Meal Prepping As A Life Hack

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We all eat and therefore we all should cook. I will go a step further and say we all eat out at times and, at some point in our lives, should work at a restaurant. I was a server off and on for 16 years and it helped me to have an appreciation for the service industry.

What I (and probably many others) propose is that spending several concerted hours per week prepping meals is more efficient than spending time each day. I’ve been doing meal prepping for years but recently, I’ve heard a lot about in the Financial Independent (FI) community as a way to conserve time. In particular, Brad’s wife, Laura, seems to have a good system down. There is even a private ChooseFI FB group for recipes and meal plans.

I rarely use recipes in my cooking. The downside to this is if I make something others really like, well, um they are out of luck in getting an exact recipe. The upside is that I can get really creative with the ingredients I have on hand. I know what I like and have a fairly good idea of how to utilize spices in order to create a delicious meal.

Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA)

CSAs are a great way to obtain vegetables and fruit grown locally if you don’t garden. I currently live in an apartment so there is no gardening going on here. 🙂

I love to support local organic farmers and I have found a great way to obtain my crops in a way which I call a trilogy win:

  1. I get my crops from a farm called Refugee Response. They grow organic produce and support local refugees. I definitely want to be a supporter of that!  Win #1!
  2. I bought 20 weeks of crops for $280 which works out to be $14 per week. I bought it back in March when I was working on my minimum spend for my Chase Sapphire Preferred card. This purchase helped me earn 50k in reward miles. Huzzah! Win #2
  3. Each week during the summer and into the fall, I pick up a weekly harvest of organic crops. I never know what I’m going to get and so it forces me to try new things. I waste none of it and make a ton of different soups. Win #3

Weekly Meal Prepping

I am a single woman so I only need to prep for myself but I make enough to invite friends for dinner. No doubt, what I can do can be multiplied to feed a family. I typically do my meal prepping on Sundays and prepare three different things to cover my meals for the week.

Smoothies

In love with this appliance. Don’t worry there’s still room for human companionship. 😉

I own a Vitamix (#love) and highly recommend them if you consume a lot of smoothies or like to make your own nut butter, hummus, baba ganoush or pureed soups.

My smoothies typically include the following ingredients:

  • Greens
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Dried peanut butter powder, peanut butter or protein powder
  • Water

I make enough for 4-5 smoothies, put them in mason jars, and freeze them. Then each night, I take one out of the freezer to thaw overnight.  In the morning I shake it up and head off to work. Breakfast…covered!

Homemade breakfast to go!

Salad

I make a big salad which is enough to dole out each day for my lunches. I often cook some chicken or other protein in the crock pot to serve on my salad.   Honestly, the longest part of this process is cutting up the veggies to go on the salad. I figure I’d rather do this all at once rather than every day. It essentially takes just as long to cut up part of green pepper as it does the whole green pepper. Lunches…covered!

Healthy deliciousness

Soup

I make some other kind of meal in bulk which will last me an entire week. Sometimes it’s something like stuffed green peppers but usually, it’s soup. Since I get crops for 20 weeks out of the year, I always have herbs and enough veggies to make some kind of delicious soup. The rest of the year, I use frozen veggies in my soups. I make sure I keep the following things on hand for making scrumptious soups:

  • Cans of diced tomatoes
  • Coconut milk and/or cream
  • Chicken or beef base
  • Pasta or grains
  • Spices

I get a ton of fresh herbs in my summer CSA so I freeze a bunch and use them throughout the year.

I always make a big vat of soup and then pour some of it into individual containers to freeze. I keep some in the fridge for my dinners. However, since I am freezing a new soup each week, I can pull out a couple of different containers to thaw during the week for a little variety. After all variety is the spice of life!

Stockpot for soup

So my friend who goes by the name, State of O-FI-O, has become quite the soup nazi. She has been making some stellar soups by using up items in her freezer, garden and pantry. One lovely side effect is that she’s also slashing her grocery budget. Stay tuned as she will be writing a future guest post here on her souper FI powers.

Closing Thoughts

So there you have Ms. Fiology’s eating/prepping habits. I personally don’t like to spend a lot of time each day figuring out what I’m going to eat. Meal prepping allows me the freedom to spend my time during the week doing what I love. It also ensures I eat healthy since I’m not grabbing something quick (like a frozen pizza). Additionally, it helps me keep my food costs low. I spend about 8% of my monthly take-home pay on groceries.

So how do you eat? What efficiencies have you discovered?

 

 

10 thoughts on “Meal Prepping As A Life Hack”

  1. I really like your idea for smoothies! I’d love to do smoothies in the morning, but I can’t be waking up the entire family at 5:30 in the morning with the blender. The beeping on the friggin coffee maker is bad enough. But doing a big batch and freezing them, brilliant!

    1. Haha! That is exactly why I started making them in batches. I lived with people for the last 4 years and didn’t want to wake them (The Vitamix is loud!). Now I live in an apartment and my neighbors probably wouldn’t appreciate it either at 5am.

  2. Deanna, Vitamix for the win!

    We bought a refurbished Vitamix back in 2013 I think and have since used it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. and sometimes multiple times a day. This bad boy is running strong still!

    I am a smoothie guy for breakfast too. I use spinach in my smoothies which can get a bit weird after a few hours, but I wonder if putting it in a mason jar and/or freezing it may help. I do hate making it every night, so may I can try this!

    My breakfast smoothie:
    1 cup frozen cherries
    1/2 cup frozen blueberries
    1 banana
    1 tbsp flax seeds
    1 tbsp boabab powder
    A bunch of spinach (really not sure, I just grab a lot)
    1 tbsp almond butter
    1 scoop protein powder

    Fills me right up for the morning!

    I may need to report back on the mason jar/freezing thing though. I’m going to look at that this weekend.

    1. Haha, yes the Vitamix is a total life hack and worth the investment! My Mom bought me mine as a gift. I asked for a refurbished one but I think she got some special deal at Costco on a new one so that’s what I got. One time I accidentally turned it on with the plastic cap inside. Needless to say, it shattered the canister. Vitamix replaced the canister for free, no questions asked.

      Nice recipe! What is boabab powder?

      Yeah, I used spinach, kale or some other leafy green in my smoothies too. So the key after letting it thaw overnight is to really shake it up well in the morning. I suppose it would be easy enough to throw it back in the Vitamix for a minute to blend it. Let me know how it goes…

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  4. I make smoothies every morning too. Mine are made up of frozen fruit and veggies, almond milk and protein powder. Making those ahead would be marvelous since its the final thing I do before leaving for work in the morning and a time saver too. Always looking forward to your ideas and reading your blogs!!

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