Meal prepping on a budget? Check out these tips for meal prepping on a budget and 28+ recipes to help you stay on budget!
Meal Prepping on a Budget
When I first started meal prepping, I did it to save money as I would buy a lot of my lunches at work. Meal prepping definitely saved me from spending $10-15 a day at work and my wallet has been thanking me for it! Over the years, I’ve gotten the hang of budgeting for meal prepping and saving the extra money that I had used to spend on purchased lunches on my student loans.
Some weeks though, while I was saving money by meal prepping, I would spurge on things like a nice block of cheese or you know, accidentally buy way too much at the Nordstorm Anniversary Sale and suddenly my budget for my weekly meal prep just shrunk in half. Oops. During those weeks, I find myself turning to very simple recipes that involves a lot of pantry basics. I have four go-to budget meal prep recipe categories that I always turn to when my dollars are low. These budget meal prep recipes usually consists of items that are very cheap to purchase in bulk and have a very long shelf life so they’re almost always in my pantries (think dried lentils, beans, etc!)
My budget meal prep staples
- rice and beans
- egg based foods
- overnight oats
These 4 categories cover thinks from breakfast to dinner! I also find that these “staple” budget meal prep recipes to be very versatile as well so they’re very easy to change up without spending too much. Some of these recipes can also do double duty as well as you can incorporate the leftovers into new meals such as using leftover vegetables and adding an egg to it to turn it into a new frittata!
Tips on meal prepping on a budget
- Seasoning is your best friend when meal prepping on a budget. Seasonings increases the flavour selection that you now have with very basic recipes – for example, using smoked paprika and chili flakes in a frittata vs using lemon pepper for your frittata.
- If you can’t get fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen vegetables are a great budget alternative. Studies have suggested that frozen veggies have just as many nutrients (if not more) as their fresh counterparts as they are being frozen right after they’re harvested. (here’s a study on it if you’re curious).
- Dried beans tend to cost less than canned beans so extra step of soaking dried beans overnight can save you money on the long run.
- Consider purchasing generic instead of name brands.
- If you love meat but want to still meal prep on a budget, consider a less expensive cut of the meat. For example, consider buying skin-in, bone-in, or tougher cuts of meats. You can always remove the skin/bone yourself and use a slow cooker or Instant Pot to make those tough cuts of meats tender! Bonus if you purchase a whole chicken you’ll have a ton of meat and you can use the bones to make chicken broth.
- If your only options for purchasing cheap bulk foods that aren’t freezable is Costco, consider splitting a yearly membership with a friend or family member so you can both get bulk items for cheap.
- Look for sales in your weekly flyers and plan your week’s worth of meals accordingly – for example, my local supermarket has ground beef on sale very often but it’s usually the large family packs. I’ll buy it, plan a week’s worth of recipes that is based on ground beef with half of the beef, and freeze the second half (since it’s usually like 4lbs and that can be too much for just me). Another thing I do is buy cuts of meat (like chicken breast or thighs) in bulk and then I split it into individual ziploc bags and freeze it.
- Check back on this post every so often! If I find another delicious budget friendly meal prep, I’ll add it here!
ARE YOU NEW TO MEAL PREPPING? HERE ARE SOME OF MY FAVOURITE ITEMS THAT I USE:
- I’m a huge fan of glass containers for packing my lunches in as they’re great for reheating in the microwave and they don’t hold onto smells over time. You can even get containers that have dividers if you want to keep certain components of your meal separate.
- I’m also a fan of mason jars as they’re great for soups or anything that is layered (ie salad with dressing on the bottom).
- Always use freezer friendly ziploc bags when freezing and write on it with a sharpie to know when the meat was purchased.
- I’m obsessed with my Instant Pot and slow cooker as I can set it and forget it and a delicious meal prep comes out of it afterwards!
- Subscribe to my newsletter (sidebar or click here) to get a copy of my weekly meal planner printable.
- If you are interested in a meat subscription, so you’ll always have meat in your freezer, check out ButcherBox for hormone and antibiotic-free meat delivered to your door!
Budget Meal Prep Recipe Ideas: Rice and Beans
This Spicy Instant Pot Chicken and Rice Meal Prep is inspired by the chicken burrito bowls from Chipotle! It’s so easy to make and takes less than 30 minutes to meal prep for four days!
Cajun Red Beans and Rice are a delicious and healthy vegetarian meal from The Food Blog.
A Hearty and flavourful meal made from rice, beans, and sausage to satisfy your crowd from Deliciously Plated.
A hearty, protein-packed, super nutritious, and one-pot vegan meal featuring rice, beans, tofu, and greens from The Full Helping.
Spicy Cajun flavors magically turn beans and rice into a delicious bowl of healthy, wholesome goodness from Monkey and Me Kitchen Adventures.
These Rice & Bean burritos taste AMAZING, but are easy to make! They’re also freezer-friendly so they are perfect for Meal Prep from From My Bowl.
Budget Meal Prep Recipes Ideas: Egg Based
Need a breakfast meal prep idea? Why not try this delicious and fun breakfast wonton egg cups?
Ready in less than 30 mins that are gluten-free and keto? Try these pantry staple 6-Ingredient Veggie Egg Cups from Recipes From a Pantry.
