We all eat and therefore we all should cook. I will go a step further and say we all eat out at times and, at some point in our lives, should work at a restaurant. I was a server off and on for 16 years and it helped me to have an appreciation for the service industry.
What I (and probably many others) propose is that spending several concerted hours per week prepping meals is more efficient than spending time each day. I’ve been doing meal prepping for years but recently, I’ve heard a lot about in the Financial Independent (FI) community as a way to conserve time. In particular, Brad’s wife, Laura, seems to have a good system down. There is even a private ChooseFI FB group for recipes and meal plans.
I rarely use recipes in my cooking. The downside to this is if I make something others really like, well, um they are out of luck in getting an exact recipe. The upside is that I can get really creative with the ingredients I have on hand. I know what I like and have a fairly good idea of how to utilize spices in order to create a delicious meal.
Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA)
CSAs are a great way to obtain vegetables and fruit grown locally if you don’t garden. I currently live in an apartment so there is no gardening going on here. 🙂
I love to support local organic farmers and I have found a great way to obtain my crops in a way which I call a trilogy win:
- I get my crops from a farm called Refugee Response. They grow organic produce and support local refugees. I definitely want to be a supporter of that! Win #1!
- I bought 20 weeks of crops for $280 which works out to be $14 per week. I bought it back in March when I was working on my minimum spend for my Chase Sapphire Preferred card. This purchase helped me earn 50k in reward miles. Huzzah! Win #2
- Each week during the summer and into the fall, I pick up a weekly harvest of organic crops. I never know what I’m going to get and so it forces me to try new things. I waste none of it and make a ton of different soups. Win #3
Weekly Meal Prepping
I am a single woman so I only need to prep for myself but I make enough to invite friends for dinner. No doubt, what I can do can be multiplied to feed a family. I typically do my meal prepping on Sundays and prepare three different things to cover my meals for the week.
I own a Vitamix (#love) and highly recommend them if you consume a lot of smoothies or like to make your own nut butter, hummus, baba ganoush or pureed soups.
My smoothies typically include the following ingredients:
- Dried peanut butter powder, peanut butter or protein powder
I make enough for 4-5 smoothies, put them in mason jars, and freeze them. Then each night, I take one out of the freezer to thaw overnight. In the morning I shake it up and head off to work. Breakfast…covered!
I make a big salad which is enough to dole out each day for my lunches. I often cook some chicken or other protein in the crock pot to serve on my salad. Honestly, the longest part of this process is cutting up the veggies to go on the salad. I figure I’d rather do this all at once rather than every day. It essentially takes just as long to cut up part of green pepper as it does the whole green pepper. Lunches…covered!
I make some other kind of meal in bulk which will last me an entire week. Sometimes it’s something like stuffed green peppers but usually, it’s soup. Since I get crops for 20 weeks out of the year, I always have herbs and enough veggies to make some kind of delicious soup. The rest of the year, I use frozen veggies in my soups. I make sure I keep the following things on hand for making scrumptious soups:
- Cans of diced tomatoes
- Coconut milk and/or cream
- Chicken or beef base
- Pasta or grains
I get a ton of fresh herbs in my summer CSA so I freeze a bunch and use them throughout the year.
I always make a big vat of soup and then pour some of it into individual containers to freeze. I keep some in the fridge for my dinners. However, since I am freezing a new soup each week, I can pull out a couple of different containers to thaw during the week for a little variety. After all variety is the spice of life!
So my friend who goes by the name, State of O-FI-O, has become quite the soup nazi. She has been making some stellar soups by using up items in her freezer, garden and pantry. One lovely side effect is that she’s also slashing her grocery budget. Stay tuned as she will be writing a future guest post here on her souper FI powers.
So there you have Ms. Fiology’s eating/prepping habits. I personally don’t like to spend a lot of time each day figuring out what I’m going to eat. Meal prepping allows me the freedom to spend my time during the week doing what I love. It also ensures I eat healthy since I’m not grabbing something quick (like a frozen pizza). Additionally, it helps me keep my food costs low. I spend about 8% of my monthly take-home pay on groceries.
So how do you eat? What efficiencies have you discovered?