The food that you put into your body has a profound effect on every aspect of your health. In fact, a healthy diet, combined with adequate sleep and exercise, can add years to your life and prevent a myriad of diseases both in the present and later in life.
And one of the best ways to ensure that you’re getting proper nutrition on a day to day basis is through meal prepping! However, thanks to social media and diet programs, learning to meal prep on a budget has been made to feel impossible – but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Done the right way, meal prepping can actually save you money!
If you’ve yet to try meal prepping due to fear that it’s too expensive, you’ve come to the right place. Listed below are 7 fantastic tips for meal prep on a budget.
Let’s get started!
1. Shop Your Pantry First
Before you even step foot in a store or open your grocery app, you need to take inventory of what you already have. The best way to waste money when grocery shopping is to repurchase items. Not to mention if you double purchase perishable items, you could end up throwing out a ton of food.
It’s also a good idea to shop your pantry before you create your menu for the week. Check out what you have and then choose meals that you can make with it. This will minimize your grocery list, saving you both time and money!
2. Make a List and Stick to It
Once you know what you’re making for the week, it’s time to make your grocery list. Now, you don’t have to eat the same thing every day of the week, but stretching one dish through multiple meals is the key to efficient meal prep.
Go to the store with a purpose and a full stomach! In doing so, you’ll decrease the risk of making impulse purchases or buying junk. Only go down the aisles that carry the foods on your list and avoid the rest.
3. Invest in Your Kitchen
Yes, the goal here is to save money while meal prepping, but you need to have the proper tools to enable yourself to do so. This might mean making a small investment in your kitchen if you don’t have the necessary equipment.
A good set of kitchen knives, enough containers to get you through the week, and a high-quality slow cooker are game-changers in meal prep.
Your diet should consist of plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, all of which can be prepared more easily with a good, sharp knife. When you’re meal prepping, it’s best to separate all of your meals into individual containers to make mealtimes simple. And a slow cooker will allow you to make an entire batch of dinners with minimal effort.
4. Have a Meal Prep Day
For many people, cooking is more of a hassle than a pleasure. If you find this to be true, do what you can to make cooking as quick and easy as possible.
Set aside one day a week where you’ll get all of your meal prep out of the way at once. That’s right, take a Sunday afternoon to prepare and arrange all of your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the entire week.
To make this a more enjoyable experience, throw on a playlist of your favorite songs, an audiobook, or a podcast. You can also invite a friend over and make it a cooking party! You might have a lot of work to do in the kitchen on Sunday, but you won’t have to do a thing the other six days of the week.
5. Buy in Bulk
Buying your groceries in bulk is a great way to stick to your monthly food budget while still purchasing everything you need. That said, if you do decide to buy in bulk, do so with caution. Over purchasing perishable foods can lead to a massive waste of food and money.
Try to buy non-perishables in bulk, such as grains, spices, and dried or frozen produce. If you find a great deal on protein, don’t be afraid to stock up, as long as you’re certain you have room for it in your freezer.
Enjoy a homemade trail mix? Buy everything you need for it in bulk and make a large amount that you can keep for snacks throughout the week.
Don’t forget to take advantage of coupons and other deals as well. Most stores offer some sort of loyalty program as well as various coupons with purchase. Save any useful coupons you come across and use them on your next grocery trip!
You might be surprised by how much money things like target couponing can save you.
6. Don’t Waste Ingredients
We cannot stress this enough – don’t waste ingredients. Smart spending at the grocery store means using every bit of everything you have.
If you have produce that’s about to go bad, throw it all in the slow cooker to make a soup or eat it as a salad. Meal prepping can save you a great deal of money, but you have to be conscientious while you do it or you’ll end up throwing money in the trash.
7. Buy Produce in Season
Produce can get pricey, which is why it’s important to buy your fruits and vegetables in season. In-season produce is less expensive because it’s more abundant at that time of the year. Also, your produce will be more nutrient-dense, as fruits and vegetables begin to lose nutrients the moment it’s picked.
Buy your apples in the fall and your peaches in the summer! You’ll find them more affordable and even more delicious.
Learn How to Meal Prep On a Budget to Save Money While Improving Your Health
Caring for your health should be at the top of your priority list at all times. By learning how to meal prep on a budget, you’ll be able to improve your diet and your overall health while saving money on groceries!
To learn even more about improving your health through diet, be sure to check out our blog!