Meal Prep Magic | Mermaid Meals

If you came here for perfect, organic, fancy or extremely healthy…turn back around friend. Turn back around. This is simple, imperfect but GOLD for us right now. We are grocery shopping at Walmart and Food Lion until we can pay off both cars and life right now is all about doing our best, saving as much as we can and survival. I walked through Harris Teeter recently to get some flowers and missed that kind of shopping experience SO much but at the same time, we’re Dave Ramsey committed to making the wisest financial decisions we can. It’s not the easiest thing in the world but damn it makes us proud to know we have will power and dedication like this! We ARE seeing results and we know it’ll be years before we’re debt free (student loans, cars, mortgage) but we are never going to quit until we make it!

Without a doubt, FOOD was what we were overspending on (read here) and so we knew we needed to:

1) Create and stick to a budget for grocery items
2) Create a SMALL budget for out-to-eat and carryout food
3) MEAL PREP to save time and get USE of that food we purchased!

So previously, we weren’t just overSPENDING on food, we were overspending and not eating most of it!!!

WOW! That’s terrible. We threw so much away. We went to the grocery store hungry and bought way more than we ever cooked or prepared. So we needed to change that. Here’s how we did.

1) CREATE A PRINTABLE DEFAULT GROCERY LIST: First, we have a “default grocery list” saved on the computer. This grocery list has items we frequently purchase, need or forget, lol. An example of some items on are list are:

Bread, almond milk, peanut butter, jelly, eggs, Cheerios, butter, coffee, creamer, frozen chicken, bananas, apples, carrots, spaghetti, bagels, cream cheese, tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, detergent, diapers, wipes. The list has about 60 total items on it. We print the list (or several at a time and keep in the drawer in the kitchen in a folder) and we hang one on the fridge, and as we run out of things on the list, we CIRCLE them so we know to purchase them at store on the next run. There are also about 30 empty lines on the list for items NOT included that we may need. We never fill up more than 10 of those, but it’s nice to have them there if you are cooking something new and need a lot of new ingredients you don’t typically purchase.

Doing this alone will save you brain space. Imagine it’s Saturday and you are low on food and you need to figure out what you need. Instead of trying to memorize all the things, you have a list of things you typically NEED already, you can look for those staples in the fridge and pantry using the list as your guide. So much less stress. 

2) CHOOSE YOUR DAY: Decide what day of the week is going to be your meal prep day. YOU JUST NEED ONE. But, you have to show up consistently for that one if you want to commit to doing this and saving yourself money and time later on! I haven’t “cooked” a dinner the night of the dinner in months. It’s all just reheating and prepping now. Trust me…it’s worth it! But which day of the week will you set aside a 1-2 hours for this?

3)PICK YOUR DINNERS: Try to decide 6-9 dinners you LOVE that you can rotate between. We cook THREE different dinners on our meal prep days and we just rotate them as we decide on Saturdays (our grocery run days) which we’ll do that week. Keep the meals as simple as possible if you are trying to save money! Side note, we usually have enough to eat some of this for lunch, too. Otherwise we just do a quick sandwich. And guess what? We have a printable list for this, TOO! We have a folder that hosts coupons and meal ideas, and as we discover or create new recipes, we add to that Word doc and reprint. Save brain space, make a list out of everything you can! 🙂

4) BONUS, pick a BREAKFAST to prep: Want to take it a step further? Mike and I prep our breakfast for the entire week, too! We toast four bagels, fry four eggs, throw cheese and bacon bits on them and cut them in half, wrap them in foil and we microwave them for 20 seconds for breakfast. We do halves in case we’re going to have a banana or apple with them or if we’re just not that hungry. We also cook 4 biscuits and 4 sausages and wrap those in foil, too. We literally do not need to spend ANY time on breakfast anymore at all! It’s amazing!

5) COOK THE THINGS: Okay, now all you have to do is cook! On meal prep day, I usually throw the first crockpot item in first thing in the morning and cook it on high so it’s done by noon. Then I switch accordingly. The breakfast prep is so easy to do all at once and we just usually knock that out at the same time as any other things that are cooked NOT in the crockpot like spaghetti noodles for our pastas, turkey burgers, etc. It’s a hot 20-30 minutes in the kitchen and pretty intense but then it’s DONE! And from there, we’re only rotating things in the crockpot. How easy!!! 🙂

We really believe in keeping it as simple as possible. We want something we can prepare quickly, not have to take a lot of time setting up. We make basic things like spaghetti noodles, homemade sauce (Hunt’s tomato sauce can, olive oil, basil, garlic powder, onion powder and that’s it!) turkey burgers you can quickly throw on a bun, chicken/sausage in a cream sauce you can throw on those noodles and reheat fast, plain crockpot chicken (olive oil and Mrs Dash chicken seasoning) you can put with tomatoes and avocados on leaf lettuce and make a salad or make into a sandwich, etc…the point is you want to have as much of the work you can DONE so you can go fast later on. Pulled pork sandwiches are another fast, one. If you can list things you guys love, host it on a Word document and rotate them out…you’ll nail this meal prep thing! Do NOT forget to block out that time window weekly!!! XOXO

We’re sharing our favorite turkey burger recipe on the blog Wednesday and we’ve already shared our lemon garlic chicken we love SO much – click here for that! 🙂


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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Alex says:

    Love Love Love!

    1. amandahedgepeth says:

      Yay!!! 🙂

  2. JP2R says:

    LOVE this … Printing this and putting on the fridge!

    1. amandahedgepeth says:

      YAHOOOO! THANK YOU!! I hope it works well for you pal!! 🙂

  3. Sara Wilson says:

    This is so, so great Amanda!! Thank you SO much for sharing this!! We shop at Food Lion and Walmart too, but I must get better about meal prep! I would love at some point if you are willing (no rush at all) to see a typical food diary “day in the life” for you. Just one example day would be amazing! I remember you said you like to carry a bag of cheerios! I’m just curious if you tend to have lets say, breakfast sandwich, cheerios snack, peanut butter & jelly sandwich, afternoon snack, crockpot meal, and then do you try not to eat after a certain time each day? I’m just so, so curious in terms of weight loss because you and Mike both look AMAZING!!!

    PS – I was just thinking, “I want to be Amanda when I grow up” but then I realized I’m older than you 🙁


    1. amandahedgepeth says:

      HAHAHA!! But…there are some toddlers and little kids like Ellie I want to be like when I grow up so that’s totally okay hahaha! 🙂 YES, that would be a great post…thank you for the idea! I try not to eat past 7pm but I did have a full bagel with cream cheese at 10pm last night…not really proud of that moment. Especially because I ate it in bed hahahahah!

      1. Sara Wilson says:

        that sounds amazing!!

  4. Mrs. Smith says:

    These were delicious! Keep the recipes coming please!

  5. mrsjme says:

    I love seeing info about affordable meal prepping! It’s so easy to find gourmet plans that cost an arm and a leg.. thanks for the great info!

  6. simplywendi says:

    Great post! You are so right……….keeping things simple is super important and love the idea of having a pre-printed grocery list!

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