5 Tips To Help Your Meal Prep Budget
I can recall so many times where I was committing to a specific body composition goal, or a performance goal with a certain program that I was cycling. And for both of those goals, they demand certain nutritional targets. While valuing fitness and wanting to be sure that I was using my time as efficient as possible, the immediate thought wasn’t, “Can I do this?”. It was more like, “How am I going to afford this?”. Let me explain. You can probably relate to this. All of the doubt of affording food (from a program goal perspective) has reached me during periods of my life where I was living at home, bringing in minimal income. I was a college student going through the already existing problems that some students face, also having little income. And now, I am in a position where there is more than one mouth to feed. Optimum for spending however much money you want on food? No. I am hoping you can relate to some of the scenarios. But, regardless of wherever you are at in your life you can feel encouraged to meet your nutritional needs without breaking the bank.
When you are looking to commit and adhere to a nutritional program, we automatically think that eating healthier or having healthier choices available to us is more expensive. Honestly, It doesn’t have to be, and usually it's quite the opposite. The second thing that grabs our attention, especially from a cost perspective, is clients or athletes needing more food for their specific goals. Bigger portions have to equal more money, right? So, if you are an individual who is needing 6+, or even 8-12 ounces of protein per meal. Absolutely, it can certainly cost a tad more. But, you can make great choices at the store that will not impact your budget poorly.
Think of your health as an investment. And to this investment, there will be some trade-offs. Individuals who adhere to a proper nutrition and training program are given the best opportunities to save on insurance, and continue to work in their careers. So, lets cover some practical ways to save some time, money, and excel you towards your goals.
While we are on the subject of ideas to meal prep. Here are a couple resources to give you some extra or new ideas on what to add to your meal prep. You may need to alter some ingredients to fit your nutritional needs.
Stop going out to eat and buying alcohol
I’m not saying you can’t have either. But, this seems pretty obvious. A quick search gave the statistics that the average individual spends $232 dollars per month going out to eat. Could this be an additional amount on top of what you are already spending on groceries? Sure. Could this amount help put your mind to ease to make sure you have adequate groceries with a variety of options? You bet.
For the average individual, they spend almost $600 on alcohol per year. This doesn’t include any participation for drinking at socials or weekend outings. So, if you’re used to buying out or consuming alcohol on a frequent basis, you can at least break even or get ahead on your budget by adjusting your lifestyle.
2. Buying food in bulk
Purchasing in bulk provides a great way to get a larger amount of food at a discounted price. When you shop at a place like Costco or Sam's Club, you definitely will need to have the money upfront. I assure you though,the big hit initially will save you money in the long run. There are tons of options as well! When you have all of the food you purchased, it's easy to separate the food into portions that can feed the family or the individual. After you divide everything out, you can store items in the freezer to keep and use whenever you’d like.
3. Shop at cheaper stores
You can really take advantage of a local chain in town that has prices lower than the competition. You may even find yourself going to a couple stores just to be certain you are buying what is on sale for the week. Be sure to check for meats that are close to a sell by date, often stores will discount the meat up to 25% sometimes. All you need to do is make sure it is properly sealed and freeze it until you are ready to use it. Depending on the time of year, locals farmer’s markets are carrying great products. Build relationships with the vendors in your community and they are pretty willing to negotiate the price with you.
4. Avoid wasting food
This is one of the easiest ways to save money to your budget. I’m not reinventing the wheel or anything like that. Consider on how you manage the food kept in your household. The average individual throws away almost $1000 worth of food every year. So, take advantage of the food that is already kept in your house. Think of how you can use it best with your meal prep; based off its caloric amount, keep in mind of your portions.
5. Commit to a smaller meal prep and plan
Usually you see people prep meals that would last them 4-5 days or maybe a week. That can seem overwhelming and a ton of work for some. For me it would be. I can’t really prep for more that 48 hours at a time. So, if you’re like me, consider these tips to help get you by:
Have meals readily available. In your fridge, have items or meals planned out that you can easily reheat or take on the go.
Find cheap meals to cook. Make sure you cook smaller portions of specific foods that you are unsure if you will like or not. If you don’t like it, you can feel a bit better about wasting as little as possible.
Focus on meals that meet your needs. Keep it simple. Be sure to add all of the protein you need, then focus on adding healthy carbs to your meals, then add healthy fats.