In 5 Ways You’re Wasting Money And How To Fix It I shared one way to spend less money on food is to meal prep. Here, you can find a bunch of meal prep ideas to help you get started. You can save a lot of money quickly by meal prepping and planning your meals before you go to the grocery store. Meal prep also saves you time and enables you to eat healthier!
Many recipes call for a lot of ingredients and prep time. If you’re busy, that’s a recipe for failure. That is why all of the recipes below have limited ingredients and are perfect for the beginner chef. These meal prep ideas can be made in bulk and portioned out for the week or made in smaller quantities. The meal prep dinner ideas are also very easy to freeze if you prefer eating variety. If you’ve never planned your meals before, check out 8 tips for meal planning.
Here are a few recipes to help you start your meal plan that I’ve found have minimum ingredients, don’t take much prep time, don’t require any “fancy” kitchen tools and are generally pretty healthy. If these recipes take too long to make, check out Trader Joe’s Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas.
Breakfast Meal Prep
Overnight oats are a great breakfast to meal prep. I prefer to make a fresh one the night before but you can also prepare a few mornings at the same time. All you need is rolled oats and your choice of milk as a base. My favorite overnight oats are banana bread overnight oats. This is also a cheap breakfast and costs less than a dollar a meal
Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seed pudding is one of my favorite breakfasts to meal prep in the summer. It is very light and refreshing but rich with protein. One batch usually makes 4-5 breakfasts, depending how much I put in each mason jar. I’ll add the toppings in the morning. My recent favorite toppings for chia pudding are almonds, maple syrup and blueberries. When I don’t have time to grab fresh fruit I like adding frozen raspberries to chia seed pudding.
Lunch Meal Prep
Sweet Potato “Toast” with Avocado
Stuck on healthy ideas for lunch that fill you up? Sweet Potato “Toast” with Avocado is an easy lunch to make ahead and then add a few toppings earlier that day. Slice the sweet potato and bake for 25 minutes ahead of time. Put it in the fridge and when you’re ready to eat it toast it like you normally would a piece of toast in the toaster oven. For toppings you can add sliced avocados, almond butter, almond butter with bananas and more. If you don’t have a toaster at work to warm up the sliced avocado you can also microwave it or eat it cold. This meal is also Whole 30 approved.
Hard Boiled Eggs With Deli Meat
Hard boiled eggs and deli meat are a quick and cheap meal prep idea for lunch. A carton of eggs is usually no more than $3 and deli meat is relatively cheap as well. This is a protein rich lunch that will help fill you up and is great if you work out a lot.
To make egg salad hard boil eggs and then add mayo or greek yogurt and spices (dry mustard, salt, pepper, paprika) to taste.
Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Hash
Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Hash is another great lunch prep idea if you’re stick of eating sandwiches for lunch. I usually don’t add the eggs unless I eat this at home. I also have made this and mixed in the salsa chicken below for additional protein. This is good hot and cold!
Dinner Meal Prep
Simple Turkey Chili
Simple Turkey Chili is one of the easiest dinners to meal prep and portion for dinners during the week or freeze for later. I modified this recipe using beef, and homemade tomato sauce (store bought is fine too) instead of the crushed tomatoes. I also buy frozen chopped onions and peppers and add shredded cheese on top. If you buy the frozen veggies, it only takes about 10 minutes of prep and then you can do other things while it simmers. It ends up being $10-15 for 4 servings, assuming you already have the spices.
Chicken and Salsa In the Crockpot
Chicken and Salsa– This is literally two ingredients and you put it in a crockpot for 4 hours on high. I also buy the Trader Joe’s white rice from the freezer which takes about 5 minutes to cook in the microwave. Cost: ~$20 total but you can use only 2 chicken breasts and use the rest for other meals and the rice has 3 packets so this can cover multiple meals. Does need a crock pot but I’m sure this could be made in the oven as well. If you like meal prepping using a crockpot here are more cheap crockpot recipes.
Meatballs and Sauce
Meatballs and Sauce initially does take a bit of time to make but you can make multiple batches at once and freeze it. You then can have the equivalent of a few weeks worth of meals from one afternoon of cooking. I now make 2-4 batches at a time because it’s so good and so easy to freeze and reheat!
For the meatballs, I’ve modified the recipe above to make 2 batches at once- and have 1 lb of pork with the 3 lbs of beef, the last time I did this that made 67 meatballs. I also use panko breadcrumbs and frozen chopped onions.
For the sauce (per batch) it’s 1 can crushed tomatoes, 1 small can of tomato paste. Once emptied fill both of these cans with water and add water, 2-3 scoops minced garlic, a bit of olive oil and spices to taste. Cook the garlic first in olive oil, add spices. Add in the water and tomatoes and once reaching a boil simmer for 2-4 hours.
Because you’re making tomato sauce and meatballs in bulk it will save you money. It is also a much healthier sauce than what you would buy at the grocery store. Many tomato sauces have soy and sugar added to it, and frozen meatballs had so many fillers. The homemade version is so much tastier. I’ve found I max out some of the ingredients at 4 batches of meatballs – 1 package of beef broth, 1 package of parsley, 1 fresh grated parmesan, 1 bag chopped onions all covers 4 batches but after that you’ll have to buy more beef broth and parsley.
If you like more variety and prefer not to make large batches of the same thing I have more recipes for breakfasts and dinners on the blog! I’d love to hear if you have any other meal prep ideas for other recipes or what your experience is if you make any of these recipes in the comments!
Financial Pilgrimage says
These are great suggestions! Thank you for sharing. I’m definitely going to try the Turkey Chili. We eat a lot of the single items you mention, especially a lot of eggs. They are so cheap at Aldi, sometimes only $0.50 per dozen.
Eggs are a little more expensive for us at Trader Joe’s here ($1.20/ dozen) but still a steal!