I’ve always loved to eat fresh, home-cooked meals, but I haven’t always loved the labor-intensive process some require. As I challenged myself to become a better cook, I also began to seek out ways to make things easier. Plus, I wanted to save money on my food costs. Enter Meal Prep Sunday.
Over the past few years, I’ve worked hard to improve my eating habits. This includes moving to a plant-based diet and paying more attention to what I’m eating. During this process, I’ve also fine-tuned my meal prep process. Doing so has allowed me to ensure I’m eating plenty of healthy foods, meeting various nutritional needs, and creating meals that actually taste good.
By incorporating a Meal Prep Sunday into my week, I’m also saving money!
If you’re looking to up your meal prep game, here are some tips for streamlining the process and saving money:
Meal Prep Sunday: Prepare to Prepare
When I first began meal prepping, I thought it would be boring and restrictive. How was I supposed to know on Sunday what I would want to eat on Tuesday? Would I be eating rice with every meal? What about spur of the moment schedule changes?
All of these concerns were mitigated when I realized how flexible meal planning can be. It’s a lot more than big pots of beans and cookie sheets of roasted veggies.
Used correctly, meal prep is more about ensuring I have healthy choices all week and less about food waste. Sounds like a win-win to me!
As you’re working to set your meal plan for the week, take a few moments to lay some sort of framework. Find some new recipes on Pinterest, let technology help you by utilizing meal prep apps, and make a grocery list before you head to the store.
Taking just 10 minutes to do these things will help you get on the path to saving hundreds of dollars on your annual food bill.
Shop it Out
If food shopping just isn’t your thing, take comfort in knowing: There’s an App for that!
You can use apps to have your groceries delivered. Or you can shop online directly through your favorite grocery store. You can even use Amazon Prime to purchase pantry staples while in your pajamas.
I happen to be one of those weirdos who loves to grocery shop. In fact, my favorite kinds of shopping are: Grocery, Adventure Gear, and Travel. I’d happily trade a year of department store apparel shopping for grocery shopping. 🙂
Before I head to the store, I’ve created my meal plan for the week, and I’ve written a detailed list. My #1 rule that saves me money on grocery shopping is to stick to my list. I also make sure to check my pantry and freezer for any food I’ve forgotten about so I don’t duplicate what’s already at home.
Regardless of how you purchase your groceries, stick to the list! This trick alone can help stave off hundreds of dollars in impulse purchases.
When you’re shopping, maximize sales, coupons, and bulk foods. The trick with bulk is to be honest with yourself. If you will use the entire quantity before any food goes bad, by all means reap the savings buying in bulk has to offer. If you won’t eat that 10-pound bag of spinach before it goes bad, seek alternatives. Perhaps you can freeze the recipes, split the spinach with a friend or neighbor, or just forego the product all together.
Also, if you like to grocery shop like I do, don’t go to the store on an empty stomach. Your wallet (and waistline) will thank you.
Meal Prep Sunday: Automation is Your Friend
If you’re pressed for time but still want to make Meal Prep Sunday work for you, automate the process as much as possible.
Slow cookers, pressure cookers, rice cookers and more. These small appliances are your friend. They allow you to do double, if not triple, duty by prepping multiple things at once.
As you’re cooking, work to make multiple meals to be used throughout the week. I try to cook things that taste good re-heated; nobody wants mush day after day!
Make Your Own
If saving money is your main goal with utilizing Meal Prep Sunday, here are some easy DIY ways to trim to reduce food costs:
- Eschew convenience: Go old-fashioned and cook with dried beans, rolled oats, and plain rice. Sure, it may take a bit more time for prep, but you’ll save a good amount of money by not purchasing convenience foods
- Make your own: From meatballs to croutons, making your own versions of what you like will save tons!
- Do the work: Pre-washed veggies are great, but they often come with a steep price tag. Save your dollars and prep the veggies yourself
Meal Prep Sunday: Make it Social
Worried that taking so many of your precious weekend hours for meal prep will cramp your social life? Invite friends to join you for Meal Prep Sunday! I trade off with various neighbors and friends each week with regards to hosting. We show up with our groceries, bust out the knives, and usually enjoy a glass of wine and great conversation as we prep for the week. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do!
If the idea of schlepping your food around doesn’t appeal to you, you can still make meal prep work for social activities. Instead of going out to eat, suggest an activity where you can bring your own food. Your wallet–and eventually your friends’ wallets–will thank you!
Do you meal prep? How do you save money doing so? Please share below!