The best thing about taking time to meal prep is you will save money, save eating extra calories, save yourself from sugar cravings, and save yourself a ton of time. Just think of how much time it takes you to run to a fastfood chain or restaurant because you didn't prep your breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Take breakfast for example: If you drive through Starbucks for a morning coffee and oatmeal you will spend at least 5-7 minutes waiting in line plus the added minute or two from the added detour from your destination. Then you are paying premium dollar to have someone else brew your coffee and warm-up your oatmeal. Average price for oatmeal at Starbucks is $3.45 for 42 grams=160 calories. A small (tall - 12 oz) coffee is about $1.85. This may not seem like a lot but let’s assume you swing by Starbucks three days a week. You will be spending $826.80 a year (not including applicable taxes) plus, this will equate to 18.2 hours a year waiting on your starbucks at 7 minutes total commute time. It really does add up.
So how about meal prepping for breakfast? Let’s stick with the oatmeal. You can buy a tub of Quaker rolled oats at target for about $3.79 per 42 oz (or you can get target brand oats for about $1.00 cheaper or you can go organic at about $5-6.00 per 32 oz). Quaker rolled oats serving suggestion is 40 grams=150 calories and takes one minute to make in microwave with 1 cup water per ½ cup oats or three minutes on stove top. Add a ½ chopped up medium banana at $0.12 per bowl to sweeten or add any nuts or dried fruit. The cost to prepare your own oatmeal is about $0.15 - 0.50 per serving (depending on your added toppings. Over a year this would cost you $19.70 a year at $0.15 a serving with the banana added or at $0.50 per serving $78.00 per year. Plus, if you meal prep your oatmeal. Meaning you take ½ cup of oats a few dried pieces of fruit and maybe a few nuts, some seeds and put them in a snack bag that you can quickly grab in the morning, pour in a bowl, fill with 1 cup of water and heat in microwave for 60 seconds. This saves you many hours over your year.
Now let's talk coffee. BIG savings and calorie savings can be made with brewing your own coffee at home and of course, the added time savings. Even if you have to buy a Keurig K55 brew machine at $99 (which is bundled with 48 Starbucks k-cups on keurig.com) you will save a ton of money and time. Including the cost of the brew machine over a year's time brewing coffee at home will cost you about $0.50 per cup at $78 per year and include the cost of the brewer you are at about $1.13 a cup including the cost of the machine. After 1 year your machine will be paid off and the cost will remain around $0.50 a cup. For less expensive k-cups visit Costco for bulk purchases. Best part is you can brew your coffee while warming up your oatmeal.
Substitute the Starbucks breakfast example with your go-to morning drive through routine. Think of some ways you can prep to save money, time, and calories.
Let’s dive into lunch. There are so many options when it comes to where to go for lunch and what to get. According to a Forbes article, “Americans go out to lunch on average twice a week and spend $10 each time. That means they’re spending $936 annually.”Wow, we can meal prep some super duper healthy organic options for $10 per meal. Here is the kicker… in a Visa report men spend on average $21 for lunch and their data reported women spend $14 when eating for lunch (this was the feedback from a Visa survey of 1,003 Americans). So, either way you slice it we are spending a lot more when we eat out. Many of the clients I have worked with claim eating out has been a result of not being prepared. Many clients I have start saving money right away in my program due to better meal planning (visit the “coaching” tab). Health coaching is a great resource for those of you who have the best intentions but need some guidance and accountability. Check out our Happy. Whole. You. coaching programs for more information.
For now let’s dive into lunchtime meal prep for Monday through Friday. Assuming you would like to bring your lunch to work these days or if you work from home you will have a go-to prepped meal. There are three essential macro nutrients we need in each meal: complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats. I am going to share with you my go-to quick meal prep options that take less than 1 hour and if you include shopping time it is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Here is what you will need to have a lunch menu like I have:
5x1-2 oz tupperware
5x6 cups containers or 10x3 cup containers
2x16 oz of mixed organic baby greens or baby spinach (about $3.49 at Costco) I add about 7 oz to each salad or 3 big handfuls. Small salad I add almost 2 big handfuls. Just divide up first among your 5 or 10 containers.
30 oz of free range organic chicken = about 2 lbs (16 oz is one pound & about $6.99lb) grill, bake, or chop in cubes and boil chicken. Add 6 oz to each salad if you are doing 5 meals or add 3 oz to each salad if you are doing 10 meals.
3-5 red bell peppers (6 pack $5.99 at costco) you can cut and put ½ - full bell pepper on each salad. I use a whole red bell pepper on each of my 5 big salads or ½ red bell pepper on my 10 salads.
5 eggs (boiled) (free range, vegetarian, no cage dozen at target about $4.99) I hard boil the eggs and add 1 to each big salad or ½ to each small salad. I like to chop up my egg.
5 oz of cashews, almonds, or pumpkin seeds (I mix them all up and store in a container) I add one small handful = about 1 oz to each big salad or ½ serving to each small salad.
Organic baby carrots 1lb bag (about $1.79 at Target) I throw in about 5-7 baby carrots to each salad sometimes I substitute celery and hadd 1-2 sticks per salad. Sometimes I even add both.
5 Organic roma tomatoes about 1.5-2 lbs ($1.99 - 2.49 a pound at local grocery store) add one quarter sliced tomato to each big salad or ½ tomato to small salads.
5 organic apples (3lb bags of small-medium apples at costco for $3.99-4.99) one for each day.
5 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 tsp balsamic vinegar
Depending on your size of lunches you want to make you can make 5 big salads with 6 oz of chicken or you can do what I like to do and make 10 salads with 3 oz of chicken in each. I like to eat one salad at about 10:00 a.m with an apple and my other salad around 1:00 p.m. or whenever I get hungry. I take all the ingredients above and divide into 5 or 10 salads. The dressing I like to make is 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of redwine vinegar, and 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar. I keep my dressing in a separate container until I am ready to eat. Then I pour over salad, place tupperware lid back over the salad and shake up to get dressing all over. If you go with the 10 salads just shake dressing up before opening and pour ½ oz over salad before shaking.
If we add up the total cost of these items (not including the $15.00-25.00 investment for the containers) we are looking at $40.32 each week. Assuming we use the highest costs: 1 oz of nuts is $1.00 (again,probably a bit high), our dressing servings are $0.50 each, assuming we used the whole bag of carrots at $1.79, used the whole 6 pack of red bell peppers, and spent $0.41 per egg. This is still $8.06 per meal or $4.03 per small salad. Combine this with the morning oatmeal and coffee we are looking at $9.19 a day.
Using ingredients like quinoa, beans, tempeh, green beans, grapes, whole wheat tortillas for wraps, edamame spaghetti with organic sauce, locally grown foods and exploring foods at your farmers markets are all great high nutritional value go-to items I also love and are easy to make, and will last 5 days.
Remember, meal prep will save you time, money, and calories! Stay tuned for more on meal-prepping. Also connect with me on Instagram @HappyWholeYou and on Facebook @HappyWholeYou. Let me know your meal-prep tips.