The Ultimate Guide to Meal Prepping for Triathletes

Have you ever felt envious when looking at the well-portioned meals displayed on your favourite Instagram influencers’ page? Do you wish you possessed the capability to do the same? Do you believe it will require an excessive amount of your time?

You don’t have to spend days preparing fancy meals for athlete meal prep, and it is not as difficult or complicated as it may seem. To get started, you only need a few hours one day a week, along with some food and containers to store it in.


Top 5 meal prep tips for busy triathletes and runners - IntensEATfit

Meal prepping is the most effective and convenient method to maintain consistency in your food intake when striving to adhere to your nutritional and fitness objectives.

  • Prevent aggravation for those times when you get home and are hangry and nothing is ready to eat
  • Avoids wasted time wondering what’s for dinner (you know, where you go from looking in the fridge…to the freezer…to the pantry…and back to the fridge)
  • Allows you to think ahead to prepare meals that support your athletic goals (whether that’s fueling up for a weekend long run, supporting recovery from strength training, or just eating an overall balanced diet to keep your body healthy)
  • Allows you to prepare meals that may fit a certain diet you follow

If you don’t meal prep, there is a high chance that you will resort to purchasing convenient foods or visiting the drive-through (especially if you usually don’t find joy in cooking every evening).

Common Meal Prep Mistakes

I want to clarify that there is no definitive “correct” or “incorrect” method for meal prepping. Nevertheless, there might be certain approaches that can help tailor your meal prep to meet the demands of your busy life as an athlete.

Here are some mistakes that people often make when meal prepping.

  • Too repetitive. No one wants to eat the same exact meal over and over again. It can be tiring and boring after a couple of times. Try to include some variety in your meal prep so you are more likely to not get sick of it.
  • Overly complicated. If something is too complicated you are less likely to do it. What I like to say is make it stupid and simple. You should be able to prepare your meal prep even on days when you are busy or not feeling your best.
  • Not customizing to your needs. Many athletes make prepared meals that are too generic and don’t take the time to tailor them to their schedule or performance needs. Ex. If you know you are going to be on the go frequently, you don’t want to make only microwavable meals.
  • Trying to do it all in one day. The whole “meal prep everything on Sunday” thing just doesn’t work for everyone. It can take hours to prep food for the whole week and not everything stays fresh in the fridge. Instead, break your meal prep up into more manageable segments.

Meal Prepping for Athletes: Four Tangible Tips

The Beginner's Guide to Meal Prepping - Muscle & Fitness


One meal prep hack that I discovered some time ago involves cooking a larger quantity of food while already dedicating time to prepare a meal. By simply doubling or tripling the batch, this approach offers several advantages.

  • Athletes often have demanding training schedules and you might not know when you will have the energy to cook next. 
  • It saves on prep and clean-up time because you only have to do the hard work once.

I am not referring to a lengthy Sunday meal preparation session, where you dedicate hours in the kitchen to cook five portions of the same dish. Instead, a more feasible approach would be to cook a larger quantity for dinner and consume it for lunch or after exercise the following day.

Here are a few examples of this.

  • Make extra ground beef at dinner during taco night, then use it in a stroganoff recipe the next day
  • Cook up a double or triple batch of your favourite soup for dinner, then have it for lunch the next few days
  • Prep a larger batch of brown rice or Jasmine rice to use throughout the week

Here’s a bonus tip for hacking: Think sequentially and rephrase the following text without altering its meaning. Make sure not to include any new information or exclude any existing information.

Save extra time on cooking and prep by purchasing a rotisserie chicken and incorporating it into various dishes throughout the week, such as wraps, soups, salads, and more.


One common problem I notice with meal prep tips on the internet is that the ingredient lists for recipes tend to be excessively lengthy. As a result, you may end up with a surplus of a particular sauce or spice after preparing a single recipe, causing our already costly grocery bills to increase even more.

