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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Missing takeout nonetheless? Look back at the list of meals you often splurged on, find a dupe recipe, and DIY it.
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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.
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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.
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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.