10 Cost Saving Meal Prep Tips for Beginners
By : Eva Chung -
Preparing multiple meals at once has been an on going trend for the past few years. There are many benefits associated with it: saving time, lower expenses, healthy eating, and the convenience. Someone new to the meal prep lifestyle may find that the meals are bland or consume far too much time to cook. However, there are many clever tips and tricks to ease the workload and make a variety of meals with little effort.
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1. Look For Groceries On Sale
Meal prep doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t need luxury or high grade ingredients to make the meals taste good. Check your local flyers online to see if there are any sales and stock up on the ingredients. There are plenty of resources online to get the best grocery deals. If the ingredients are perishable, consider freezing or drying them for later. You might even want to check out bulk stores like Costco!
2. Get Groceries Delivered
Need to save time to meal prep? You can cut out the time it takes to commute to the grocery store and back. Especially with the pandemic going around, it’s a lot safer to just order your groceries online to get them delivered to your door. There’s no need to talk to anyone or be at a harmful distance from someone. You can even order groceries at 2am!
3. Cook It All the Same Way But Change The Sauces
If you aren’t too keen about eating the same meals everyday but also don’t want to meal prep entirely different things for each day, consider only switching up the sauces. For example, pan fried or grilled chicken can be cooked in a large batch with a little salt and pepper. Then using different sauces like cajun, sweet and sour, barbecue, or ranch can drastically change how the chicken tastes to suit a variety of sides. Meal prep doesn’t always have to be about eating the same thing everyday.
4. Canned Tuna Isn’t Just For Sandwiches
Think outside the box. Many ingredients have numerous uses. Check out Pinterest. Canned tuna for example is typically used to make tuna sandwiches. However, you can add it salads, soups, ramen, pasta, etc. You can even make patties and croquettes with it! A little research can help you get a variety of meals out of one ingredient. This is especially great if you’re living alone and can only buy ingredients in bulk.
5. Prep Your Ingredients First
As every chef says, “mise en place” or have your ingredients prepped and station set up before you start cooking. Have everything washed and chopped to make meal prep more painless. The whole process will be a lot more organized, nothing will get lost, and there’s no need to freak out if you forgot to buy something at the grocery store because you’ll have time to pick it up or order.
6. Make It Aesthetically Pleasing
In my opinion, the way a meal looks plays a factor in how much I’m looking forward to eating it. Take some extra time and add a few sprigs of coriander, mint leaves, basil, lettuce, or cherry tomatoes to add a bit of color, freshness, and nutrition. You don’t have to make it look Instagram worthy, but put in enough effort so it looks appetizing. It will make meal prep less depressing.
7. Have A Variety Of Pre-Made Sides
Similar to dining at Korean barbecue restaurants, having a variety of side dishes will help keep meals interesting. They can serve as a palette cleanser (pickled ginger), fresheners (beansprouts), or a kick (kimchi). However, don’t feel limited by the sides Korean barbecue restaurants serve. Simple things like pasta salads, boiled eggs, and pickled vegetables will also suffice. They will help satisfy any craving your palette may be having and make meals feel less one-dimensional.
8. Purchase Quality Tupperware
This is important. Have in mind what kind of containers you like to use and for what reason. I like to meal prep in glass containers because oily residue is easy to remove and it doesn’t stain easily. However, glass containers are heavy and are not the best to travel around with if you’re not careful. Consider quality plastics, wood, metal, or glass options. Make sure to pay attention to the lids too. Not only will a good container hold your food well, but the clean up will be less tedious.
9. Add Leftovers
There’s nothing wrong with adding leftovers to your meals. If you’re making your favorite taco mix for dinner, make extra to add into your meal prep later. Have a lot of leftover vegetable scraps from cooking? Make a soup with it and add pasta to make it a side soup. After all, the best things to fill your make ahead meals with are things you enjoy eating.
10. Plan The Meals Ahead Of Time
If you’re not super detail oriented to want to make exact plans of what meals you’ll prep, try making a master list of all the meals you enjoy. With a master list, you’ll be able to quickly choose a few to make for the week without thinking too much about meal prep.
Meal prepping at first can seem daunting, but with some practice and organization, it can be very easy, quick, and painless.
Looking for more food content? These might be interesting for you:
- 3 Simple and Healthy Vegan Taco Filling Recipes
- 3 Vegan Rice Ball (Onigiri) Recipes For When You Have No Food
- Quick & Easy Healthy Popcorn Topping Recipes
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