As I have talked about many times throughout these newsletters, to build a lean, strong, healthy body you have to nail your diet. You have to eat the right amounts of the right foods in the right proportions. But of course, this is much easier said than done. Eating nutritionally A+ meals can get expensive, and cooking can require a lot of time.

To overcome these issues, there are a number of strategies you can employ. Today, I want to share with you a picture I took after finishing my weekly meal prep, discuss a some key points, and shed light on how to approach your meals when you are pressed for time and on a budget.

What you are seeing here are my lunches and dinners for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and my lunch for Friday. (I also used food cooked with this batch for my dinner on Sunday, but that is not included here.) Not the prettiest picture (or prettiest food) but it works.

Point #1 Why Meal Prep In The First Place

The best way to ensure you are getting the right amounts and proportions of the right types of foods is to cook your own meals. Pretty straight forward. When you cook your own meals you have complete control over the ingredients and portion sizes of every aspect of your meal. No extra olive oil. No hidden butter. No carb portion labeled “4 ounces” when it is really 6. Etcetera etcetera.

Second, preparing your own meals is much less expensive than eating out. Especially when you are trying to eat healthy. For instance, if I ate every one of my lunches and dinners at a healthy food bar, I would have spent no less than an average of $15 per meal. Cooking your own meals, however, will save you a boatload of money. For instance here, all in, the meals you see cost me about $65 total.

Point #2 Every Meal Is The Same. Is That Good or Bad?

You probably noticed that every meal is the same. You may also be asking yourself if that is good or bad. Well it depends. From a nutrient standpoint mixing up your meals is always better as different foods contain different amounts of vitamins, minerals, other nutrients. Thus, ideally, you want to eat a variety of foods to ensure you get a full spectrum of nutrients.

So, given eating a variety of different foods is optimal, why did I make the same thing for every meal? Because (perhaps like you) I have a (very) limited amount of time I can allocate to cooking.

Between work, being a father, and being a husband I can really only carve out a few hours on Sunday to cook my meals for the week. And if you only have a few hours to work with and a smallish kitchen, there is no way you’re going to be able to cook different foods for every meal. Now I probably took things to the extreme here, but from a logistical standpoint, it really helps.

Throw the potatoes in first. Steam the veggies while the potatoes bake. Pack the Veggies. Once the potatoes have been in the oven for a while, throw the chicken in the oven too so you kill two birds with one stone. Pack the avocados, tomatoes, and peanut butter while the potatoes and chicken finish. And finally pack the chicken and potatoes when they finish at the same time, Bam, done.

In an hour and forty five minutes (and again, for $65) I had dinner for Sunday, lunch and dinner for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and Lunch for Friday. That’s a pretty great return in my opinion. (I don’t cook for Friday dinner, Saturday lunch or dinner, or Sunday lunch because my wife and I are usually out and about for those meals and we budget ourselves so we can afford to eat those meals out. And I mean budget ourselves financially and calorically.)

Point #3 Do I Get Bored Of The Same Meals?

Yes. If i’m being honest I do get bored. But here is how I look at it. I have a goal I want to achieve so my question is, “what do I have to do to achieve my goal?” In this case, because of time and financial limitations, it means eating the same meal ten times a week. And you know what, because I know this is such a key part of achieving my goal, it’s okay. The mental benefit outweighs the boredom. And while I’m not a michelin rated chef, I’m not a terrible cook either, so the meals don’t taste half bad.

Summing It Up: Sometimes It Ain’t Fun, But You Just Gotta Do It

At the end of the day, as with so many things in life, when it comes to achieving your health and fitness goals, sometimes (a lot of the times) what you have to do isn’t fun. It just has to get done. I used to be able to eat every one of my meals out (at specific places that fit my dietary requirements) but once my son was born, that equation changed.

Now I have to allocate time to cooking and often eat the same meals throughout the week, but again, it’s worth it. I get to feel confident in the way I look and I know I am maintaining my health for myself and my family. All for a few hours in the kitchen and a little boredom when eating. That’s nothing in my opinion. How about you?

Zach Moore

Founder & Director of Zach Moore Training