5 Time-Saving & Budget-Friendly Meal Prep Hacks
Have you always wondered how to meal prep or questioned if meal prep is worth it? Well, it all depends on the execution. Do it right, and you will find yourself saving not only time, but also cutting significant expenses. To meal prep that saves your time and money, check out these 5 meal prep hacks for an easier life:
1. Time your meal prep well
Meal prep typically is done for the whole week, but it’s a good idea not to plan your meals in one sitting. Instead, schedule two days to do so (such as Sunday and Wednesday), to keep your meals fresh and variety plentiful. This may seem counterproductive to split your meal preps in two days instead of one, so it’s a good idea to maximize your meal prep load on Sunday (or the weekend), leaving you with lighter meal prep in the middle of the week. With this preparation timing, you’ll keep your food as fresh as possible thus avoiding throwing out the last batch of the week. This also gives you some room for variations so you won’t feel bored eating the same meals for the week.
2. Prepare protein first
Considering that most meats and protein sources take time to cook, cooking them ahead of time and storing it in the fridge or freezer is a huge time saver. On your meal prep day, cook up at least two types of protein. Choose lean meat as the primary protein and add cheaper alternatives such as eggs or beans to cut cost without sacrificing quality. Leftover proteins are easy to work with, so keep them fresh by keeping in airtight containers in the freezer. They will last up to a week if stored properly.
3. Simple & seasonal items are your friends.
If you want to make meal prep easier, faster and more affordable, prioritize simple ingredients or seasonal produce. When it’s the season, certain items are going to be the most plentiful, inexpensive and flavorful. You can also take advantage of seasonal on-sale products and buy in bulk to avoid multiple trips to the store. Similarly, you want to focus on simple and easy-to-find grocery items when shopping for staple ingredients such as oats, rice, cheese, milk, etc. Also, make it easy and buy ready made sauces or anything pre-prepped to lighten your load.
4. Freezer-friendly meals
When it comes to meal prep, you want to choose recipes that freeze well. From frozen vegetables to tomato sauce, broth, stews and chilis, these recipes mean longer shelf-life, easy to save and almost never go to waste. So the next time you’re fresh out of meal prep ideas, browse for more freezer-friendly meals to adopt.
A few notes about food safety when freezing food :
- For freshly cooked meals, aim to cool it quickly before freezing to maintain the quality. Use an ice bath method or put it in a shallow container.
- Avoid storing hot food in the fridge or freezer to avoid bacteria growth.
- Portion your ingredients or meals into smaller packs to use as needed ( thus avoiding opening the whole container which sacrifices the quality).
- If you plan to freeze a lot of food at once, chill it all in the fridge first so the freezer temperature stays cool.
5. Stay efficient
Depending on the type of meals you prepare, it helps to invest in a few pieces of cooking equipment. Several items that will save your cooking time could range from an instant pot, rice cooker, pressure cooker, food processor, and more. If you bake a lot, getting a large pan is also a good idea where you can cook several ingredients at one go.
So there you have it! A few basic and simple tricks that go a long way when it comes to meal prep to saves time and money. Meal prep your way to better health today or leave the cooking to us and subscribe to one of our meal plans here!