T Nation

Tips and Recipes for Gaining Mass


#1

I just started lifting a few months ago, so I'm a total novice. But my biggest challenge is not even lifting technique--it's just getting enough calories during my long (often ten-hour) days at work. It seems like I have to bring a giant duffel bag of food, and preparing all of this food is very time-consuming.

How do people cope with this? Can anyone recommend dishes that are fast to prepare, nutritious, and that will last for several servings? (I don't mind eating leftovers if it will save time.) I am thinking that things like stews or casseroles might work best, since those will last a couple of days.


#2

Duffel bag of food? How many calories are you eating?

1 cup of mixed nuts is about 750 worth of protein and fat. A chicken breast, a cup of mashed potatoes, and some green beans is about 600. Make some ranch dressing using some buttermilk, sour cream, and a ranch seasoning packet for your chicken and poes (to avoid the soybean oil and sugar and other garbage in store bought dressing) to add a few more calories. Two meals and a snack will give you over 2000 kcal, plus whatever else you eat and your workout nutrition.


#3

#4

Stews and casseroles work well, if you have a way to reheat them. I normally make a big, big portion of something every week in my slow cooker and box it up so I just have to pick it up in the mornings. I also have a big bowl of oats with frozen berries for breakfast most days which can easily be prepared and boxed in advance, and sometimes, for variety or if I’m running low on stew/chilli/whatever I’ll just take a microwave bag of veg, a couple of cooked chicken breasts and a microwave bag of some kind of grain (rice, quinoa, couscous, spelt etc.)

If you can’t reheat, nuts and shakes work pretty well, mix your shakes with milk for extra calories.

For the record, 10 hours is not a long day, you shouldn’t need more than one or two meals, plus snacks in that time.


#5

do all your meal prep the night before. Tupperware is your best friend. I never go to work without at least 2 tubs of meat and veg.

The worst thing in history is when you get to work and realise you’ve left your lunches at home. I turn into a megaton bomb of rage when that happens.


#6

[quote]northerndriver wrote:
preparing all of this food is very time-consuming.[/quote]

  • Pre-heat grill or oven.

  • Fill one pot with 4 cups low sodium chicken broth and 2 1/2 cups rice or quinoa. Fill a larger pot 3/4 full with water. Put both on high heat, wait for both to boil.

  • When grill/oven is pre-heated, insert/slap on 10-12 chicken breasts or 10-12 chicken thighs or 10-12 1/3-lb burgers (handmade with just ground beef and seasoning).

  • When rice/quinoa comes to a boil, lower heat to simmer and cover with lid.

  • When water comes to a boil, add 18-24 eggs (in the shell).

  • After a few minutes flip chicken/burgers. Stir rice/quinoa. While waiting, wrap 8-10 potatoes in aluminum foil after piercing each several times with a fork. Stir rice/quinoa again.

  • Remove chicken/burgers when done. Total cooking time, probably 10-12 minutes max. Put foil-wrapped potatoes right on grill/oven. Stir rice/quinoa again.

  • Turn off boiling eggs. Total cooking time, about 12 minutes. Run under continuous cold water for 10 minutes, then drain.

  • Turn off rice/quinoa when done. Total cooking time 12-15 minutes.

  • Turn off grill/oven when potatoes are done. Total cooking time, 30ish minutes.

That’s well-less than an hour spent on a Saturday or Sunday to cook 5 or 6 meals-worth of awesome protein and carbs, plus hard-boiled eggs for several days’ snacks. Your excuse is invalid.

[quote]dagill2 wrote:
For the record, 10 hours is not a long day, you shouldn’t need more than one or two meals, plus snacks in that time.[/quote]
My first thought too. 10 hours is “kinda” long, but really, something like an 8-6 or 9-7 day isn’t that crazy and certainly shouldn’t warrant any major stress.


#7

This could be horrible advice but cheeseburgers and milk works wonders for gaining MASS.


#8

eat fairly normally/whatever is convenient for work then do something like DeFranco’s hour of power on weekend, twice a week even…

Slop quality olive oil on your meals

Have a bcaa drink to sip throughout the day in between meals


#9

Cook your rice/quinoa/buckwheat for a few days
If you have a fast metabolism 2 to 3 cups of those PER DAY is okay(dry, which means 6-8 cups cooked approx.)

