Goal Setting: Meal Planning & Prepping

When you’re trying to achieve new goals or improve athletic performance, it’s time to acknowledge that sport is not only a recreational outlet, it’s also a way of life. And if you’re leaving nutrition out of your training plain, you’re denying your true potential. Some elite athletes say proper diet and nutrition is 70-100% of the game, and it takes time, energy, and commitment to establish a meal planning and prepping routine that works.


Four Steps of Preparation

To help you understand how to meal prep for athletic performance, we’ve tapped Lindsay Langford, board certified Sports Dietitian and Nutrition Coach for active individuals and professional athletes. Lindsey suggests a meal planning template that guides athletes through seven days of eating. This template asks athletes to follow a four-step process.

Step 1: Learn about the components that make a meal and snacks. A meal contains a carbohydrate for fuel, a protein for strength, and a color (fruits and vegetables) for antioxidants. A snack contains a carb or color and a protein.


Insert LL's co-branded 3 Food Group Complete Meal Guide as image


Step 2: Decide what your meals and snacks will be for the week. Start filling in the template by writing in your favorite meals and go-to snacks. When you have empty spots on the grid, reference the 3 Food Group Complete Meal Guide, search Pinterest for healthy air fryer recipes, or Google easy sheet pan meals.

Once your template is complete, stick it to your fridge. This is your master meal plan for the week. It will help you execute as planned, and it will create awareness when you get derailed. At the end of the week, you can look back and see how you did. Do you notice patterns right away? Are you getting a lot of carbs but not enough protein? Do you have a pain or trouble meal—the meal you struggle with most? (This is usually dinner. Snacks aren’t too far behind.)

If you incorporated healthy meals and snacks and followed your meal plan, congratulations! Try making connections between what you ate and how you felt and performed in your sport. As you plan for future weeks, keep using the 3 Food Group Complete Meal Guide. Aim to add variety and improve at least one meal a week.

If you weren’t able to follow your meal plan, Steps 3 and 4 could be your game changers.

Step 3: Get to the grocery store. Meal prepping starts with grocery shopping. Before you go, write down your meals for the week and know what’s in your fridge and pantry. For many athletes, batch prepping on the weekend is a helpful tool, but it’s not for everyone. Figure out what approach will allow you to stand back and feel confident you’re set for the week and ready to go.

Step 4: Prepare items for the week to facilitate success. Make your fruits and veggies as accessible as possible. When you come home from the store, cut up your produce if applicable. This goes for pineapples, watermelons, strawberries, broccoli, green beans–foods that hold their integrity. Portion out your colors too. Pull grapes off their vines. Measure and bag a day’s worth of dried fruit.

You can also cook off and prep your proteins. This starts by purchasing ingredients that make your life easier. Buy rotisserie chicken and debone it right away. Use your template so you know the meat is for a chicken Caesar wrap for lunch on Monday and a chipotle chicken burrito for dinner on Tuesday.


Be Balanced & Realistic

Telling athletes exactly what and how to eat every day doesn’t usually work. Every athlete has unique personal preferences, and most are strong willed. Like everyone else, athletes also get busy with work, family, and priorities that pop up unexpectedly. Lindsay’s meal plan template allows for deviation, and it works as long as you’re making balanced, healthy meals. When something happens that knocks you off your game plan, be ready by keeping a stocked kitchen, opting for whole foods instead of highly processed foods, and reducing barriers.


About Lindsey

Lindsay Langford is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.  Lindsay received her Bachelor’s degree from University of Alabama and Masters from Louisiana Tech University.  Lindsay has been with Ascension St. Vincent Sports Performance (ASVSP) for 13 years working with athletes from middle school to the professional level.  Through ASVSP, she consults or has consulted with teams such as:  Indiana Pacers, Butler University, Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Fever and US Soccer Women’s National Team.  Lindsay is married with two young boys and enjoys all things outdoors, traveling and house projects (and Davids Buddah Blend Tea)