cheap meal prep

18 Cheap Meal Prep Ideas to Fit Your Budget

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Going out to eat whether you go a few times a week or daily will take a toll on your waistline and wallet. The average U.S. household spent $3,000 in 2015 on dining out according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By reducing the number of times that you go out to eat, you could have more money to pay off debt, start an emergency fund, or achieve another financial goal.

Your life is busy between working a full-time job, picking up kids from their activities, and managing the household. Meal prepping can help save you time, on top of money.  It can also be turned into an activity that you and the family can enjoy doing together.

The way that meal prepping works are that all the preparation is done at one time. You chop all the vegetables, cook the meat, and each meal is portioned out into its own container. This makes it particularly efficient and easier during the workweek to have everything prepared in advance.

If you’re looking for cheap meal prep ideas that will fit into your budget, here’s 18 below to get you started. They’re delicious and healthy so you won’t miss skipping your daily take-out routine either.

Easy Chicken Meal Prep Recipes

Let’s start with chicken dishes that can be used for lunch or dinner meals. Protein like chicken will help you feel full and can be used on a variety of different dishes.

1. Keto Coconut Chicken Curry

Keto Coconut Chicken Curry

With only four ingredients needed for this recipe, you don’t have to spend a lot of time finding what you need at the grocery. It’s a recipe that you can pull off even if you don’t consider yourself a chef. The chicken can be eaten with veggies, on top of a salad, or with some rice. Fitmencook is the source of this great, healthy recipe.

To make four servings:

  • 1.5 pounds of chicken thighs (can substitute for chicken breast, salmon, or tofu) that’s fat is trimmed
  • 1 and ¼ cup coconut milk (if concerned with calories, can use lite coconut milk)
  • ⅓ cup diced red onions
  • 4 teaspoons red curry paste
  • Olive oil spray
  • Sea salt and pepper (use to your taste)
  • Fresh cilantro (garnish)


  1. While you have set the oven to a temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit, trim off the fat from your chicken thighs. Take two teaspoons of red curry paste and rub it against the chicken. Marinate your chicken for at least 20 minutes.
  2. In a skillet (that’s oven-safe) that’s been sprayed with some oil, set it to medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add in the red onion and another two teaspoons of red curry paste. Cook down the onions and mix well with the paste. This should take between 3 and 5 minutes for the onions to become fragrant.
  3. You’re ready to take out the chicken thighs and start to sear it for 2 to 3 minutes on the top part. Reduce the heat and flip your chicken over. Add the coconut milk and bring your skillet to simmer.
  4. Once it’s ready, swap the skillet from the stove into the oven. Bake your chicken for 12 to 15 minutes. To brown the top of the chicken, set your oven to broil for the last 2 minutes.
  5. Take it out of the oven and garnish with cilantro.

2. Roasted Sheet Pan Cilantro Lime Chicken

This recipe comes from Gimmedelicious. Sheet pan recipes are a great way to cook protein that offers a variety of meal choices. This cilantro lime chicken packs a lot of flavors that you can enjoy for a busy lunch hour or family dinner. Pair it with rice or put it in a burrito or taco. If you’re skipping the carbs, you can also top it on a salad to keep you feeling full.

To make four servings:

  • 2 chicken breast of medium size that’s cut into ¼ inch strips
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 bell pepper that’s cut into thin slices, use any color
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Salad or cooked white rice


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the garlic, cilantro, olive oil, cumin, paprika, and lime juice in a large bowl. Add the bell peppers and chicken with sale and pepper. Continue mixing until the spices and chicken are well combined. Use a ziplock bag if you prefer.
  2. In a large baking sheet, pour the chicken mixture. Allow it to bake for 15-20 minutes, checking to ensure the chicken is fully cooked. The bell peppers will be lightly charred. Remove from the oven.
  3. It can be served with salad, rice, tortillas, or set aside in meal prep containers.

3. Moroccan Chicken and Rice

Another healthy meal prep possibility from Fitmencook is this one-skillet dish. The seasonings that are inspired by Moroccan cuisine will add different flavors to your mouth. Making meal prep recipes to save money doesn’t mean limiting your choices.

