OK, so you're into the weights and you're trying to grow. You're not exactly sure what to eat, you've never really cooked before. This is all new. I get it. I've been there myself. And through the years I have found ways to make things easier. I am going to take you inside my diet and basically show you the ropes of how I eat on almost a day to day basis.
For starters, fuck variety. Variety is nice but its going to take your grocery bill through the roof, and this is expensive enough as it is. What I like to do is rotate through foods. I'll eat some lean steak until I'm sick of it, then eat fish until I'm sick of that, then chicken until I'm tired of it, then lean ground beef, then back to steak. I rotate carbs as well, one week its yams, the next week may be brown rice, then white rice, then maybe I'll get on a whole wheat pasta kick for a week, then it'll be more oats instead of just with breakfast, then grits, etc.
Next, seasoning your food. I use regular seasonings, yes the kind with sodium in them. Here is the secret to sodium, the body adjusts to it. It's sudden fluctuations that you need to watch out for. If you take in 3,000mg/day of salt on a regular basis your body adjusts. Take that 3,000 down to 1,000, then ramp it up to 5,000 one day, you're going to bloat. So I don't pay attention to sodium much.
I rotate through the seasonings just like the foods. For fish, try Boston Bay Seasoning by Weber, I've been using it for the past 6 months straight and I'm yet to get sick of it!!! I do like Misses Dash also, this one is sodium free but I like it anyways. The Italian blend is my favorite and goes good on both chicken and fish. For steak seasonings, try Weber Chicago or McCormick Montreal. If you're out of seasonings, just good old salt and pepper works good too.
OK, now I'm always trying to get rice or potatoes for my carbs, but what about when I don't have the time? What if I'm in a jam? Easy, I'll use 2 packets of Quaker Instant Grits instead. It's only about 40 grams of carbs from those 2 packs and it's a tad heavier than rice or potatoes. Much of the time I'll go through this 2-3 times/day if I'm in a jam or have some major obligations going on or work gets busy. And much of the time I wake up looking even better the next morning, my body actually needed something a little heavier to begin with and I answered the call.
I've been eating eggs for 17 years straight, almost every single day. I'm not eating plain ass eggs, no fucking way!! Salsa!! Salsa works great on eggs, mango salsa, pineapple salsa, garden basil salsa, just get some salsa damnit!! And when I'm sick of salsa? Hot sauce, and when I'm sick of that its ketchup, and when I'm sick of that its A-1 steak sauce.
Get creative bros. There is plenty to flavor food with. The sodium does not hurt me a fucking bit, if anything I think its helped keep the muscles full. I'm eating clean as hell otherwise, whats a few dabs of BBQ sauce or salsa going to hurt? Oh yeah, here is the trick too. You use a little pile of sauce or whatever with your chicken, and you dunk the meat into it, but just a tad. Just enough to give it SOME sort of flavor. I'm not dowsing my meat with condiments here.
I'm not a huge fan of salmon. Tilapia is OK, but my favorite is Swai. They come in 4lb bags at Walmart for $10.99, and it blows Tilapia away in my opinion.
I eat a lot of it so I have to go with a cheaper cut of steak, I'm not eating prime rib every day here. Its ghetto steaks like top round and bottom round, shoulders, London broils, occasionally NY strips if they are on sale. I stay away from rib-eyes for the most part because half the thing is fat and they cost too much. When you eat it once every day you need to keep it as cheap as possible, and although those cuts are cheap they are still very lean. Not to mention, I eat it medium rare anyways so its more tender than well-done. I'd suggest you eat it medium rare too, if you want the max amount of protein from it.
80% or leaner, depends on my cash flow. You can make your own George Foreman grill out of paper towels. Yeah, when it's done grab a few paper towels and push against the burger so the grease gets absorbed, you've just made your 80% ground beef 90% or better. A George Foreman is nice too, but I just use a regular oven. If I'm pushed for time then I'll cook in a frying pan but I chop the meat up like taco meat so it cooks faster. If it was post workout or something and I was starving and had no meat cooked then that is how I'd do it. I eat and cook so frikken much that it's hard to have more than 2-3 days prepped at a time. I'd need 3 ovens in my house to get a weeks worth of food. It's just not happening!!!
Cook your meat at 350 degrees in oven. For chicken – Approximately 30-35 minutes, fish 15-20 minutes, steak 15 minutes, MAYBE 20 minutes if it's a thicker cut.
Get a solid cooler. I have an 18 quart on wheels by Igloo, it's enough to hold all my stuff, including vitamins, and random things like flax oil bottles, drinks, boxes of grits, oats, etc. I don't like the bag coolers as much as the hard ones, they seem to get dirty easier and you can't fit as much in them. A lot of what goes into my cooler are things that take up space such as 2 lb jug of protein powder, box of oats, fruit, etc. I may not eat everything in my cooler that day, but I have a few options there.
I don't even fuck with Tupperware anymore. I hate doing dishes and I always lose the lids that match the right container. I put everything in freezer bags, then I have a measuring cup with me, and I'll actually put the cup into the freezer bag full of rice to measure out “1 cup, 2 cups” etc.
If you have no plates at your work or wherever, bring paper plates in your cooler. If this is somewhere like a university or high school, a small bag cooler may be a better option or if you can park close to the facility then go back out to your car to eat. I'm the kind of guy who would actually install an AC/DC converter and put a microwave in my vehicle if I had to and just eat in my Jeep. That's how dedicated I am when it comes to this shit. But yes, freezer bags make life easier.
If you're new to this, then start with boil-in-the-bag rice. It's easy. Just boil a pot of water and throw in a bunch of bags at a time for 10 minutes and it's done. I take these bags and put them in a freezer bag. When it's time to eat I cut one open and use half the bag per serving usually. So if you boil 4-5 of these bags, it'll get you 2-3 days or so.
If time is a factor, then get Birds Eye boil in bag veggies. Microwave regular size for 5 minutes, family size is 9 minutes. For the record, I can get about 2 servings of a family size bag, LOL. Maybe an Ethiopian family I guess. However, you can save money buying an economy size bag of frozen veggies and just boiling them, stick em' in a freezer bag and eat off it for a few days.
Combine my cooking tactics with the occasional protein shake and piece of fruit for added convenience, and it's hard to stray from my diet practice. How fucking lazy do you have to be not to be able to throw a bag of frozen veggies in a microwave for 5 minutes? How lazy does a person have to be not to be able to boil some water and drop some bags of rice in it? It's not difficult to push a damn button on the oven and wait 30 minutes, then throw the shit in a freezer bag and be done with it. Dieting does not have to be hard. And is food prep really that hard, or are people just that damn lazy now?