Meal prep (without going broke)
Planning and preparing meals in advance is crucial to nutrition success. If you have a plan for what you’ll eat, you’re going to be much less likely to go off the rails. Planning and prepping takes an investment of time – there’s no way around it. But the monetary investment can also be substantial. Here’s a few of my top tips to keep you on track and under budget.
1. Take advantage of sales. I hoard grocery sale advertisements. They come out in the Wednesday and Sunday newspapers in my community. You can also pick them up from the grocery stores, or check them out online. Every store will have some meat or produce item that’s clearly a “loss-leader,” or something marked down very low to entice you into the store. I build my meals for the week around these loss-leaders. I don’t go to each store, though. I make a note on my grocery list about the advertised items and prices, and then I price-match the items at Wal-Mart. Yeah, I kinda hate Wal-Mart. But I also hate being broke.
2. Use less-desirable and cheaper proteins. America is crazy for the boneless chicken breast. It’s easy to cook, lean, and versatile. But it’s also one of the most expensive cuts, and pretty insipid tasting. Buy a whole chicken, or chicken leg quarters instead. Learn how to break down a piece of meat into the cuts you want. It’s not that hard – just watch a video on YouTube, and have a decent knife. Bone-in cuts have more flavor, and they’re cheaper. The same rules apply to other meats. I see boneless pork loin chops advertised at two or three dollars more a pound compared to boneless pork loin roasts. Buy the roast, and cut it into chops yourself. You’ll get nicer, thicker chops that way, and save a few bucks.
3. Stop with the bagged salads already. Lettuces are cheap. Lots of good varieties out there, too. Buy your salad ingredients, and make your own bags. Chop everything up, and put each serving in a zip bag or plastic container. Money saved, and only the stuff YOU like in your salad. That’s a win.
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