To make four servings:

  • 1.5 pounds of raw chicken breast that’s cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Spray olive oil
  • ⅔ cup of red onions, chopped and diced
  • 1 cup of basmati brown rice, uncooked
  • 1 can of chickpeas that are drained and rinsed
  • 1.5 cups of low sodium chicken stock
  • ⅓ cup of raisins
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon cum
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 cinnamon sticks or 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (this is optional)
  • To garnish:
    • Fresh parsley
    • Lemon juice


  1. Set the stove to medium heat with a nonstick skillet that’s been sprayed with olive oil. Add the chicken and cook until some of the edges are browned and there’s no pink on the outside. This takes about 6 to 8 minutes. The chicken does not need to be fully cooked just yet. Once the outside of the chicken has been seared, remove the chicken from the skillet.
  2. Using the same skillet that’s back on the heat, add in olive oil and toss the red onions into the pan. Once the onions are brown and translucent, after about 3 minutes you can begin adding more ingredients. The rice, chickpeas and all the seasonings are ready to go in the skillet. Mix everything together in the skillet. Make sure that the oil and seasoning are completely covering the rice and chickpeas. Continue cooking everything for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Pour the chicken stock and bring to a boil. You can now add the raisins, chicken, and cinnamon stick/cinnamon into the skillet. Reduce the heat to low-medium and cover. Continue to cook for 20 minutes or so until the rice is soft. Make sure that you don’t cook it for too long so that the rice ends up mushy.
  4. Season with sea salt and pepper and mix well.
  5. Garnish with lemon juice and parsley.

4. Spicy Chicken with Beans and Rice

This dish only takes about 20 minutes of prep which can be a big timesaver when you already have a busy weekend. The rice and beans help provide a filling meal that’s packed with proteins. It can only be prepared using a pan, instant pot, or crockpot. Pinch of yum brings this healthy option among many others that you might consider trying. The recipe below uses an instant pot.

To make four servings:

  • 1 cup of long-grain white rice, can be substituted for quinoa
  • 1 cup of water
  • 14 ounces of fresh salsa, can be substituted for an undrained can of tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 pound of chicken breast, cut into 4-6 pieces (recommend cutting smaller if using quinoa instead of rice)
  • Spices like cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and cayenne, can be substituted for taco seasoning
  • 14 ounces of canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Fresh cilantro, at least a handful
  •  Sunshine sauce, made by using a blender or food processor until the ingredients below are smooth and creamy:
    • ¾ cup olive oil
    • ¼ cup of water
    • 2 tablespoons of white vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt that’s coarse
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil
    • Black pepper to taste
    • Fresh lemon if available
    • Fresh herbs if available (parley or basil for Italian-inspired or cilantro for mexican-inspired dishes)


  1. In a pot, combine the rice, water, salt, oil, and tomatoes. Put the pieces of chicken on top and generously sprinkle it with some salt and spices. Set the instant pot to high pressure. Leave it on this setting for 7 to 8 minutes and use the quick-release valve when done to release the steam.
  2. Take the chicken out of the pot. Add the black beans and a little of the sunshine sauce into the pot with the rice.
  3. To meal prep this dish, divide the rice and bean mixture into containers and top with chicken. Add a spoonful of the sunshine sauce as a drizzle over the top and sprinkle cilantro.

5. Pretzel Crusted Honey Mustard Chicken Nuggets

Spoon University’s pretzel-crusted honey mustard chicken nuggets is an alternative take to the traditional food. These only take 30 minutes to make and for parents with kids, it can be a money-saving time saver to prep in advance for dinner. They’re also healthier than regular chicken nuggets since they’re not fried. The pretzel crusting will still bring the crunch factor.

