Let’s face it, life is expensive.
More expensive than we originally thought when we first entered adulthood as hopeful and optimistic worker bees. Just when we thought we had it down, our parents stopped paying our health insurance and for some reason our car battery keeps dying. Rent is ever raising and the thought of owning a home seems to keep slipping farther into the distant hypothetical future.
Oh you have pets? That will be around $1000 a year, but that doesn’t even include the time when your dog mistook your car keys for a snack. You have kids? Tack on an extra $14,000 per year. Car insurance? Electricity? Grocery shopping? Credit card bills? Chances are you are not Beyonce in the 1999 song "Bills, bills, bills" and no one will be paying yours.
The more we add up all of our daily expenses, the more you empathize with the hissy fits your dad used to throw when someone changed the setting on the air conditioner. And it’s starting to make a lot more sense as to why your mom insisted on you using your sisters clothes. That shit was expensive. Our parents weren’t stingy, they were thrifty. We know that now. And even though cost of living has only gotten more expensive, luckily there has been an equal rise in our resources and the opportunities to save money and make money.
Here’s one you may not have thought much about.
Saving ~$3,000 With Meal Prep
Meal prepping is not just for body builders or nutritionally obsessed people on Instagram. Meal prep is a cheaper and yes, sometimes healthier, approach to eating. We have gotten so used to accepting that guac is extra but did you know you that you can buy AN ENTIRE AVOCADO FOR 89 CENTS?! The average meal out is $12. Buying the same ingredients and just spending a little extra time in the kitchen can make your average meal end up around $2 range.
What do these numbers mean? It means you’re wasting a lot of money on food.
Say you eat out for at least one meal a day per week, you’ll end up spending $4,368.00 a year on lunch. This doesn’t include happy hours, apps, snacks and coffee runs.
But what if you bring your lunch every day instead? It will cost you just $728.
Wait what. No seriously, check out the math:
I understand that you can’t nor want to avoid eating out all year. We are social humans and sometimes the spinach dip split between three people is worth it. Get togethers often involve buying delicious food, I know, but you should be mindful of how many times a week you eat at restaurants. Even the seemingly innocent grab and go kind of meals can end up costing you. Set a budget aside for restaurant spending and stick to it.
Some people quickly become overwhelmed at the thought of meal prep. “I have to cook everything? In a day?! I don’t have time for that!” However, in the long run you’ll be surprised to find that it actually does SAVE YOU TIME and money. And you know what they say; time is money. So you’re basically just saving money twice.
The first week is the hardest but there are plenty of resources out there to help you get inspired. I usually start my Sunday by skimming Pinterest for some recipes, then I create a grocery list. I find that Sunday’s are best for me so that I’m uninterrupted by random weekday pop up emergencies and schedule changes.
Tip #1 - Don't Make It Too Complicated
A big bag of white jasmine rice can serve as the foundation for a variety of meals. Be sure your recipes are loaded up with veggies. Not only are vegetables fairly inexpensive but there are plenty of ways to prepare them, depending on which spices or sauces you use.
Tip #2 - Stick to The List
It’s amazing how much money you can save at the grocery store by simply refusing to give into impulse buys just because they look good at the time.
Tip #3 - Block Out Cooking Time
Meal prep takes me between 2 and 4 hours depending on how complicated the recipes are. That may seem like a long time, but if you take into consideration all of the time you're saving by not going on multiple grocery store or restaurant runs during the week, it’s definitely worth it.
My favorite part about meal prep is that I can focus on more important things rather than the whole “What should I eat? What do we have? Do I want to go out? What’s near me?” conversation we have with ourselves when we get hungry.
Plus, if you always have food available to you, you're less likely to end up in that “Omg-I-need-to-eat-right-now-or-I’ll-die” state which can lead to some pretty irrational food decisions.
Once you see how much extra money you’re pocketing form meal prepping it will be hard to revert back to your old frivolous ways.
Here’s a list to some of my favorite meal prep recipes to get you started:
Enjoy being rich and healthy!