If you’re trying to save money…
...the first area you often try to manage is your eating out expenses.
You set out with good intentions to make your lunches, but you find that not only are you eating the same boring salad every day, you also managed to waste unused food by the end of the week.
I want to help you fall in love with cooking and successfully meal prep. To get you started right now (because hey, we all love the present moment) here are a few meal prep tips to save you time and money.
Let’s starts with this super important foundation:
You don’t need to be professionally trained in the kitchen to make delicious, healthy, energizing meals.
I’ve struggled with this one for many years and placed the blame on my mom for not transferring her cooking skill gene!
My mom has this amazing ability to utilize all the food she has to make something delicious. She gets inspiration from traditional Polish dishes and rarely makes reference to a recipe.
While I take the same approach as my mom, of using what I’ve got in the pantry, I change one important thing. Instead of developing a new recipe, I’ll base the meal on tried and true recipes (I’ll describe what I mean by a little further down).
So, when you’re starting out, remember this…
Keep it simple and use ingredients you already have.
Even if you were to use the same ingredients for multiple dishes, there are a variety of ways to cook them and season them, keeping dishes exciting and simple. Take a look for example at my lunch bowl guide. There’s a variety of ways to include common ingredients, and simply alternating the right kind of dressings puts an entire different spin on it.
When it comes to eating well, we often get confused by the misinformation in the media.
Should I use or shouldn’t I use coconut oil? Do I really need to buy goji berries to help with my skin issues? What are goji berries anyway and where do I even buy them? I get it. There’s just SO MUCH information out there and it can be overwhelming and confusing that I honestly don’t blame you for wanting to throw in the towel and have someone literally make all your food for you!
But that’s just not very sustainable
So... what’s the solution?
1. Choose local ingredients.
Have you ever noticed the differences between local and California strawberries? Local strawberries look juicier, have a more vibrant colour and smell sweet. When you bite into one, there’s a burst of sweetness and may even take you back to the time you went strawberry picking with your family or had your mom’s homemade strawberry pie.
A strawberry from California on the other hand has barely ripened by the time it gets to the grocery store, taste bitter and chemical like. Honestly, there’s nothing delicious about an under ripened strawberry.
Besides the flavour, you’re in fact benefiting a lot more when it comes to nutritional value. Eating local foods supports your body’s natural nutritional needs and is better for the environment. And when it comes to money, local ingredients are less expensive!
So what’s currently in season? Check out my “What’s in Season?” page under resources. It’s updated on a monthly basis so you know what type of recipes to look for and what to expect at your local Farmer’s Market.
And if you’re looking for ethically raised, antibiotic free meat products, I got you covered too!
2. Choose your recipes.
In a way, we’re lucky to have such a vast amount of resources and platforms to get inspired and find recipes, but it can be overwhelming. The trick is to choose 2-3 recipe sources, either food blogs (I already got you covered on that one!), food magazines or cookbooks. Grab your magazines, laptop or cookbook and head over to your nearest coffee shop. Pin and tag your favourite recipes and start listing out the ingredients you’ll need.
3. Do an inventory check at home.
Before you head to the grocery store, go through your pantry and check off the items you already have and that can be used in your dishes. As you go, you can modify your recipes to fit the ingredients you already have.
For example, if you have a can of chickpeas, swap the chicken for chickpeas and make it vegetarian. Not only will you utilize what you have, but you will cut costs too.
4. Stop roaming the aisles aimlessly.
With a meal plan and grocery list in hand, you’re less likely to roam the grocery store aisles thinking what to make for dinner. In fact, you can do your entire grocery shop in one day allowing for more time during the week soaking up the sun with your friends/partner and finally trying that fitness class after work. With a solid plan, you’ll have meals planned for the entire week, you’ll be energized and less likely to forage for snacks.
I took control of my health and improved my eating habits when I started implementing meal plans in the last year. Within that year, I’ve written these tips down to remind myself to keep it simple. I don’t meal plan every week, but when I do I notice a huge improvement in my overall well-being, my attitude and my performance, both mentally and physically.
I wake up in the morning refreshed and less stressed knowing I have ready to grab breakfast and lunch. At work, I can concentrate on projects without dozing off or hitting the lunch room every hour for a sugar kick. And I get through the afternoon energized and ready to hit the ground running for my duathlon training in the evening.
Meal planning saved me so much time during the workweek and saved me money now that I know where to shop and what to buy.
My Personalized Meal Plans are the BEST if you want a plan tailored to your food preferences and health goals. Your custom plan includes a grocery list, recipes, email support and daily menus. The recipes help support your active lifestyle and has helped many get back to eating for their body and needs, free from restrictions and dieting.
Here’s what Jess, a mother of 4, had to say about her personalized plan:
“Planning helps a lot when feeding a family of 4, and since I’m not a natural in the kitchen, I needed all the help I could get. The recipes that Justyna included were simple but not boring, and perfect for the whole family. The best part was that the recipes called for ingredients I already use, saving me more time and money.”
Want more? Receive a customized meal plan tailored to your food preferences and needs.
The future of health is community. Are you in the Vancouver area? Save even more time and boost your social life. We'll be launching bi-weekly cooking workshops, where in 2 hours you'll make enough breakfast and lunch for the entire week! Learn more here.