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Inexpensive Meal Prep Ideas

December 11, 2021 3 min read

Inexpensive Meal Prep ideas

Groceries are a non-negotiable expense for most households, especially when you’re committed to staying on track with a healthy meal plan. But if you don’t plan things out, right they can quickly eat up a large portion of your budget. On the other hand, there are a ton of cheaper options in most grocery stores, but they tend to be less healthy. 

So when it comes to meal prepping on a budget, you have to strike a fine line between high-quality foods and big savings! 

Luckily, there are plenty of recipes and hacks for saving money and eating healthy at the same time. Here are some money-saving ideas to stretch your dollar and take your meal prepping to the next level. 

Buy in bulk. 

Buying ingredients in bulk is a great way to get a lot more for your money, which means that it’s one of the best ways to save money while meal prepping. Whenever possible, buy foods in bulk, especially for shelf-stable items like rice, pasta, and grains. You can also buy other things in bulk like vegetables and meat, but make sure that you have enough freezer space to extend their life and keep them food-safe until you’re ready to eat.  

Buying in bulk also goes hand in hand with meal prepping! Good examples of meal prep ideas that work well here include pasta dishes and quinoa bowls. 

Use that slow cooker.

When it comes to saving money, you can’t go wrong with large slow cooker meals! You can make huge portions with a ton of flavor and minimal ingredients, which equals cheap and satisfying meal prep for the rest of the week. 

Good examples of large-batch recipes you can make for meal prep include stews, chilis, stews, and pasta sauces. Make a large enough batch that you can feed yourself (and your family, if applicable) for the rest of the week. From there, you can change up the base (for example, by using potatoes one day and pasta the next) to save money and still get some variety. 

Or make a couple of filling, hearty casseroles. 

If you want to change it up, you can also make large family-friendly meals in casserole form. Simply mix up some key ingredients like protein, veggies, and soup bases and toss them into the oven for a meal that’s both quick andcheap. Not only will you be able to feed your family for the whole week, but it’ll also save you a ton of cooking time. 

Many casseroles are also freezer-friendly, which can be a bonus when you’re trying to limit your grocery budget. Simply make casseroles in bulk while you have all the ingredients, throw them in a freezer-friendly dish, and store them into your freezer until you’re ready to use. You’ll always have a cheap and convenient meal on hand that is easy to reheat! 

Go meatless some days.

Meat and other animal products tend to be pricier than their plant-based counterparts, so it might be a good idea to experiment with some vegetarian recipes throughout the week to save some money. There are plenty of cheap and healthy options that don’t require any meat: for example, think cozy soups, tasty ratatouille, and vegan-friendly grain bowls. 

Use a meal prep delivery service.

While it may sound like a big initial expense, using a meal prep delivery service is actually one of the more budget-friendly options that allows you to still eat healthy every day of the week. By using a meal prep delivery service (for example, Inland Empire’s My Healthy Penguin), you can minimize the money you spend on wasted ingredients that aren’t used in your cooking for the week. 

As an added bonus, using a meal prep delivery service also save you some precious gas money – the less you have to run around to the grocery store, the more money you’ll save in the long run!  

 Use more canned goods.

They might not be the most appealing options, but canned foods can actually be delicious when used correctly! They also tend to be much cheaper than their fresh counterparts, so they’re a great substitution when you want to watch your budget. Use them creatively for the best results: for example, use canned corn as an ingredient in a fresh salsa to add to your burrito bowls, or add canned tuna to your salads for a cheap and satisfying protein choice. 

Final Thoughts

Meal prep is already one of the more budget-friendly ways that you can eat healthy and spare yourself plenty of time. Utilize some of these cheap meal ideas a couple of times a week and get the most out of your meal plan! 

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