For as long as I can remember, I struggle with the food portion of getting low body fat. I feel like I have the workout part down but my problem is I always seem hungry. This isn’t a huge problem because if I’m constant with my workout I can usually overcome my calorie intake. Unfortunately, lately I seem to have less and less time and money. Any suggestions of things I could get that aren’t that expensive and or good recipes to meal prep for the week?

– Caleb Z.


Hi Caleb, my advice is to think like a grandma – be resourceful and use a slow cooker! You can combine just about any land animal protein and vegetables with a starch in a Crock-Pot® to cook for the day, anywhere from 6-10 hours depending on the recipe. This is not only economical time-wise, but in reducing dishes to clean afterward as well. You can easily achieve high quality meals for less than $5 each by cooking in batches. Invest 30 bucks in a slow-cooker and it will pay for itself in under 5 uses.

My personal healthy favorites are herb-rubbed pork tenderloin with root vegetables, chicken thighs in chile verde sauce (makes great pulled chicken), Thai tofu curry, and sweet potato black bean chili.

Consider cook time and liquid in your choice of protein source. Half-pound chicken breasts will take longer to cook than broken up ground beef. Leaner meats like flank steak need a little extra liquid, but only use enough to just cover the meat. If leaving everything all day, I’d suggest wild rice, corn or beans as your complex carbohydrate over pasta or white rice that will dissolve and turn your dish mushy.

Use whatever vegetables you have or like – just prepare/add them based on the type of vegetable. Starchy vegetables like carrots, baby potatoes, and cubed turnips can be added first at the bottom of the pot. Crisp watery vegetables like onion, celery and bell pepper have flavors that disperse, so chop or dice based on your texture preference. Watery and leafy vegetables like cherry tomatoes, zucchini and kale and should be added in the last hour or so. Everything in between like green beans, asparagus and mushrooms can go in whole at the start or diced toward the end of cooking.

Don’t be intimidated, Caleb!  Anything new takes practice, just like with working out.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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