When giving advice to my endurance athletes, I often suggest selecting recipes or meals that have ingredients in common when making their grocery lists. For instance, if they prepare a chicken stir-fry for dinner, I recommend they have chicken wraps for the following day’s lunch.

By thinking in a step-by-step manner, you can rephrase the following text without altering its meaning: This will assist you in staying focused and feeling prepared for your upcoming grocery shopping excursion.


When you return from a long run or bike ride, it is highly frustrating to not have any food portioned or prepared to consume.

Even if you don’t typically engage in a full-scale meal preparation session, pre-portioning and preparing at least your basic ingredients will be of great assistance. Simple food items suitable for pre-making and dividing into portions include:

  • Trail mix, nuts, dried fruits, cubed cheese, and other balanced snacks into separate zip-lock bags
  • Protein sources including chicken, fish, steak, etc. into 4 or 6-oz portions
  • Pre-cut, wash and measure your fruit and vegetables 

Using one-pot and sheet pan meals can be greatly beneficial for busy athletes during meal prep and throughout the week. It reduces both clean-up and preparation time as everything is cooked in the same pot or pan.

Sheet pan and one-pot meals are prepared as their name implies. Simply combine all of your ingredients (I suggest including a carbohydrate, protein, and vegetable) in either a pot or sheet pan, and then cook on the stove or in the oven. These recipes are fast and easy, leaving no room for excuses!

Now it’s your opportunity to think step by step.

Meal Prep Recipe Ideas

Here are some of our favourite recipes and food ideas that are suitable for meal prep, depending on the number of days you’re prepping for and whether you plan to freeze some of the meals.


  • Meal Prep Breakfast Sandwiches – You can make a variety of ways depending on your flavour preferences.  My two favourites are 1) eggs, mushrooms, chives, and Swiss cheese on an English muffin, or 2) eggs, ham, and cheddar cheese on an English muffin.  Really all you need to do is prep a big batch of sandwiches, wrap each individually in plastic wrap, then freeze.  You can remove each from its wrap and microwave it in the morning when you’re ready to eat. 
  • Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos – The same idea as above but in a tortilla instead of an English muffin!  You can get creative with these and add veggies, but keep in mind if you’re freezing them, you don’t want too many watery veggies.  That will create a soggy burrito upon reheating.
  • Protein Pancakes – A high-quality protein pancake mix (like Kodiak cakes) is a great option to keep on hand.  You can whip up a batch of these and freeze them, pulling them out in the mornings to reheat in the microwave.  Use pure maple syrup on top or use frozen fruit that you’ve defrosted in the microwave.
  • Chia Seed Pudding – While different recipes use different ratios of ingredients, I find the texture best when using 2 tbsp chia seeds plus 1/2 cup milk or milk alternative as the base.  From there, you can add fruit, sweeteners, Greek yoghurt, or even protein powder to create your own unique combos.  You can meal prep this the night before so your breakfast is ready to go the next morning.
  • Overnight Oats – The basic ratio you can use for overnight oats is 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup milk of choice, 1/4 cup Greek yoghurt, and 1 tbsp of chia seeds.  (If you’re not using yoghurt, boost the milk a bit.)  From that, you can mix it up however you want by adding different fruits, sweeteners, nuts/nut butters, or other add-ins of your choice.  I personally love this base recipe mixed with a spoonful of cashew butter, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a handful of dark chocolate chips.  Overnight oats will last in the fridge for a few days, so you can feel free to make a few jars over the weekend for your weekday breakfasts.
  • Baked Egg Cups – Whisk together 10 eggs in a bowl with a splash of milk.  Set aside for now.  Sauté bell pepper, a small onion, and either another veggie or breakfast meat of your choice in a pan with a bit of oil. Add to the bowl the eggs, along with a cup of cheese, a pinch of salt, and a few shakes of pepper. Pour into a greased muffin tin and bake for about 20 minutes at 350 F, or until the eggs are set.  It’s like a portable omelette!  These can be stored in the fridge for up to 4-5 days and reheated in the microwave.
  • Breakfast Hash – A hash is easy to make, reheats well, and gives you flexibility based on what you have on hand.  One of my go-to’s is sweet potatoes, peppers, onions, and ground turkey. 


