The Economics of Meal Prep: 3 Tips 

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Before you fire up the stove in your indoor or outdoor kitchen, you want to make sure you’re using your food and money wisely. Meal prepping is more than just preparing a bunch of meals at once; it’s about being smart with your shopping and cooking to save time and money. With a few clever strategies, you can make your kitchen a place where both your food and your budget go further. 

Here are 3 helpful tips. 

Leverage Sales and Coupons

Who doesn’t love a good deal? Watching for sales and clipping coupons means you can slash your grocery bills and still eat well.

Keep an eye on those weekly flyers and snag any digital coupons from apps or websites. Make a habit of checking multiple sources for the best deals and consider joining store loyalty programs that offer additional discounts to regular shoppers. This approach requires adapting your meal prep to what’s available, but it ensures you’re always cooking with the most affordable ingredients.

Say chicken thighs are half off and there’s a deal on rice. You might whip up a big batch of chicken and rice casserole one week. Next week, if ground beef and tomatoes are on discount, change that and cook a hearty spaghetti Bolognese.

Implement a No-Waste Policy 

Reducing waste isn’t just good for the planet—it’s great for your wallet too. 

Plan your meals so nothing goes unused and store your food properly to maximize its shelf life—freeze what you won’t use immediately and keep your spices and dry goods in airtight containers. Also, learn how to repurpose leftovers into new meals so that you throw out less and save more.

For example, after making a veggie stir-fry, save the scraps and simmer them with leftover bones from a roast chicken to make a flavorful stock. This homemade stock can be the base for next week’s soup or used to cook grains, adding so much more flavor.

Seasonal and Local Eating

When you choose local and seasonal foods, you’re cutting down on costs—big time. Local foods mean shorter travel distances, and seasonal buys are usually cheaper because they’re abundant.

Get to know which foods are in season and plan your shopping around them. Hit up your local farmers’ markets and chat with the vendors; they can clue you in on the best times to buy in bulk or catch a markdown. Plus, you’ll often find inspiration for meal ideas based on what’s fresh and plentiful.

For example, during the summer, maybe load up on tomatoes and zucchinis. You can make loads of tomato sauce or a big pan of ratatouille and freeze it. 

Using these tips, you can make meal prep work so well for your budget and schedule. Just remember, a little planning and flexibility can go a long way in making the most out of every grocery run.