REAL, FRUGAL, HEALTHY, and FUN!!!
Meal prepping isn’t something I’ve always done. I started doing it a few years ago because I was working a lot, my husband was working and away at military schools a lot, and my boys kept me busy when I had “free time.” The only way we could keep eating homemade food was to plan ahead.
Save Money, Eat Healthy
My first big steps toward food prepping began as a way to deal with a busy work schedule that left me little to no time to cook dinner. I didn’t like getting home from work at dinner time and no dinner was made. My kids would fuss because they didn’t want to wait for dinner. My husband would get irritable because he was hungry, and irritated by all the fussiness. I would feel stressed and like I’d let everyone down. Then, my husband would suggest grabbing fast food. The kids would get excited. My heart would kind of sink. I would agree because I felt bad that I’d been at work, and didn’t have dinner ready. I hate fast food. I think this stems from my teenage years, trying to be skinny all of the time. I taught myself through and through that it’s disgusting. So, we’d go through the drive-thru, with everyone in a terrible mood. My husband and the boys would order hamburgers or chicken nuggets. I would order the healthiest thing I could find on the menu, if I ordered anything at all. A lot of times, I just went without. The food was greasy and had no nutritional value, yet dinner, even without me eating, would cost over 20 dollars! Such an expensive way to become obese, diabetic, and develop heart disease! I was not going to stand for it.
I bought a crock pot for about 15 dollars. I’d never used a crock pot before, but I had friends at work who used them regularly, and loved them. It was easy to figure out. You put everything in, turn it on, leave it, and dinner is hot and ready when you are. I’ve heard people use the term, fix it and forget it. It’s so true. You can cook so many different things in a crock pot, as well, so it never gets boring. I’ve done, main dishes, side dishes, breakfasts, and even desserts. It’s been wonderful, and I still use it regularly.
Bake it, Freeze it, Etc…
I developed more food preparation habits during my preparation for my bikini competition. My trainer had me eating a lot of sweet potatoes, chicken, and protein shakes. The sweet potatoes took a long time to cook. I learned to cook up several sweet potatoes at a time at the beginning of the week. I would keep them in the fridge and reheat them when I was ready to eat them. I started doing this with my chicken, as well. Then, I figured out I could prep my spinach and bananas for my shakes. Sure it doesn’t take any longer to throw it in the blender fresh, but I’m not left using wilted spinach and brown bananas in my shakes either. Not to mention, it’s more flavorful because I don’t water it down with ice. I prep other things, as well. Boiled eggs are great inexpensive, high protein snacks. Some weeks, I buy an extra carton just to boil. It’s nice to be able to grab one out of the fridge whenever you get hungry. I’ve bought extra grapes and froze a bunch. They keep longer, and frozen grapes can be a really nice treat. A little time spent preparing food goes a long way.
Pack a Snack
I started packing snacks to keep in my purse a few years ago. It can be anything from fresh or dried fruit or veggies, to nuts, jerky, protein shakes, or even a bar. Someone in the family always seems to get hungry while we’re out and about. It’s so nice to be able to reach in my purse and pull out a snack for them. What could be a 5 to 10 dollar stop, at a place that probably doesn’t have any healthy food options, is handled in about 5 seconds, is healthy, and inexpensive.
Time is Money
As you can see, just putting something in the crock pot, freezer, or oven, or bagging a snack can make all the difference. Convenience food costs so much more, especially if it’s made from wholesome ingredients.