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Guess what? I hate cooking.
You might think I like it since I write about it. But no.
It’s just a necessity to eat right?!
I do love to eat lol.
Right now, I am super busy. My schedule makes me feel like I am too busy to take time to cook. You know, taking time from my side hustle.
I am sure you get me.
Cooking also just feels like a chore. Another chore in an already long list of chores.
And you might think skip cooking. But that turns into grabbing the wrong foods and overspending on crap food.
For me, not only do I not want to spend a lot on food but I have to control what I eat so that I don’t gain. Meal prepping changed everything for me. Meal prepping allows you to control what you are eating, stay on a budget and cook less. I am going to help you do this too.
How I Meal Prepped on a Tight Budget and Lost Weight
I am sure you’ve heard of meal prepping. Probably the same as me, through a beachbody coach’s ad or post. I finally decided to give meal prepping a try. It sounds overwhelming when you start. I am also more of a fly by the seat of my pants vs. a planner.
I had done some sheet pan cooking but I was ready to take this to the next level.
I set aside some time to research and figure out my system and to get it done on a budget. I am loving how it’s working for me! I found:
- I spent less time trying to decide what to make
- Less trips to the grocery store
- No eating out saved money
Amazing results, right?!
In a short time, I went from someone who hated to cook and take the time to cook and eating out too much to eating at home all the time! Obviously I go out with friends but when it’s just me, I am all planned out! All because of meal prep success!
As some who has experienced the magic of meal prepping, I want to share my tips with you for your meal prep success while staying on budget and possibly some weight loss:
1. Figure Out Your Budget
While I follow a budget in every other area of my life, I really don’t on food. That needed to change.
Since starting, I discovered I was really overspending on food! I bought unnecessary items and way too much eating out. Due to that discovery, I started using some apps to save money at the store. One of those apps is Ibotta.
These money saving apps like Ibotta are simple to use. You’ll simply choose the rebate you want, maybe answer a question or a simple activity, then follow up by uploading a picture of your receipt after you’ve made the purchase. I’ve saved quite a bit of money!
I’ve also been a fan of the $5 Meal Plan for many years. There may be a wealth of information on the net but sometimes it’s overload that leads to confusion and ending up not following through. I end up saving a million recipes but not getting anywhere.
Utilizing the $5 Meal Plan helped me avoid these time wasting activities by sending me menus weekly. For a measly $5 a month, I get a meal plan of delicious recipes sent to my personal email. Sent on Friday, this allows me to plan and buy what I need for meals and prep on the weekend.
The recipes are tasty and quick but more importantly, easy to follow. Also important, each meal costs less than $2 per person. An added benefit is the grocery list they send.
- Inventory Your Pantry
Important to tackle is seeing what you have before heading out to the grocery store. This prevents wasting food and money on items you already have.
I also often find that finding out what I have on hand inspires me to make meals I’ve enjoyed in the past but may have forgotten about. On one of my inspections, I found the cans needed for a soup I make. I decided to make that since it had been awhile and it was also tasty.
3. Portion Control
Americans consume much too large of portions. Super sized portions. It’s no wonder we’re gaining at a rapid rate.
When I go out to eat, I immediately cut my meal in half and ask for a box and put half away for another meal.
One of the benefits of meal prepping, you’ll control your food and hopefully, choose healthier options and control your portion sizes.
If you are unsure on portion sizes, there are guidelines you can follow for how many calories and cups of each food group you should be consuming.
4. Eat the right foods
Too many people think that limiting calories is all they need to do. However, it doesn’t mean your getting the right nutrients. In fact, the majority of the population doesn’t get the right amount of vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils.
However, did you know that studies have shown spending time on food preparation at home, yields a higher quality diet.
5. Invest in the right tools
Meal prepping will save you money in the long run but it will take an investment in the right tools.
The right tools will make meal prep so much easier. From a slow cooker to meal prep containers, there are some helpful tools for meal preppers.
Don’t go on a shopping spree and buy a bunch of unnecessary items. You’ll be able figure out what you’ll really use and what’s really worth the investment to make life a little easier.
6. Schedule your plan and prep time
Meal prepping will save you a lot of time, but if you fail to schedule the time and follow through, it obviously won’t work. Do what works for you. I shop Saturday when I run errands and spend Sunday prepping meals for the week.
I realize this will take up some time on the weekends but it will save you time in the long run. Time you use to spend through the week on multiple trips to the store, time spent cooking during the week, etc.
Also, stick to your grocery list. It helps resist unnecessary items and over-spending. I opt for my groceries to be delivered. For $5, my store will deliver what I have ordered online. I find this not only saves me time but money as I am not going down aisles seeing unnecessary items.
Starting and making meal prepping part of your routine increases your chances for weight loss, health and budgeting success.
7. Eat what’s in season
Produce that’s from the current season is usually cheaper. It’s generally more nutritious as well because produce become less nutritious as it ages once picked. Here’s a list of some common fruits and vegetables by season to help with your shopping:
8. Buying in bulk
This does not mean stock your pantry or freezer! Buy what you need in larger packages that you’ll break down. In other words, if you need 8 breasts, don’t buy 2 packages of 4 breasts each.
This will help you save money.
9. Use your slow cooker
I have used a slow cooker for man years. In fact, I have 5. There have been times when money was tight and cooking fresh IS cheaper. I would make a main, a side, even a dessert in a crock pot. In the summer it keeps your house cool vs. using the oven. It also helps you spend time with family instead of being tied to the kitchen over the stove. I learned this from my mother in law when I was first married. She would brown ground beef in the morning and throw it in the crock pot with other items and come home to spaghetti sauce. All she had to do was boil the noodles after a busy day at work. If you hate cooking, it’s less tedious with a slow cooker, trust me!
You can also search Pinterest for budget friendly slow cooker meals.
10. Waste Not
The best tip I can give you is always know what you have so you use that first. I’ve even remade leftovers into a new meal or taken leftover hot dog buns and turned into garlic bread.
Improvising with spare ingredients saves money.
Meal Prepping can be life changing! Especially on a budget.
It will seem overwhelming in the beginning but once you start you’ll develop into a pro and eventually get into a simple routine.
Ultimately your wallet and your health will thank you.