If you’re anything like me, one of your New Years Resolutions was to start going out to eat less and cooking more. Again, if you’re anything like me, that’s a lot easier said than done. I don’t have much experience cooking (read: none) but I’m excited to venture into this uncharted territory.
It’s hard sometimes to cook in tiny living quarters, but if you have the basics (read: stove, oven, and/or microwave) there’s no excuse to remain in the dark! My apartment has a stove, oven and microwave and I’m resolving to use them more often. I also have a George Foreman grill (which I HIGHLY recommend in complexes that don’t allow outdoor grills. It’s a super easy way to cook meat and saves you time and energy!) and kitchen essentials like (a couple) pots and pans.
The first thing I figured out is that planning and preparation are crucial to make this resolution a success. I’m going to just break down what I’ve learned thus far about Meal Prepping to ensure you get fed and don’t waste food (aka cash) this New Year!
WHAT TO DO:
1. Sit down and figure out what your favorite, basic food items are.
2. Coordinate your week’s schedule with meals (try to decide how many actual meals you need to plan for).
3. Use those basic foods/ingredients (from #1) to plan out meals–specifically lunch and dinner.
4. Grocery shop! Pick somewhere cheap (I shop at Walmart, but definitely support local food markets as well).
5. Stick to your plan!!
HOW I DID IT:
1. My food staples are as follows:
- Fresh fruit
- Cereal and milk
- Salad dressing
- Fresh vegetables
- Chicken occasionally
- Sandwich bread
- Deli meat/chicken
- Lean meat or fish
- Fresh vegetables
2. I decided to plan for breakfast every day, lunch 5 days per week, and dinner 6 days.
3. For the actual plan, I searched recipes that use 3 ingredients and are quick and easy to make. Check out this Greatist article (it has 3-ingredient recipes for breakfast, chicken, beef, pork, seafood, vegetarian, and desserts–aka the best list of all time) or this Buzzfeed article (features 33 more recipes!) for some ideas.
4. All of that cost me less than $30! And the food will last longer than one week!
You’ll have to buy a some staples that you can accumulate slowly, starting with basics like garlic, salt and pepper, oil, vinegar and salad dressings. But from there, grocery trips for the week should be cheaper than two meals out!
The hardest part is sticking to it! But it’s not impossible and it’ll end up saving you some serious cash…plus you’re teaching yourself a life skill along the way AND if you follow something similar to my meal plan, you’ll end up eating very balanced and healthy meals. Try new things, experiment with vegetables, and commit to making this year your tastiest and healthiest yet!
Find any incredible (& incredibly easy) recipes that MFA readers shouldn’t have to live with out? Share ’em with us below!
Ed. comment: For even more healthy and affordable food choices, check out this slideshow in Refinery 29 blog.