14 Meal-Prep Hacks That’ll Save You Major $$$

Nothing dampens payday vibes like checking your account to see just how much cash goes towards funding your takeout habit. Eating out adds up — despite what legions of Instagram #foodies would lead you to believe. While we’re not suggesting the occasional avo toast will damn you to a lifetime of renting, there is merit in learning to make deliveries a less-frequent, well-deserved treat. How? Mastering the art of meal prep.

Believe it or not, planning and packing meals ahead of time is one of the simplest ways to trim down on spending; if done right, it can save frequent lunch buyers a couple thousand a year. Enough to catch your attention? Click through to uncover 14 hacks to help you actually stick with your brown-bagging goals — from asking your Google Assistant to cue up easy-to-make recipes to starting a lunch swap with your work pals. These tips are right on the money.

Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
The week before you start your meal-prep challenge, track what you eat and how much you spend every day. Pay attention to the pricey items you splurge on and the meals you rely on most often. This will come in handy later.
Take inventory of what’s expired or missing from your pantry, and replenish the absolute essentials most recipes require. Ask your Google Assistant to add them to your shopping list.
While you’re at it, make note of all the ingredients you currently have on hand in your fridge and pantry. Ask your Google Assistant to remind you of any upcoming expiration dates, and make a plan to use perishable products first.
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Invest in high-quality food containers. Your collection should include both single-serving containers to take to work and larger tubs to store full batches in at home.
Ask your Google Assistant to schedule a block of time on your calendar every Sunday for meal prep. Making it a regular, expected part of your weekly routine will help you avoid slipups.
Trying to get fancy with multiple make-ahead recipes can feel overwhelming. During your very first Sunday sesh, aim to tackle just one large-batch recipe that you’ll portion out over the next five days. Ask your Google Assistant to pull up simple, delicious recipes based on the ingredients you have on hand.
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
To take things to the next level, enlist your work spouse to make a lunch club. As in, try each other's dishes on alternating days. You'll have a great excuse to catch up on office gossip, and you'll be way less likely to get bored of packed meals with a little variation.
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Feel free to pack a daily treat that you’ll look forward to to help keep you on track!
Once you have the basics down, challenge yourself to master multitasking in the kitchen. Figure out which ingredients take longest to cook and start with those; practice knocking out the rest of your chopping, washing, and cooking during the wait time. Ask your Google Assistant to set alarms to help keep you on track.
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Missing takeout nonetheless? Look back at the list of meals you often splurged on, find a dupe recipe, and DIY it.
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Equip your kitchen with a crockpot, and learn to make hearty soups you can take to work in a mason jar. Plop your leftovers in the freezer in single-serving containers that you can grab whenever you wish to switch things up.
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Once you’ve mastered a few recipes and feel comfortable in the kitchen, get creative mixing and matching ingredients for each packed lunch. Choose a protein, a carb, and a couple of vegetables, and create your own combos. When in doubt, grain bowls are a great “throw it all together and go” option.
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Crazed week? Don’t give up on your food-prepping goals just yet. Instead, search for shortcuts wherever you can. Pro tip: Grab a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken and hack your way through dozens of delicious recipes.
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Making five plus meals at a time can decidedly get a little messy. Combat cleanup boredom by jamming to your favorite playlist.