What Is Meal Prep?
Doing a Meal Prep means making your week, or days’ worth of food ahead of time. This is so that you can heat it up in batches throughout the week, saving both time and money.
Adding a braised egg to my favourite plate of chicken rice will now make me $4 poorer instead of the usual $3 at the food court. It is hard not to notice the price increases since food inflation came in at 1.4 percent in Singapore last year.
Meal Prep, trending amongst millennials and working adults
See videos like these on @mealprepsociety on Instagram and Facebook often?
Meal prep is often associated with the ‘hipster’ way of life that involves a lot of avocados, quinoa, healthy western ingredients and money.
However, people miss the point that doing your own meal prep is a major financial hack.
How Meal Prep Saves Money
Assuming you are unconvinced about the cost savings as you already live a frugal lifestyle, we break down the weekly expenses of a typical working adult or tertiary student who eats at the food court every day.
|Day||Lunch or Dinner||Price|
|Mon||Chicken Rice + Egg||$4|
|Total = $27|
In contrast, the cost of one week’s worth of meal prep ingredients:
|Chicken Breast x 2 (300g)||$3|
|Sweet Potatoes (750g)||$2.50|
|Onions, Garlic, Oil, Rice||$2|
|Total = $12.50|
Doing meal preps for just 1 meal every weekday can save you up to $50 a week if you add a few cups of Starbucks and one higher-priced meal.
1. Buying in bulk saves cost
Meal prep is all about maximizing economies of scale.
Buying your groceries in bulk saves you costs for every food item, especially staple foodstuff and major ingredients such as meat, a bag of capsicums or potatoes instead of just buying single pieces. Cooking big portions also help you maximise the usage of your ingredients. This avoids the wasteful disposal of half a cabbage, one rooted onion or that one rotten egg at the end of 2 weeks.
2. Save on electricity
Since you’re preparing for a few meals at once, bulk washing your vegetables and cooking a mass of food instead of one portion can save a lot of electricity in the long run. Not to mention this helps you do a part for the environment! Small impacts go a long way.
3. Prevents you from spending unnecessarily
When we finish a long day, sometimes we just want to take away whatever meal is convenient and head back home to eat and watch our television shows. This meal can be $5-$10 and more every day depending on where you get it from. Convenience can actually be made by yourself when you do your meal prep on Sunday nights to make eating the rest of the week a breeze.
5 meal prep tips to get you started
Here are some tips you must know in order to maximize costs, efficiency and well, your happiness.
1. Credit Card benefits
Starting your meal prep journey means a lot of grocery shopping, whether in stores or online. So, you have to get the bang for your buck.
|OCBC NTUC Plus! Credit Card |
(For NTUC members)
|NTUC Fairprice||Up to 12% off at FairPrice stores, Unity and Warehouse Club1
Up to 8% off at FairPrice Online
|POSB Everyday Card||Sheng Shiong||5% Rebate at Sheng Shiong|
|Citibank SMRT Platinum Visa Cards||NTUC Fairprice, Giant, Sheng Shiong||5% SMRT$ is awarded for transactions > $50
3% SMRT$ is awarded for transactions < $50.
*Do take note of minimum monthly spending requirements and cashback caps!
2. Look out for deals
Redmart, NTUC Online and Giant Online show you attractive weekly deals that you can check before deciding to plan for your meal prep. This way, you can change your menu every week according to what is on sale.
3. Simplify recipes
Saw an amazing meal prep recipe online? It typically involves a few exotic ingredients or delicious sauces that are… hard to make.
If you’re feeling less adventurous, replace the beef with chicken that is easier to cook and the asparagus with lettuce or some chye sim. Don’t be disheartened by the extravagant marinates as you can always replace them with some store-bought barbeque sauce or a simple drizzle of olive oil and pepper.
Things that are easier to get and hassle-free to cook will make your meal prep journey a whole lot easier.
4. Plan ahead
Have a plan for when you want to buy your groceries and when you will cook your food.
Perhaps Friday will be a good time to order your groceries online or stop by the supermarket after work. Marinating any meat can also be done on the same day so you can cook your food without a hassle on Sunday. Keeping to a schedule will make things easier and leave you more time to yourself.
Also, a quick tip is to freeze food you want to save for more than 4 days to keep them fresh and refrigerate food for Monday and Tuesday’s consumption.
5. Make this a social activity
We understand that meal prep sometimes means eating on your own during lunch time when your colleagues head out, or heating up a lonely meal at night.
This doesn’t always have to be the case! Share your meal prep tips with your friends and family. You can start a “Meal-Prep Monday” event in the office where everyone preps one dish to share. At home, you can make this a family activity if your family has the habit of eating home on weeknights. On weekends, your meal preps can even be taken to the beach or the Marina Barrage for a picnic.
Food is a big portion of our everyday expenditure. Since meal prep is a lifestyle that is not only trendy but cheap and healthy, why not give it a shot?