You’ve just moved in with your significant other and have decided to prepare easy and nutritious meals that will fuel you through your busy work schedule and evening workouts. Whether you’re a power couple who loves long-distance running, skiing, and getting to the top of the highest peak, or simply a couple who wants to eat better while saving time, creating a budget to help you achieve your meal-prep goals is the best way to ensure that your new meal practice succeeds.
Creating a food budget can vary greatly depending upon your nutritional needs and your food values. Questions to consider include: How much protein will we buy each week? Do we prefer organic foods? Where will we shop? Can we buy certain items in bulk? Will we opt for farmers’ markets during the warmer months?
All of these questions and your subsequent answers will affect the amount of money you spend on food every two weeks, and, though it may seem steep to budget $150 per person a week, eating out and on the go is, most often, far more expensive.
Granted, you can find a lot of information online for free, but investing in one or two high-quality cookbooks that meet your specific needs can be a real game changer. For busy couples who are athletic and on the go, there are many cookbooks geared specifically toward their lifestyle. These cookbooks offer delicious and healthy recipes that can be made in bulk and freeze well, perfect for fueling an active couple.
Cookware and storage
If you plan on cooking often, and especially if your goal is to make large amounts of food to freeze for later, three invaluable cooking items include a wok, a set of glass baking dishes, and a set of casserole dishes. To choose a high-quality wok, be sure to purchase one that is carbon steel and has a handle made of a sturdy material such as bamboo.
Glassware in a variety of shapes and sizes, preferably a set that comes with lids for easy storage, is also very useful. Consider high-end brands, which will last longer. Also, consider purchasing a glass baking dish that can be stored in a portable pouch, so your leftovers can be easily taken to work.
The appliances portion of your meal-plan budgeting is where you’re going to inevitably invest the most money, but, if you do it right, you’ll acquire useful kitchen items that will last a lifetime. Three must-haves include a large slow cooker, vacuum sealer, and food dehydrator. A slow cooker will allow you to cook throughout the day, regardless of your schedule, and a vacuum sealer and a food dehydrator will allow you to save meals for later.
One of the best things you can do when purchasing any of these items is to only buy those with at least a two-year warranty. This will ensure that you get the most bang for your buck and will give you plenty of time to return items with quirks.
For food dehydrators, stacked dehydrators with a variety of shelves are usually the most efficient and space-saving, and, while dehydrators made out of metal usually last the longest, plastic alternatives can be just as effective.
Blender and food processor
When it comes to preparing meals in advance and in bulk, the less chopping, slicing, and dicing you have to do, the better. Food processors and blenders are two items that allow for quick preparation and a little less elbow grease on your end. When looking for a blender to make smoothies or purees, it’s wise to purchase one that is easy to clean and provides at least two blades. For food processors, you’ll find that the bigger they come, the more expensive they are. That being said, consider your meal-prep needs. An 11-cup processor might be all you need to create your meals.
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