There are many reasons why to start meal prepping, but one of the easiest to appreciate is how it can help your budget! Whether you are living paycheck-to-paycheck or just wanting to save a bit of extra cash, the grocery budget is one area that can have a lot of give. With the right planning most people can easily cut their grocery bill in half!
I want you to stop and think for a moment: When you go to the grocery store, how do you shop? Do you go and grab what looks good to you? Do you have a list that you follow? How did you create that list? Did you use specific recipes and check your pantry for what you already have or did you just write down the things you usually buy with a vague plan in mind?
These are all things that can affect how large your grocery bill is! And with a bit of thought and practice, they are all things that can become easier and help you save money. By using these practices, I routinely keep our grocery bill around $100-120 per week! I could reasonably cut that even lower if I wanted to, but we have decided that there are certain products that we buy that are worth the extra cost.
To have meal prep really help your budget, there are a few things that you want to keep in mind!
3 Things to Consider for Budget Meal Prep
What do I already have in my pantry that needs to be used up?
This is especially relevant for produce or dairy products that are going to expire or go bad soon. Have some veggies looking a little sad? Plan to make a soup or stew to use them up! Have some canned ingredients that have been lingering on your shelves? Pick a recipe to use them up!
What recipes can I pick that have overlapping ingredients?
This can work for just about any type of ingredient, though I use this a lot for meat and produce. Two of the most common ingredients I will plan to use in multiple recipes on a given week: chicken and cabbage! Chicken is often available in large packages at a reduced per-pound cost. And one head of cabbage produces a lot of cabbage for your recipes!
For example, if I plan to meal prep 3 chicken recipes in a given week, I can buy a large package with enough for all three, saving me money and lowering wasted ingredients. Cabbage I usually plan out that way because most recipes call for less than a full head of cabbage. If I plan for 2 recipes, the cabbage gets used up! (Plus cabbage is incredibly cheap!) But that is just two examples! There are so many recipes and ingredients you can do this with! Think about it for a bit: What are some ingredients you use frequently?
What items are on sale at my grocery store?
I don’t honestly do this one very often, but it can be very helpful and I have used it a lot in the past! When you sit down to write your menu, first pull up the websites for the grocery stores you go to (or grab their mailers) and check out what main ingredients are on sale. Now, you want to be careful with this one. Focus on main ingredients only and try to pick things you would buy normally. Otherwise, this can go from money-saving to expensive very quickly. One of the ways I used this most was looking at what meat was on sale, especially chicken breasts or pork chops. Then I would choose my recipes for the week centered around that type of meat. This could work for just about any main ingredient though and I have used it before for produce as well!
Keeping these 3 things in mind when planning your meal prep menu can significantly increase your savings each week and reduce food wastage too!
What are your favorite ways to lower your food budget? Have your tried planning out your meal prep to be more budget-friendly? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!