If you're trying to save money, the first thing experts will tell you to do is stop eating out.
As a strong proponent of brown-bagging it, I'd have to agree. Packing my lunch instead of buying it saves me hundreds per month.
But as my colleague Kathleen Elkins points out, taking the time to prepare lunch every day costs you something else: your time.
If you're wary of cooking your own meals because of the time investment, don't be. It can take hours to craft a diverse array of homemade meals for the week ... or it can take you 45 minutes.
I'm no master chef, but I do bring my lunch to work every day, and I typically spend less than an hour each week preparing it. Here are five meal prep tricks that help me make it happen.
I have go-to meals
Trying out new recipes and new cooking techniques is fun! It's how you learn and become more confident in the kitchen. But it's not always conducive to saving time.
Having a few tried-and-true recipes — ones I know I can whip up blindfolded — streamlines the meal prep process. As I develop my grocery list for the week, I make sure to always include a few easy meals that I know I'll look forward to eating.
My favorite standby is a kale salad topped with olive oil, chickpeas, and feta. It's simple but filling and delicious.