Preparing A Meal On A Budget 2021

Cutting down on expensive restaurant meals on-site meal prep is an effective way to reduce food spending and regain conscious eating habits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that households spend an average of $ 3,365 a year on food outside the home.

Planning a minimum of one meal a day, whether it’s lunch or dinner for the workweek, can literally save thousands of dollars this year. Preparing meals on a budget can make you envision a rice and beans diet, and while it will be a satisfying meal prep option, there are a few ways to find meal prep ideas for less.

Here are a couple of tips to get you started with inexpensive meal prep habits today.

Plan meals around sale items

Instead of following your cravings when it comes to meal prep ideas, take a look at the weekly ad for your local grocery store. Targeting your meals based on what’s on sale will help you prepare meals on a budget.

To take this idea to the next level, buy your own pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, before your next big grocery tour. By specializing in the products and ingredients you already have, you’ll force yourself to be creative alongside your meal-making ideas, and cut down on junk too.

Incorporate grains into meal prep ideas

Cereals like rice, quinoa, bulgur, and barley make great high-fiber bases for any meal. Planning a meal focused on whole grains ahead of time can also lower food costs, as grains tend to be cheaper per serving than other ingredients, such as meat.

It also adds essential vitamins and minerals to your meals to save money and eat healthily.

Keep the ingredients simple

Inexpensive meal prep also means planning meals that don’t require unconventional or hard-to-find ingredients. Although making your own homemade lobster rolls is often a delicious idea, chances are that that seafood ingredient will cost you more. Instead, choose affordable alternatives, like melted tuna.

A useful rule of thumb is to limit meal prep ideas to recipes that call for five basic ingredients or less. In the tuna melt example, you will need a can of tuna, bread, mayonnaise, cheese, and spices.

Invest in reusable food containers

Although it sounds counterintuitive to get dedicated containers for reasonable meal prep, it helps this habit in several ways. First, you will spread the batch-cooked meals evenly throughout the week. This way, once you make a recipe that says it serves seven, you can easily store seven containers of equal amounts of food, extending your savings for more days.

The second advantage of reusable packaging is that it makes it easy to “grab and go” your meals. It reduces the likelihood that you will give up on bringing your meal prep lunch to the figure because you are late to calculate it or too lazy to put it together every morning. So there are no excuses for slipping off the waggon, pack and portion your meals as soon as they’re done cooking.

Use the same ingredients

Between weeks, you’ll want to tweak your meal prep ideas. Rather than starting an entirely new shopping list from scratch, look for recipes that have overlapping base ingredients to help you save money.

For example, let’s say you made a chicken quinoa bowl one week and bought a 5-pound bag of quinoa. The following week, instead of cooking a meal that calls for wild rice, find another recipe that reuses quinoa. You will also substitute similar ingredients (for example, sub-quinoa for rice) for others you already have in your home.

Get used to repetition

This might be the most difficult approach to preparing meals on a budget, but it is effective. If you’re comfortable eating an equivalent meal a day, consider purchasing ingredients in bulk at Costco. When trying their inexpensive food preparation method, stick with ingredients that are easy to freeze or that you can store in your cupboard so you have as much time as possible.

For example, bulk ingredients to prepare meals of pigeon breast, frozen broccoli, and a side of rice. you will also mix the flavors of your proteins and vegetables with the dried herbs and spices from your pantry.

Although planning your meals takes time and getting used to, preparing meals on a budget is doable. Don’t overcomplicate your meals and stick with this financially healthy habit to determine year-round savings results.

Tips for saving at the grocery store

  • Be sure to check out your pantry before you buy. What does one already have on hand?
  • When planning your trip to the store, keep in mind that you will be adding up for smaller amounts of various ingredients. Couscous, for example, could also be available in bulk. That way you buy only what you would like (about 2/3 cup) instead of a larger box. an equivalent applies to chicken – you’ll only need 2 chicken thighs, so buy them over the counter if possible. Alternatively, you will always decide to freeze extra chicken for additional use.
  • When trying to find the simplest value, look at the unit prices. They are usually on the lower left side of the value marker. Just confirm to see which unit each sticker is using to make sure you are comparing an equivalent unit and quantity.

