For many of us training fits in somewhere between work, family and even the occasional bit of socialising… Getting nutrition right in the middle of all of that can take a little planning. We take a look at the 8 things you can do to prep ahead to keep training and nutrition on schedule for the big day.
1. Plan a weekly menu. This does sound really old-fashioned but it makes a huge difference. If you want to get really creative you can run a 3-week menu cycle so that you don’t get bored. You may think that you don’t have that many recipes or meals that you create but you’ll be surprised once you get down to it how much you can actually make. Menus are a huge time-saver in the long run and they take the stress out of trying to think everyday about what you are going to eat. Menu-up and then you can put your mental focus into your training.
2. Plan your meals for about 5 days a week, usually Monday to Friday. With the best will in the world, you are going to end up missing at least one meal at home or spontaneously eat out. Planning for 5 days means you are less likely to waste food you have bought in advance.
3. Plan your menu around the day you will actually go to the supermarket. Plan to use things that will go off quickly in the first few days (fresh fish, chicken, lettuce) and use things that keep a little longer towards the end of the week (pasta dishes with tinned fish, stews, casseroles, omelettes). That way you can save time (and money) by not having to go to the supermarket more than once a week.
4. Remember to include protein (chicken, fish, pulses, eggs), carbs (go for wholegrain and high fibre) and fruit or vegetables at every meal. Ideally, vegetables should make up around ½ of your meal with ¼ protein and ¼ carbs.
5. Now that you have set out your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the week, make a shopping list and GO AND BUY IT. This might sound obvious but lots of people spend hours over the menu but never actually bring the list to the supermarket.
6. Stock up: The first day you get to the supermarket, do stock up on cupboard essentials so that you can pull together a quick, store cupboard meal if you are stuck. Pasta, rice, tins of beans, tomatoes, salmon, tuna and sweetcorn are all good standbys that can be quickly made into a healthy dinner.
7. Plan ahead for snacks as well as meals. Nuts, yoghurt, fruit, seeds, no-drain tuna, protein bars. Stock up and remember to have some snacks at work and in your kit bag just in case.
8. Look out for new recipes and ideas. Once you have your basic menu put together you can update it with new ideas and snacks. Keep an eye out for new ways to get your protein and your snacks. If you’re stuck for inspiration check out the quick and easy recipes at www.johnwest.ie.
Sarah Keogh in association with John West
Consultant Nutritionist - MSc., BSc., MINDI
Sarah has a degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Trinity College and a Masters in European Food Regulation.
She runs a food and nutrition consultancy giving one-to-one advice on nutrition and diet as well as working with some of Ireland's leading food companies.