Let me preface this by saying, if you cook 2-3 meals every. single. day. please email me what it is that motivates you because phew, I’m tired just thinking about that! Do you dream of coming home from work and not having to spend more time on your feet cooking? I meal-prep one day and don’t do anything but reheat during the week!
I’m sure you’ve thought about meal-prepping, and maybe even did it before but didn’t stick to it. That’s okay, I was like that for a while. I did the home delivery meal kits, tried endless “quick dinners” off the internet, and eventually resorted to pasta more times a week than I’d like to admit. I started to go food shopping either Saturday or Sunday morning, depending on any weekend plans, and then forced myself to meal-prep every Sunday morning/afternoon.
I know you’re probably thinking “yeah I don’t have time for all that”. I promise, it doesn’t take all day and you have time somewhere you can spare! So, allow me to explain my process!
First, I budget. I know it sounds odd and may not seem at all related, however budgeting really helps me meal-prep! I’ll have a separate blog post about budgeting and the do’s/don’ts. So, how does budgeting relate to meal-prepping? Once I make my budget, I know exactly how much I can spend at the grocery store.
Of course, this number is going to differ for everyone. So please don’t think my budget is an expectation of any kind.
Personally, I budget no more than $75 a week in groceries. Nick also budgets $75 a week, so $150 between the two of us. This helps me immensely when it comes to meal-prepping because I don’t try to cook crazy meals. The meals that require lots of ingredients typically take longer to make anyways, so win-win if you ask me!
I am a social homebody. I like going out but I love staying home, so typically Saturdays are my “going out and adventure” days, while Sundays are spent cleaning, cooking and relaxing. I don’t do a whole lot of planning meals, most of the time I’m making my list while we’re on the way to the grocery store. But, I don’t plan a different meal each day.
My list consists of snacks during work for both me and Nick, lunches and dinners. Our snacks and lunches are typically different, but dinners are the same. And whatever it is that I plan, is the meal for the week. Below is my shopping list/meal plan for this week! Featuring my FAV pen, thank you PaperMate : )
As you can see, our snacks and lunches are almost identical, which helps keep it cheap and easy to prep. Nick typically eats a lot so his lunches are usually more intense, but we are starting keto this week so we are eating the same meals to stick together haha!
Alright, let’s get into the backbone of meal-prepping! There are several reasons as to why meal-prepping saves time, money and is healthier.
- Time-saving: By planning and preparing your meals in advance, you can save 30-45 minutes each day during the week! You do have to dedicate a few hours one day a week in order to meal-prep, but it still saves so much more time. By doing so, you are eliminating cooking from scratch every day and having to worry about so many different meals.
- Healthy Eating: When you have premade meals ready to go, you are less likely to resort to unhealthy food, fast food or takeout/delivery options. You have more control over your portion sizes and ingredients which makes it easier to maintain and achieve a healthy diet. Plus, you are more apt to choose products that incorporate the key nutritional components you need.
- Financial Savings: Meal-prepping definitely saves you money in the long run. By planning your meals in advance and buying ingredients in bulk, you can take advantage of sales and discounts. And by cooking at home, you save money that would otherwise be spent at restaurants. Remember the budget I mentioned earlier? That is a double bonus because now you know how much you are spending.
- Portion Control: Portion sizes play a significant role in maintaining a healthy weight. When you pre-portion your meals, you have better control over the amount of food you consume. This helps prevent overeating and ensures you consume appropriate serving sizes.
- Reducing Food Waste: By budgeting and meal-prepping, you use the ingredients you purchased efficiently. You’ll also only buy ingredients you’ll use without letting them spoil. And by cooking in larger batches and portioning out meals, you avoid throwing away leftovers! I never have leftovers because I only buy what I’ll need.
- Reduced Stress: Meal Prepping eliminates the need to stress over what you’re going to cook each day. By having meals ready to pop in the microwave or oven (whatever way of reheating you prefer), you remove the on-the-spot decision making about meal choices. This frees up energy to complete other tasks or just, relax!
Pictured above are my snacks and lunches from the other week. Now, I know you might be thinking “um, fruit literally costs my left kidney nowadays”, and yes! It does! I literally spent $8 on 3 heads of broccoli the other day… not kidding I attached a picture of my receipt.
Anyways, on the weeks that I want only fruit as snacks, I usually go lighter on my lunches. Meaning those bowls on the right cost probably $15-20 total for the week. I had to buy turkey, a can of corn, one white onion, a few avocados (which were the most expensive part) and tomatoes. I try to make a meal around what I already have at home (quinoa) so that I can splurge on fruit.
Again, Nick and I budget food separately and I don’t have kids to feed. So please do not judge yourself or think you’re failing because you spend more than I do. $75 is just what works for us and our budgets!
I’m not against the meal delivery services by any means. I did HelloFresh for months on end and loved it; I just tightened my budget up.
I also still go out for lunch or dinner sometimes. If I have an extra pre-prepped meal, I just toss it in the freezer.
The reason I standby meal-prepping is because of the healthy benefits and the financial savings. Plus, once you get used to cooking everything at once, it feels good to not cook throughout the week.
Oh! Don’t think I forgot about the “well my kids don’t eat the same food” thing! So, YOU plan the meals, right? Decide what ingredients are versatile and still try to use the same foods but make different meals. AKA, maybe you made a “burger in a bowl” for you, and your kids or S.O had burritos.
I know you’re thinking “those are still the same thing”, but sometimes presenting it differently is all it takes. I know I have used the same exact ingredients but made two completely different meals before, and you’d never know it!
Not a fan of leftovers? My honest opinion: just don’t reheat using a microwave. If you make stuffed chicken (my picture below), use glass containers instead of plastic like in the picture, and pop the whole thing into the oven. Still fast, but tastes more fresh! If you’ve tried that and it just doesn’t work, than honestly meal-prepping 2x a week might be a good option, or just cooking quick meals. This post is really about being okay with eating [roughly] the same food every night to save time and money.
My biggest take away is this; we each budget $75 a week on groceries. We went to dinner one night and both ordered waters, plus relatively cheap meals and the bill before a tip was roughly $60. In one nights worth of food, I spent the same amount I would have for an entire weeks worth of meal-prepping.
I know it seemed like a lot of repetitive information, but that’s actually the cool part of meal-prepping. Starting with a budget will help you eliminate grabbing snacks or unnecessary food at the store. Devoting a few hours for one day allows you to control your portions, save time throughout the week and cook healthier meals.
“A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.“
“You are what you eat – so don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake.”
“Not having time is just a matter of priorities.”– Authors Unknown