Just the simple act of planning your weekly meals will save you lots of time and money. Learn how to get even more food for less cost with these essential tips for how to meal prep on a budget.
How to Meal Prep on A Budget
One of the easiest ways to save money every week is to plan out your meals and do meal prep. Just by spending a little time planning your meals, you will save money. You’ll be less likely to eat out – which by itself will put money back in your pocket!
Planning also eliminates impulse buys that are usually unhealthy and cost more than freshly-prepared meals.
How do you meal prep and save money?
This guide will walk you through everything step by step. You’ll learn how to look for sales, how to keep food fresh longer, and how to avoid things that cost more money.
1. Do A Weekly Menu
Start with a weekly menu. Plan out all three meals and even snacks. What will you need for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
When you plan out what you need for that week, you avoid overbuying. Just buy only what you need and you’ll automatically save money.
If searching online for recipes and creating a shopping list is too time-consuming, then use our weekly menu-planning service. For a small monthly fee, we will send you the entire week’s menu along with an organized shopping list.
2. Buy the Sales
Next, when you are preparing for the week’s meals, compare prices at local grocery stores and shop the sales. Keep track of sales from local newspaper inserts. Since meat is usually the most expensive part of every meal, buy the meat when it goes on sale and freeze it.
For example, even if the menu we send you doesn’t have pork that week, if you see it on sale for BOGO or 99 cents a pound, buy it and freeze it.
Then, when you see meat on the menu, pull it out and let it thaw in the fridge overnight.
Shopping meat and produce when they go on sale will save you a lot of money every month!
3. Keep Food Fresh All Week
The next way to meal prep on a budget is to cut down on food waste. Instead of buying fruits and veggies twice in a week, keep what you buy fresh and make it last.
Here are some fresh food tips that will make your produce last longer in the fridge:
- Keep avocados from going brown. Brush avocado slices with lemon juice. This will help them last longer.
- Make lettuce last longer. Buy a head of lettuce and leave it intact in a plastic container. Intact lettuce stays fresh for an entire week, but loose lettuce leaves will wilt and turn soft after a few days.
- Take veggies out of the plastic bags. Store fresh veggies right in your fridge instead of in the plastic bags that you put them in at the store. Those plastic bags will trap moisture and cause them to get soft faster.
- Keep out the air. Air is your food’s worst enemy. Store your fresh fruit and veggies in airtight containers or bags.
4. Freeze Meals Ahead of Time
Another thing that will save you lots of money is freezing all your meals ahead of time. Then, when you are ready to cook, just thaw and bake! All your ingredients will stay just as fresh as when you first chopped them all up.
What’s the best way to freeze meals?
We love putting all the ingredients into a gallon-sized freezer bag. They lay flat in the freezer and you can store more meals in less space.
Always write the recipe name and date on the bag so you don’t forget!
5. Avoid Expensive Ingredients
Simply buying cheaper ingredients will add up and save you money on your total grocery bill. What are some things you can swap that will cost you less?
Here are some easy ingredient-swaps that will save you money:
- Margarine for butter
- Brown sugar for honey
- Truffle Salt for Truffles
- Balsamic vinegar for aged balsamic vinegar
- Shelled pumpkin seeds for pine nuts
- Thinly sliced deli ham for prosciutto
- Cooked and flaked tilapia for lump crab meat
- Pecorino Romano Cheese for Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
There are a lot of other ways you can save money too. Use dried herbs instead of fresh. Look for ways to save a few pennies here and a few pennies there – it will all add up.
6. Reuse Leftovers
There are so many ways to use leftover in fresh new meals so you can cut down on waste. Find some creative ways to use that cooked chicken from dinner for lunch later in the week. Then you don’t have to buy more meat for lunch that day.
This one step will save you a lot of money in the long run. This is another example of when small plastic containers with lids are a worthwhile investment. You can put the ingredients from dinner into different containers and reuse them later on during the week.
7. Use All The Ingredients That Week
Finally, make your dollars stretch by using every single ingredient you buy. If you bought a head of cauliflower for a recipe, use the rest of it for lunch.
Make a list of the ingredients you buy and create recipes that use them all.
Another tip: buying in bulk doesn’t always save you money. Compare how much you spent on a bulk amount of potatoes and compare it to how much you’d spend on buying only the amount that you used. Stop throwing away your money when you throw out spoiled food.
Meal Prep On A Budget and Save Money
Spending a little time making lists and planning ahead will help you stay within your budget. It’s amazing how much more money we spend when we shop on impulse.
Use our meal-planning service to save you time and give you a shopping list that will keep you on track when you are at the store.
You could even put a little “splurge money” in your budget so you don’t feel as restricted. However you do it, meal prep will help you spend less.
More Food Prep Tips
Here are some more food prep tips that will help you save time and energy in the kitchen. We are always here if you have any questions.