I don’t know about you, but the busier I get the harder it gets for me to eat healthy or eat at all – which is why I began meal prepping last year. The Wendy’s 4 for $4 is so tempting, but when I’ve taken two or more hours out of Sunday Funday to meal prep – I tend to stick to what I’ve cooked, which is usually the healthier option.
I’ve seen some gorgeous meal prep photos on Instagram. Every time I scroll through a hashtag search looking for inspiration, I think about how my meal prep never looks that pretty. I then try to guess what their grocery budget is for the week/month.
I want to eat healthy and be summertime fine, but some of those meal prep posts look like some serious champagne lifestyle. With my goals to debt-free by the end of the year, I’m living on more of a lemonade budget. So for all of you out there that still want to eat healthy, I have five tips for meal prepping on a budget.
Also, you may want to checkout my intro into Meal Prepping for some basics.
Meal Prepping on a Budget
#1 – Buying in Bulk
About every other month, I head over to Sam’s and buy what seems like an illogical amount of meat for one person. I usually stick with chicken breasts or lean ground turkey, but will sometimes mix it up with some sort of lean fish. While I obviously can’t eat 10 pounds of chicken in one week, buying in bulk saves me money. I simply separate my bulk purchases into portions and store them in the freezer for future meal prep. FYI – Ground turkey and chicken can stay in the freezer for ~ four months.
I love a good salad, but buying all the ingredients to build a fresh salad from scratch can add up. So Sam’s win’s again. I get about six or seven large salad servings out of a container of salad mix from Sam’s for about $4. To keep the greens fresh, I line a plastic storage container with paper towels, dump in the salad mix and then cover it with another layer of paper towels before locking down the lid. This method keeps my salad fresh for ~10 days. (Thanks for the tip, Kim!)
#2 – Find Inexpensive Fruits & Vegetables
Would I love to eat blueberries all year? Absolutely, and so would my dog – yes, Sgt. Pepper is obsessed with blueberries. Unfortunately, when they’re not in season – they burn a hole in my pocket. I quickly learned that I could save some coins by sticking to buying produce that is in season. Produce is cheaper when it is in season because it doesn’t have to be shipped from other areas of the country. So before you add your fresh fruits and veggies to your list check out this guide to figure out what’s in season.
When I talk to my friends about meal prepping (this happens rarely) one of the things I hear the most is I can’t eat the same thing every day – it gets boring. Meal prepping doesn’t have to equal redundancy. For example, let’s say I’m doing something basic like grilled chicken. I usually season the chicken with two or more different combinations so that my meal varies slightly day-to day. Find simple ways to spice it up so that your flavors change a bit.
#5 – Stick to the plan!
Where I have and occasionally still mess up, is not sticking to my list. Damn you, Talenti Gelato! I’m not going to be the one to tell you to stay away from all of the goodies. Looking at the average age of this blog’s demographic – you’re an adult and sometimes you deserve to treat yourself.
What I’m suggesting is to get your list and budget together beforehand. I am a couponer and sometimes I have to hit Trader Joe’s, Publix and Sam’s Club, before my shopping is complete. Just be mindful of the fact that just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need it. I have one two many jars of Nutella because of the Publix BOGO sales. Le sigh.
Make your list with your budget in mind and when you get to the store stick to the plan!
Do you have any tips for eating healthy and meal prepping on a budget? Please leave a comment below.