Meal prep saves time and money throughout your week. If you have a small food budget, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthy, good food. We’ve got several suggestions to help you do food preparation and save money.
Set Your Menu for the Week
You can’t prep for meals if you don’t have your menu planned out for the week. Know exactly what you’re making for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for an entire week and what ingredients you need and what you already have on hand in your pantry.
Choose recipes that use a few of the same ingredients. You can buy and roast a whole chicken and use that chicken to make 2-3 meals for the week for a very low cost. Make soups, casseroles, enchiladas, salads, and more.
Have a Meal Prep Day
Your meal prep day is where you’re getting all the ingredients ready so you can cook the item in less time. Chopping vegetables, marinating meat, portioning out ingredients, measuring pasta and rice, making sides, and baking bread are just a few things you should plan on doing on this day.
Set aside a couple of hours in the kitchen to prep everything for your weekly meal plan. This is where using the same ingredient in a few recipes comes in handy. Chopping carrots and onions for three meals doesn’t really take much more time than doing it for one meal and you’ll save money buying items in larger quantities.
Take time to look at weekly ads before you set your menu for the week. Buy meat that is on sale and work your menu around those items to save money. Buy in bulk at warehouse stores if you can. You pay less per ounce when you buy in bulk and you can also build your pantry and food storage at the same time.
Make Your Bread
You can save a lot each week by making all of your bread for the week on your meal prep day. Mother Nature Network shares an example with us on how much we can save making our own bread. Not only are ingredients better in homemade bread, you get to experiment and figure out what your favorite recipes are.
Depending on where you live and how many people are in your family, you can save from $300 – $1200 per year by making your own bread.
Look in Your Pantry
Before you set your menu and go shopping, go to the pantry first. Is there something that jumps out at you that would make a good meal one day? Do you already have ingredients on hand for a few meals? Shopping in the pantry for items you’ve already purchased forces you to use those items and saves you money by not over-buying.
Buy Seasonal Produce
Fruit and Vegetables that are in-season are cheaper than produce that has to be shipped long distances. Plan your menus around seasonal produce and you’ll notice the savings in your wallet over time.
Plant a Garden
You can save a great deal on healthy fruits and vegetables by planting a garden in the summer months. Then you can plan your menu around what is ripe and fresh without buying expensive produce at the store.
Freezing and Canning
If you have a garden, you understand the need for canning and freezing. When the vegetables are ripe, they are often all ripe at the same time. You can end up with bushels full of tomatoes, squash, onions, beans, and other items.
It’s difficult to throw these healthy veggies and fruits away, so you need to find a way to save them and use for times when they might not be in season. You can make sauces, blanche veggies, and can fruits to save them for the winter months.
You can save money by clipping coupons or signing up for a coupon service like http://www.coupons.com/. Cut out your coupons first and then look at store ads to see what’s on sale. If you have a coupon for a sale item, you can save even more. It takes a little extra time each week, but it’s worth the $5-$20 savings it could bring you on your weekly grocery bill.
How do you save on your grocery bill each week?