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8 budget-friendly meal-prep hacks

Meal prepping is one of the easiest and efficient ways to keep your food budget in check. Whilst I'm all for batch-cooking, I'm not one for eating the same thing 5 nights in a here are 8 super-simple meal-prep hacks to keep your healthy diet interesting!

1. Make your own healthy baking mixes.
Buying flours in bulk from a local wholefoods store can save you $ AND can save you time by making your own baking mixes ahead of time. Triple or quadruple your favourite baking mix recipes and store the dry ingredients in jars. Skip the store-bought bread, cake and muffin mixes so you can flavour and sweeten them just as you like them - and always have fresh, nutritious stuff ready to go! 

2. Invest in a small hand-blender

If you don't have space / budget for a large blender or food processor, I highly recommend a man-powered mini blender to make all your own dressings and sauces - you'll also save yourself tears chopping onions, garlic and other smelly things. They usually cost just around $30, but you'll save that in 6 pots of store-bought hummus, and you'll be swapping out less healthy ingredients for better ones!

3. Roast a whole pumpkin

Buying un-cut pumpkin is often a heap cheaper than buying smaller amounts more often (plus...who doesn't adore less cooking?!). I roast a whole pumpkin every few weeks in my oven then freeze some of the soft flesh for baking, use it in smoothies, add to overnight oats with cinnamon, or blend into hummus. There's so many ways you can enjoy it, and it's packed with vitamins and minerals.

4. Boil an entire carton of eggs

I love this trick! Eggs are one of the cheapest and highest quality proteins we can get our hands on. They're natures multi-vitamin and people with normal cholesterol levels can enjoy 3 eggies per day! I love them as snacks with a little sea salt, or thrown on top of a salad for a super fast and nourishing dinner. Gently lower 12 eggs into a large pan of simmering water and set a timer for 7 minutes (runny middles) or 1-2 minutes longer for harder yolks. When the timer is done, tip out the water and run the eggs under cold water to stop them cooking further. Allow to cool and pop them in a bowl in the fridge (unpeeled) ready to go!

5. Cook a batch of grains

Did you know you can prep and freeze grains? Uh-huh! I think we've all been put off by the whole 're-heated rice can make you sick' story, but there are a lot of whole grains you can pre-cook and store. Check out the full guide (with cooking and storing times) in my latest cookbook Meal Prep Plan (Murdoch 2019), or be sure to Google the hell out of it before you get stuck in. Once you have the hang ot it, you'll be saving yourself time and money AND amping up your nutrition all in one go! Add to soups, stews, salads and more!

6. Buy a set of re-usable zip-lock bags

These have finally hit Aussie shelves and I couldn't be more stoked. Not only are they durable and easy to store stuff in the freezer (think pre-prepped fruit for smoothies, chopped veggies etc) but they're amazing for the environment AND your wallet. The less we can throw away and the more we re-use the better. They also take up a heap less space than containers in your freezer. Find them at major supermarkets.

7. Turn your leftover smoothies into frozen ice-cream!

Smoothies can get damned expensive when they're packed with fancy stuf like adaptogens, protein powder and collagen, along with our fave seasonal fruits. Save any extra and pour into ice-cream moulds for a fast and nutritious dessert.

8. Go to the farmers market near to closing time

This is when you'll get the best bargains because they don't want to have to lug the stuff back with them. Be savvy and grab fresh-looking produce at cheaper prices whilst doing the farmers a favour too. Don't forget - uglier produce is usually just as delicious as the pretty stuff.

For more healthy meal-prep tips and nutrition hacks, follow me on Instagram, @thefitfoodieblog! My book MEAL PREP PLAN is available in all good book shops now.

Sally O'Neil - Editor in Chief

Sal is on a mission to prove that healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to be boring – and that even while staying in shape you can have your cake and eat it too. After losing 14kg from adopting a healthier lifestyle, she shares her journey with others on The Fit Foodie Blog. She also works as a commercial food photographer and stylist, is studying a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, and is the author of two cookbooks: Love Move Eat (Bauer Media, 2017) and Meal Prep Plan (Murdoch, 2019).

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