Save Time and Money on Groceries by Meal Prepping
Meal prepping has become a Sunday routine at my house. It didn’t start off that way at all. About four years ago, meal prepping became a pretty popular topic in the fitness and mommy communities. My husband and I both had heavy workloads at the time, about 50-60 hours a week. I was studying for my Series 7 and my husband was doing extra graphic design work on the side. On top of all, we were planning our wedding. Everything seems overwhelming as time was not on our side. We were so tired that going out for happy hour just seemed easier. That felt good at the time because we didn’t have to cook or clean up. It was ok, but we actually had a tone of food at the house that wasn’t being touched. We were literally throwing money away buying groceries. This was an issue and we decided to give meal prepping a try.
After a few Sundays, I found myself kicking and screaming. I was dreading meal prepping altogether. The prep routine was very heavy, time-consuming, and it didn’t seem maintainable either. We did everything on Sundays. From planning out meals to buying groceries, cooking, and then the cleaning. Every pot, knife, and spoon we had was dirty. The counters were a mess because my husband would use all of the seasonings and leave them out. I was even worse, I would leave some the perishable foods out. It was a hot mess! After weeks and years of changing and modifying things – even quitting – I felt that we’ve finally got a routine that worked.
Moving forward, now we have two babies and I can’t imagine my daily routine without meal prep. So here is what works for us:
Grocery Store Ads
Before planning my meals I check out the grocery store ads. If I see good deals at one store over another we will shop at that store. We use the Flip app, where we can see all of the grocery store ads in just one place. This makes it so much easier than looking through a bunch of mail ads or even going online.
We hit up Costco about every 2 months and purchase the staple items like milk, eggs, bread, meat, and wine. I purchase all of the pricey items at one time, so when I go to the grocery store it is just for a few things.We usually bulk up on everything except eggs. For milk, I usually get soy or almond milk. They come in a big box of 6-8 cartons, so I don’t have to purchase them at the grocery store.
Farmers Market Grocery Stores
Now that we have all of our staple items, we only go to the grocery store to buy fruit and vegetables. Can you image how wonderfully low our bill is when we mainly purchase fruits and vegetables? We usually go to Sprouts on Wednesdays (double deal day) or early Saturdays. If we decide to grill we hit up a regular grocery store like Ralphs or Vons to get something special.
Meal Prep Containers
We finally found the perfect meal prep containers on Amazon by Misc Home. I had a lot of issues with many of the containers because they didn’t have tabs on the lid to open easily. I broke so many containers just trying to open them. Another thing to keep in mind is how bulky they are. I used to buy the simple containers at Target, but it took up more space in my fridge. So look for slim containers and lids with tabs. Don’t let those nice reviews fool you.
Knowing what is on sale can save tons of money if you plan your meals ahead. If sweet potatoes are on sale then our meals will have sweet potatoes instead of rice. I only plan on cooking 3 large “simple” meals and 1 breakfast option for meal prep.
Here are some staple items I have in all my meals:
- Starch: rice, pasta, sweet potatoes, quinoa or any other rice supplement
- Protein: meat, fish, tofu, beans or other meat supplements
- Two vegetables: broccoli, zucchini, brussel sprouts, green beans, etc.
In my experience we get tired of meal prep by Thursday, so I usually only cook 3 meals to cover lunch and dinner for Monday – Wednesday. On Wednesday I will cook one large meal to cover Thursday and some of Friday. I supplement some of the lunches with light meals like salad and sandwiches. This gives me more free time away from the kitchen and nutritious ready to go meal for my family.