10 Tips for Budget-Friendly Meal Prepping (That’s Still Healthy)


This story is a part of House Suggestions, CNET’s assortment of sensible recommendation for getting essentially the most out of your property, inside and outside.

In an effort to save cash and eat more healthy, I challenged myself to not eat out for 2 weeks. (Full disclosure: I lasted eight days cooking all of my meals earlier than I splurged on a burrito bowl at Chipotle.) For these of you seeking to enhance your at-home cooking however not your spending who’re stronger-willed than I’m, I’ve received 10 ideas for how you can plan out your wholesome funds meal prepping, earlier than going to the shop, on the retailer and when you’re house.

For this problem, I centered on inexpensive, nutritious, filling meals. As a college-student on a shoestring funds with restricted cooking provides, I hope the following tips will probably be useful for anybody wanting to save cash on balanced, easy home-cooked meals. (You may also try our tales on whether or not it is cheaper to purchase groceries on-line or within the retailer, and if meal kits are definitely worth the cash in comparison with common groceries.) 

Learn extra: Finest Low cost Meal Supply Companies

Earlier than going to the shop

1. Determine your dietary targets 

Everyone seems to be completely different, so take into consideration what you should gasoline your life-style. Are you energetic? Do you have got dietary restrictions? Do you have got an allergy that makes getting the appropriate vitamins tougher? 

For the very best bang on your buck, the bottom of your meal ought to purpose to have all three macronutrients: a carbohydrate, a protein and a fats. To make a totally balanced meal, embrace vegatables and fruits wherever doable. In keeping with the Heart for Illness Management, just one in 10 adults within the US eats sufficient greens and fruits (2-3 cups of veggies and 1.5-2 cups of fruit per day). 

That will help you plan, try our story on what fruits are most inexpensive proper now. 

2. Set a funds


It is essential to set a funds with regards to grocery procuring and meal prepping.

Angela Lang/CNET

So how do you set a funds for groceries? The US Division of Agriculture recommends that males aged 19 to 50 on a low-cost to average funds ought to spend about $66 to $82 per week, primarily based on dietary consumption suggestions. For females in the identical age group, that weekly funds is $57-$70. This may even fluctuate relying on the value of groceries the place you reside, however will assist as a basic guideline for those who’re undecided the place to start out. 

For all fundamentals akin to bread, milk, and butter, and so forth., I like to recommend a retailer like Aldi or Dealer Joe’s, which have enterprise fashions that hold costs decrease than many different supermarkets. For instance, at Aldi, I just lately purchased almond milk for $1.45, nearly $2 cheaper than the generic Complete Meals model. So, try these choices in case you have one close to you for most simple objects earlier than heading to a different retailer.

Learn extra: Finest Wholesome Meal Supply Companies

3. Discover recipes and make a grocery retailer checklist 

This appears self-explanatory, however many individuals find yourself impulse-buying items they do not want. The grocery retailer is designed so we do! Earlier than you go, search for simple recipes on-line, open up a cookbook, or plan to double up on recipes you’ll be able to already make. There are many web sites, YouTube channels and TikTok movies devoted to wholesome meal-planning.

When you’re meal prepping, write down the components for every meal, and the way a lot of every are wanted. By making a grocery checklist, you’ll be able to concentrate on precisely what you want and keep on with it.

If you do not know the place to start out, I typically purpose to purchase:

1 lean meat meat merchandise 

2 non-meat protein objects

3 starches, ideally complete grain

  • Brown Rice
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Oatmeal

2-3 completely different servings of fruits (frozen or contemporary)

  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Pineapple

2-3 completely different servings of greens (frozen or contemporary)

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Inexperienced Beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach

1-2 fats sources 

When you want some meal inspiration, listed below are a couple of of my go-to recipes and components for various meals:


  • Smoothie (frozen fruit, milk, spinach, Greek yogurt)
  • Oatmeal (and fruit)


  • Flatbread wraps (complete grain wrap, rooster, beans, cheese, lettuce, corn, chipotle mayo, avocado) 


  • Taco Bowl (rice, beans, meat (elective), pink onion, lettuce, fajita greens, cilantro, avocado) 
  • Stir Fry (rice, frozen stir fry veggies, meat (elective), soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, pink pepper flakes)

Learn extra: The Finest Meal Prep Containers to Purchase for 2022

On the retailer

4. Learn the vitamin labels

Get down on the underside row and take the time to learn the vitamin label to see if what you are shopping for is definitely offering the vitamins you are on the lookout for, whether or not that is fiber, nutritional vitamins, or protein. Try our information on what to search for and keep away from on vitamin labels


Examine these vitamin labels earlier than shopping for your meals.

Getty Pictures

5. Do the mathematics 

I do know you wish to get in and get out of the shop as quick as doable, however a pair additional minutes may prevent cash. Many corporations have diminished their meals portion sizes whereas preserving costs the identical. Cross-check between manufacturers and completely different sizes for the very best deal by dividing the overall value by the overall weight. When you have your calculator out, attempt totaling as you store. You’ll begin to bear in mind merchandise costs, and you will not be startled on the register. 

6. Purchase retailer manufacturers

Everybody is aware of retailer manufacturers are often cheaper than premium manufacturers, however the margin is larger than you’d suppose. Shopping for retailer manufacturers wherever you store can prevent as a lot as 30%, say professional grocery customers.

7. Store grocery retailer gross sales in-store and on-line

Take note of the gross sales on the retailer. Many grocery shops launch a weekly advert you could scan beforehand. Pick the objects you wish to use and attempt to plan your meals for the week round discounted objects. If you understand you purchase an merchandise typically and it is on sale, top off on it. (Numerous in-season fruits are cheaper, too.)

Many giant shops have apps or web sites, so lookout for online-specific reductions and offers. Coupon web sites akin to Coupons.com have a bit completely for grocery shops. Deciding on the objects you need to purchase beforehand additionally helps you diversify your meals as you incorporate new on-sale objects.

8. Prioritize versatility

The important thing to purchasing groceries is to not get fancy — you do not want that expensive truffle oil that you just’re solely going to make use of in a single recipe ever. Hold it easy with the components you understand you will use and use lots. Save the experimenting for when you have got more cash. Ingredient-prepping is much less daunting than meal-prepping, so in case you have comparable bases whereas various the spices and sauces, you can stretch a handful of components into completely different meals.

9. Purchase frozen or canned

Frozen and canned vegatables and fruits aren’t the enemy. A 2017 research confirmed that not solely are frozen greens and fruit nutritionally similar to contemporary ones, however frozen produce may very well retain nutritional vitamins extra effectively than contemporary produce saved within the fridge for 5 days or extra. Canned objects are processed greater than frozen produce, however they’re each harvested and preserved at peak ripeness. Regardless, consuming frozen and canned meals are an effective way so as to add important nutritional vitamins and minerals into your weight loss program simply and affordably.


Frozen fruit has the identical dietary worth as contemporary fruit, if no more.

Getty Pictures/ Zecchinon/Eyeem

After the Retailer

10. Make your meals final


Hold that fridge good and arranged.


The steps you are taking after grocery procuring are essential to effectively utilizing the meals you simply purchased. Take steps to protect your meals within the fridge longer, together with your fruits and veggies, and manage your kitchen to save cash and keep motivated to eat the great meals you simply purchased. 

Blissful meal prepping! For extra recommendations on wholesome meal preparation, try professional picks on the very best fish to grill, and the greatest air fryers.

The data contained on this article is for academic and informational functions solely and isn’t meant as well being or medical recommendation. All the time seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier concerning any questions you might have a few medical situation or well being goals.


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