How to save time and money with make-ahead meals

Are you interested in meal prepping but don’t know where to start? Meal prepping sounds daunting, but if properly planned for, it can save both time and money. It’s also a great way to control exactly what’s in your food to make it suit your dietary needs.

My husband often ate out for lunch or ate some sort of pre-made item. Once I started meal prepping for him, he lost weight and our food expenses, for both eating out and grocery items, decreased. There’s a slight learning curve, but after a few weeks you’ll have meal prepping down to a science! Here are my foolproof steps for making meal prep simple and efficient.

7 steps to make meal prepping a breeze

1. Budget

How much can you afford spend on food each month, and how much does that amount to each week? The obvious purpose and perk is that budgeting will save you money! I recommend budgeting both monthly and weekly to stay on track (I like to use the Goodbudget app). This will help you think through your food needs and reduce stress when trying to decide how much to buy and what you’re willing and able to spend. Be sure to check grocery ads to see what products are on sale, and buy accordingly. Shopping seasonally helps cut costs and ensures you’re eating the freshest produce, too!

2. Purchase storage containers

Buy reusable containers, something portable and reheat-able. I recommend using glass containers because they are both reheat-able and non-toxic.

3. Plan

Plan out your meals before you grocery shop. How many breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks will you need for the week? This step will save you time and money—you won’t spend forever at the store and you will buy exactly what you need. Make sure you check your fridge and pantry to see what you already have on hand. 

4. Prep

Carve out a few hours to prep and cook. That way you can cook everything at once, and get it out of the way. Also, you won’t have to drag out pots and pans throughout the week, reducing clean-up time! 

5. Cook

Cook a few items in the oven and a few on the stove (or in the crockpot, Instapot, etc.); that way, things don’t get too crowded and you’ll save cooking time. Feel free to mix in some pre-made or “cook-less” items (i.e. raw veggies, beans, etc.) to keep the process efficient.  

6. Label and date containers

This way, you can avoid food expiration and waste. You can always freeze items for later consumption.  

7. Make it fun!

Cook with a friend or family members; listen to a podcast, music, etc. to pass the time. I wouldn’t “read” if it weren’t for meal prepping–I like to listen to audio books while I prep!

More tips and recipes

Wondering how and where to shop to get the best deals on healthy food? Check out my blog post here.

Wondering what to cook? Check out my Pinterest boards and Instagram highlights for my go-to meal prep recipes.

Now you’re on your way to healthier meals, more time and money. Be creative and try new things each week to see what you like. Then all that’s left to decide is what you’re going to do with your extra time and money… Target is calling!