HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE GROCERY STORE LATELY? CAN YOU BELIEVE HOW PRICES HAVE CLIMBED THIS YEAR?
Seriously, in the time it takes me to write this article, I’m afraid grocery costs will have gone up again!
We all know eating out can take a hit to our bank account, but with inflation driving our everyday grocery expenses up, home-cooked meals start to feel just as expensive.
But they don’t have to be.
I’m going to show you the secrets to smart shopping and meal prepping that will help you unlock convenient, healthy eating – AND SAVE YOU MONEY.
Below we’ll answer these questions:
- How much does weekly meal prep save?
- How much does the meal prep service cost?
So, if you’re ready to make some changes in the kitchen but don’t want to break the bank in the process, consider the options and tips below to fit healthy food into your budget and schedule.
HOW MUCH MONEY DOES WEEKLY MEAL PREP COST?
First of all, what is meal prepping?
Meal prepping is simply preparing food ahead of schedule.
- prep individual ingredients for easy meal-building throughout the week
- prep a complete recipe or dish
- prep an entire meal and portion out the meal into individual grab-and-go containers
Whether you prep a single ingredient or get through an entire meal, all of these options are considered meal prep. A prepped meal can be stored in the fridge throughout that week or in the freezer for long-term storage.
AND, WHY DO PEOPLE MEAL PREP?
There are lots of advantages to meal prepping. Some people use meal prepping to target the health benefits it can provide, while others are after the convenience of a ready-made meal during weeknights. And yes, some are even going for the cost savings!
If you’re wondering if meal prep is right for you, you can learn more here about how meal prepping can help you:
- save time and money
- reduce food waste, and
- Improve your health
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO MEAL PREP?
Since we all have different food preferences and body types, there isn’t one set cost for all meal prepping. But when you make a meal plan and prep and store your food in advance, you’ll reduce your grocery store spending by following the simple tips below.
And if you currently eat out or order in a lot, you’ll see even more savings in your food budget when you prepare meals in advance!
Here are five ways to use meal prepping to save money:
1. Buy in bulk.
The larger-sized options at the store are almost always cheaper per unit. It may only be a few cents of savings, but that difference adds up over time. When you batch cook an ingredient or an entire meal, you can buy in bulk and pocket that extra cash. If you live near a wholesale grocer like Costco, you can get even more savings in your bulk purchases.
2. Reduce food waste.
How often do you buy food you don’t need? How many times have you thrown out ingredients or leftovers that have spoiled because you didn’t get to them fast enough? About 40% of all food in America is wasted. Ouch! It’s tough to estimate how much money you’ve thrown away over the years through food waste, but it’s easy to say that’s money you’d rather have in your pocket. When you meal prep, you’re not only more intentional about the ingredients you buy, but by prepping and storing them right away, you avoid significant losses in food. Cha-ching! That’s money in the bank!
3. Shop the sales.
Like buying in bulk, meal prepping allows you to purchase greater quantities of discounted food because you’ll put it all to use immediately. Whether you keep an eye out for the sales or become a savvy coupon clipper, buying and cooking a few extra packages of something when it’s at rock-bottom prices is the way to go. Check out apps and sites like MyGroceryDeals to bargain hunt. Remember that the store you shop at does matter when hunting for the best price, so you may want to shop around.
4. Avoid overeating.
When we think about nutritious meals dished out to portion size, we think about the health and weight loss benefits of meal prepping. But pre-portioned meals can also go a long way in managing your food expenses, too. Overeating can drive our daily food costs up by double or sometimes triple what’s necessary. When we focus on creating delicious, healthy, and filling meals, we can feel more satisfied eating the right portion size, and cutting down on the overall quantity of food we consume throughout the week.
5. Avoid eating out.
If you’ve done any food budgeting, you know that eating out vs. cooking yourself can make a big difference to your credit card bill. If tightening your food budget is your goal, start by targeting your takeout days. Whether you go for fast food because it’s quick and easy or because cooking isn’t your forte, meal prepping can help you get ahead of your schedule and get more comfortable in your kitchen. By batch-cooking one meal on the weekend and freezing portions for later, you can use your free days to prepare for busy days with meals you already know how to cook. Tackling the fast food habit is great for easy cost savings in your food budget.
If you’re ready to start saving money by meal prepping, get started with a bulk bag of chicken and these simple steps for meal prepping chicken.
So, how much does it cost to meal prep?
- Less than eating out.
- Less than takeout.
- Less than prepping meals each night.
Answer: Meal prepping is cheaper than… whatever else you’re doing!
If you want to meal prep but feel intimidated by the costs of buying a lot of food up front, remember that those upfront costs work out to be cheaper over time than multiple trips to the grocery store for smaller portions.
HOW MUCH DOES A MEAL KIT SERVICE COST?
If you’re not ready to become the next home chef but you’re sold on home-cooked meals, meal deliveries may be right for you.
Now, I know we just talked about the expense of restaurant and takeout options. Still, a meal prep company can offer much cheaper rates per meal than your typical restaurant – and they’re often significantly healthier!
Let’s take a look at meal prep delivery and meal kit delivery services to see if this might be the right fit for your diet, convenience, and budget needs.
What is a meal delivery service?
A meal delivery company typically allows you to select the serving size, number of meals, and type of meals you want to be delivered to your house each week. These meal kits either contain fully-cooked meals or the ingredients and instructions to make the meal yourself.
What are the benefits of a meal delivery service?
You can enjoy many of the same benefits of meal prepping yourself through a meal delivery service, like time-saving, food waste reduction, or a healthy meal conveniently ready. But one major bonus of a delivery service is that much of the work is done for you. Choosing a meal from a menu can take the stress out of meal planning. And the instruction kits help you build confidence and skill in the kitchen.
Sounds great, right? So, the big question…
HOW MUCH DOES A MEAL PREP SERVICE COST?
If you look at food delivery companies, the average meal kit will cost you about $10 a meal. While frugal shoppers can certainly buy and prepare their own meals for cheaper than this, if your current lifestyle consists of a lot of eating out, a healthy meal for $10 can be huge cost savings. And as you become familiar with new ingredients and skills through the service, you can use those in the future for even more savings by doing your own meal prep.
Take a look at doing your own meal prep or hiring out the service to a delivery company. Either one could mean healthier, cheaper meals for you! Enjoy the benefits of pulling a perfectly-prepped meal from the fridge today. Once you start, it’s hard to go back to the grind of coming up with a dinner plan every night. You’ll love the ease, time and cost savings, and health benefits of meal prep!