Same with the veggies, steam them and keep them for a few days
I found out that coconut (shredded, then mixed into a milk) makes for awesome sauces with spices and those veggies

Bring a giant Tupperware at work : that’s your lunch 1 at noon, and lunch 2 at 3pm

Fruits can be eaten raw obv
Sardines/ herrings / mackerels / anchovies in olive oil raw (4oz+ cans)
Eggs can be eaten at dinner, same for meat…

Pretty easy to deal with a desk job at the office actually.


#10

[quote]dagill2 wrote:
Stews and casseroles work well, if you have a way to reheat them. I normally make a big, big portion of something every week in my slow cooker and box it up so I just have to pick it up in the mornings. I also have a big bowl of oats with frozen berries for breakfast most days which can easily be prepared and boxed in advance, and sometimes, for variety or if I’m running low on stew/chilli/whatever I’ll just take a microwave bag of veg, a couple of cooked chicken breasts and a microwave bag of some kind of grain (rice, quinoa, couscous, spelt etc.)

If you can’t reheat, nuts and shakes work pretty well, mix your shakes with milk for extra calories.

For the record, 10 hours is not a long day, you shouldn’t need more than one or two meals, plus snacks in that time.[/quote]

This. In addition - 10 hours really isn’t that long. It isn’t short but it isn’t long.

In terms of reheating - if you’re concerned about getting enough calories, whether or not the food is hot doesn’t matter. A decent stew or casserole will taste fine cold.

I work 12 hour shifts and I have a main meal and five snacks with quite a lot of milk (one to two litres depending on the day) while at work. Well, that’s what I bring, sometimes I have extras because the cafe at work has a great bakery.


#11

[quote]northerndriver wrote:
I just started lifting a few months ago, so I’m a total novice. But my biggest challenge is not even lifting technique–it’s just getting enough calories during my long (often ten-hour) days at work. It seems like I have to bring a giant duffel bag of food, and preparing all of this food is very time-consuming.

How do people cope with this? Can anyone recommend dishes that are fast to prepare, nutritious, and that will last for several servings? (I don’t mind eating leftovers if it will save time.) I am thinking that things like stews or casseroles might work best, since those will last a couple of days.[/quote]

I think in general, your best bet would be having on day where you spend a couple (or few) hours preparing food for the week. For example, big slow cooker batches, casseroles, etc. Those seem to be the least work, and obviously you can take any recipe you like and just make a large batch and portion it out in tupperware. Depending on how much money you want to spend, you can also supplement with quality protein shakes, bars, etc.

I’m not bulking - far from it actually lol, but I can relate to you in terms of bringing food to work now that I am eating better. You don’t have to do this, but this is what I (actually, my awesome wife…) does:

Breakfast: Pre-made sandwiches using the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker (you don’t need the machine, it’s just convenient and you probably want a lot more calories than that holds)

Lunch: three of my meals from a big batch of something she made Sunday (for example this week was a chicken broccoli casserole and last week was a beef stew) and two meals from one or two dinners where she purposely made more food for my lunch

Ideally, make 1-2 big batches of a recipe that you like and fits your calorie/macronutrient needs and supplement with shakes/bars/nuts/snacks etc or at the least 1-2 big calorie meals (depending on how close to starting and ending work you eat) and snacks that are caloric dense and not bad for you like nuts.


#12

[quote]Yogi wrote:
do all your meal prep the night before. Tupperware is your best friend. I never go to work without at least 2 tubs of meat and veg.

The worst thing in history is when you get to work and realise you’ve left your lunches at home. I turn into a megaton bomb of rage when that happens.[/quote]

LOL! And then you have to order carry out and make 7 different BBer friendly modifications to the order and end up paying like $20 for a $5 meal.


#13

Is there a fridge where you work? I go thru @ 12 eggs daily. it’s a reasonably cheap source of protein. hard boil night before. 3 at break, 6 @ lunch w/ 1/4 lb meat sammich & cup or two of cottage cheese, and 3 more at break.

It may be worthwhile to prep yopur food on Sunday and portion it out for the week, making sure you’re getting the necessary cals. I used to carry a small/medium sized cooler into work daily when I was younger.


#14

Thanks for all of these fantastic ideas! I really appreciate it. I’ve got a huge tub of chicken chili in the fridge right now, and I’m going to make some beef stew today.