10 Tips To Meal Prep On A Budget During The Holidays
The holidays are a crazy time of year. If you are like us both time and money are always short. Between spending on gifts for family and friends and then finding the time to actually do the shopping, the last thing we want to think about is cooking. But, we are here to help you make it through the holiday season with both time and money — at least when it comes to meal prepping.
These 10 Tips To Meal Prep On A Budget During The Holidays will help you make the most out of your Sunday. From buying in bulk (hello, savings!) to batch cooking (did you say food for a month?), these tips are so easy anyone can do them! After the holiday season is over, your wallet won’t be lighter, but your waistline might 😉
Use Your Slow Cooker
Cooking with your slow cooker (or crockpot) allows you to use cheaper cuts of meat instead of the pricey ones while meal prepping. The slightly tougher (and cheaper!) cuts will cook up nice and tender after hours in your slow cooker. Want a good recipe? Give this Asian Style Slow Cooker Pot Roast a try! It’s our new favorite winter recipe.
Eat Less Meat
Replace meat with high protein, high fiber foods such as beans, lentils, and grains. These vegetarian options are much cheaper than meat or fish and lend well to both quick meal prep recipes and longer, slow cooker dishes. This breakfast PROBowl is loaded with produce, protein, and veggies!
Get Excited About Eggs
Eggs are a cost-effective meal preppers dream. Not only do they work well in recipes for breakfast, lunch or dinner. But, they also make “egg-cellent” snacks! (See what we did there ;)) At around $2.99 a dozen you can get in 6g of protein per egg at a very reasonable cost! Need some new egg inspiration? Here is an egg recipe that is sure to make your mornings a breeze.
Use Seasonal Produce
If you plan to buy fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season you will save a lot of money and get a better bang for your nutritional buck! Love fresh berries but hate the price in the winter? PRO TIP: Buy them during the summer months and freeze them to use all winter long. Or give this Fruit Salad In A Jar recipe a try and use winter fruit such as apples, grapes, oranges, grapefruits, and pears.
Plan Out Your Week
“Fail to plan. Plan to fail.” That’s the saying, right? Well, we are here to not let you fail! If you spend 30 minutes planning out what meals you (and your family) will be eating in the upcoming 7 days, you will be able to create a menu that is both cost effective and time efficient. Not sure where to begin? First, read our Meal Prepping 101 article and then get cooking! Two of our favorite beginner recipes are Butternut Squash & Cranberry Meal Prep and Sheet Pan Sausage & Veggies.
Build Your Shopping List
Create your shopping list based on the menu you plan out for the week. Try to shop at discount retailers and stick to only the items that are on your list. With the holiday’s always comes extra temptation with seasonal snacks. But, if you keep to only what is on your shopping list you will save money for holiday gifts and calories for those really delicious family favorite dishes. And until the holiday meals arrive, enjoy this Bacon Wrapped Chicken Meal Prep recipe that clocks in at less than $4/serving.
Hello, COSTCO! You can purchase your meat, produce, bread, pasta, grains, and legumes at a fraction of the cost when shopping at bulk retailers. Or, if you prefer your local grocery store, many now offer bulk bins for pasta, grains, legumes, granola and even nut butters. You can find all of the ingredients for this easy Hashbrown Lovers Sausage Breakfast recipe in the bulk section.
Try to menu plan a few recipes with similar ingredients, so you get the most out of your purchases. No, that doesn’t mean you will be eating the same boring chicken all week long. Instead, think outside of the box! Use your sweet potatoes for both breakfast and lunch! For breakfast, try these Sweet Potato Waffles and then use them for lunch or dinner as ‘buns’ in this Jalapeno Slider recipe!
Befriend The Freezer
When buying in bulk, plan to freeze extra meat so it does not go to waste. Also, create double or triple on some recipes like Crockpot Pumpkin Chili and Steak & Egg White Salsa Verde Wraps. These will save you time (Did you say dishes only one time?) and money (remember that tip: overlap ingredients). Plus, it will make future menu planning a breeze! PRO TIP: Freeze the meals in individual portions so you can mix and match for future preps.
The holidays are a very crazy time of year! By packing all of your meals ahead of time (and planning your menu for the week) you will be able to save both time and money. Grabbing a quick bite out while holiday shopping may seem like a good idea, but those costs add up. Instead, even on weekend holiday excursions, come prepared by packing snacks to tied you over until you get home. Two easy, superfoods packed snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated (i.e, perfect for the long shopping days) are Protein Peanut Butter Energy Bites and Mint Chocolate Energy Bites.
And if all else fails……
Remember, the holidays should be spent enjoying time with family and friends. An occasional meal out will not break the bank. Relax, enjoy it and then return to your weekly menu at the next meal. Life is meant to be lived.
Related Article: How to Meal Prep with Holiday Leftovers