~Making Meal Prep Simple and Budget Friendly~
You can be fairly certain that I don’t have a lot of time to make a bunch of fancy meals for my weekly meal prep. Having to feed a family of 7 is expensive and trying to please everyone is next to impossible. So here are five ways to cut back on time spent in the kitchen and save you some money!
1.) Buy Bulk Frozen Meats – Every week I buy around 8 pounds of ground chicken. This costs me $20 Canadian. I thaw it and cook all of it in 2 big pots as soon as possible. Half the meat gets seasoned with taco seasoning (store-bought or homemade) and the other half is fried in onions, garlic, salt, pepper and frozen in large Ziploc bags. The taco meat is then dinner for that night and also serves lunches for myself and the kids for the entire week (this is cheaper and healthier than deli meat). I freeze 100 gram portions in small Ziploc bags and thaw as needed. The large Ziploc is ready for me to grab and make spaghetti or lasagna without having to cook the meat first!
2.) Shop from the discount section- This can be hard for some of us list makers but is worth it if you can be flexible at the store. Every time I’m grabbing my vegetables or breads I buy the ones that are expiring the next day. I freeze as much as I can as soon as I am home. Bananas freeze well in Ziploc bags and are perfect for banana muffins or smoothies. I also buy vegetables that are less than perfect and cook 2 big pots of stir-fried vegetables at the beginning of the week. I then add my pre-cooked ground chicken, some healthy fat and eat this for my lunches. The trick here is being flexible with what you eat and not getting turned off because it’s close to expiration. Meat is also great to buy on clearance because the dates on the package are often dated earlier than what the real expiry is. I either eat the meat the next day, cook it or freeze it.
3.) Meatless Monday- Make it a tradition to make breakfast for dinner on Monday. Your kids will love it and it will save the bank. For all us healthy mamas trying to avoid pancakes and syrup. Go for the egg white omelette with a side of sweet potatoes. Buy eggs free range or organic from someone local. Here on our farm we sell organic eggs for $5 a dozen. This is a fraction of the store-bought price ( here it’s about $9) and the taste is superior to the store bought ones!
4.) Keep every meal simple- I know its tempting to go nuts with fancy ingredients and ideas we see online. The reality is usually its expensive because we don’t have these things on hand. This means more trips to the store and more money spent on random items that we grab while we are there. For breakfast I eat oatmeal every day. This give me the carbs I need to fuel my workouts and is next to nothing in price. I also grind my own oats and keep a tub in the pantry so I can easily make my own healthy pancakes or muffins (gluten and wheat free!) If you are new to healthy eating and meal prep, simplicity is the key to your success. It is already overwhelming to change your whole diet. Why not simplify?
5.) Make everything you can home-made At first this seems like a huge task but once you get a rhythm is comes easily. I make the exact same granola bars and muffins every week for my kids. I don’t try new fancy recipes because I don’t have patience to always be looking at a cookbook. Find something you love and make it part of your weekly routine. We don’t buy packaged snacks like crackers or cookies because I always have some homemade goodness frozen in our deep freeze.
Here is my simple, delicious granola bar recipe. I know maybe this isn’t the healthiest recipe but it’s always a win with my kids and husband. My Mom made these exact ones every week my entire life. Got to love traditions right?
~Nana’s Cookie Tray Granola Bars~
(sorry Mom secrets out)
4 Cups quick cooking oatmeal
4 cups whatever your heart desires – chocolate chips, chia, sunflower seeds, coconut, flax, raisins, almonds, walnuts …. anything goes just keep it to 4 cups.
1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil (we all know the more delicious route ok)
1 can sweetened condensed milk ( I have used 1 cup honey instead and found it a bit more crumbly)
1.) Line a large cookie sheet with parchment or greased aluminum foil
2.) Mix all your ingredients well and spread it out. Use a greased spatula to pat it all flat
3.) Cook at 350 for 30 minutes (until browning)
4.) Cool exactly 8 minutes.
5.) Cut them up and let them cool in the tray
6.) After cooling, freeze them. They are 100% better frozen I promise
Like it? love it? share with your friends and comment below!!! xoxoxox