How To Meal Prep on a Budget

Chris Park , On March 31, 2023

10 Tips for How to Meal Prep on a Budget

Meal prepping on a budget can be a great way to save money and time while also maintaining a healthy diet. Here are some tips for meal prepping on a budget.

Techniques to utilize for how to meal prep on a budget

  • Choose seasonal produce: Buy produce that is in season to save money. You can also look for sales or discounts on produce that is nearing its expiration date.

  • Use less expensive cuts of meat: Let’s face it. Proteins are expensive. However, beef, lamb and pork have cuts of the animal that are tougher and less prestigious. Get the most from your meal prep meats by choosing affordable cuts. These include:

    Just be mindful that meal prepping on a budget using tougher cuts of meat with more connective tissue will require a low and slow cooking method, a braising cooking method after your meats have been marinading for tenderness or brined to inject moisture in the tissue to keep the meat hydrated when you cook.

  • Plan your budget meal prep: Start by planning out your budget meal prep for the week based on the diet plan you follow, or would like to follow. Pick one day of the week you will plan – say every Sunday. If you practice intermittent fasting, or you follow a keto meal prep diet define this early on since it will help you with shopping and cooking. After making your meals label them Monday – Sunday while allowing for one or two cheat meals depending on how many social functions you plan on attending during the week where following your diet would be difficult.

  • Buy in bulk: When meal prepping on a budget look for special deals on bulk items like rice, beans, and produce, or meats. These ingredients can be used in multiple meals and are often less expensive than smaller sized portioned containers (compare the price per oz of food).

  • Use cheaper proteins: Chicken, eggs, and canned tuna are all affordable sources of protein that can be used in a variety of meals.

  • Utilize frozen ingredients: Ingredients like spinach can be great for meal prepping on a budget since it is healthy and you can use it in a variety of ways for example on an omelette, to make a keto creamed spinach recipe, or for a regular sautéed spinach recipe to name a few.

  • Be flexible in your cooking to take advantage of items on sale: You never know what you will find marked down at the grocery store. Sometimes it is red meat, other times fruit or produce can be marked down. Since fruit and produce can both be used in meal prep you can mix them interchangeably. For example, if tomatoes are on sale you can opt to blend a light tomato sauce vs a pesto sauce on your pasta for the week’s budget meal prep. So being flexible and adjusting recipes based on the ingredients you find can make you a frugal shopper.

  • Don’t waste food: Use leftovers from one meal as ingredients in another meal. For example, leftover steak can be used for a steak sandwich the next day.

  • Cook in batches: Prepare large batches of meals that can be divided into portions and frozen for later. Some foods freeze better than others. These foods include pastas, meats, brown rice, roasted potatoes and garbanzo beans. Foods that will not freeze well include leafy greens and most anything that needed to be thawed in order to be meal prepped.

  • Stay away from expensive supplements: While drinking a protein shake might seem like an affordable way to shop, a scoop of protein powder can be quite a bit more expensive than half a chicken breast, and it is often less filling. Therefore, opt for real foods, always!

Thank you for reading this article about how to meal prep on a budget.

Chris Park

Chris Park is a board-certified sports nutritionist, registered dietitian and former college rugby player. Chris loves strength training and pushing his body to the limit, which comes in handy when working with professional athletes and designing their nutritional needs. Chris also enjoys helping others by writing about nutrition.