save time and money with meal prep

Meal prep is touted as the saving grace of bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts around the world. It’s an easy way to make sure you stick to your eating plan without too much hassle.

But what can ordinary folk learn from the fitness community about meal prep… and can it really save you both time and money?

The joy of leftovers

One of the easiest ways to ease yourself into meal prep is to practice the leftovers principle. By cooking extra portions at dinner time, you can quickly and easily ensure a tasty, healthy option for the next day’s lunch.

How it saves you time: With handy leftovers, you don’t need to spend any time at all making lunch for the next day. Just dish it up into a container, and presto! A healthy, tasty, convenient lunch.

How it saves you money: By taking leftovers to work for lunch, you don’t end up spending money on convenience foods or take-aways.

Cook in bulk

Following the same principle as leftovers, try cooking some of your meals in bulk, and freezing enough to provide ingredients for several meals. This works especially well with things like meaty sauces (hello, Wednesday night bolognaise bolgnese!), stews and hearty soups. Make double, triple or even quadruple the usual quantity and freeze the extra into several ready-to-use portions. Just defrost and reheat - a matter of minutes!

How it saves you time: Depending on what you’re cooking, it may take a few extra minutes to prepare the extra portions, but these extra few minutes are easily offset by the fact that you don’t have to do any prep at all next time. Just reheat - which takes just a couple of minutes - and enjoy.

How it saves you money: Combine this tip with bulk buying. If you spot a special on bulk stewing beef, grab plenty and make several meals’ worth at once.

Make a day of it

Typically, the fitness community spends one day a week - often Sunday - preparing their meals for the coming week. This usually involves carefully portioning, cooking and packaging a series of identical meals that are doled out at the appropriate mealtime. Of course, not everyone wants to eat the exact same thing for dinner every day for a week, so we recommend this: Over the course of a few weeks, spend your Sunday preparing large volumes of different meals - a new one each week. Freeze the extras, and after just a few weeks, you will have a freezer full of meals that will last you for quite some time.

How it saves you time: By setting aside one day, a week, you are effectively saving yourself hours of cooking time throughout the week. This is especially useful for those who work long hours, or who need to get dinner on the table in a hurry.

How it saves you money: When you don’t have time to cook, so many people end up buying convenience foods or take-aways, which can be a huge waste of money. You can also combine this with the bulk buying and cooking tip to pinch pennies more easily.