Meal prepping has been made popular by social media in recent years. A google search of how to meal plan with getting you tons of results directing you to food blogger websites. You have thought about getting on board too. After all, you’re curious about what all the buzz is about. And if you are looking for saving money motivation or how to save money effectively, a simple meal plan could be the answer. Start your journey to learning how to meal prep on a budget, and you’ll be grateful you did.
Why Start Meal Planning to Save Money
Meal planning is when you plan what you’ll eat throughout the week for every meal. You use up ingredients that you already have, whether it’s in your fridge, freezer, or pantry. Then you use store sales and recipes that can be created out of your ingredients to build your weekly meals.
The benefits of meal planning to save money can include the following three items:
Are you seeking for how to save money effectively? Meal planning is a great solution. Because you get organized before heading to the grocery store, it’s less likely that you’ll buy food that you don’t need. Your grocery list includes only the things you need to create the recipes you have planned. There are also tons of resources available to learn how to meal prep on a budget that works for you.
We often make random purchases of items that we think are a good idea at the time. Perhaps there is a sale on ground beef, so you pick up a few pounds that you will probably use before it expires. During those busy days at work where you’re running late, you won’t have to make a detour to the grocery store or fast food to pick up dinner. That means you’ll spend less on feeding the family. That’s saving money motivation at its finest!
Have More Time
How many times have you left work feeling frustrated because now you have to think about what to have for dinner? You think you have what you need at home, but realize that you’re missing a key ingredient when you can look through your fridge. Now you have to go to the store or order something. All that time that’s wasted with this routine adds up, taking precious time away from being able to relax after a hard day at the office or spend time with your family.
Eat Healthier Meals
Planning the meal for a week also gives you the time to find recipes that are better for you. There is a misconception that cheap meal prep ideas are about mostly eating beans and rice. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You’re saving money because you are basing your recipes on things that are on sale and potentially even using coupons. There are tons of recipes out there for meal preps that give you plenty of vegetables and other stuff that’s good for you. Since you’re less likely to eat out, you’ll be able to eat these healthy meals over a high sodium fast-food burger.
Healthy Meal Plans on a Budget
A simple meal plan is all you need to make meal prepping work. If you need some cheap meal prep ideas that are healthy, too, we’ve compiled a list of recipes to try below.
Sheet Pan Greek Chicken
- 1 lb chicken breast, diced
- 1 yellow pepper, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 zucchini, sliced thickly
- 1 red onion, sliced thickly
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon, pepper
- ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Excluding the feta, put everything else on a sheet pan and toss it until it’s well combined. When the oven has been preheated, place the sheet pan in the oven. You can cook for 18-20 minutes or until the chicken is done.
- Take out four meal prep bowls. Take the chicken mixture out of the oven and divide evenly. Add the feta cheese on top. It can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Healthy Spaghetti & Meat Sauce
- 5 bags of shirataki noodles (½ pound each)
- 1.3 pounds ground chicken thighs
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 24-ounce jar of marinara sauce, low or no sodium
- ½ cup water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Olive oil
- Kosher Salt
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Pre-heat a large plan using medium-high heat. The pan should have high sides or be wide-bottomed. Add 2 teaspoons of the oil for 2 minutes. Add the chicken and season with 1 teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Cook until the chicken is 80% cooked, for about 6-8 minutes. Take the chicken out of the pan, along with its juices, and place in a bowl.
- Add another 2 teaspoons of oil, then toss in the carrots, onions, celery, red pepper flakes, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, and some black pepper. Let it cook for 10 minutes or until the veggies are over half wilted. Stir often!
- Add the tomato paste, garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, so the garlic doesn’t burn. Now add the marinara, water, bay left, ½ teaspoon salt, black pepper, and the cooked chicken. After it comes to a boil, let it simmer for 20 minutes. Check the seasoning and add the honey while it’s cooking. The sauce should thicken up.
- As the sauce is cooking, take the shirataki noodles and drain them. Cook in a non-stick pan for 6-8 minutes over high heat. The pan’s bottom should be coated in a dry white residue when all the moisture has been removed. Set aside, remove from the heat, and use scissors to cut the noodles a few times.
- Add the noodles to the saucepan and mix well.
Chicken Coconut Curry
- 10, four-ounce chicken thighs
- 3 tablespoons yellow curry powder
- 2 cups light coconut milk from a can
- ½ pound sugar snap peas
- 1 and a half red bell peppers, sliced and halved
- 1 juiced lime
- 2 and a half cups cooked and frozen rice
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Season the chicken on both sides with curry powder and salt and sit it out at room temperature for 20 minutes. Preheat a cast iron pan just below high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of the oil for 2 minutes. Put half the chicken in the pan, allowing it to be brown for about 3 minutes on each side. Do the same process with the other half of the chicken after moving the first batch.
- Turn to medium-low heat and add a teaspoon of oil and one tablespoon of curry powder. Stir well to ensure the powder doesn’t burn. Cook for another minute and add the coconut milk. Stir well. Turn the heat to medium-high and add ½ teaspoon of salt and some black pepper to season.
- Add the chicken to the pan, with the snap peas and red peppers. Bring to boil before reducing to a simmer. Add a lid to the pan and cook for another 7 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the liquid has reduced a bit.
- Add the lime juice, stir and check the seasoning. Turn off heat, then cook the rice based on the directions. Spoon into meal prep bowls and divide chicken curry evenly.
Meal Planning Tips
Now you have a few healthy meal plans on a budget that you can try. But sometimes, you need more than a few cheap meal prep ideas to change your ways. Here are a few meal planning tips that you can try:
- Don’t always try to reinvent the meal. Knowing about how to meal plan doesn’t mean you have to change your recipes each week. You can have at least one meal that you know how to cook well and have it part of your weekly plan.
- Try to select recipes that “go together.” You won’t gain that money-saving motivation if you’re wasting ingredients because you can’t use it all up. For example, if your first recipe calls for half a cabbage head, the second recipe should use up the remaining.
- Shop by peak produce season. The prices for fruits and vegetables that are in season will drop significantly. Learn what things are in season, taking advantage of those low prices, and load up on these good nutrients.
- Don’t eat the same meal in one day. Eating that lasagna for lunch and dinner is probably going to make you sick of meal planning. Have a different lunch option that’s easy to meal prep like soup or a sandwich to add variety.
- Plan out your breakfast, lunch, and snack on a rotation basis. To maximize your savings and cover all your needs, you need to think about everything you will eat that week. Keep these items very simple and easy. You can switch them out every week to keep from getting bored.