Eating your own way doesn’t have to mean over-spending. Follow our tips for some easy ways to save this meal-prep March.
If you’re following our 12 months of savings calendar, you’ll know meal-prep March is coming up! Though it can be hard to say no to the Pad see ew at your local Thai restaurant, every cent counts when you’re putting away for your deposit. Meal prepping can be a fantastic way to not only feel super organised for your week ahead, but also maximise dollars in the bank. Here are some tips on how to meal-prep smarter not harder.
Take stock of your pantry
First thing’s first. Your pantry and fridge might surprise you. Before you go crazy at the supermarket – take note of the veggies, sauces, spices, condiments you currently have and what is due to expire. This can inspire the coming week’s menu, but it will also avoid any double up ingredients (and money wasted).
Choose cheaper meat cuts
Ask your butcher to recommend cheaper cuts of beef that turn into pure poetry when slow cooked. This way, you’re saving money without sacrificing flavour. Cuts like chuck, blade and shoulder are prime candidates for slow cooking due to the way they breakdown when cooked. Plus, you can often cook a larger batch and portion it out for easy lunches or pop in the freezer for the future.
Shop the bulk food aisle
Buying staples like rice, pastas and meats in bulk makes for an easy go-to if you’re ever short on time. Ingredients that can be adapted into any meal are always a great option for meal prepping as they encourage you to switch it up and avoid cooking that same stew dish every week. Most importantly – it’s not news to anyone – buying in bulk could have you saving significantly every time, as you’re not paying for those included costs like packaging and transportation.
Befriend your freezer
When it comes to economical eating, your freezer will be your new best friend. Freezing food is a no-brainer and the best way to make the ingredients you have go the distance. In fact, did you know blueberries will last up to a year in the freezer with minimal loss of flavour?
When produce is in season, it’s a given that it’s going to be more savings-friendly. Design your meal schedule around what’s in season and opt for fresh fruits and veggies that aren’t overpriced. Fruits like mango and apricot are cheaper in summer so you could opt for a tagine style apricot chicken dish or mango salad in the warmer months, whereas in winter, try experimenting with Asian greens or starchy vegies.
Go for the specials
Sunday afternoons or evenings can be your new favourite time to shop. Some grocery stores will have more discounts at the end of the week to make room for new produce. Can’t shop on Sunday? Look out for the specials every time you shop, and when you find them, make the most of them and freeze later. Hot tip: some grocery stores will also have a pile of misshapen fruits and vegies that taste just as fresh and come far cheaper.
Dinner for lunch
Whether you’re into make-ahead meals or batch cooking a protein to then portion out with different sides, it’s worth getting savvy (and organised) to work out what your dinners will be so you can work out opportunities to make enough extra to overflow into lunch the next day. If you’re not keen to do the meal double up the day after, that’s where you’ll want those organisation skills to work out alternating days for lunch leftovers. Mark up a calendar or whiteboard so you stay on top of your weekly menu.
What are some of your money-saving cooking tips? Share in the comments section.