To make four servings:

  • 16 ounces of chicken tenders, uncooked and cut into nugget sizes
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons of honey mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cup salted pretzels


  1. Start by preheating the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Use foil to line a baking sheet.
  2. Place the pretzels in a food storage bag and crush them until they’re fine. Then place them in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the honey mustard and eggs together.
  4. In another bowl, put your flour.
  5. Now start to dip each chicken nugget in the flour, egg mixture, and the crushed pretzels last. Place the dipped chicken into the baking sheet.
  6. Before placing the chicken in the oven, spray the top of it with the cooking spray.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes, placing the baking sheet in the lower ⅓ of the oven.
  8. Remove from the oven. Place in either container made for taking for lunch or dinner. If eating immediately, serve with honey mustard.

6. Chicken Fajitas for Meal Prep

This is another sheet pan recipe that’s from Sweet Peas and Saffron. It’s easy to prepare and clean up after. You can easily make two sheet pans of this if you’re wanting to use this for a dinner for the whole family instead of ordering out. Put them on top of tortillas, rice, or a salad for a balanced meal.

To make 8 fajitas:

  • Fajita Ingredients:
    • 2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
    • 2 bell peppers
    • 1 red onion
    • 1 zucchini, optional
    • 1 cup of mushrooms, optional
    • 1 lime, juiced
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Fajita rub ingredients:
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • ¾ teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder
    • 1.5 teaspoon cumin
    • 1.5 teaspoon paprika
    • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    • ½ teaspoon onion power
    • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • Served with:
    • 8 tortillas or tortilla boats, at least 6 inches
    • Avocado
    • Cilantro


  1. Turn on your oven and pre-heat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mix together all your fajita rub ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, add your chicken and veggies together. Add olive oil and lime juice to coat over them.
  4. Toss in your fajita rub and stir it well.
  5. In a large sheet pan or two, place the chicken and vegetable mixture.
  6. Once the oven is ready, roast in the pan for 10 minutes. Take the chicken and veggies out of the oven and flip them over. Put them back in the oven and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
  7. To serve immediately, place in your tortillas and fajita toppings like sour cream, salsa, and jalapeño. If you are meal prepping for lunch or dinner later in the week:
    1. Lunch meal prep – Transfer the chicken and veggies once cooled to four 2 cup meal prep containers, dividing evenly. It can be stored for up to 4 days in the fridge. When reheating in a microwave, spoon into tortillas or tortilla boats when ready to consume.
    2. Dinner meal prep – Transfer the chicken and veggies after completing step four of the directions.  Scoop into a large storage container or bag. It can be stored for up to 3 days in the fridge. When ready for make, place onto sheet pans and use the cooking directions above

7. Chicken Sesame Noodle Bowl

This Asian bowl comes from Pinch of Yum that the sauce can be made by shaking up in a jar. You can use tofu, shrimp, or any type of protein you want instead of the chicken. For vegetarians, replace the chicken with tofu or a soft boiled egg. Between the noodles, protein, and veggies, it makes for a cheap meal that can be enjoyed several days in the week. Between the prep time of 10 minutes and cook time of 5 minutes, you could even start your meal prep during the start of the workweek.

To make 4 bowls:

  • To make the sesame sauce:
    • ¼ cup of sesame paste or tahini
    • ¼ cup of warm water
    • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
    • 1 clove garlic, grated
    • Sriracha and sugar to taste
  • Bowl Ingredients
    • 6 to 8 ounces of stir fry noodles, Chinese egg noodles, or linguine
    • 2 cups of edamame
    • 2 cucumbers, diced
    • 1 pound of chicken breast, diced and cooked
    • Sesame seeds


  1. To make the sauce, whisk all the sesame sauce ingredients together. The sauce should be completely smooth. You can also shake it up in a jar or use a food processor.
  2. Cook the noodles making sure to cook it a few minutes LESS than the instructions on the package. Rinse your noodles in cold water if they are very sticky. Use about half of the sesame sauce to toss in with your noodles.
  3. To assemble the bowls, take out four food storage containers and start dividing out the edamame, cucumber, noodles, and chicken. Sprinkle on some sesame seeds. It can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days and eaten hot or cold.

8. Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

Whether you want to use this dish for a meal for the whole family or to fuel you through the week, this Asian influenced stir fry its the spot. Plus you get a better meal than if you ordered take out for much less money. Stir fry dishes like this one are quick to make which makes it an ideal meal prep recipe. This recipe is from The Recipe Critic from a food blogger who’s tried all these meals out on her family.

To make four servings:

  • 1 pound of boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup of broccoli florets
  • 1 cup mushrooms, halved
  • 1 yellow bell pepper that’s been cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup of chicken broth
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch


  1. In a large pan, heat over medium-high heat a teaspoon of oil
  2. Add broccoli, bell pepper, and mushrooms and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. The vegetables should be tender.
  3. Take all the vegetables from the pan and transfer them to a plate. Cover the plate with foil to keep it warm.
  4. Using a paper towel, wipe the pan clean. Then heat another tablespoon of oil over high heat.
  5. Toss in the chicken, making sure it only covers a single layer of the pan. Add salt and pepper.
  6. Cook until the chicken is browned and cooked through, usually about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  7. Lowering the heat to medium, put in the garlic. Cook for another 30 minutes then add the vegetables back into the pan.
  8. Whisk together the chicken broth, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a bowl. Pour this sauce over the chicken and vegetables and bring your pan to a simmer.
  9. Continue simmering until the sauce has thickened, usually another 1 to 2 minutes
  10. Serve up with steamed rice or place in meal prep containers to be eaten later in the week.

9. Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Using a slow cooker is a great way to meal prep your recipes that can work around your schedule. You can start it before going to bed then pack it up for lunch or start it on a Sunday morning and have it ready to put away in containers for the week when you’re back running errands. Chicken chili is a good alternative to the regular beef chili and inexpensive to make a large quantity of. Try out this recipe from Spend with Pennies next time you meal prep.

To make six servings:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of bell peppers, diced (red or orange)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 15 ounce can of corn, drained and rinsed
  • 14 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14 ounce can of kidney beats, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 can of Rotel tomatoes
  • ¾ cup of salsa
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 3 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 can of refried beans


  1. Toss your chicken, bell peppers, corn, beans, onion, tomatoes, and bell peppers all into the slow cooker.
  2. Combine your salsa, lime juice, chicken broth, garlic, chili powder, and cumin in a large bowl. Pour it over the chicken and vegetables.
  3. Set your slow cooker to high to cook in 3 to 4 hours or low to cook for 6 to 8 hours. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred. Then return the chicken to the slow cooker and add in the refried beans. Stir everything together and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Lunch Meal Prep Recipes

These recipes make good, inexpensive options for lunch that you can prepare in advance. They pack plenty of fuel so you can focus while you’re on the go.

10. Pesto Pasta

A fresh pesto pasta will include nutritional ingredients that can be found at a low cost. You can also substitute the sauce for others such as an olive oil or vodka sauce if you forget the ingredients on your grocery trip. This Spoon University recipe takes only a total of 15 minutes to prep and cook.

To make four servings:

  • 2 cups of elbow “macaroni” pasta, or brown rice pasta
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 and ½ cups of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Olive oil
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 cup of pesto sauce as follows, or store-bought:
    • 1 cup of fresh basil leaves
    • 3 tablespoons of pine nuts
    • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
    • ⅓ cup of olive oil
    • 3 cloves of garlic


  1. To make the pesto sauce yourself, combine all the ingredients in a food processor and mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add olive oil slowly as the motor is running until emulsified. This can be stored up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge.
  2. Cook the pasta using the directions on the package.
  3. In a sauté pan, add the chickpeas, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and about a tablespoon of olive oil. Heat using medium-low heat until it is warmed through, usually about 5 minutes.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked, place in a large mixing bowl. Pour the chickpea mixture into the bowl and add one cup of the pesto. Mix until it is all well-combined. Add beans to add protein and soluble fiber. Beans can be added without changing the flavor significantly.