  • Burrito Bowls – These are my absolute favourite meal prep dish.  Start with a base of either rice, quinoa, sorghum, or cauliflower rice.  Add in whatever protein source you prefer – chicken, steak, beans, ground turkey, etc.  Then add in whatever veggies you’d like – a few examples include sautéed peppers, diced tomatoes, diced red onions, corn, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower, etc.  You can include some cheese, salsa, or sour cream in a separate container to top it with after reheating.
  • Greek Bowls – Similar to burrito bowls, these are flexible based on what you have on hand.  Your base can be rice, quinoa, sorghum, pita bread, or mixed greens.  Add a protein like chicken or chickpeas.  Then add in veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, and pickled red onions (my absolute favourite).  You can add a small container for a topping like hummus or feta cheese.
  • Quiche – This is easy to prep ahead of time and makes for a good breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  To create a better-for-you version, use milk rather than cream in your base and add lots of veggies.  
  • Stir Fry – Sautee a bunch of different sliced vegetables with a protein of your choice. Either make your own sauce or purchase a better-for-you premade one (look for those that are lower in added sugar).  Serve with rice or noodles.
  • Meatballs – Meatballs make a great, versatile lunch. Make a large batch of baked turkey or beef meatballs (quick tip – add in finely chopped mushrooms, which will help extend your meat, and pack in some extra veggies). Then experiment with different ways to serve them throughout the week to combat boredom.  For example, one day you could serve them with pasta (whether traditional or lentil/bean-based) and red sauce along with a side of veggies.  The next day, serve them with rice and a curry sauce.  The day after, douse in buffalo sauce for buffalo meatballs and serve with baked sweet potato fries.  And the day after that, serve alongside some quinoa and veggies topped with tzatziki.
  • Salads – Salads can be meal-prepped ahead of time and don’t have to be boring!  Start with your base of greens, whether that’s mixed greens, romaine, green leaf lettuce, etc., and then add in as many veggies as your heart desires (tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted squash, roasted beets, roasted potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, etc).  Then add in a protein – get creative with chicken, steak, ground beef, ground turkey, black beans, chickpeas, or anything else you enjoy.  Lastly, think of any other add-ins that would boost flavour and texture.  A few of my favourites include dried fruit, nuts, seeds, hemp hearts, and cheese.
  • Tuna Waffles – I know, it sounds strange – but these tuna waffles are a great option for meal prep because they’re freezer-friendly.  You can pop out two from the freezer and reheat in a toaster oven, conventional oven, or air fryer when you’re ready for lunch or dinner.  Top ’em off with tomatoes and avocado and you’ve got a balanced meal.
  • Chilli – This is one of those kinds of meals that generally makes a ton and reheats well, whether you’re storing a few days worth in the fridge or you’re freezing in single-serving containers.  You can find tons of different chilli recipes online, though I’m partial to my turkey apple chilli and steak mango chilli.
  • Stuffed Cabbage Rolls – These are great for meal prepping for the week or freezing for later weeks.  You only need a handful of ingredients to make them.  It does take a bit of time on the weekend to cook ’em, but it’s really just letting them simmer on the stovetop.
  • Chicken Wraps – It sounds kind of boring, but there are so many things you can do with some cooked chicken breast and a wrap!  Make a chicken Caesar wrap by combining the chicken with lettuce, croutons, and parmesan, then place that in the wrap (portion out the dressing separately and dip it the day you eat it – that way it doesn’t get soggy).  Toss the chicken with a little buffalo sauce and add it to a wrap with greens, then serve alongside celery and carrots.  Or go Greek by mixing the chicken with greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta, and placing that in the wrap.
  • Stuffed Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of healthy carbs for athletes, and you can stuff them with pretty much anything.  Give it a Mediterranean flare by stuffing it with chickpeas, spinach, and feta, or go cosy comfort food by making BBQ ground beef stuffed with sweet potatoes.  You can even make a sweet lunch by stuffing your sweet potato with nut butter and raisins, like in this recipe.
  • Homemade Hot Pockets – If you enjoy cooking, these are a fun option to meal prep and place in the freezer for a quick lunch.  I make a ham, cheese, and mushroom pocket with a homemade crust.  But you can also buy canned pizza crust and make these that way to save time!


