With social distancing, local dining options are limited to takeout and delivery, so many of us have taken the opportunity to cook at home more. It’s not hard to create a meal plan that makes the most of what you have on hand and doesn’t require you to shop more than once a week. Careful planning – and a little creativity – can save you precious time and money. It will also help you make smarter food choices while decreasing stress. Make the most of your time and resources with these tips for weekly meal prep.
Prep on the weekend
Weekdays have plenty of responsibilities of their own, without preparing, cooking, and clearing three meals a day. Making food preparations over the weekend is ideal, when you’re likely to have the most energy and time to dedicate to getting set up for the following week.
Don’t shop and cook on the same day
If you’re planning to stock up for a week or two on each grocery trip, you’ll likely be out shopping for 1-2 hours. Unless you want to spend most of the day shopping, unloading, cooking, and cleaning, it’s probably better to spread out these tasks over the course of the weekend.
Check unit prices vs. whole prices
Most price tags on shelves also list the price per unit (ounce, pound, or whatever the measurement is). To save money, consider buying the option that’s less expensive per unit, especially if the item you’re looking to purchase isn’t perishable or is more than what you’ll use in a week.
Keep it simple
Meal prep is a great way to experiment with new foods and recipes. At the same time, buying a lot of the same staples each week makes grocery runs less labor intensive and saves some brain power on coming up with meals. Find a balance by adding in a few new items each week and finding recipes that use some of the same ingredients, to maximize efficiency and keep meal prep simple.
Plan and eat before shopping
Shopping without a list and while hungry is a recipe for disaster. You’re bound to walk out with everything that sounds or smells good, rather than what you actually need for the week. You may also duplicate items you already have, while forgetting key ingredients that you’re out of. Make a list, grab a bite to eat before you leave your apartment, and stick to what you need.
Stick to your budget
To avoid over spending, set a weekly or monthly budget for groceries and stick to it. This will force you to be creative about what you buy and where you buy it from. It will also help ensure that you use the foods you already have on hand. All important parts of weekly meal prep.