Have you seen those beautiful photos of people prepping delicious-looking meals in neat containers? It's such a hit with so many health and fitness bloggers out there; even I was mesmerized with how they can take time off their busy schedule to do that!
As much as I wanted to follow suit, I was under the impression meal prepping would be so tedious and expensive. With so many ingredients to purchase and meals to prepare, it seemed like I would never be able to be as healthy as others can be.
However, I did the research and learned that budget meal planning IS possible and anyone can do it! Read on as I help you out and have you eating healthier without breaking the bank.
Four Foolproof Tips to Begin Budget Meal Planning
Who said planning your meals for the week had to be so expensive and complicated? If you want to go in-depth with what you eat, here are some helpful tips to start with:
1. Learn About Calories and Macros
Before you begin creating a grocery list filled with ingredients of your favorite food, think of your goals. What do you want to achieve from meal planning?
Would you like to lose, gain, or maintain your weight? Do you want to increase your lean body mass? Take note that what you eat can make or break your beach body goals! That's why it's crucial to know how many calories to consume and the number of macronutrients your body needs for energy and proper fat distribution.
We all know that the fewer calories we consume, the more weight we lose (and vice versa!). However, it's important to learn precisely how much we need to stay healthy and maintain our weight correctly. Avoid overeating or lowering your calorie count to the bare minimum, as doing either of these will have dire consequences with your mind and body.
As for macronutrients, or macros for short, these are your carbs, protein, and fat. Macros are essential to control your diet, as what you can have your body store it as fat or be burned for energy. It's just as important as counting your calories!
However, the exact number of calories and macros your body requires depends on individual factors. To know about how much you need exactly, you can get help from a calorie and macro nutrition calculator from your local gym or reputable websites.
Once you find out how much you need, you're ready to plan your meals based on the results!
2. Plan Menus Efficiently and Stick to It
This is a crucial part when prepping meals! You have to know what kind of dishes to cook, whether it's for you alone or the entire family. Honestly, it's easier to meal prep on your own as you only need to satisfy YOUR tastebuds and calorie/macro count. However, meal planning with your family isn't impossible, either!
I recommend that you have a sit-down with the entire household, figuring out what meals can be done for the whole of the week and making sure that what's chosen is healthy and can be done with simple ingredients. It's best not to go for recipes that call for unique or unusual ingredients, as this would rack up the grocery bill.
Not only are there cookbooks to get inspiration from, but a host of amazing websites that offer budget recipes you can create in batches!
3. Prepare and Shop Smart
When you have everything done, it's time for the next step that intimidates a ton of us (including me): Shopping for what you need!
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However, don't go straight to the grocery store once you have your list! Plan and schedule your trip based on sales and select a store that offers the best deals, especially when you purchase in bulk. Acquaint yourself with your local grocery's deals and discounts, such as meat and bread sales after 7 PM, or even using coupons to save a couple of bucks!
Schedule your grocery trips once a week or depending on the sales and your meal plan. Don't go in hungry to prevent spontaneous (and unhealthy) purchases!
4. How to Avoid Wasting Food
Did you know that the average American family would throw away over $2,000 worth of food each year? This is a considerable amount, especially if you're on a tight budget! It's imperative to look into what food you have available and to avoid wasting your ingredients and meals.
Besides planning your grocery list and shopping smart, you also have to organize your fridge. Keep tabs on what you still have to prevent purchasing more of it. If you have leftover ingredients from your meal preps (which is sometimes inevitable), then you can “Iron Chef” these additional ingredients, creating a delicious and unique dish from what you have!
Furthermore, you can opt to freeze your food or even regrow groceries, starting a garden to prevent food wastage and save money with having your harvest.
Wrapping It Up
You don't need to spend oodles of money to become a healthier version of yourself. As long as you shop smart and plan well, you'll be able to create meals according to your needs and taste buds.
Use these budget meal planning tips as a starting point to your fitness journey now! If you have any questions or want to share your experience with affordable meal preps, then comment below. Your thoughts will be much appreciated.