Who doesn’t love eating? Sadly, thanks to our busy lifestyles, cooking isn’t always a priority. And sometimes, it’s just easier to get pizza delivered to your door. We all have those days. But you can avoid cooking throughout the week, and save money, by learning how to meal prep on a budget. Whether you’re just cooking for yourself or the whole family, prepping your meals ahead of time will make life a lot easier. Follow these tips and recipe ideas to find out how you can cook all of your weekly meals, in just one day.
5 Tips For How To Meal Prep On A Budget:
No one wants to wrack their brain for cheap dinner ideas at the last minute, especially when you have kids who want to eat right now. That’s why it’s good to have at least a few meals prepped and in the fridge, ready to go whenever you need them. If you don’t know how to meal prep on a budget, these simple guidelines can help you get started.
1. Plan Ahead Of Time
Set aside one day a week to prepare all of your meals. For me, that’s Sunday. I’ll usually compile some recipes during the work week and look through them on Sunday morning to decide on what to make. Then, with a list in hand, I’ll buy all the ingredients I need at the supermarket and prepare them when I get home. While I wait for my food to finish cooking, I take the opportunity to pay my bills, clean, or whatever else I have to do around the house.
2. Balance Out Your Food Groups
If you don’t have enough variety in what you’re cooking, you’re going to get bored of what you’re eating every day. A good rule of thumb is to try to incorporate the three main nutrients in each meal: proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables. Get creative and think of what you can put together!
3. Figure Out When You’ll Eat Your Meals
For perishable food, make big portions that you can freeze, then thaw out later on in the week. Or even the next week! This way, you can enjoy a greater variety of food without eating the same recipe all the time. Likewise, consider purchasing frozen vegetables over fresh, so you won’t have to worry about when they’ll expire.
4. Make Your Meals Interesting
Choose meals that are versatile. They could work for both lunch and dinner, and maybe even breakfast. You can also use grains such as rice and pasta and switch them up for different meals. Legumes, like lentils, beans, and chickpeas, are very versatile as well. Other starchy foods, like tortillas and potatoes, are staples that work for so many dishes. And don’t be afraid to try something new or unconventional.
5. Use The Right Appliances And Cooking Accessories
If you haven’t already, invest in a slow cooker. For a lot of simple recipes, all you have to do is prepare the ingredients and let them simmer in the slow cooker for a few hours. And in that time, you can accomplish pretty much anything else on your to-do list. That’s it!
Easy (And Cheap!) Budget Recipes
Whether you prefer Indian or Japanese curry, this dish is a savory addition to any meal lineup you have for the week. There are all types of curry sauce mixes out there, and for the most part, they’re pretty cheap. Whatever you pair it with is up to you. Some popular options are chicken, vegetables, and pork. You can also serve curry over pasta or rice.
Pasta can be boring on its own, especially if you’re eating it multiple times a week. But there are ways you can make each dish interesting when you meal prep on a budget. Just add a bit of flavor with pesto, cheese, or beans. Or add a different type of meat each time you serve your pasta. Pasta salad is another great option, whether it’s for lunch or an appetizer before dinner.
Mason Jar Meals
One of the hottest trends on social media is to prep your meals and store them in mason jars. Not only do they look fresh and provide great conversation starters, but they’re a simple way to organize your meals for the week. Most people prefer to store salads in mason jars because they’re easy to grab and go for lunch. But you can make anything that’ll keep well.
Before the weather begins to warm up too much, make yourself a huge batch of soup. It’s the perfect meal for cold, wintery days, or when you’re just cuddled up in front of the television. Plus, there are so many different types of soups you can prepare, from lentil to chicken noodle. You can also choose whether to have soup as your main dish, or as a side with your dinner. And don’t forget about one of the great American classics: tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich.
Chili can be as sweet or spicy as you’d like. The easiest way to make it is to prepare the ingredients and let them simmer together in a slow cooker. In my opinion, chili tastes much better this way because all the ingredients really get a chance to blend together. If you want something a little different from the typical recipe you’ll find online, consider making green pork chili.
So if you regularly meal prep on a budget, you’ll be able to give your wallet a break and still enjoy some amazing food. Try cooking one of these inexpensive meals for yourself or your whole family when you’re strapped for time. Be sure to comment and let us know about some of your own cheap recipe ideas, too!
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