Want to reduce food waste and save yourself time meal prepping? Check out these 9 pre-prepped foods that are worth the money to help you do just that.
When was the last time you ate all the food in your fridge before it spoiled?
(As in, NONE of your groceries went in the trash.)
Are your hands up?
Sadly, I don’t remember the last time it happened in my house.
We always buy groceries with the best of intentions. But, when the busyness, tiredness and (sometimes downright) laziness kicks in, we often opt for the easiest to make (or order) foods.
This means that a lot of our groceries end up going bad before they get eaten.
We might as well be shredding our money.
Luckily, I’m getting smarter.
I’ve realized that many of the ready-to-use foods I used to think were too expensive are actually worth the cost.
Yes, you can cook or prep your own versions of those foods for cheaper, but only if you’ll actually do it.
And, many times I won’t.
So I’ve turned to buying certain foods already prepped.
It costs me a little bit more money. But it saves me a whole lot of time and has helped me reduce food waste (because we actually eat what we buy).
Here are some of the ready-made foods I now considered staples.
9 Pre-Prepped Foods That Save Time & Sanity (and Help You Cut Back on Food Waste)
1. Pre-washed greens
Having a tub of ready to go greens makes it way easier to eat salad.
You don’t have to wash and spin your lettuce. And you can kiss handwashing the spinner afterwards goodbye.
I love that you can get almost any kind of leafy green prewashed – lettuce, spinach, kale and more.
Yes, some prewashed options are more prone to slime than others *ahem, spring mix.
But there are plenty of hardier options too.
My local grocery store sells full heads of prewashed leafy green and romaine lettuce. (I love that they don’t slime easy.)
And, it’s nice to have full-sized leaves ready to add on a bun, make lettuce wraps or chop up for a salad.
Plus, it only costs about $1.50 more per head than the unprepped version.
That’s a worth-while premium to pay when I don’t have to worry about washing, drying or spinning my lettuce.
And I’m way more likely to actually eat all the greens without waste.
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2. Salad dressing
I LOVE the taste of homemade salad dressing. And I enjoy making my own.
But when I used to never have any premade dressing on hand (because I’d always say I can make my own…), I ate a whole lot less salad.
Knowing I have to dig out ingredients and sometimes a blender deters me from making dressing.
Especially after a long day.
Having premade salad dressing on hand makes it easier to whip up a salad without much work.
Plus, the shelf life of the store-bought stuff is often much longer than fresh.
3. Pre-cooked bacon
I used to be skeptical of pre-cooked bacon.
But then I tried it.
While we don’t eat a ton of bacon, it’s nice not to have the mess when we do.
The pre-cooked stuff can easily be heated up with way less grease to worry about.
Plus, it’s super easy to make crispy bacon bits for dishes without all the hassle.
And, when you’re cooking for a large crowd it’s so much easier.
I love the Kirkland brand stuff I get at Costco.
4. Bread & buns
Nothing beats the taste of homemade bread.
Getting a nice loaf of bread or bag of buns you didn’t have to make comes pretty close.
Yes, baking your own bread can save a ton of money.
But it takes a lot of time.
Even if you have a bread maker it can easily take four hours to produce one loaf of bread.
And if it’s something your family goes through quickly, it’s often not worth the hassle.
I’ll happily give up some of my homemaker street cred for ready-made buns. It’s a good exchange when it makes meal planning and prepping much easier.
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5. Pre-shredded cheese
When you compare the cost of a block of cheese to pre-shredded cheese there’s quite a difference.
In favor of the block.
So, you might be asking yourself if pre-shredded really is the way to go.
And, my answer to that is it depends on how much cheese you go through.
For my family, pre-shredded is well worth the premium, because we don’t go through a ton of cheese (maybe 1 – 2 bags/month…if that).
We use it as a compliment to dishes we cook and rarely as the main feature.
A little bit sprinkled over a taco kind of thing.
But, if you’re going through a ton of it, it might be worth it to shred your own in large quantities and bag it yourself.
(If you go that route, you should check out the T-fal Fresh Express Food Shredder and Slicer…. I love mine.)
But, when you don’t use a ton like us, pre-shredded saves time, hassle and clean up.
6. Baby carrots
Baby carrots aren’t expensive.
But cutting full-sized carrots into bite sized pieces does save money.
However, peeling carrots isn’t something I’m going to do at the end of the day.
Baby carrots make healthy snacking easy and accessible. And they also make it easy to add carrots to whatever recipe you’re cooking.
The carrot is already washed and peeled and all you have to do is chop.
7. Pre-assembled veggie trays
I really used to struggle with the idea of paying $15 for a veggie tray I could make on my own for $5.
Until I realized:
- Making a veggie tray with the same variety of vegetables would cost $10 – $15 anyway. (Though I could make 2 or 3 with the volume of veggies I’d have)
- I wouldn’t be able to eat 2 or 3 veggie trays before they go off
- It takes time to prep the veggies for a tray (a deterrent for prepping & eating them)
- I eat more vegetable when I have a premade tray
So, it’s fair to say I’m converted to pre-made veggie trays.
I love the ones I get from Costco. (Another shameless Costco plug….haha!)
You get a good variety of vegetables and a ready to go dip at a reasonable price.
And, when you want a healthy snack all you have to do is pull the tray out of the fridge and everything is ready for you.
While you do end up paying more for this convenience, the fact that you’re eating more veggies makes it worth it.
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8. Pre-made bullion
I love a hearty soup.
You know, the kind that’s rich in flavor and tastes like it’s been simmering away for hours.
And, I used to think I actually had to spend all day making a from-scratch, bone-broth bullion to get this flavor.
Until I got smart and realized it’s well worth the cost to buy pre-made bone broth or hearty bullion.
And there are so many better options than just flavored salt cubes.
Plus it makes it easier to get soup on the table if you just don’t have time to make it hours ahead.
9. Pre-made pasta sauce
If you’re a pasta person, you understand sauce.
And you know there’s a difference between plain tomato sauce and ready-to-eat pasta sauce.
Plain tomato sauce is a blank canvas to add veggies, meat and spices to. It can help you create hearty and delicious sauces you can’t get in a can.
But, it’s often time consuming.
And, at the end you’re left with a lot of sauce to freeze.
Plus, taking the time to make the sauce or defrost the frozen leftovers can seem like a hassle on a long day.
That’s why I’ve started always having ready-made jars of sauce on hand.
If I don’t have the time to dedicate to a really good homemade sauce, I can easily turn to my pantry.
Pre-prepped foods can save you time and reduce food waste. Plus, there are so many healthy options on the market.
Pre-made foods sometimes get a bad rep as being unhealthy.
But, there’s actually A LOT of healthy choices out there.
So stop feeling like you have to do everything from scratch to get in a good meal.
And, when you’re weighing your options at the grocery store, don’t just consider what things cost.
Think about the time it takes to prep, how likely you are to actually prep it, and how often things have gone to waste in the past.
What are some pre-prepped foods you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments below.