When I started my full-time job, I slowly began to notice that more and more of my earnings were being spent on food. Up until two months ago, I was buying my lunch everyday.
Consider this: Buying your lunch everyday costs an average of seven dollars. If you buy lunch five times a week at this price, you’re looking at $35 a week on lunch alone. If you go to the vending machine once a day, add another $10 a week to your tab. If you buy your coffee (nothing fancy, just a plain old coffee to keep you going), you’re looking at another $10 a week. I was spending close to $50 a week on food and drink at work, if not more on days that I decided to treat myself. My partner was experiencing the same thing, and since we practically live together, we took to the Internet to look for a solution to save us some money.
Here’s what we found and what has been working for us:
My boyfriend loves reddit, and stumbled upon the Meal Prep Sunday subreddit. We were inspired by the thousands of people making their meals a week in advance, spending just a few hours altogether to do it. Majority of people do one of three things: Prepare frozen meals for long-lasting eats or prepare anywhere from one to three meals a day. We started off by preparing our snacks for the week and breakfast. A box of oatmeal on sale in our city (Calgary) is around two dollars and we spent just over one dollar per serving on pre-sliced, bagged vegetables. These bags include carrots, peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. Compared to a bag of chips, these veggie bags are more filling and way healthier! Add a little bit of hummus to the mix, and voila. Delish!
As time went on, we made the commitment to prepare our lunches a week in advance, too. First step: Finding a place to put the food. Containers can be really expensive, but at IKEA, we found glass containers at under four dollars a piece. These containers have never leaked, are freezer proof and they’re microwave safe. Basically, they’re all you want in a container! Many people who meal prep use a disposable dish, but we realized we could save money and be environmentally conscious doing it this way.
Our routines for Meal Prep Sundays are pretty simple. On Sunday morning, we discuss what we want to eat for lunch that week. We look at grocery advertisements and review where we can get the most bang for our buck!
So far, our favourite dishes have been chili, macaroni and beef and tortellini in a cream of chicken sauce.When we get to the grocery store, we buy whatever vegetables are on sale that week for our veggie bags, two types of fruit, oatmeal for breakfast and the main ingredients for our lunch! Our grocery bill has significantly dropped since we’ve started meal prepping because we go in with a plan and less food goes to waste. For now, we make a different dinner each night, but as time goes on, we may prepare dinners on Sundays, as well.
If the thought of meal prep overwhelms you, I encourage you to keep it simple! Some chicken, broccoli and rice takes no time at all to cook. When you do it all at once, you don’t need to stress about making a different lunch each day. Our containers stay stacked in the fridge and we just grab and go in the morning, no more 20-minutes-of-stress-figuring-out-what-to-bring. This allows us to sleep in a little longer and enjoy our lunches at work, without having to run around to buy them. It also keeps our bodies healthy and our wallets happy!
Are you into Meal Prep Sundays? If yes, what are your favourite things to make?