The past few weeks I haven’t been so great at healthy eating. For breakfast and lunch, I’ve been alright, but dinner has been an epic fail. This past weekend, my hometown had it’s annual Apple Blossom Festival, which brings out trucks and trucks of carnival food. Friday, for lunch, I had a pulled pork bbq sandwich, and for dinner, a cheeseburger, cheese fries and popcorn. Saturday was followed up by a full spread from Taco Bell. Let’s not talk about the calories from alcohol…
So I decided to get back on my healthy meal prep kick, partially for the nutritional benefits, and partially to save money. Eating out is quick and easy, but boy do the costs add up. It pains me to get a $50 check for dinner, knowing that could have bought a few days worth of meals. My husband and I try not to be terribly frivolous with our money, but our biggest weakness food. I normally grocery shop about once a week and try to purchase what I need for the week ahead. Yesterday I went through my pantry and fridge and tried to come up with some meals based on ingredients I already had in the house. I made a list of the few things I still needed and headed to the store. I spent around $40 or so, but again, I had most of my supplies already at home. So if you calculate 3 meals a day, times 7 days, times two people, that’s about $0.95 per meal! You really can’t beat that. My husband and I are dedicated to spending NO money this week, except for emergencies or necessities such as gas and bills. So that means NO money on food!
One of the biggest reasons we buy our lunch or dinner is due to lack of preparation. Maybe we have healthy things in the fridge, but we’re running late in the morning and don’t have time to pack. Or I forget to take meat out of the freezer in the morning and by the time I get home from work I’m too tired and hungry to wait for something to thaw. So yesterday, I decided to prep our breakfasts and lunches for the week ahead. I normally pack our lunches the night before, but sometimes binge watching Shameless takes precedence over packing. I spent about two hours total and prepped 30 meals total–breakfast, and lunch for both my husband and I, for Monday through Friday. On weekends, I don’t normally prep–I typically use Saturday and Sunday as somewhat “cheat days” and grab a bowl of cereal or a sandwich and chips. I’ve planned out what we’ll be eating for dinner, but these are mostly crock pot meals and quick dinners that don’t really require any preparation ahead of time.
I gathered all of my ingredients and handled the prep several steps at a time. I had the rice boiling and the sweet potatoes in the oven while I was chopping peppers for my eggs. There really wasn’t a method to my madness, and my kitchen was certainly a wreck in the process. I just tried to think logically about what I could multitask. The key is having a lot of portable containers! I like to use generic Ziploc plastic containers, and I reuse them until the fall apart. I use the small rectangle “entree” size, and the small round twist & lock variety for most of my lunches. I also utilize small mason jars for things like yogurts and oatmeal, and large mason jars for salads. It’s also a good idea to have the mini seal-able condiment containers for things like hummus and peanut butter. I know a lot of people use glass containers for everything, since plastic isn’t the safest to microwave, but I just haven’t yet gotten there. Plus, my husband is notorious for mysteriously loosing his containers, and the plastic ones are cheap to replace.
Here is the result of my hard work! I felt so productive and accomplished after finishing, and it’s a great feeling to know I won’t have to do any other preparation until next Sunday! Throughout this week, I’ll be blogging about each meal, including my recipe and how it turned out, so check back every day for more. I don’t claim to be an expert, just a cheap girl trying to healthy it up 🙂