Why food prep?
It saves you time, money and encourages healthy eating. Prepping food keeps you true to your diet, budget and puts you in a routine that works with your schedule. You always have options available to you so you can avoid excess spending eating out, grabbing junk food from the vending machine at work and delegate your time better.
For all salads I use a half gallon sized mason jar (Ball) and fill it from heaviest to lightest (dressing to lettuce, starting from bottom to top). You don’t have to use this size, but it makes for a giant salad and the right amount for me as a whole meal.
For salads, you can get away with a full week of prepping ahead of time. Make sure you follow the guide though, or your lettuce will wilt.
Base: Dressing and the heaviest toppings/mix-ins you want to add
Bottom: Tomatoes, Garbanzo Beans/Black Beans, Corn, Meat/Faux Meats
Middle: Carrots (thinly sliced), Mushrooms, Onions (thinly sliced)
Top: Romaine/Iceberg/Red Leaf Lettuce, Kale, Swiss Chard
For all fruit I use a pint sized mason jar (Ball) and do the same process, except I finish it off with the juice of half a fresh squeezed lemon. To help further preserve.
Never use fruits that don’t preserve well after cutting/opening. They won’t last in a jar either. So no apples or bananas. Yes to strawberries, grapes, blueberries and pineapple.
I only prep enough fruit for 1-3 days, beyond that it isn’t very fresh and doesn’t taste as good, in my opinion.
In the photos you can see I have two big salads and three smaller fruit jars prepped and ready to go! Believe it or, but each salad runs me about $4.50 each (organic lettuce $2 a bunch/head, organic carrots $1.50 a bunch (about 6), organic broccoli $2.50 a head, organic tomatoes $2.50 a pound, Newman’s Own Lite Italian Dressing $3.75 a bottle (covers 20+ salads for me). If you do the math, I use one whole bunch of lettuce per jar, two carrots, one tomato, half a head of broccoli and two tbsp of dressing, ($2 + .50 + $1.25 + .50 + .19 = $4.44). Now this might seem insane and you’re like “THAT’S NOT CHEAP!” but hey, I did all organic AND I did half gallon sized jars for each salad. If you ordered that anywhere else, I don’t care where you go, it would be at least $10+ and not even close to organic. So, I like to look at it as my health insurance and this meal would keep me full/satisfied for hours.
For the fruit, I did 1 pint of organic strawberries $2, 3 nectarines .88 cents per pound and 1 1/2 lemons 5 for $1. So for three pint sized jars the cost breaks down to ($2 + .88 + .30 = $3.18). So about $1.06 each and yet again, I bought organic. So you could probably come out ahead buying on sale and regular.
So for everything in the photos posted, I paid about ($8.88 + $3.18) $12.06 for two meals and three snacks. All organic, totally affordable compared to eating out and insanely healthy for you!
Try buying your jars locally, I usually go to Ace Hardware and they’re really affordable. I normally pay $12 for 6 half gallon jars and $8 for 6 pint jars. I’m sure you could find deals online too, but remember to factor in shipping and the possibility of them shattering during transit.
If you wanna take it a step further, start saving jars from pasta sauces or other groceries purchased that you’ve used up. Soak them in hot water, clean off any labels and you’re good to go!
To keep your fruit as preserved as possible, squeeze fresh lemon juice on top. You could also use lime if you prefer that too, or both!
Do all your food prepping in one go. It’ll take a bit of time, but you’ll spend less time doing it all at once and prepping in bulk as opposed to only a couple meals for the same amount.
Veggie Sticks w/ dip at the bottom
Kale/Sweet Potato/Potato/Zucchini Chips
Black Bean Chili
There are TONS of meals that can be made in bulk and then portioned out into jars. This will not only save you time later but save money in the long run and greatly increase the likelihood of you eating healthier.
So next time your at the grocery store, look around and see how much it costs to make your favorite meals in bulk and how much your spending/saving by portioning it out for the week. You may surprise yourself! Especially if you eat out for lunch or order in daily.