Here’s an easy breakfast muffin recipe with eggs, bacon, cheese, and simple Tex-Mex ingredients from the Rising Spoon.
These Quinoa Frittata Muffins are a healthy, quick, and easy breakfast meal prep option! Packed with vegetables and healthy quinoa and completely satisfying. Recipe from My Kitchen Love.
Go to bed excited for the morning with this delicious make ahead breakfast taco egg bowl! Great for lunches as well.
Ready in just 20 minutes, enjoy this tasty sweet potato frittata for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner! It’s full of nourishing ingredients with a hit of cheese. Recipe from Veggie Desserts.
This tasty mixture of buttery potatoes, spicy chorizo, and eggs makes a great meal that everyone will love. Recipe from Muy Bueno Cookbook.
This Double Cheese, Bacon, Mushroom, and Egg Hash is not only perfect breakfast but for any meal of the day! It’s super easy to make and ready in 40 minutes in addition to being budget friendly!
These veggie, bacon, and cheese Meal Prep Breakfast Sandwiches reheat in the microwave in no time, so they’re perfect for starting busy days off right.These veggie, bacon, and cheese Meal Prep Breakfast Sandwiches reheat in the microwave in no time, so they’re perfect for starting busy days off right. Recipe from Wholefully.
Budget Meal Prep Recipe Ideas: Overnight Oats
Breakfast can be tricky – it’s a meal that’s easy to skip when you want an extra 10 minutes in bed. Enter these healthy and easy overnight oats to make your mornings easier!! Strawberries and Cream, Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake, PB&J, and Apple Pie.
Make these Overnight Coconut Mango Oats with West African flavours for a quick breakfast or breakfast on the go. Recipe from Recipe from a Pantry.
Are you ready for breakfast with a twist? Prepared in under 10 minutes the night before, this Chocolate Chia Steel Cut Overnight Oats is so delicious and creamy, that it’s like eating ice cream for breakfast!
These Blueberry Lemon Coconut Oats really are the taste of summer! Recipe from Lemon and Zest.
Healthy, delicious and loved by the whole family, these Strawberry Yogurt Overnight Oats are packed full of gluten-free rolled oats, Greek yogurt, fresh strawberries, milk, and chia seeds for an easy, grab-n-go, protein-packed breakfast. Recipe from The Forked Spoons.
Maple Spiced Chia Overnight Oats are the perfect make ahead breakfast. Filling, creamy and delicious, make some up before you go to bed and you have the perfect grab-and-go breakfast for those busy mornings. Recipe from Whole Food Bellies.
Budget Meal Prep Recipe Ideas: Soups/Stews
Hearty and affordable, this traditional Québécois pea soup will keep your stomach full and warm.
This Instant Pot Borscht is healthy and delicious. It’s a perfect and affordable way to stay warm during winter while eating cozy and comforting vegan and gluten-free soup. Recipe from Imagelicious.
This super Easy Instant Pot Beef Stew will have you grabbing a second bowl! A thick and rich sauce filled with hearty potatoes, carrots, onions, and melt in your mouth beef that will only take under an hour with an Instant Pot!
Curried Lentil soup is vegan, protein packed and naturally gluten free. Perfect for a simple meatless meal and made with budget friendly ingredients. Recipe from Nutritious Eats.
Easy and delicious Vegan Roasted Carrot Soup with lentils and Moroccan spices. This velvety, rich and healthy carrot soup has a unique and perfectly balanced flavour. Recipe from Happy Kitchen Rocks.
This Southwestern Kale and White Bean Soup gives you a nourishing bowl full of veggies, quinoa, and warming spices like cumin and chili powder. Recipe from Killing Thyme.
Enjoy this really super simple Green Bean & Potato Curry that is budget friendly, only has 8 ingredients & needs no fancy-schmancy spices. Recipe from A Virtual Vegan.
At just ~$1.66/serving, this delicious and healthy soup won’t break the bank, or your health goals. Recipe from Nourish Nutrition Blog.
This easy summer gazpacho is a cool and refreshing way to start your next dinner. It’s healthy and fresh, with just the right amount of spice. With just 10 ingredients (including pantry staples such as salt, pepper, olive oil, and garlic!), this soup last up to 3 days chilled in the fridge. Recipe from All The Kings Morsels
RESOURCES AND TIPS FOR MEAL PREPPING
- Meal Prep 101
- How To Cook Chicken Breasts Perfectly
- What Is An Instant Pot
- Tips To Help You Meal Prep For The Week Successfully
- How To Make The Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
MORE HEALTHY RECIPE ROUND UPS
- 9 Must Try Foods in a Jar! Mason Jar Recipe Round Up
- 12 of the Best Healthy Instant Pot Recipes
- 11 Healthy Sow Cooker Recipes
- 17 Last Minute Potluck Recipes
- 17 Healthy Make Ahead Lunches
WANT A WEEK’S MEAL PREP AND SHOPPING LIST FOR FREE?
If you’re looking for more ideas on what to make, subscribe to my mailing list in the sidebar (or click here)! When you sign up, you get a week’s lunch + snack meal prep and a weekly meal planner printable! Download it and bring it to your next trip to the grocery store!
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Instagram: @runcarmyrun @curiouslychasing @carmyshungry
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