Meal prep: we all know we should do it, especially when it comes to achieving a weight loss goal (or really, any goal). We know we feel better when we eat healthy, but it seems like an overwhelming, and often impossible endeavor, once we conduct a quick Google search on the topic. Dr. 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 break meal prep down to 5 easy steps for you. Use our grocery list as a guideline and follow our easy- to- follow cooking outline to successfully meal prep for your entire week. We will teach you what to buy, how to cook it, and how to portion it. After that, you can get more adventurous with your food selections by accessing the recipes on our site! Our meal prep methods will save you money and time, and support your weight loss goals. We know that you can do it!
A Sam’s Club, BJ’s, or Costco membership can go a LONG WAY to save you money on meal 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!
: Don’t make it harder on yourself by getting adventurous right off the bat; trying new recipes can be fun, but it can be overwhelming to try to make enough for an entire week. Also, 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 would make you insta- skinny.
A grocery list will help to keep you on track and prevent you from getting things you don’t need or didn’t plan. If you are meal prepping for an entire week, making a grocery list is essential to your success. Think in terms of macronutrients when meal 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
Pick 1 or 2 things for the whole week which can be made easily and quickly.
- Grab ingredients for only 1 or 2 of these recipes, to keep things simple. Protein should always be the centerpiece.
- Pick 2 to prepare
Pick 2 (Always have at least 1 available in your house that can be easily eaten or quickly microwaved)
- Sweet potatoes, rice- any kind, especially microwaveable bags for convenience, oats- any kind except for those labeled “instant,” quinoa, fruits, wraps, canned beans, lentils, starchy veggies
VEGETABLES: Pick 2 (at least!)
- 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
- Nuts/ seeds (chia/ flax/ hemp/sunflower), nut butters, avocadoes, seeds olives, cheeses, eggs
- Keep some other sources like oils, etc in your house
Pick 2 each. Having condiments will allow you to alter your food choices on a whim.
- 2 salad dressings
- 2- 4 seasonings
Embrace the fact that you will have to set a couple of hours aside to accomplish this particular method of food prep. Understand that these two hours of preparation on a Sunday will actually SAVE you time which would be spent trying to find and prepare food during the week. What’s more is that it will save you MONEY! Making your own food ends up being a LOT cheaper than eating out every day.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
- Place cupcake papers into 12 tins on a cupcake tray
- Cover 1 large baking pan with foil
- Divide 3 foil pockets on another large baking pan
- In the cupcake tin: Fill each cupcake holder with an egg.
- Bake 30 min at 350 degrees F
- In the 3- foiled baking pan: In each of your foil boats, season your chicken differently to create 3 separate protein options.
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.
- Prepare an ice water bath. You will dump the eggs as soon as they are finished cooking.
- Remove the eggs at 30 min and dump them into the ice water. Keep the chicken in for another 10 minutes.
- Remove the chicken and set the oven for 425 degrees.
- Set the fish in the oven and cook for 22- 25 mins.
- Remove the fish from the oven and set aside. Determine how many containers you will need
Option 1) INDIVIDUAL STORAGE: In this scenario, each meal gets portioned into its own container. 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) MASS STORAGE: If you would rather not create several individual meals, you can also use our largest meal prep containers to store each kind of protein and carbohydrate separately. You can remove as much as you need when you need it for meals, or simply fill as many containers as you’ll need for your day the night before. This option works best for those who don’t mind a little extra preparation the night before, or who eat most of their meals at home.
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!!
Some Final Meal Prep Tips for Beginners:
- 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 and abandoning your healthy efforts, 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 is 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. Anecdotally, I eat 4/6 of my meals out of ISO meal prep containers on any given day, but I make sure I sit down and eat my breakfast at home before I start my day (I wake up earlier to accomplish this, but I prepare the ingredients ahead of time so that it only takes a moment to prepare), and I sit down and eat my 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.
- Start out slowly. If you still feel overwhelmed with food prep, just start by preparing 1 or 2 meals for the week.
- 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 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!
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