Meal prepping is the best way to maintain a healthy eating regimen, but there are so many other benefits that can be attained with meal prep as well. It saves you money by cutting down on impulse buys and meals out at restaurants. It saves you time during your busy week by cutting down on the amount of time you need to spend in the kitchen on a daily basis. It saves you stress from trying to figure out how to squeeze in preparing, cooking and enjoying a home cooked meal on any given day of the week. Once you learn how to meal prep like the pro’s you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing it forever.
Make A Menu
Plan To Succeed
The first thing that you need to know about meal prepping is that it gets easier the longer that you do it, so don’t expect to be a pro overnight. The second thing that you need to know is that the better you plan your meal prep experience the smoother the entire process will go. That is where this step of making a menu comes into play.
It’s a good idea to make a menu for your entire week so that you know what you’ll need to buy and cook, and when you can expect to eat which meals. Planning any further out than a week could mean that you get bored with your meal choices or that food you prep ahead of time may go bad before you get a chance to use it.
No Right Or Wrong Way
Your meal menu for the week should include as many meals as you plan to eat out of your home plus a few more for good measure. If you tend to get bored with the same foods you may not want to meal prep all of your food and allow yourself a few nights free to cook whatever you’re in the mood for that day. Choosing meals that have the same basic ingredients in different variations will help to cut down on your shopping bill.
The amount of meals that you will take with you on a daily basis is completely personal and based entirely on your own lifestyle. How long will you be away from home? How much extra work do you want to do on any given day to prepare your meals? What are your fitness goals and how much do you have to eat to meet them? These are a few questions to ask yourself when preparing your menu.
Keep It Simple
To keep your prep and cook time shorter on your meal prep day you’ll want to pick recipes that are not labor intensive. If you don’t mind spending more time in the kitchen during your meal prep day you can choose recipes that are more complex, which may lead to more interesting flavor profiles and less boredom. Just remember to keep your choices healthy.
If you need help deciding on meal prep recipes check out the recipes section of our blog for delicious and nutritious easy to make food choices.
Bulk And Save
Once you have your menu set for the week your next step is to go shopping. Depending on how many meals you’ll be making and how many people you will be meal prepping for this gives you an opportunity to explore the options that shopping in bulk offers you. Rather than buying a small package of chicken for one night feel free to grab that bulk package to save a little extra money.
Since you now have a menu planned out you can shop for your groceries without worrying about going over budget. You know what you’re going to make and what you’re going to eat for the week, which means that you’ll know exactly what you will need to buy to make that happen. You won’t spend time aimlessly walking around trying to decide what to buy.
Avoid The Lure Of Temptation
Between navigating the hoards of people all clamoring to get what they need as quickly as possible and the aisles and aisles of junk food staring you down and threatening all of your progress the grocery store is a jungle. Now you can choose to go grocery shopping anytime rather than right after work before you have to rush home to make dinner. And you can get in and get out without temptation.
Not only will you be saving time and saving money but you will also be less likely to purchase an excess amount of food that will go bad before you have a chance to use it when you go in with a menu plan. Now none of your food will go to waste either. And if you happen to pick up too much of an ingredient or two you know that you can use it to create an extra meal to freeze for the following week.
Check out our printable healthy grocery list featuring the ‘pick two method’ if you are having a hard time coming up with a workable grocery list or meal prep menu for yourself.
Prep & Cook For The Week
Chop, Portion and Prepare
Now that you have your menu made and your food purchased it’s time to start prepping and cooking your foods for the week. To make this process as quick and efficient as possible it’s a good idea to get into the habit of cutting or chopping any vegetables or proteins, measuring out ingredients and preparing your necessary cooking utensils.
Once everything is lined up and ready to go it will make the cooking process much easier. Especially if you are the type of person that can only cook one thing at a time. If this is the case, expect your meal prep to take slightly longer than someone who is better at multitasking their cooking goals.
The Beauty Of The Foil Boat
Using cake and baking dishes lined with a few different aluminum foil boats is a great way to cook the same ingredient with multiple different flavor variations at the same time without worrying about the flavors combining. By cooking in foil boats you also cut down on your total cooking time because you are able to cook multiple meals without devoting your attention to separate cooking spaces.
While your proteins and/or vegetables are cooking in the oven within their foil boats, you will have plenty of time to devote your undivided attention towards cooking and preparing your complex carbohydrates or fats for the week. It also gives you plenty of time to set up a few salads or protein shakes for the week if those are included in your meal prep menu.
If you have never meal prepped before or are looking for a way to increase your meal prep productivity take a few minutes to watch our meal prep video that explains the ins and outs of the process.
Store & Take Your Meals
Divide And Conquer
Now that all of your meals are cooked for the week it’s time to start packing them up for storage. You might be used to packing up your leftovers with all like items together, for instance keeping the chicken together, the fish separate and your vegetables in yet another large dish. But this isn’t the most effective way to pack your meal prep for the week.
Before packing your meal prep away refer back to this weeks menu. Now pack each meal into a container of it’s own. That’s right, put the chicken and the vegetable right in that container along side the sweet potato and close it on up. Now you’ve got yourself a grab and go lunch that takes seconds to pack in the morning and minutes to warm up for lunch.
Keep Your Meals Fresh And Cold
Once your meals are packaged away in your meal prep containers it’s time to start organizing the containers by day. Make sure that you leave the first three days of the weeks worth of food in your refrigerator so that it will be thawed and ready to eat whenever you’re ready. Put the rest of your food in the freezer so that it doesn’t go bad before you are ready for it. When the third day rolls around feel free to take the rest of your meals out of the freezer and put them in the refrigerator to thaw.
When it comes time to take your prepared meals with you to work, the gym, class or anywhere else that you may find yourself during your busy day, it’s important to pack them in an insulated meal management bag that will keep them cold until you’re ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Between the space saving design, the quality materials, the carefully hand sewn stitching and the unique ISOBricks used in Isolator Fitness meal prep bags, you won’t find a better meal prep bag on the market.
You don’t want a meal management system that everyone else has, but you do want a product known for its quality bought from a company that’s known for its service. Which is why we created MYISO the online customization tool for designing your one-of-a-kind ISOBag.