11. Mason Jar Salads

Prepping a salad is probably the easiest meal for a grab and go option. There is usually no cooking involved and you can get a range of healthy vegetables in some sitting. This recipe from Spoon University just requires some chopping. Mason jars make great containers, particularly for a salad. The key is to add your dressing first so that it goes to the bottom, followed by the lettuce. This will keep your greens from getting too soggy before you get a chance to consume it.

Here are three different mason jar salads to try out. Put the ingredients in the order they are listed to avoid it from getting too soggy.

Chicken, Avocado and Tomato

  • Arugula
  • Shredded parmesan cheese
  • Cubed avocado
  • Cubed chicken breast
  • Halved cherry tomatoes
  • Red wine vinaigrette dressing

Strawberry, Spinach and Balsamic

  • Spinach
  • Sliced red onions
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Chopped or whole toasted pecans
  • Cubed fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Balsamic vinaigrette

Southwestern Salad

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Roasted corn
  • Halved cherry tomatoes
  • Cubed chicken breast
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Black beans
  • Avocado lime or ranch dressing

Cobb Salad

  • Spring mix or baby romaine
  • Cheddar cheese, cubed or shredded
  • Bacon, crumbled
  • Boiled egg, quartered
  • Cubed chicken breast
  • Tomatoes
  • Chickpeas
  • Salad dressing

12. Chickpea Curry

This dish brings a lot of spices and flavor for minimum dollars. Keep in mind that the spices used for this curry will seem expensive at first. But these are staples if you cook Indian food often. They will be used over and over to a variety of meals. The Indian name for this dish is “Chana Masala”.

To make five servings:

  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small knob of ginger
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon of cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil


  1. Place the tomatoes, garlic ginger, and jalapeño all in a food processor.
  2. Using a pot with vegetable oil and salt, fry the onions until they have completed softened. Add your spices, the tomato mix, and chickpeas. Taste for seasoning and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes.
  3. Add about half a juice of a lemon. It’s now ready to be served with rice or packed away in a container or mason jar.

13. Pineapple BBQ Tofu Bowls

Pineapple BBQ Tofu Bowls

This vegan-friendly recipe from Sweet Peas and Saffron can easily have the tofu swapped for chicken if you prefer. Cooking on the grill is a favorite pastime and these BBQ bowls can be enjoyed all week. The dish is affordable and a good lunch choice for the hot, humid summers.

To make four servings:

  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup of uncooked quinoa
  • 12ouches of extra firm tofu
  • ½ cup of barbecue sauce (additional ½ to drizzle)
  • 8 pineapple rings


  1. Tofu preparation:
    1. Drain the extra liquid and remove the tofu from its packaging. Put the tofu between two paper towels on a plate. Then top it with another plate and place an object like a 28 ounce can on the top. To remove the extra liquid, press for at least 30 minutes.
    2. Discard the paper towels then cut the tofu into ¾ by 3-inch sticks.
  2. Following the instructions, cook the quinoa.
  3. Toss the vegetables in olive oil with salt and pepper. Grill using a grill plate for 8 to 10 minutes. Turn and stir on occasion.
  4. Start to grill the pineapple rings for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Brush the barbeque sauce while cooking several times.
  5. Divide the ingredients to place in the storage containers, adding about a tablespoon or more of BBQ sauce. They can be stored in the fridge for 4 days.

14. Nourish Bowl

Nora Cooks brings this vegan-friendly meal prep. It inexpensively fills you up with about an hour’s worth of prep. This recipe can be doubled if you meal prep for yourself and someone else.

For five servings:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 5 to 6 ounces of chopped kale
  • 1 and ½ cup of brown rice, uncooked
  • 15 ounce can of black beans

To make the cashew cream sauce:

  • 1 and ½ cups of raw cashews
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¾ teaspoon of salt
  • Sriracha hot sauce, optional


