It may sound silly at first, but meal prepping not only saves us a fair amount of money; it’s actually transformed and strengthened our relationship. Kristin and I have been meal prepping for the majority of 2017 so far, and it’s likely we’ll continue to do it for a very, very long time. Previously we had never done it – we would make lunches at home sometimes and bring them to work, but that was about it. Nothing was done in advance (typically not even the night before) and if we didn’t have some ingredient (like having lunch meat but no bread), it meant having to buy lunch instead. That was expensive, and often times quite wasteful.
Neither Kristin nor I are extraordinary cooks – we can make a few things well, but we’re not particularly daring in the kitchen. If you told me I could retire tomorrow and be set for life if all I had to do was make a red wine reduction, I’d be working till 65. To be honest, sometimes cooking can intimidate us. But with how stupidly easy some of our meal preps can be, there was no excuse to not try.
What Is Meal Prepping? And Why Choose It Over Alternatives?
Our interest in meal prepping stemmed from two things. We wanted to:
- Cut down on the amount of food we’d buy and simply throw away because it went bad.
- Lose a little bit of weight to look sexy AF for our wedding.
- Avoid the pricey and sodium-rich meal delivery services out there. They aren’t great for a lunch option, anyway.
So, we decided to give meal prepping a go. Every week, we plan out all of our breakfasts and lunches for the entire week, and prepare it all on Sunday. Our lunches normally consist of chicken and a veggie (this is our go-to). In order to keep some variety, we switch it up every now and then to taco bowls or something new. Breakfast is almost always egg cups or hard-boiled eggs, and Kristin’s pretty good at those when she doesn’t make a mess all over. Prep takes about 20 minutes or so for lunches and for breakfasts, plus 30 minutes or so in the oven for each. Normally we’ll prep one while the other is cooking.
That’s ten breakfasts and lunches, prepared, cooked, and packaged in about an hour and a half. Most of that time is spent doing other things around the house like cleaning.
How It Saves Us Money
Honestly I was a bit skeptical that meal prepping would really save us money. I mean sure, we could save some money, but I couldn’t see us saving more than 40 or 50 bucks a month. Now we can get out of the grocery store for less than $90 a week easily, for two adults. Trips are quick too since we know exactly what we need. Previously we were paying closer to $125, and throwing food away. We were wandering the aisles, and buying things we didn’t need and wasn’t healthy for us.
With meal prepping we never have any waste. We can make a run to the store in record time now because we buy exactly what we need, and only what we need. The extra money, about $100 a month, goes straight to savings. More than I thought.
We are also healthier. Keeping a good diet will end up meaning fewer diet-related issues down the road, and we feel good too. And Kristin won a weight loss competition earlier this year, too – which carried with it a cash prize. Losing the weight was awesome (and she looks great). Getting some cash on top of that was just the icing on the cake. Cake we can’t eat because, come on, it was a weight loss competition.
Kristin and I are both extremely introverted. We can literally sit in the same house a couple rooms apart for hours on end and barely say a word. I’ll be working on the blog or playing a video game, and Kristin will read. People think it’s weird, but we love it. But since we have a set routine now, our Sunday mornings are always spent together, meal prepping and talking. It’s a great bonding time – just the right amount of interaction before we both need our secluded time.
Throughout the experience of meal prepping, I’ve actually found that I really enjoy cooking. I’m still learning a lot and have a very long way to go, but preparing a nice meal has been extremely rewarding. I now more regularly cook for Kristin, and I’m always trying to learn something new.
Meal prepping isn’t all fun and games. Yes we look better and are healthier, and save money to boot. But since we’ve moved into a smaller apartment, it’s been quite difficult to have both of us tackling something at the same time in the kitchen. If you’re planning on meal prepping, it’s best to have the space to do it comfortably. When we move into our new house, this will no longer be an issue.
We haven’t gotten the dinner thing down to be this efficient yet. It is, however, the next logical step. We’re a huge fan of crock-pot recipes, and it’s likely that’ll be our next thing to tackle, particularly in winter.
Do you prepare meals in advance, or at least plan what you’ll eat throughout the week? What is your weekly food budget (and for how many/where?)?