Saving money and cutting calories by making lunch

Welcome back! How were last weeks lessons? Do you feel as though you have more confidence in building a program to help you achieve your goals? What are some questions that still stand out for you? Let me know in the comments!

A few weeks ago we discovered how important it was to start your day with a good breakfast. Studies have shown a definite correlation between those who regularly eat a healthy, nutrient dense breakfast and an ability to lose weight and maintain a healthy frame. Nevertheless, many people skip breakfast or grab something on the run because they’re in a rush. Have you been doing your best to make a homemade, healthy breakfast?

However, good nutrition doesn’t start and end at the breakfast table. The goals is to slowly introduce more home prepared meals and healthy snack choices throughout the day as time goes on. Not only will you begin to see fast improvements in your body weight and start feeling more energized, you will also save a small fortune over time.

Around 75% of the working population admits to regularly ordering takeout or fast food for their lunchtime meal. Generally speaking, any takeout or fast food choice is going to have a much higher amount of salt, sugar, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and cholesterol than what would be contained in a meal prepared at home.

Furthermore, regularly eating out will put a serious dent in your wallet. Between 50 to 60 percent of a person's food budget is spent on eating out. By preparing meals at home, Americans stand to save, on average, between 50 to 60 dollars a week, or around three thousand dollars per year! If you prepared your meals at home you’d not only be healthier, but you’d have saved enough money for an all inclusive vacation!

However, there is a small problem most people will run into when they try preparing their afternoon meal. That is, there is not enough time in the day to do so. If it takes you 30 minutes to prepare lunch, and you’re doing so every morning or night before, the time will quickly pile up. What if there was a better way?

It’s been my experience that batching meal planning is the most effective use of time and the easiest barrier to cross for people when making the effort to eat a home prepared lunch at work. What I mean by batching meal planning is choosing a recipe, then making enough to fill 2 to 5 glass containers to put in the fridge or freezer.

The amount of time spent to prepare 5 lunches is almost the same as preparing 1, so you save a ton of time over the week. Moreover, the likelihood of succeeding at your goal of preparing a homemade lunch is much higher if you only have to do it once or twice during the week instead of five times. By pre-making your lunch and placing it in the fridge or freezer, you’re making the healthy choice in advance. So, when you get the cravings to go to the deli down the street, knowing there is a nutritious, whole foods meal waiting for you in the fridge will help you make the healthier choice.

To start meal planning you’re going to need a few things. The first is a set of containers to store each meal in. I highly recommend investing the few extra dollars it costs for glass containers, as they seal much better than the plastic ones and will keep your food more fresh. Glass containers are also much better for the environment as they will last you for years instead of the few weeks a plastic one would.

Some other kitchen supplies you will likely want to invest are thing like a good chopping board, a good knife, and possibly a food processor and slow cooker. Keep it simple to start. Normally, this is where I give you links to order this stuff on Amazon so I make a commission. However, I always recommend buying local whenever possible, so go check out your independent kitchen supply store. They will have a ton of options for you and expert advice. If, for whatever reason, you don’t have that option, there are some links below to my recommended meal prep essentials.

The last step is the most important. That is, actually preparing the meals. I used to look at this as a chore, but now I really look forward to meal prepping. My work week is Monday to Friday, so I set aside some time every Sunday night to prepare the upcoming weeks meals. I clear the kitchen counters, put on a podcast or some music, and get into the zone. I find chopping vegetables very meditative, but maybe that’s just me.

There are some things to consider when choosing your recipes and preparing your meals for the week. The first consideration is how long the food will last before it is no longer good. Most vegetarian and vegan meals are good for three days, sometime pushing 4. For this reason, It’s never a bad idea to make meals you can freeze. This way, you can enjoy three of the five meals fresh, then pull the last two from the freezer for Thursday and Friday.

A very popular method of meal prepping is by using a slow cooker. Slow cookers are a set it and forget it model of cooking, and with only a little preparation can have four portions of a vegetable curry or stew ready to go for the upcoming week. You could prepare the ingredients in the morning, throw them in the slow cooker to simmer over the day, then portion the meals out into containers that night, placing them in the fridge or freezer for the week.

Once again, the quality of the meal is the most important consideration to make, so choose recipes that are made using whole food ingredients and are low in salt, sugar, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and cholesterol. A few weeks ago I left you with a list of healthy breakfast recipes that were easy to prepare and nutritious. This week, I’m leaving you with a list of recipes for lunchtime meals that are easy to make, made from whole food ingredients, and can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days.

You goal this week is to bring a healthy, home prepared meal at least once to eat for your lunch at work. If you feel you’d like more of a challenge, I’d invite you to try making a few lunches for the week by batching the cooking and portioning the meals into containers. Let me know in the comments what recipes you used to bring a lunch to work. Did you notice any improvements in your energy after eating a home prepared lunch? Do you enjoy cooking? Let me know in the comments.

As always, thank you for joining in on today’s lesson. If you got something out of it or have any questions, please let me know in the comments. If you’re enjoying this fitness program and know of a friend or family member who could also benefit, please feel free to share the sign up link with them. And, as always, the secret to getting ahead is getting started. So go get started!

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