Now that school is back in session, most families are short on that precious resource we call time.
We all run from one thing to the next trying to keep our sanity throughout the day.
Even if you don’t have children, there never seems to be enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done.
We make the worst food choices when we are tired and short on time. It’s so easy at that point to just go through the drive-thru or order a pizza.
Meal prepping allows us to have the best of both worlds.
You get to eat healthy food that you make yourself without having to take the time out of each day to cook it.
If you meal prep correctly, you should only have to spend an hour or two once or twice a week cooking.
The rest of the week is open for you to do what you need to do knowing you have meals all planned out and ready to go.
Meal prepping takes a tremendous amount of stress off of me, which is why I love it.
I start to get anxious and stressed out if I know that I don’t have anything cooked.
If you are looking to get and stay in shape, planning your meals is a must.
You can’t fly by the seat of your pants every meal. You must plan ahead.
Meal prepping gives me peace of mind and makes my week so much easier when I don’t have to figure out every meal separately.
While I might not be the best chef (I’m ok), I consider myself an expert on how to meal prep on a budget.
I’ve been meal prepping on a budget for years and I can confidently say that I have a great system down that’s saved me a ton of money.
If you are wondering how to meal prep without breaking the bank, I’m going to give you 5 tips below that I use to prep my meals without overspending.
# 1- Use simple recipes
I made this # 1 since most people begin their weekly meal prep by figuring out which recipes they want to use that week.
The more complex a recipe is, the more ingredients you are going to need.
Since you will need more ingredients, you will obviously be spending more money.
When I meal prep, I look for recipes that have simple, basic ingredients that I can find at any store.
If a recipe calls for some unique ingredient that I can only get at a specialty store, I will either just skip that ingredient (if possible) or drop the recipe all together.
If it’s something that I really want to make then I will go to the end of the earth to get that ingredient, but that’s not conducive to meal prepping on a budget so we’ll forget that one for now.
My advice is to keep your recipes simple.
Most recipe sites tend to have similar style recipes. If you find a few simple ones on a particular website, more likely than not there will be more simple recipes.
I get many of my recipes from Delish. They have a lot of simple keto recipes that are mouth watering.
# 2- Make a meticulous shopping list
In order to keep a tight budget, you need to keep a tight shopping list.
You should have every single thing down on your shopping list that you will need for the week before you get to the store.
Don’t just write a few things down and say you’ll figure the rest out when you’re in the store.
That will lead you to buying more than you planned to and spending more money than you planned on.
Before you go shopping, go over every single meal and recipe that you want to cook that week and make sure you buy what you need.
Write down the exact amount of each food that you will need based off of the recipes.
Something I also do is write down the approximate cost of each food on my shopping list as well, so that I have an accurate idea of what I am planning to spend.
If it looks like it will go way over budget, I am able to fix the problem ahead of time before I get to the register with my cart and it’s too late!
# 3- Buy in bulk
This is pretty obvious, but it’s something I didn’t’ even really do myself until recently.
Bulk grocery stores like BJ’s and Costco are pretty popular now so hopefully there is one near you.
These stores have improved significantly over the last few years and now carry many organic and healthy options that they didn’t have a few short years ago.
You can save a ton of money in these stores if you are smart.
When you buy in bulk, you are able to get a lot of food at a discount.
This is great for meal prepping as you are usually making a lot of food at a time.
While you might not need 5 pounds of pasta for the week, you will be able to use the rest the week after, so it won’t go to waste.
My biggest tip is not to buy too much of something that is perishable unless you are sure you are going to use it before it expires.
It’s great that you can get 5 pounds of apples for a few dollars, but are you going to be able to eat all of that?
Where I find these stores particularly valuable is with their frozen foods.
You can buy huge quantities of chicken, beef and frozen vegetables at a great discount.
# 4- Go for frozen and canned
Speaking of frozen food, I recommend going for frozen and canned over fresh if you are looking to save money.
Several pounds of frozen vegetables are almost always significantly cheaper than fresh vegetables.
The same goes with protein like chicken and beef.
I usually buy frozen organic chicken breast (already cooked) and canned chicken at BJ’s, which will last me and my wife well over a week.
A lot of people look down on canned chicken, but it’s cheap and can be used in a lot of recipes. I use it all the time and it really helps to cut the cost of meal prepping.
# 5- Pick cheap proteins
When looking to keep your meal prep cost as low as possible, the filet mignon is usually out.
While you can get beef in bulk at a great discount in the stores I talked about above, your cheapest options are usually eggs, chicken and turkey.
You will have to be creative with your recipes, but there are enough out there to consistently use these proteins without getting too sick of them.
Eggs in particular is one food I eat a lot of. You can get two dozen eggs for a few dollars. That will last even the hungriest person a few meals.
If I had to, I would just buy eggs, vegetables and shredded cheese from BJ’s. I would just make an omelet for every single meal and spend less than $50.00 a week on food.
Keto and low-carb without spending too much.
Luckily, I don’t have to do that, although I do eat a lot of omelets.
Eat healthy, save money and save time
I always laugh when someone tells me it costs too much to eat healthy.
I just laid out a plan, although very bland, where someone could eat healthy for less than $50.00 a week.
The problem is that most people don’t want to do it, so they use the cost as an excuse.
If you are looking to meal prep on a budget, I know that you will save money with the above tips as I’ve been using them weekly for a long time.
You don’t have to break the bank when you meal prep.
Keep it simple and follow my tips and you will be on the right track.
P.S. How do you save money when you meal prep? I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions and comments below!