I am an avid Meal Prepper and promoter of Isolator Fitness – since their bag is my go to for storing ALL my food when I’m out and about.
This article originally appeared on the Isolator Fitness blog and is reposted here with permission.
To view the original, click here and make sure you check out their awesome products!
Meal prep: Eating healthy is something we all KNOW we should do, and want to, but it seems as if there's not enough time to cook every single day - which is why Meal Prep is so awesome BUT
at first, Meal Prep seems like an overwhelming, and often impossible, endeavor once you conduct a quick Google search on the topic. Google confirms our sneaking suspicions-- there are way too many options when it comes to meal prep, and the whole thing looks entirely too time consuming.
Let the ISO team, who are expert preppers, break it down for you and take out the guess work.
Use their grocery list as a guideline and follow their 12-step outline to successfully food prep!
A Sam’s Club, BJ’s, or Costco membership can go a LONG WAY to save you money on food prep, especially when it comes to meats. You can get almost anything in bulk at one of these places. If you know something is a staple in your diet, make it a point to buy it in bulk, and then stop by your regular grocery store for quick odds and ends, like condiments. We promise it will add up to a LOT of money saved!
2. MAKE YOUR GROCERY LIST and remember KISS (KEEP IT SIMPLE, SILLY)
Don’t get too adventurous; trying new recipes can be fun, but it can be overwhelming to try to make enough for an entire week. Don’t make foods that you know you don’t like because you WON’T EAT IT! It doesn’t matter which magazine told you it's good for you.
However, if you are food prepping for an entire week, making a grocery list is essential to your success. Do not get deterred by buying things that aren’t on your list. Think in terms of
macronutrients when food prepping, meaning proteins, carbs and fats. You will learn how to fill
your meal prep containers based off of this concept.
Here is one example of a list, and it is a great way to structure your grocery trips. In this
example, you’re only going to choose a couple of options for each category, but you can
certainly buy more if you want to prepare more.
Breakfast - Pick 1 or 2
1 or 2 things for the whole week which can be made easily and quickly.
(My Overnight Oats are my GO TO because I can prep them at night for the week)
Proteins - Pick 2 to Prep
Chicken breasts, white fish, salmon, extra lean ground turkey, 93% lean ground beef, tofu, tempeh
Keep some others in dry storage/ refrigerator: canned meats like tuna and chicken, protein powders, eggs, plain nonfat greek yogurt, ISOpasta
Carbs - Pick 2 to Prep
Sweet potatoes, rice (any kind, especially microwaveable bags), oats, quinoa, fruits, wraps, canned beans, lentils
(Always have at least 1 available in your house that can be easily eaten or quickly microwaved)
Vegetables - Pick 2 to Prep
Eat a variety of colors for vegetables - fresh, frozen, or canned with no sodium added
Pick things like carrots and snap peas for snacks because you don’t have to chop them
Keep some others of a frozen variety in the freezer for convenience
Fats - Pick 2
Nuts/ seeds (chia/ flax/ hemp/sunflower), nut butters, avocadoes, seeds olives, cheeses
Keep some other sources like oils, etc in your house
Pick 2 each - condiments allow you to alter your food choices on a whim
2 salad dressings
2- 4 seasonings
If you're looking for a more comprehensive guide check MY post here
Multi-Tasking While Prepping - How to Cook Multiple Proteins at Once
1) Preheat the oven to 350
2) Place cupcake papers into 12 tins on a cupcake tray
3) Cover 1 large baking pan with foil
4) Divide 3 foil pockets on another large baking pan
5) In the cupcake tin: Fill each cupcake holder with an egg.
Bake 30 min at 350 degrees
6) In the 3- foiled baking pan: In each of your foil boats, season your chicken differently to create 3 separate protein options.
- Olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper
- Random roasted garlic herb chicken seasoning
- Garlic powder and sesame ginger dressing/ marinade
Bake 40- 45 min at 350 degrees until NO pink inside.
7) WHILE CHICKEN IS COOKING:
In the large 1- foil baking pan:
Add fish, season however you like. We just used a bit of salt and pepper.
8) WHILE CHICKEN IS COOKING:
Prepare an ice water bath. You will dump the eggs as soon as they are finished cooking.
9) Remove the eggs at 30 min and dump them into the ice water. Keep the chicken in for another 10 minutes.
10) Remove the chicken and set the oven for 425 degrees.
11) Set the fish in the oven and cook for 22- 25 mins.
