New year, new you, right? Physique athletes are a different breed. There is no off-season, and motivation stays high year-round. If competition is even a small flicker of a thought for one of your goals for 2016, proper fueling and portioning should be a big priority for you.
If you don’t do a weekly prep, now is a great time to start playing around with the concept. A dedicated prep day can ensure you hit all your macros and that you are never without portioned foods that will keep you satisfied throughout the day.
I love prep and do it almost every Sunday Funday. Fundamental to understanding your body’s progress and changes is monitoring the calories and nutrients going into it. When I first “went clean,” I saw positive differences in my body composition. Once I nailed down meal prep and made a few tweaks, I saw my body’s true potential. As a trained chef and an athlete, I have a few ideas of what you need to get started with the basics.
Wüsthof Classic 8-Inch Cook’s Knife
Where to buy: amazon.com
If you can only afford one knife, this is your huckleberry. This classic chef’s knife has a lifetime guarantee and is dishwasher safe. (Never underestimate how dangerous and potentially painful doing “sharp” dishes can be.) This faithful companion has a forged high-carbon stainless steel blade and traditional-style triple-riveted, contoured handle. It’s heavy enough for extended cutting, chopping, slicing, and dicing. I know serious chefs who have had the same Wüsthof Classic for more than 15 years.
Chef’n Looseleaf Herb Stripper
Where to buy:
This simple little device strips greens, such as kale, chard, collard greens, or any leafy vegetable that has an undesirable stem. Furthermore, herbs—even “woody herbs” like oregano, thyme, and rosemary—can be stripped clean of the stem, making life easier and food tastier. Insert green of choice, pull through the hole, and then wash in the top rack of the dishwasher. It doesn’t get much easier. Note: Stems are full of fiber, so you don’t have to toss them.
Dexas Grippmat Cutting Boards
Cost: $20 (set of 4)
Where to buy: Bed Bath & Beyond
On a prep day you’ll plow through different types of food: meat, poultry, fish, potatoes, tomatoes, vegetables, and more. You cannot use the same cutting board for raw chicken that you use for vegetables without thoroughly cleaning it first. Forget that time-suck. With a good set of color-coded cutting boards, you’ll save time and ensure you don’t cross-contaminate anything. This set is durable and flexible, making it a cinch to funnel food into pans and bowls. The non-slip backing hugs the countertop to avoid slipping mishaps, and they can be tossed in the dishwasher.
Escali Primo Digital Scale
Where to buy: escali.com
A scale is a prep-day must. This nearly indestructible model lasted me through culinary school, and I’m still using it years later. It’s a best-seller for several reasons: It’s durable, comes in nine colors for those who like to match (mine is pink), is simple to operate, has a tare button (used to subtract the weight of the bowl), and, best of all, an attractive price point. This scale measures up to 11 pounds (let’s say you’re a beast who eats six ounces of chicken four times a day, this scale will measure out your 10.5 pounds of weekly fowl before you cook it) and down to 0.1 ounce increments for precision.
Microplane Herb and Salad Chopper
Where to buy: microplane.com
I know we aren’t addressing how to make your food taste amazingly awesome yet, but a good first step is to add fresh herbs. This gadget plows through parsley, basil, rosemary—you name it. It will cut the prep time of chopping kale ribbons and lettuce in half. The chopper, which won the 2015 iF Design Award, is compact, and its super-sharp surgical-steel blades are retractable for safety. Besides herbs, I use it for garlic and onions, and to break up dark chocolate to sprinkle over my clean desserts.
Nalgene Food Containers
Where to buy: nalgene.com
Once you’ve made all this nutritious food (and delicious, hopefully—if not, holler at me, I’m a pro), you need to store it properly. You may see Nalgene and think “water bottle,” but times have changed. I have had the pleasure of test-driving their perfectly portioned containers (four, eight, 16, and 32 ounce) and their smaller bottles (perfect for dressings and sauces), and the results are in: They are incredibly durable, are BPA-free, do not leak, and are dishwasher-safe. I hate doing dishes by hand. IM