  1. Go ahead and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse the rice and use a rice cooker if you have one to cook the rice. Otherwise, place the rice in a medium-size pot that has a lid.Pour in three cups of water and bring it to a boil. Allow it to simmer for 40 minutes on low. Once the rice is cooked, remove it from the heat and set aside.
  2. Roast your sweet potatoes while your rice is cooking. Use a baking pan that’s lined with parchment paper to place the chopped and peeled sweet potatoes. Make sure to cut them into 1-inch chunks. Spray the potatoes lightly with oil or add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Roast the potatoes for about 25 to 30 minutes. It should be lightly brown when cooked. Take it out of the oven and set it aside.
  3. In a large pot, steam the kale until tender for about 8 to 10 minutes. If using an Instant Pot, put a cup of water in the inner pot with the kale. Make sure that the lid is securely sealed and cook for 3 minutes on high. Carefully remove the lid to allow the pressure to release.
  4. Open the can of black beans and drain the water. Rinse them carefully and set aside.

To make the cashew cream sauce, use the following steps:

  1. Place the cashews in boiling hot water to soak them for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Drain out the water and add it to a blender.
  3. Pour a cup of water, garlic, and salt.
  4. Blend the cream sauce until it’s smooth.
  5. To assemble the nourish bowl into five containers, add a half cup of rice. Then add about ⅓ cup of black beans. Divide up the potatoes and kales evenly. You can add the cream sauce over the top or wait until it’s ready to be eaten.

15. Spaghetti Meal Prep with Oven Roasted Broccoli

Spaghetti Meal Prep with Oven Roasted Broccoli

Budget Byte’s recipe takes this comfort food and turns it into a recipe full of good for you vegetables. You can use take a short-cut and get store-bought pasta sauce if you want to save on time. The cost per meal to make this is only $2.07, which is quick a bit cheaper than a trip to a fast food restaurant.

To make six servings:

  • ½ pound of lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 carrots
  • ½ teaspoon of basil
  • ½ teaspoon of oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • Black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
  • 24 ounce jar of pasta sauce
  • 12 ounce of spaghetti
  • ½ pound of frozen broccoli florets
  • ½ tablespoon of Montreal steak seasoning


  1. To make the oven roasted broccoli:
    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take the unthawed florets and spread it over the baking sheet.
    2. Dizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over the florets and sprinkle the Montreal steak seasoning. Toss around the florets until they are well seasoned.
    3. Set the baking sheet for 20 minutes in the oven for 20 minutes. Then take out the baking sheet and stir around the florets again using a spatula. Set it back in the oven until the florets have browned in about 10 minutes.
  2. For the spaghetti, start with adding a tablespoon of olive oil and the ground beef in a large skillet. Using medium heat, brown the meat until it is cooked.
  3. Dice up the onions and mince the garlic while the meat is cookin. Add the onion and garlic once the meat has been cooked. Saute until the onions are transparent and soft.
  4. Shred the zucchini and carrots with a large-holed cheese grater.
  5. Toss in the vegetables and add the salt, black pepper, red pepper, basil, and oregano. Saute the vegetables until they are tender, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  6. Pour in the pasta sauce and while its heating through, use the package directions to cook the spaghetti. Drain the water and with the heat turned off, add about a cup of the sauce to pasta and stir. Continue by diving up the pasta into the containers and top with more sauce and add cheese if you want.

Breakfast Recipes

Mornings are usually a mad rush to get ready for work, made more stressful if you’re getting kids ready too. Having a breakfast that is ready to eat or can be eaten on the go so you don’t have the urge to grab something on the way.

16. Seeded Oats

Seeded Oats

From Budget bytes, this make ahead oats can be eaten hot or old. You can add in whatever fruits and nuts that you have on hand.

To make four serving:

  • 1 1/3 cups of rolled oats
  • 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed
  • 4 tablespoon of hulled hemp seeds
  • 2 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • Salt, a pinch
  • 2 2/3 cups of water, milk, or non-dairy milk
  • Sweeter of choice
  • Add-ins (optional): Fresh fruit, peanut butter, nuts, jam, maple syrup


  1. Using four containers, divide up your dry ingredients. It ends up with about ⅓ cup of oats, tablespoon of flaxseed, ta tablespoon of hemp seeds, ½ tablespoon chia seeds, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in each container. Sugar, brown sugar or other dry sweetener can also be used.
  2. If you want hot oats: Add ⅔ cup of water, milk, or non-dairy milk and stir to combine. Put the container on high for a minute then stir, and put it back in the microwave on 30 second intervals. Add any extra items like fresh fruit before serving.
  3. If you want cold oats: Add ⅔ cups of water, milk, or non-dairy milk and stir to combine. Refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Add the fresh items before serving. Can be stored for 3 to 4 days.

