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HOW MEAL PLANNING CAN SAVE YOU MONEY - PART 1 BECOME HEALTHIER HAPPIER AND WEALTHIER

We have all heard of meal prepping. This isn’t an entirely new concept, but before the idea of cooking your food ahead of time makes you click away… Let me challenge your perspective by giving you some pieces of information that might make you think of “meal prepping” in an entirely new way. A new perspective that may just transform your 2021 for the better.

To clarify, meal prepping is not just chicken, broccoli and rice as a lot of main stream media platforms might leave you to believe. If this is a meal that excites you, by all means, go for it! No shame in the basics, it definitely works. For the majority of us though, we like foods that get our mouths watering and our eyes lighting up.


We are going to be talking about taking the foods we absolutely love, making the healthy alternatives that taste just as good, if not better, and enjoying them all while reaching our fitness goals, saving money, and feeling our best. This is all much more simple than you could imagine.


HOW MUCH CAN YOU SAVE?


If you’ve ever eaten out at a restaurant before, which I’m sure you have, think about the average cost that you spend on just one meal. Maybe $11 or $20 depending on your location and health preferences. Now how often a week do you eat out at a restaurant? Fast food? How many times in a month? Now do you normally pay for someone else as well when you go out to eat, because that raises your average cost again? All of this adds up over the long run.


According to Business Insider, Americans on average eat out about 5x in a week; spending roughly anywhere from $1,000 - $3,500 a year eating at restaurants, and/or fast food joints. Think of what an extra $3,500 dollars could do for you.


On the flip side, the average American spends only $100 - $300 / month on groceries, which totals to $1,200 - $3,600 / year. Additional factors such as dietary needs like gluten free, dairy free or vegan alternatives, preferences, cost consciousness, heath consciousness, or meat consumption dictates the average monthly price.


When you meal prep, you go to the grocery store with a list of exactly what you need for the week or 2 weeks you are preparing. You know exactly the cost you are going to spend. If needed, you can modify your weekly meals to be more cost friendly so you can actually save additional money throughout the month. This results in a cost effective and satisfying grocery trip because you get exactly what you need, no more and no less, all while saving money in the long run and eating foods you love.


HOW MEAL PLANNING CAN HELP YOU REACH YOUR FITNESS GOALS


This isn’t all, there is another huge benefit to cooking your meals at home for the week. Eating at home can help us reach our fitness goals, lose weight or gain muscle that much faster.


What you may not know is that when you go out to eat, your food is being served with a boat load of extra calories, ingredients that you don’t need, and loads of table salt. Let’s look at an example. At home, you cook a salmon dish with asparagus and brown rice with olive oil, Himalayan sea salt, ground pepper and fresh basil. Not only do you know exactly how much of each ingredient you are about to consume but you know how fresh / prepared your seafood and vegetables are and you get to add the exact spices that you prefer.


When you go out to eat, your food is normally cooked in an abundance of butter and oil. Most of the time it is vegetable oil which isn’t the best for your body; so unless you ask specifically for your food to be cooked in only a small amount of oil and only olive oil, this is what you’ll be getting.


Next, most restaurants unless typically stated use white table salt instead of Himalayan sea salt. You might be thinking, salt is just salt. Not quite, because these two salts break down completely different in the body. For starters, where white salt might leave you feeling bloated and puffy from water retention, Himalayan salt will not.


This results in extra butter, vegetable oils, loads of table salt, calories, and potentially bloating and an upset stomach. Luckily there are easy ways to avoid this. Simply ask if your dish can be cooked in light oil, preferably olive oil, and little or no salt if possible. If you want to be extra cautious, you can also state for there to be no butter added.


THE COST OF EATING OUT VERSUS EATING AT HOME - 1 TO 20


In addition to the additives, you may end up paying anywhere from $25 for the salmon dish upwards to $40 depending on the restaurant. If you are like the average American who eats out 5x a week and trying to be health cautious, your total for the week ends up being around $125 - $200. Repeat that habit each week and your total for the month is anywhere from $500 to $800.


Now let’s say you decide to go to your local Costco and buy two fresh slabs of salmon to cook at home for a total of $20. This gives you roughly 20 pieces of salmon total, that’s $1 per piece. You can prep 5 pieces while freezing the rest to preserve the freshness. To recreate the meal from the restaurant, you buy a box of ready to cook white or brown rice for $3. You also add some asparagus and olive oil to your list for an additional $10. You end up paying $33 dollars for roughly 20 meals; This is in comparison to paying $20-40 for one meal. Let that sink in.


BALANCE IS ESSENTIAL TO HAPPINESS


This isn’t to make you never want to go out to eat at a restaurant and enjoy a nice meal out again. No, no, no. Balance is essential to a happy life. It is just like how being healthy and working out doesn’t mean that you never get to eat a donut again in your life. Meal planning doesn’t mean you never eat at your favorite restaurant again or get your to die for coffee from the local coffee shop again. The point to drive home is that by meal prepping you can save yourself thousands of dollars, reach your goals faster by avoiding additional ingredients and calories, and save yourself time in the long run by having everything ready a head of time.


REMINDERS TO TAKE HOME


So to recap on some of the most important benefits of meal planning…


- Save Money! You can save on average $1,000 - 3,500 a year by cooking at home and planning your meals a head of time instead of eating out. Another idea, is that when you would normally go out to eat, put that money in a jar instead and eat at home. At the end of the month, empty the jar and count how much you saved. If it helps you to stay on track, buy yourself a reward with 1/4 of the money that you saved.


- Lose weight or build muscle faster by meal prepping and eating at home. Reduce extra calories throughout the week. Have clarity of mind knowing exactly what you are eating and putting in to your body. Enjoy a lack of bloating and reactions to unknown food sensitivities.


- Become healthier, happier, and wealthier by eating at home and meal planning.


- Find a balance that works for you.


REFERENCES

https://www.businessinsider.com/what-people-spend-on-dining-out-2019-8?op=1#peoplein-wisconsin-spend-2271-per-year-on-average-on-dining-out-49 https://mint.intuit.com/blog/food-budgets/monthly-grocery-budget-calculator/

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