12) Remove the fish from the oven and set aside. Determine how many containers you will need.
4. Portioning: (A side note - I do not portion out my food, I eat intuitively and store in bulk)
Our food prep containers are BPA- free, dishwasher- safe, microwave- safe, and super durable! They come in 4 different sizes, and our food prep bags can hold anywhere from 1 to 10 of these containers. Isobags will keep your food cold, below the food safety temperatures which your foods need to be kept at, for up to 13 hours, which will help to keep you accountable to your food prepping plan by perfectly accommodating your busy lifestyle. Even if you don’t use our bags, be aware that most bags will NOT keep your food at safe temperatures. This option works best for those who do not have time to prepare the night before, and those who eat most of their meals outside of their homes.
Each container gets:
- Veggie(1-2 cups)
- Protein (1 fist size for women; 2 fist sizes for men)
- Fat OR carb source (1 thumb length size for women, or ½ serving size on label; 2 thumb lengths or 1 full serving size on label for men
Option 2) This is what I do!
If you would rather not create several individual meals, you can use the largest meal prep containes to store each kind of protein and carbohydrate separaely. You can remove as much as you need for meals, or fill as many containers as you'll need for your day the night before. This works best for people who don't mind a little extra preperation the night before, or who eat most of their meals at hime.
Freeze any meats you aren’t going to eat within 3 days. On the third day, make sure you transfer the frozen things to your refrigerator. Don’t get stuck without food because you forgot to transfer them! SET AN ALARM ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT IF YOU NEED HELP TO REMEMBER!! Want more advice?
Check out my post on storing meats here
And lastly, some final words of Wisdom from Isolator Fitness
Meal Prep Tips for the Beginner's:
Don’t run out of food by the end of the week!
Knowing how much to prepare will take some trial and error.
To avoid becoming food-less by Wednesday, make sure you keep things in your house that can be stored for long periods of time and/or made quickly, like low carb, high protein ISOpasta, cans of tuna, protein powders, oats, quinoa flakes, almonds, and frozen veggies and meats. It’s important to always keep other things on hand, in the event that you get really sick of your prepared food. This will help to encourage you to make healthy choices, rather than eating out unplanned and potentially making poorer (and more expensive) choices.
Make it fit your lifestyle: If it isn’t possible for you to wake up and make breakfast, make sure that this one of the meals you always prep ahead of time. It doesn’t have to be done a certain way just because someone tells you to do it that way. If you don’t like to eat whole meals throughout the day, still make protein the centerpiece of your meal choices, but choose smaller and more portable options.
Avoid hating your prepared food: don’t food prep every single meal. Make sure you eat at least one or two meals at home. People will often put the effort into prepping, just to get sick and tired of what they made halfway through the week. For one thing, this often occurs due to a lack of variability in the diet. Secondly, food preparation is an important psychological component in your relationship with food. Preparing a fresh meal at home, stopping what you are doing, and just sitting down to eat (if you can) is really important. A friend of mine eats 4/6 of their meals out of their ISO meal prep containers on any given day, but she makes sure she sits down and eats breakfast at home before she start her day. (She admitted that to do so, she needs to wake up earlier to accomplish this) and she sits down and eats her last meal off of a plate, regardless of whether or not it was prepared ahead of time. It doesn’t have to be breakfast and your last meal, but make sure to take a break from the monotony and preserve a positive relationship with your food, rather than simply regarding it as fuel.
Also, keep several different kinds of condiments and/ or seasonings in stock. That way, any meal can be instantly made different from the last simply with a change of added flavor.
Start out slowly. If you still feel overwhelmed with food prep, start by preparing 1 or 2 meals for the week. Check out these Crockpot recipes for some low- maintenance food prep ideas
Make your life easier and simplify prep as much as possible.
IF you want to get more precise with your meal and macronutrient portioning (don’t start out here if you are just now learning about food prep), learn about how to calculate your BMR and tailor your calories to meet your goal.
Lastly, ask for help! Let us know at Isolator Fitness what you are struggling with, or even just what worked well for you. Hopefully this breaks down the concept of food prep in a way that seems less overwhelming. Good luck, and may the spatula be with you!
Hopefully you enjoyed ISOLATOR FITNESS'S take on Meal Prep - stay tuned for more guest posts by them, and my upcoming post on THEIR blog in April for IBS Awareness
- Do you Meal Prep or use Isolator Products? If so, which ones?
- Did you learn any new PREP tricks ?
- What's your best meal prep trick ?