Sunday Meal-Prep Steps

Step 1: Prepare the oven-roasted chicken thighs

Preparing A Meal On A Budget 2021

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are surprisingly affordable protein. We also love that this recipe comes with just 5 minutes of hands-on time. For easy cleanup, line the baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment. Since the chicken is baking, skip to Step 2.

Step 2: Cooking a batch of easy whole wheat couscous

Couscous in a pot on blue wood background

This super-simple method of cooking couscous takes just 10 minutes. While the couscous is setting, proceed to Step 3. Once the couscous has finished cooking, confirm to fluff it up with a fork before measuring for lunch recipes.

Step 3: boil 4 eggs

Preparing A Meal On A Budget 2021

Use our foolproof method to urge perfect hard-boiled eggs.

Step 4: Make the Basil Vinaigrette

Basil Vinaigrette

This bright green vinaigrette can be a shortcut to great flavor; It is used in two of the lunches. You won’t need all of this dressing, or all of the Honey Mustard Vinaigrette (below), so you’ll have some additional salad dressings available for dinner as well.

Step 5: Whisk in the honey mustard vinaigrette


This all-purpose dressing adds flavor to fairly plain salads. It also makes an irresistible dipping sauce for crispy veggies or crispy chicken strips. You will store both salad dressings sealed in jars in the refrigerator. If they solidify once they cool down, simply heat them to temperature during a lukewarm bath before using.

Step 6: Wash & Prepare the Kale

Preparing A Meal On A Budget 2021

We have used chopped kale inside the powerful Mason jar salad with chickpeas and tuna. You will need 3 cups for that. While doing this, finely chop 1 more cup of kale for the couscous and chickpea salad.

Assembling the Lunch

These recipes were specially designed to be ready to be assembled ahead of time and stored for the week. So, organize your week of cheap meal prep lunches on Sundays or when you’re preparing food to have them ready for packed lunches during the busy week.

Store these healthy meal prep lunches in an airtight food prep container to keep cool (To buy:, $ 30 for 5). Store dressings or sauces separately in a leak-proof container (to buy:, $ 11.50 for 8) and wait until you can eat to stop wilting.


Get the Recipe: Mason Jar Power Salad with Chickpeas & Tuna

Preparing A Meal On A Budget 2021

3 cups chopped kale + 2 tablespoons honey mustard vinaigrette + 1 bag (2.5 oz) tuna + 1/2 cup drained canned chickpeas + 1 carrot, grated.

Cost per prescription: $ 1.50


Get the Recipe: Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps

Preparing A Meal On A Budget 2021

3 hard-boiled eggs (2 yolks only) + 1/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt + 1 tablespoon mayonnaise + 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard + salt and pepper + 2 chopped celery stalks + 2 tablespoons chopped red onion, wrapped in 2 3 crisp lettuce leaves, topped with 1 tablespoon chopped basil and served with 2 carrots, sticks.

Cost per recipe: $ 1.89


Get the Recipe: Chopped Cobb Salad

Chopped Cobb Salad

3 cups crunchy chopped lettuce + 1 oven-roasted chicken drumstick, diced + 1 diced stalk celery + 1 diced carrot + 1 boiled egg, peeled and diced + 1 tablespoon crumbled blue + 2 tablespoons, honey, mustard vinaigrette.

Cost per prescription: $ 2.01


Get the Recipe: Couscous & Chickpea Salad

Couscous & Chickpea Salad

1 cup finely chopped kale + 3/4 cup easy whole wheat couscous + 2/3 cup rinsed canned chickpeas + 3 tablespoons basil vinaigrette.

Cost per recipe: $ 1.79


Get the Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Grain Bowl

Preparing A Meal On A Budget 2021

2/3 cup easy whole wheat couscous + 2 tablespoons honey mustard vinaigrette, divided + 1 oven-roasted chicken thigh + 2 stalks celery, chopped + 1 carrot, dig ribbons with a vegetable peeler + 2 tablespoons crumbled blue + sauce to taste.

Cost per recipe: $2.67

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