You can prepare snack recipes in advance, but remember that many store-bought snacks are healthy and can meet your energy requirements! Here are a few of my preferred choices that are perfect for prepping or purchasing in advance:

Almond Flour Banana Muffins -

Created or made at home.

  • Energy bites – I have recipes for a ton of different kinds, so you can experiment with different flavours each week!  Try lemon, apple peanut butter, Hungarian cookie, chocolate cherry, pumpkin, peanut butter banana, or chocolate coffee.
  • Trail mix – This maple-glazed fall trail mix is a great blend of sweet and savoury.  You can also try my beef jerky trail mix for a high protein option, or my popcorn trail mix for a high volume option.  Of course, you can also make your own trail mix combinations depending on your flavour preferences and needs.
  • Homemade peanut butter protein bars – Just combine 1 cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup honey, 2/3 cup vanilla protein powder, and 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips.  Press it in an 8×8 dish, pop it in the fridge for a few hours, then cut it into 10 bars.  
  • Banana protein muffins – These are delicious and easy to make, and they freeze wonderfully.  Just take one out of the freezer and pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds when you want to eat one.
  • Frozen banana bites – Just slice bananas and sandwich peanut butter between the rounds, then freeze.  After that, you can eat it as-is or dip it in dark chocolate and freeze it again.  They’re delicious!
  • Cookie dough hummus – This dessert hummus (yes, it’s made with chickpeas!) is sweet and tastes great on apples or graham crackers.  It’s a great option for an athlete to have on hand to satisfy the sweet tooth in a nutritious way.
  • Peanut butter honey Cheerios bars – These are another dessert option.  Simple and made with just four ingredients.

Purchased from a store, instead of being homemade.

  • RX Bars
  • Larabars
  • Garbanzos (chocolate chickpea snack that tastes like candy!  
  • Whole grain crackers with cheese
  • Veggies – serve with hummus or guacamole if you’d like to add some healthy fats
  • Fruit
  • Greek yoghurt (a few of my personal favourites include Siggi’s and Chobani’s new lower sugar line)
  • Instant oatmeal packets/cups
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Nut butter (along with fruit, pretzels, etc.)
  • Store-bought trail mix
  • String cheese
  • Cottage cheese and fruit
  • Pouches of tuna (flavoured or unflavored) – can be eaten solo or with crackers/pita/bread
  • Beef jerky 
  • Stovetop or air-popped popcorn (you can make a big batch on the weekend and portion it out in bags for the week)
  • Rice cakes with toppings 
  • Cans of soup

Ultimate Guide To Meal Prepping For Plant-Based Athletes + 7-Day Plan

For plant-based Athletes


Apart from snacks, it is important to ensure that you have the necessary fuel for your workout readily available. It can be quite disheartening to realize that you have run out of your preferred gel flavour just as you are about to embark on a run. The need for fuel during your workout will vary depending on the sport and level of competition. However, here are a few alternative choices that could be beneficial to have readily accessible:

  • Sports drinks (fluid + electrolytes + carbs)
  • Electrolyte drinks (fluid + electrolytes)
  • Gels, gummy blocks, or sports beans
  • Bananas or raisins
  • Swedish fish or gummy bears
  • Clif bars or bonk breakers
  • Protein powder (for post-workout shakes)


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