I’m a meal prep pro – here’s how to cut your food expenses in half
IF you’re struggling with bigger food bills as the cost of living skyrockets, preparing your meals in advance could save you money.
It’s one of the easiest and most practical ways to budget, according to meal prep expert Steven Brown.
Mr Brown, a 24-year-old student at Edinburgh Napier University, has been cooking meals for years and says it’s ‘one of the healthiest ways to budget’.
In fact, preparing your meals in advance can save you up to 50% in costs.
We’ve listed four expert ways to cut food costs and eat healthier.
School holidays with your little ones at home will be a breeze thanks to these clever tips
Choose a balance of ingredients
Basing your meals on whole grains and nutritional ingredients can keep you full longer.
It will save you money if you don’t have to buy so many.
Mr Brown says: “At the beginning of the month I buy lots of bolognese, chilli and goulash to save money and stay healthy.
“I buy ingredients such as minced meat, onions, garlic, beef broth, canned tomatoes and some spices to enhance the flavor as well.
“For a week, I normally buy an 800g packet of minced meat, six onions, a clove of garlic, four tinned tomatoes, two beef stock cubes, then a packet of spaghetti.”
It should cost you around £10-13, but it might help calculate as you buy.
You can use supermarket scanners to make sure you don’t go over your budget, available from Sainsbury’s, Tesco and more, but you may need to install the app first.
To be coherent
“The bigger the batch, the bigger the savings,” says Brown.
Keeping a well-stocked pantry and making sure you choose a variety of ingredients can help you stick to a routine.
This way, you won’t have to spend more money on going to stores more often.
If you stick to your plan, it should only cost you £1.10 per meal. Without meal preparation, food costs an average of £25 a week.
Hunt in reduced sections
Mr Brown says: “You can make it cheaper that way because you’re also freezing it.
“So it doesn’t matter if you’re making 20 servings of spaghetti bolognese – you’re going to cook it and then put it in your freezer. It doesn’t matter if the hash leaves tomorrow or in the next few days.”
It might be an idea to use ziplock bags or cheap containers for leftovers – Tesco sometimes offers Clubcard deals with their lunchbox containers, so it’s worth checking with your local store.
If you want to stick to your meal prep routine, you’ll want to have a range of affordable meals to keep you from getting bored.
“I would definitely say try a new meal prep. I normally stick to spag bol, chili con carne or goulash, but there are hundreds of different options.
“You can make chicken and rice – for me there’s no flavor – but you can try something different once in a while to see what you like.”
You might want to experiment with spices and flavors if you find something too bland, or create your own budget-friendly interpretation of your favorite meal.
You can find plenty of meal prep recipes online if you’re struggling to find inspiration, like this one, or you can check supermarket discounts to see what options you have.
As the cost of living increases, preparing meals could save you a lot of stress.
“You definitely save a lot on meal prep,” Brown says.
“It doesn’t matter how much you eat in restaurants and what other foods you like to prepare. The only problem at the moment is re-cooking things – energy bills are skyrocketing – but you can still save a lot of money and I would definitely recommend it .to people struggling to feed themselves and trying to stay afloat.”
If you’re still looking for more inspiration, it’s worth checking out how other people have cooked meals.
And find the best ways to organize yourself when you start your journey here.
And if you’re stressed about the cost of living and paying your bills, there are always organizations there to help, including:
- National Debt Line – 0808 808 4000
- Stage change – 0800 138 1111
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
We pay for your stories!
Do you have a story for The Sun Online Money team?