Cooking a nutritious and affordable breakfast, lunch and dinner every day is challenging and time-consuming. Women spend an average of 51 minutes preparing meals for themselves each day and even longer if they’re cooking for an entire household.
Meal prepping can be your secret weapon for eating on a budget and remaining healthy. When you prepare your meals in advance, you save time by taking the guesswork out of your day. You reduce impulse purchases and concentrate on buying nutritious ingredients.
Here are seven tips you should follow when meal prepping on a slim budget.
1.) Create a Plan
To meal prep on a budget, you must start by making a plan. What inexpensive dishes can you make each week? Choose foods you enjoy that will keep well in the fridge or freezer. You should also set a budget each month.
Challenge yourself only to use the money you’ve allocated for the week. Try making a grocery list to use when you go to the store, or try shopping online to avoid impulse buying unnecessary items.
2.) Compare Prices
To get the best deals, you need to compare the prices at your local supermarkets. Do your research and make a note of sale items in your area. If you buy the same ingredients every month, it’s best to learn what stores offer the most competitive prices.
Check to see if any of the stores offer a price match guarantee. If so, they’ll discount their prices to match or beat a competitor. Remember, market fluctuations cause prices to change, so if you see a great deal on a non-perishable good, consider purchasing extra.
3.) Use Coupons
Coupons can be a shopping game changer. You can stock up on essential items and purchase name brand products at a fraction of the regular price. Try looking in your local sales paper for coupons and announcements describing what things are on sale each week. Besides the newspaper, you can access coupons digitally through your email or on phone apps.
Sign up for loyalty programs to gain special rewards and discounts at your favorite stores. If you prefer to shop online, consider enabling browser extensions that will help you save money by finding discount codes, cash back offers and coupons.
4.) Prep a Variety
The concept behind meal planning is that you prepare a large meal that you portion out throughout the week. You can eat leftovers that are kept in the fridge for three to four days without the risk of food poisoning. However, meals kept in the freezer last substantially longer. Soups and stews can stay frozen for two to three months without risking spoilage!
Plan to prepare a mix of frozen and fresh meals so that you can enjoy variety throughout the month. If you eat the same two dishes week after week, you’d quickly become bored.
5.) Utilize Kitchen Gadgets
Meal prepping is fun and relaxing when you utilize kitchen gadgets. For instance, mandolins allow you to prepare vast quantities of vegetables in a short period. Other items — like pressure cookers — help you achieve delicate textures with deep flavors.
Focus on working smarter, not harder, so your weekly meal prep is enjoyable rather than stressful or chore-like.
6.) Grow Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs can elevate a dish to rockstar potential. You can use them in various meals to enhance the flavor and provide color and texture. Herbs offer numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and reducing blood clots. Consuming them can also help prevent certain types of cancer.
Buying them fresh from the store each week can become expensive, so try growing some at home. Mint, chives, parsley and basil can be grown inside all year if situated in a sunny area.
7.) Think Inside the Box
When meal planning, you should think inside the box — the freezer box that is! Frozen vegetables provide the same nutritional value as fresh ingredients at a fraction of the cost. You can buy them in bulk and store them in the freezer for months on end without worrying about them going bad.
When you have frozen fruits and vegetables available, you are far more likely to implement them in your meal prep. This means you can enjoy healthy eating without breaking the bank. Plus, frozen vegetables contain a fraction of the salt and preservative content found in canned goods.
8.) Create Balance
Use these seven tips to meal prep on a slim budget. When you make strategic choices, it’s possible to make nutritious and affordable meals each week. Concentrate on finding a balance between inexpensive items and healthy ingredients. You may have to be creative, but your efforts will pay off!