If you want to eat healthier, increase your energy, and feel and look good in your body, you have to start in the kitchen. In this blog post, I’m going to share how you can start meal prepping in a way that not only saves time, but also saves money. As a result, you’ll most likely reduce inches off your waistline and improve the quality of your life in every way. So you want to meal prep but you think you don’t have time or the money to do so. That’s what I hear time and time again from my friends and clients. Excuses like “I work 60 hours a week, I’m too busy” or “Fast food is cheaper and more convenient” hold you back from reaching your health and fitness goals. Stop Making Excuses!! The very first thing you need to do before even step foot into a grocery store is to stop your excuses. When you say “I don’t have time,” what you’re really saying is it’s not a priority. For example, I’m assuming your Monday is jam packed with appointments, meetings, and post-work obligations. You couldn't possibly add in an extra 2 hours to your day, right? But, what if that morning you got a flat tire on the freeway? You’d have no option but to create the time to call a tow truck, find a shop to replace the tire, and spend a good 2-3 hours that you thought you didn’t have to focus on your car. This situation highlights the fact that if it’s a priority to you, you’ll make the time no matter how busy your schedule seems to be. If you don’t think that meal prep is of utmost importance to you (yet), here are a few reasons why you should: You can know exactly what and how much you’re eating You are in complete control of what you feed your body and the quality of its ingredients You’ll most likely eat less versus eating out at a restaurant It’s cheaper, hands down It’ll save you time when you batch cook your food just a few hours each week You’ll eat more REAL food versus processed convenience foods, which naturally leads to: weight loss, satiety, improved digestion, better sleep, less stress, and increased fitness gains Now that we agree that meal prepping is super important to do, I’m going to lay out some tips on how you can do it with a tight schedule and budget so that you can get started. **Batch Cook Your Food** Batch cooking your food is a great way to cook all of your meals for the week in one go. Schedule in 1-3 hours out of your Sunday to devote to cooking and preparing your meals in advance. **My typical Sunday looks like this:** Make a grocery list and write down everything that I want to eat that week (my staples usually include chicken, veggies like brussel sprouts and broccolini, sweet potatoes, eggs, salad, fruits like apples and bananas, almond butter, and nuts for snacking) Set the oven to 375 degrees and bake the chicken, sweet potatoes, and vegetables (all of them take about 20-25 mins to bake which means I can do all of them in 1 or 2 rounds of time) While those bake, I might be cutting up fresh veggies for snacks, boiling eggs, or prepping salads) Once everything is ready, I store them in small meal-size containers for easy grab-and-go convenience **Buy in Bulk** If you are on a tight budget, a simple way to spend less is to buy in bulk. Yes, it might look more expensive upfront, but you end up saving money overtime. My favorite things to buy in bulk are my meats, sweet potatoes, eggs, nuts, and oils and seasonings. If you can’t finish your meats or veggies in a quick enough time, you can easily freeze them and save for later. **Use A Crockpot or One Pan Oven Recipes** If you’re really short on time, using a crockpot or a one pan oven recipe is a great way to reduce your time in the kitchen without skimping on a quality meal. Crockpots are a great way to make delicious recipes overnight or while you’re at work. Simply put your veggies and meats in the crockpot, turn it on and let it sit, and like magic, you have a delicious medley of food without even lifting a finger. Google and Pinterest are your best friends for finding easy, delicious, and healthy recipes. **Buy In Season** Fruits and vegetables are cheaper when you buy them in season, so make sure to take advantage of it. Because there is a huge supply of them, groceries mark down the prices in order to get them off their shelves. Look for any sales on seasonal items and buy according to what time of year it is. **Multitask to Make Meal Prep Fun** If meal prepping sounds boring to you, pair it with something that stimulates you like listening to music, listening to a podcast, or catching up with an old friend. I love listening to podcasts or calling my mom to catch up with her - it’s a fabulous way to ensure your spending your time effectively! **Buy Frozen or Canned Foods** Buying frozen or canned vegetables and meats can be a budget-friendly way to buy your healthy staples if the fresh version is too expensive. The quality of the food is still intact because the vegetables or fruit were frozen immediately after being picked. While canned foods might not be the best tasting, they’re a great alternative too. Those are my top tips on how you can start meal prepping while on a tight budget and schedule. I encourage you to carve out 2-3 hours out of your weekend to try it out and start small. If you’re brand new to meal prep, consider boiling eggs for your snacks this week. If you’re an intermediate meal prepper, try prepping all of your dinners Monday thru Friday. If you’re a meal prep queen or king, challenge yourself to cook all of your meals and snacks for the week (and then have fun and treat yourself on the weekend!). Make sure to follow me on Instagram @jennyjfitness for more tips and tricks and head over to my blog at JennyJFitness.com for even more advice.