People sometimes start meal prepping when they have a physical fitness goal — but when I started, I had my sights set on being financially fit. Even though I had a full-time job right out of college and no debt, I was living paycheck to paycheck. Where was my money going? Food. Turns out, relying solely on takeout and restaurant meals is a good way to burn through disposable income.
So six years ago, determined to build an emergency fund and save enough for a vacation, I decided to start batch cooking, prepping my meals each week, to replace my takeout habit. I was a terrible chef at first, but I made it work. While eating my initially depressing salads and overcooked chicken stir fries at my desk at work, I thought about what I'd do with the money meal prepping would save me.
Eventually my cooking improved, and my hard work paid off. After about a year, I had saved $1,400, which was enough to pad my emergency fund and take myself on a solo snowboarding trip to Colorado.
When my co-workers started commenting on my lunches and asking questions, I thought other people might have the same struggles with prepping food for the work week. I started Workweek Lunch as a blog and Instagram in 2016 and launched the WWL Meal Prep Program, a weekly online meal plan subscription, in 2018.
We now have nearly 3,500 active members.
Video by Jason Armesto
I currently spend a total of $300/month on groceries for two people, $150 for just me. Before I started meal prepping, I spent $400/month on myself alone.
My go-to takeout lunch was sweet potatoes, broccoli, and salmon from Dig Inn, a fast-casual lunch spot in New York City. It usually set me back around $13. Once I realized I could make three servings of that meal at home for the same cost, I was off to the races.
A great place to start with meal prepping is by making meals you'd normally buy for lunch or dinner. You might be surprised how easy it is to recreate your favorite takeout salad, stir fry, or tacos at home for less.
Making larger batches of meals also helps you use up whole ingredients so you're not left with a random quarter of a bell pepper or half a bag of spinach at the end of the week. Leftovers tend to be forgotten and tossed in the trash. And wasted food = wasted money.
Talia Koren is the founder and CEO of Workweek Lunch, a website and online subscription that helps thousands of people all over the world meal prep to save time and money, and eat delicious home-cooked food. Talia lives in Queens, NY, and enjoys developing tons of recipes every week in her tiny kitchen while inspiring her 400K Instagram following. When she's not cooking, Talia loves to snowboard, travel, and watch tons of TV.
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