The Ins & Outs of Meal Prepping
One of the most significant changes in our post-Covid world is the rising cost of good, healthy food. Obtaining nutritious and delicious food can be both mind-numbing and stressful.
Although each of us has different dietary needs, there are several ways that you can approach meal prep cost-effectively.
Set a Budget
Food is expensive, and certain items, such as name-brand snacks or extravagant proteins can increase your grocery bill dramatically. If you’re on a tight budget, search for substitutes that can fulfill your wants while staying within budget.
However, it is a good idea to reward yourself occasionally. For example, instead of buying 5 New York strips a week, give yourself a steakhouse date night at home once a week.
Set a monthly budget for your groceries and don’t blow your monthly budget on one week’s worth of food.
Ashleigh Payne, a senior at UTK studying economics, shares how she uses BudgetBytes.com to plan recipes that work within her budget.
“As a college student, I don’t have much money left over for myself. Normally I take about $130 a week to use for my meal preps. BudgetBytes.com helped me when I started because I had no idea of recipes I could use the food for–of which there are a ton of recipes–or how to store things properly. The tips and guides it gives you help tailor any budget and has made my life easy simply by spending about an hour at the start of every week getting what I need for meals,” Payne said.
Give yourself time to adjust your budget as necessary. If you budget $100 a week, and you find that after two weeks you’re only using $80 a week, adjust your ordering to either fill in with that extra twenty bucks, or you have extra money for something else.
Do Your Research
There are a ton of websites that will help you meal plan and find a budget that fits your needs, so don’t stress too much about that part. Just be sure you shop around to find a plan that fits your particular needs. This step is the least desirable part of this process but should not be neglected. A poor choice can lead to overspending or not getting the food you want and need.
Marcus Belisle, a nutritionist at Anderson County Health Department details why he prefers happymoneysaver.com over other meal-prepping websites.
“I have many clients who have a lot of children, work, or go to school–sometimes all of those combined. Given that we’re a country state, I personally love this website because it enables me to have that ‘down-home style’ food that is still cheap and relatively easy to prepare. My biggest challenge has been not ordering all the food for the recipes I see,” Belisle said.
Catered to a farm-fresh and rustic dish experience, this website is good for those who grew up on country cooking and wish to be reminded of home.
Plan in Advance
Taking the time to write out a meal plan for the week or month will save you time in the long run. While you’ll still have to set aside a day to shop and prep your meals, you will not have to cook every day.
Dierdra Price, a graduate student studying health psychology at MTSU, explains how she uses workweeklunch.com to help her save time throughout the week.
“As a grad student who also works full time, I often found myself forgetting to eat lunch simply because I didn’t have enough time to make myself something the night before to grab the next day. Workweeklunch.com helped me because of two main things: it's affordable, and none of the recipes are difficult. By the way, every recipe I’ve tried is delicious,” Price said.
The only real downside to this is storage, which can be a bit of a challenge. There are a few alternatives for storage. A small freezer doesn’t cost a lot and is easily fit in a dorm room or bedroom. A mini-fridge is about the same size as a small standalone freezer and can fit in both dorm rooms and a solitary bedroom. If you lack storage space, you might find that shopping for a week’s worth of food is a better fit for you.
You can find food that is healthy and budget-friendly because who isn’t tired of commissary food? Meal prepping will help you save time and money if you set yourself up for success.