17. Country Breakfast Bowls

For about $1.29 per serving, this Budget Byte recipe is a hearty way to start the day.  You can also add extra toppings like crumbled bacon, ham, green onions, hot sauce and more. They can be stored for about 4 days in the fridge or you can freeze it for up to three months.

To make four servings:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 pounds of russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup of salsa
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ teaspoon of garlic powder


  1. Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the potatoes then cut into ½ inch cubes.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and rub 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the surface. Spread out the potatoes on the baking sheet. Drizzle the rest of the oil over the potatoes then add smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Toss around the potatoes to coat them in the oil and spices.
  3. Put the baking sheet and roast for about 40 to 45 minutes. Stir once about halfway through. The potatoes should be crispy and golden brown.
  4. Crack the eggs in a large bowl and add salt and pepper. Whisk the eggs together while melting butter on a skillet over medium-low heat. Pour in the eggs once the butter is melted. Move around the eggs gently until they are mostly solid. Don’t overcook the eggs since they will cook further when reheating.
  5. When everything is finished, divide up the potatoes and eggs into four containers. Add about ¼ cup of salsa and ¼ cup of shredded cheese in each container.

18. Vegetarian Breakfast Casserole

This is a customizable dish that you can make in less than an hour. Brought over by Cozy Peach Kitchen, you can feed your whole family or eat it throughout the week.

To make eight servings:

  • 8 eggs
  • ½ cup of milk (your choice)
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 8 ounces of frozen hash browns, thawed
  • ½ cup of bell peppers, diced
  • ½ cup of mushrooms, diced
  • 5 ounces of veggie sausages, cooked according to package then crumbled
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese


  1. With the oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, grease  9 x 13 inch casserole dish (or comparable size) lightly.
  2. Sauté the peppers and mushrooms in oil over medium heat in a skillet. Once they are softened and lightly browned in about 5 minutes, set aside.
  3. Using a bowl, whisk together the milk, seasonings, and eggs like you would when making scrambled eggs.
  4. Layer the hash browns on the casserole dish. Add the crumbled sausage, peppers, and mushrooms. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese then pour the eggs over the cheese. Make sure that all the dry areas are covered.
  5. Bake for about 35 minutes uncovered or once the casserole looks golden brown and the eggs have been cooked through.

How to Save Money on Food

The best saving plan when it comes to food is by planning your menu. It would be better to have a good idea of what items are in your pantry and freezer that could be used for your next meal. Other saving ideas that will show you how to save money on food are listed below.

Best Ways to Save on Groceries: Make a Grocery List

Having a prepared list before walking into the supermarket will deter you from deviating from it. Without a plan, you will end up spending more, buying things you don’t need, and not having the right things to make the meal you had in mind. It is one of the simplest ways to save on groceries. Make a grocery list based on what is on sale, in season, and what you have available at home.

Shop for Food Once a Week

Spending less time at a supermarket is also one of the ways to save on groceries. Get everything you and your family will need for meals to last a week. We know it is bound to happen that you will forget an item or two during a weekly trip every once in a while. The best savings tips to follow in these moments is to get in, find what you need, and leave.

Buy Generic Brands

Unless you have brand loyalty to a specific product, always go for the generic. You’ll get cheap groceries when you make the tradeoff for the name brand. The store brands, for example, are less expensive and have the same quality in most cases.

Conclusion on Cheap Meal Prep

We all have to eat, and we want to eat good food. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look for ways to save money on food. It’s possible to do this by purchasing cheap groceries and reducing your cost per serving through meal prepping. You’ll also lower the amount of food that you waste in the process.

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