August 22, 2018

Saving Money in Law School With Meal Planning

Want to save money in law school? Meal planning (which isn't meal prepping) saves you time, saves you money, and saves you calories! Here's how to save money with meal prepping and why you should meal prep in law school. law school advice. law student blogger |

Hello hello everyone! I hope if you're reading this you're having a smooth transition back into the swing of things for a new semester! Oh, and I forgot to mention it in my last post, but a little life update on me, I have relocated to Houston. For all you OG readers, this means you're followed this blog as it has been based out of San Antonio, Lubbock, Dallas, and now Houston so I hope you're enjoying this little tour of Texas that we're doing together!

Anyways, back to today's purpose. I didn't meal plan my 1L or 2L year but started it the summer before my 3L year. Years 1 and 2 I lived alone so it didn't matter what I ate because I was the only one who cared, but year 3 Ryan lived with me while he was job hunting and I realized that I'd need to figure out ahead of time what we would eat or we'd end up having mac & cheese with hotdogs every night (boys lol). Even if you live alone, meal planning is still something you should seriously consider, and here's why.

Saves you time

I surprisingly had more time my 1L year than I had worried I would have. I mean, in no way was it as much as I had in college, but it was still plenty of time to make myself something and I didn't have to freeze months' worth of meals just to survive the semester. That said, the free time that you have in law school is precious and ideally you can spend it lounging on your couch binge watching Netflix with a glass of wine.

Here's where meal planning comes in. First off, it's not full-on meal prepping so calm down if you're not ready for that kind of commitment. All this is, is you spending a Saturday or Sunday deciding what you're going to eat for the week. I use this meal planning pad to easily do it. Then when the time comes, I simply make whatever I've pre-chosen. This means that on a school day/night literally 0 minutes are wasted wondering hmmm.... what am I in the mood for? It sounds little, but it's actually very nice to get that time back in your day. Plus you probably have a full Pinterest board full of food that you've been wanting to try, so if not now then when?

Saves you money

This is even bigger than the previous point. I mean, time is money, right?? This was a big factor of why I started doing this. Think about it, if you don't know what you're going to eat in a week then you usually will just go to the grocery store and throw things in your cart which you think you might eat at some time in the future. $$$ just flying out your pocket! If you know what you're going to eat in a week, then you'll only buy the ingredients for what you know you'll actually use that week. This is so important because fresh produce will go bad on you if you don't have a plan to use it and it's a waste to buy that box of noodles or whatever if you'll never actually use them.

Two other ways this saves you money. First, is my new found love for Walmart grocery pickup. I started using this during my externship when I was busy all the time and then I realized how much time I was wasting each week grocery shopping! Now I spend like 5 minutes online shopping and another 15 going to pick up my groceries and driving back home. That's only 20 minutes including driving in Houston traffic! Besides this, I spend so much less doing this because I can just type in "soy sauce" or whatever and it has all the different brands at different price points on one page, which is easier to shop than looking at all the shelves and trying to find the matching price tag. Secondly, I spend less money because I'm not aimlessly wandering and subject to temptation. I literally only buy what I will eat that week. Every Saturday evening my fridge and pantry are empty, but I have counted it up and I save about $50 a month just through the Walmart grocery app.
The second way meal planning saves you money is that you can better use rebate apps with them. What you do is take what you know you'll need for the week, scroll through the apps to see if the ingredients are featured, and choose your ingredient based off the app. Basically, Brand A and Brand B can be within 10 cents of each other but Brand B gives you a 50-cent rebate for choosing it. Now your decision just got easier and you made a little money! It's basically like coupons except instead of savings, it's cold hard cash added to your Venmo or PayPal account! I use both Checkout 51 and Ibotta to do this! Not only do they give you a sign-up bonus, but through strategically using them, you can get like $50 a month using them. For me, this means I get about a week's worth of groceries for free (because I only buy a week at a time, I don't spend much at the grocery store). You can use this in reverse as well, and can look to see what items are featured and then go look up recipes that call for those ingredients and then you can really maximize you cash back if almost every thing you buy is giving you a rebate.

Saves you pounds

It's true! Even if you try to eat "healthy" fast food, it's still fast food! Low-calorie or low-carb options still have a ton of preservatives and other stuff, so you're not helping your body at all. Abs are made in the kitchen, remember? Get in the habit of making meals for yourself! A homemade burger is still at least healthier than a to-go burger because you know what it is made from and when it was made. I think you'll be surprised just how easy it is to keep from gaining weight or even just feeling blah once you get used to making your own food. And if you have it planned that you're only going to eat healthy food, and the only food available in your house is healthy, then you're stuck to eat healthy and what do you know now you're in a good habit of grabbing blueberries instead of Oreos when you have the late-night munchies!
Plus, I always feel a sense of accomplishment like hell yeah I made that! when I take something out of the oven. Even if it doesn't turn out that great, at least I'm practicing and trying to get better so I won't end up being 35 and can't boil water so I'm put on a "worse cooks" reality show, right? Bonus points because now you can put "cooking" as a hobby of yours when someone asks and now you seem interesting.

Look, I remember when academic support suggest to us my 1L year that we make-ahead and freeze PB&J's so that we can focus on studying instead of providing nutrients for our body. That stressed me out, big time. I'm not saying you have to go that extreme! All I'm saying is that a little thought on the weekend can make the rest of your week just a little bit easier, which I'm sure we can all agree is a welcome idea in law school. Just try it out for a week and if anything, maybe you have a good idea of what to do when you get busy around finals and grocery shopping stressed you out because you think of what else you could be doing with that time (or maybe that's just me?). It's worth a shot!

let's be friends!


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