5 Easy Meal Prep Tips To Help You Eat Healthier And Save Money

by Barbara Ruhs, MS, RDN

Last Updated: July 20, 2021

Meal prepping is a powerful tool that can improve nutritional intake and save money1. Meal prepping involves planning meals in advance, preparing recipes in bulk, and pre-portioning single meals for future consumption. As the popularity of meal prepping has increased, so have the resources on the topic. Several books on meal prep highlight popular diet trends, including the keto diet that feature high-protein, low-carb meals, as well as plant-based diets that emphasize sustainable food choices.

These are some quick tips to consider when getting started with meal prep.
  1. Download the Kroger app.
    Given the fact that individuals check their phone 96 times per day according to a recent survey2, a mobile phone can also be used as a valuable tool in your meal prepping success. By downloading the Kroger App to your phone, you can save money and time in multiple ways. By viewing weekly ads on your phone, you can easily build cost-savings meals around sale items. The mobile app offers the convenience to clip valuable digital coupons and make a personalized shopping list right at the touch of your fingertips. Furthermore, the Kroger app offers other resources that can help with meal prepping, including recipes, meal suggestions, and nutrition information. Order your groceries for pick up or delivery and save time that can be used to prepare home-cooked healthy meals.
  2. Start small.
    As a dietitian who has counseled thousands of clients, one of the top reasons people give up on preparing meals at home is that it can get overwhelming. You’ve heard the saying, “don’t bite off more than you can chew,” and this certainly applies to meal prep as well. If you haven’t been preparing any meals at home, it would be wise to start by planning one, two, or three meals at first instead of trying to plan an entire week to start. When it comes to meal planning, most people think of dinner, but meal planning can be used for any meal that you want to improve your nutrition and save money. If you’re in the habit of grabbing breakfast at the drive-thru (or skipping it altogether), consider planning 1-2 budget-friendly breakfasts that you can prepare at home. For example, this savory avocado oatmeal packs 14g of protein, 6g of fiber, and less than 2g of sugar and can be prepared in advance. If you’re on the go in the morning, this green avocado and spinach smoothie is dairy-free (made with plant-based milk) and has more than 30g of protein, and is filled with the nutritious benefits of fresh produce.
  3. Plan your protein.
    Start your meal plan by choosing your protein source first. According to Acosta research, 81% of millennials said that protein is extremely important when making grocery store purchases.3 In addition to seafood and meat, don’t forget to consider plant-based protein as well. In the Acosta study on Progressing Protein Palates, 34% of meat-eating millennials eat at least four vegetarian dinners each week, while one-quarter of millennials report being vegetarian or vegan and eat plant-based meals all the time.3 Plant-based proteins include beans, nuts, and seeds, eggs, soy, and tofu products, as well as a variety of plant-based “meat” products that mimic the taste of beef, pork, and poultry.

    Here are two easy plant-based meal recommendations:
    • Vegetarian Ceviche made with creamy, fresh avocados and silken tofu is a meal that you won’t even notice the seafood is missing!
    • Burrito Bowls such as this Mexican Buddha Bowl are a hit for family meals because everyone can customize to their taste bud preferences. Just add the basic ingredients to your list, such as black beans, quinoa, avocado, brown rice, shredded cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, and corn.
  4. Choose a day to prep.
    Prepping recipes in bulk all at once is the time-saving concept that is the foundation of meal prepping. Choose one day of the week that works best for you to prepare meals. For some, doing the planning, shopping, and cooking all in the same day may feel overwhelming. Break it up by choosing one day to plan and shop and a different day (or days) to prep and cook. If you’re using the Kroger app to order online, you can save time that can be used more efficiently for prepping foods and preparing (cooking) meals.

    *For delicious and nutritious meals that include the good fats and nearly 20 vitamins found in avocados, Avocados From Mexico has made it convenient to order directly from their website where you can find them always in season: https://avocadosfrommexico.com/shop/.
  5. Have reusable containers on-hand.
    Ensuring that you have the best reusable containers to store your individualized meals that fit your lifestyle and budget is an important consideration. There are so many options to choose from; it’s helpful to think about a few key things:
    • What size of the container(s) will work best for the meals you prepare? Do you need multiple sizes?
    • What material do you prefer –glass or plastic? The weight of the container may be a factor if you’re a commuter.
    • Do you need a container that can be used to re-heat in a microwave?

Hopefully, these tips will help you get started with meal prep that can help improve your health, save time and maximize your budget!

References:
  1. Wiley, C. Grocery Shopping Habits of Gen Z and Millenials. Food Industry Executive. February 5, 2020. https://bit.ly/3gO70Ph
  2. Asurion. Americans Check Their Phones 96 Times a Day. November 21. 2019. https://www.asurion.com/about/press-releases/americans-check-their-phones-96-times-a-day/
  3. Acosta. Progressing Protein Palates. Winter 2018. https://bit.ly/3j3t9uk

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.


Barbara Ruhs, MS, RDN

Barbara Ruhs, MS, RDN

An avid avocado-eater and guacamole-lover, Barb is the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for Avocados From Mexico. She is a former retail dietitian who believes the best place to learn about nutrition is in the aisles of the supermarket. A lifelong tennis player and competitive athlete, she was a sports nutritionist for Harvard University before moving to the southwest. Her philosophy on food is simple – enjoy what you eat, prepare food with love and add avocados to everything!