$, save time, eat better, lose weight…. And maybe even grab that Strava KOM you’ve been pining over!