Money saving meal prep strategies

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed.

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Grocery stores are filled with convenience and time-saving food options, but they usually come at a cost. To save some serious dough, try money saving meal prep strategies. These strategies may take a little longer, but the payoff is money in your pocket and delicious meals to boot.

Woman cutting vegetables

1Cut your own veggies

If you've ever purchased pre-cut salad kits, pre-diced onions or a pre-cut veggie tray, you know you pay out the nose for convenience. But in truth, it really doesn't take that long to wash and cut your own veggies. Simply set aside about 15 to 20 minutes one afternoon and cut up all the veggies you'll need for the week to benefit from this money-saving meal prep strategy.

2Go old fashioned

The more natural, old-fashioned your grocery purchases, the more money you'll save. Case in point: dried beans. You can purchase an entire bag of dried beans for roughly the same price as a single can, giving you more for your money.

Going old fashioned does mean thinking ahead and preparing accordingly. Rice, old fashioned oats and beans all take slightly longer to prepare. In the case of dried beans, soak them in water overnight or place them in cold water, bring the water to a boil, remove them then allow them to soak for one to two hours. After soaking, discard the water and refill the pot with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil, then allow the beans to simmer on low heat for 60 to 90 minutes. Cooking time will vary based on the type and size of the beans, so always check the package to see the suggested time.

3Make your own patties

It's easy to walk down the meat aisle and grab the pre-formed hamburger patties, but really, how hard is it to form your own? Your hands may get a little messy, but it will save you money and takes only a few extra minutes of your time. Plus, when you form your own burgers, you can season them however you'd like, adding spices, sauces or even vegetables.

4Make your own croutons

If you keep finding the ends of bread loaves in your kitchen, or if the fresh French bread you bought at the store got stale and crusty overnight, fight the temptation to throw it away. Instead, turn your old loaf into delicious croutons. Not only will you avoid wasting food, but you can stop spending the cash on pre-made store croutons.

Crouton recipe

As you get toward the end of a loaf of bread, store the ends and crusts in a paper bag, allowing them to dry out completely. When you've accumulated a bagful, break up the bread into small, bite-size pieces and place the broken pieces in a bowl. Season the bread with your choice of seasonings like garlic, onion powder, oregano and parsley. As you mix in the seasonings, simultaneously drizzle the bread with extra virgin olive oil, thoroughly mixing the bread in the process. Heat up the oven to 400 degrees and let the bread sit in the seasoning as you wait for the oven to heat. Place tin foil across a cookie sheet and spread the bread on the cookie sheet. Cook the croutons for five to eight minutes, remove them from the oven, then cook for another five to eight minutes, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don't burn. After you remove them from the oven, store them in a sealed container in the fridge. You can also break up the croutons further to use as homemade breadcrumbs.

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Laura Williams, M.S.Ed.
Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness, fashion and beauty clients. After working hard to receive her Master’s Degree in Exercise and Sport Science, she now spends her days writing, working out and developing her own website for the "sporty woman" - GirlsGoneSporty.

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