Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That
I cannot begin to explain to the uninitiated how much my new health-conscious lifestyle eats into my free time (probably as much as I used to…eat). It is So. Very. Easy. to just get some takeout after the gym, or some crappy frozen meal you throw into the microwave for a few minutes. So easy, but you won’t get very far with that, at least I didn’t. If you want to keep track of what you are eating so you can actually lose the fat/weight, the easiest way to accomplish that is to prepare and weigh everything yourself.
The main problem with cooking your own meals, other than the skill typically required, is the time. On a good day I feel mind-warpingly lazy when I get home, much less after being in the gym for 2-3 hours. Compound that with the intermittent fasting protocol I’ve been following, when I get home at 9 I am in no mood to prepare a complicated dinner. Then you factor in my “cooking” skills and I am left eating dinner at 11, not exactly my ideal night.
So what is a ravenous, health conscious, big lifter to do? Stick to the basics!
Planning Is Your Salvation
Same as with your workouts, if you want to get through this while keeping your sanity intact, you will have to plan and prepare! I have found picking a day, and preparing a week’s worth of food is usually the best strategy. That way you can eat fresh food, and not have to spend an insane amount of time on preparation. The question now is what the hell to buy and prepare. If it wasn’t obvious from the title: a crap-ton of meat and vegetables!
What you are seeing in that picture is almost eight pounds of beef tenderloin, along with ten pounds of mixed vegetables. Something that for me, will last about a week. What I don’t have a picture of is the industrial sized package of boneless chicken breast to balance out my main food groups. However you accomplish it, get yourself a healthy amount of fatty meat (beef, lamb, pork, or a mix), and a bunch lean meat (chicken, turkey, bison). Once you’ve taken a decent chunk out of the local fauna, it’s time to set your sights on vegetables! You have tons of options, dependant on your preferences, not just on what to get, but also on where. When the season is right, I’ll go to the local farmer’s market and load up on a wide variety of veggies. If that’s not an option, whatever doesn’t look like crap at the grocery will do.
To get all of this raw material processed, you’re going to need a giant bowl, giant pan, two cutting boards (one for veggies, one for meat), ditto on knives, and a ton of space. Take care of the vegetables first, thoroughly washing them, then cutting them into decent size chunks to throw into the bowl. Easy right? SUPER EASY!
Now on to…butchering the rest of this meal…
Depending on your cuts of meat, this might go differently for you. I really like the tenderloin since you can just cut it into steaks of whatever thickness your heart desires. The general plan here is to just cut up the slab of meat into more manageable portions. What “manageable” means is up to you, I tried to shoot for 16 oz steaks.
The chicken is even easier; just take the chicken cutlets and cut them in half, removing what little gristle they make it out of processing with.
At this point, you should have a giant bowl of vegetables, and two heaping piles of meat. If you don’t…well, you should probably have locked up the dogs before you started this project. Whatever the state of your supplies, it is time to power on through to the seasoning part of this masterpiece. Some of you may want to experiment with smaller samples to get the seasoning right, which is probably smart. For the non-lameasses, like myself, just go into the spice cabinet and grab whatever herbs and spices smell good. With your seasonings of choice by your side, lay out one of the types of meat evenly in the giant pan you got earlier. Once the meat is laid out, spice to your heart’s content. I usually just coat all of the meat on one side with each of the herbs and spices, then add the super secret ingredient: tons of olive oil!
If you have a basting brush lying around, use that to make sure all the pieces are well coated with the seasoning and olive oil.
Final step in the prep work is portioning. Bust out the Ziploc bags and food scale, and start bagging the meat and veggies into single meal portions by weight. I went with one pound of meat per Ziploc bag, and same with the vegetables. It also helps to write the exact weight on the bag for easy entry into your food tracker.
Good Old Fashioned Barbecue!
There are, of course, plenty of ways to cook up the meal. Personally, I greatly prefer cooking all of my meals on the grill. Mostly because there is little to no cleanup afterward.
If you’re still following my lead: while the grill is heating up, go ahead and grab a bag-o-meat and a bag-o-veggies out of the refrigerator. There is still a little more to do with the vegetables to get them barbecue ready, so grab some of those tasty herbs and spices again, along with the olive oil and aluminum foil. Cut a healthy length of aluminum foil, and dump the vegetables out into it.
Now season them to taste – which for me was in a very similar fashion to the meat – and dump in some olive oil. Then roll up the foil, and crease the edges to make it into a semi-sealed pocket for the veggies to ghetto stir fry in.
Hopefully the grill is nice and toasty by now, somewhere around 500 degrees fahrenheit preferably. If it’s ready, throw your speed-meal on the flames, and let the magic start. I’ll leave the details of the actual barbecuing to personal preference, just try to make sure you cook stuff enough that it probably won’t kill you.
The Fun Part
Now that the work is behind you, time to sit back and enjoy the delicious fruits of your labor. Feel free to add some side dishes to spice things up. Sometimes I’ll cook up a half dozen eggs to go with my meal, or a few cups of rice, all dependant on my mood and what macros seem lacking that day.
Most importantly: make sure to take advantage all of that free time you just made for yourself! Which if you’re like me, means you get to go to sleep early! (WOO HOO)