Making dinner for a busy family – or even just yourself – is a task far greater than often gets commended. A nutritious, tasty, fast, and cost-effective meal is almost too good to be true.
It’s easy nowadays to simply grab a bite on the way to your next event. And even though hitting a fast-food chain may be okay occasionally, in the long run those quick solutions are more damaging than they are convenient.
Not only are they minimizing quality time with the family, but they’re also taking a toll on your purse string, as well as your waistline.
The Thrifty Lady’s Guide to Easy Meal Prepping
If you’re looking for ways to cut costs while still preparing a fast, nutritious meal, try incorporating a few of these ideas:
There are many different ways to include this idea into meal planning. For snacks, buy in bulk and prepackage servings yourself, rather than purchasing the small, individual bags that cost more. This way, when hunger is near, your family has healthy choices available.
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You can also prepackage Mason jar salads as a way to prepare for the lunch hour at work. Built within a jar to keep the ingredients fresh, these salad options are sure to be delicious.
Plan Meals in Advance
The best way to avoid spending more than necessary is to plan a meal schedule far in advance. Take a look at the week’s calendar and plan out each day’s food intake. Make a list of all of the ingredients needed for the recipes you’ll use. Go to the grocery store and only buy what’s on the list to avoid unnecessary spending.
Try a One-Pot Meal
Who wants to spend a lot of time scrubbing dishes after working all day? One-pot recipes are a great solution. They don’t require multiple dishes, and you won’t have to worry about individually preparing each part of the meal. With a one-pot meal, everything is combined into one pot and cooks together.
Make One for Now and One for Later
When purchasing ingredients at the grocery store, try to get enough for two of whatever you will make. A lasagna, for example, can be a time-consuming dish to prepare. Make two at a time, one for now and one to pop in the freezer for a later date. Before you know it, you’ll have a large stock of frozen dinners to choose from.
Many people dislike leftovers, but did you realize they’re easily made into something entirely new? A chicken dinner one night can be the base for a chicken noodle soup the next. Spaghetti one night can turn into a casserole the next. Using leftovers means less waste, which means you’re saving money.
Go Vegetarian for a Night
Some of the biggest meal expenses come from purchasing meat. Save a little money by going vegetarian one night a week. Pasta, in its many forms, is quick and easy. And best of all: it’s also cheap.
Meal prepping isn’t rocket science, but it does require planning and effort. Use these tips to become a pro at prepping healthy – and fast – meals for the family.
Anum Yoon is a personal finance writer who is dedicated to sharing her insights on money management with others. She believes that a greener, energy-efficient lifestyle is the key to living a more fulfilling life. When she’s not typing away on her keyboard, you can find her poring over a new recipe she found on Pinterest or at the power rack in her gym. Catch her on Twitter or sign up for her newsletter here to find out what she’s sharing!