Google “meal prep” and you will get five ads for services that offer this service. They are doing a great service but they charge a premium to deliver prepared foods to your door. Your food and grocery budget is an easy way to stop overspending. If you are always looking at the easiest option, you will always be paying the highest price.
Meal preparation can help you not to overspend or go out at the last minute. Preparing meals yourself provides you with health and savings benefits. It is always preferable to know exactly what ingredients are going into your food. Here are some meal preparation tips.
- Plastic tubs, Ziploc bags, and dry-erase markers. If you have plenty of plastic containers with matching lids, you can prepare many different foods beforehand. On the plastic tubs, I write with dry-erase markers and then it comes off in the dishwasher. I write the date and what’s in the container before I put it in the freezer or fridge.
- Double-batch. Whenever you are cooking or preparing, make a double batch and freeze the rest. My family really doesn’t like leftovers but if I put half of it in the fridge and pull it out while they are gone during the day, they don’t always know it’s a leftover.
- Prepare meats and vegetables for the week. Don’t buy already prepared vegetables because the cost is higher. Wash, cut and package your own vegetables. Look at your menu and cook all the meat for the week ahead of time. Meat can take 30+ minutes just to cook. Last night, I used two pans. I used one for the meat and one for the rest of the meal so we could eat at our normal time. If I had just cooked the chicken ahead of time, I would have saved myself a pan to clean. Meat can also be cooked before it is frozen.
- Rice. I use my rice cooker or instant pot for all of my rice. I can start rice and walk away or run a carpool. But if you find you don’t have time to cook rice, then cook rice the weekend before and keep some in the freezer.
- Slow Cooker and Instant Pot. We all know we can save a lot of time by cooking our food in the slow cooker or instant pot. I love both because I can start it in the morning and then come home right at dinner and there is something to eat. Both are perfect for the busy days that plague our efforts of eating at home. You can prepare and even freeze several meals that you just throw into the slow cooker before work and they are ready to go at dinnertime. Search “Freezer Slow-Cooker Meals” for some great ideas.
Meal preparation is another great way to help manage your food and grocery budget. A little preparation goes a long way in helping you manage your families’ budget.