Let’s face it, the idea of meal prepping is not at the top of anyone’s fun list. If it is, kudos to you! Yet with a little planning and budgeting, it can not only be a healthy alternative but cost-effective and a fun creative way to test your skills in the kitchen. This time of year is extra hectic with planning for the holidays as well as trying to budget money for trips or gifts, why not make life simpler by planning your meals in advance?
I visited https://www.budgetbytes.com/category/extra-bytes/budget-friendly-meal-prep/ and found thirty plus healthy and budget-friendly meal prep ideas that you can try out to get you started. These recipes are just as fun and creative as they are delicious so you definitely won’t get bored! Below you will find my two of my favorites, one for lunch and one for dinner. I find that meal prepping takes an unwanted stressor out of my life and allows me to utilize that time for the rest of the week to be productive in other areas. Once this becomes a habit, it doesn’t seem like such a daunting task and that’s where the real fun comes in! If you are still having second thoughts, try recruiting a friend or a family member to join you, put on some music and make it a party. You can entice them with some of the goodies you are preparing!
Whatever you have to do to get yourself started it will be worth it in the end. Meal prepping is a great way to reduce stress, eat healthier and keep your self on a budget. If you have not tried it, talk with your therapist, dietitian and/or doctor first to see if this is a viable solution for you. If so, check out the website above for some great ideas and get to preppin’!
Apple Dijon Kale Salad: $5.40
Total Cost $5.40 recipe / $1.35 serving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
- 1/3 cup olive oil $0.69
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar $0.24
- 1 clove garlic $0.08
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard $0.14
- 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
- 10-15 cranks freshly cracked pepper $0.05
- 1/2 lb chopped kale (about one bunch) $2.32
- 1 medium granny smith apple $0.79
- 1/4 cup raisins $0.27
- 1/2 cup walnut halves $0.80
- Rinse the kale well in a colander under cool running water. Allow the kale to drain as you prepare the rest of the salad.
- In a blender combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, clove of garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until the garlic is minced and the dressing is smooth.
- Wash the apple and slice it into thin wedges, or dice it into cubes. Roughly chop the walnut halves. Make sure the kale is as dry as possible and then add it to a large bowl along with the apples, walnuts, and raisins. Starting with just half, drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Add more dressing as desired
8 oz. Cheddar Cheese: $1.79*
1/2 recipe Focaccia Rolls: $0.60
Total Cost: $7.79
Cost per meal: $1.90
Cost of leftovers (4 small rolls): $0.20
Cheddar Cheeseburger Meatloaf (4 servings): $7.31
Total Cost $7.31 recipe / $1.83 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 2 slices each
- 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs $0.06
- 1 tsp smoked paprika $0.10
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
- 3/4 tsp salt $0.03
- 1 large egg $0.27
- 1/2 cup minced onion $0.16
- 4 oz. sharp cheddar $0.85
- 1 lb. ground beef (85/15) $5.29
- 1/2 cup ketchup $0.41
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar $0.04
- 1 tsp yellow mustard $0.03
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce $0.02
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a small bowl stir together the breadcrumbs, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and salt. In a separate small bowl, lightly whisk the egg.
- Finely mince the onion. Roughly chop the cheddar cheese so that it is in pieces about the same size as a small bean.
- Add the ground beef, seasoned breadcrumbs, whisked egg, minced onion, and chopped cheddar to a bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until incorporated.
- Place the meat mixture in a casserole dish or on a rimmed baking sheet and shape into a rectangle, approximately 7″ long, 4″ wide, and 1.5″ thick.
- To make the glaze, stir together the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Spread the glaze over the unbaked meatloaf.
- Bake the meatloaf in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160ºF. Remove the meatloaf from the oven, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then slice into eight pieces and serve.
Fluffy Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes (6 servings): $2.05
Total Cost $2.05 recipe / $0.34 serving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 1 cup each
- 2.5 lbs. russet potatoes $0.87
- 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
- 4 Tbsp butter $0.72
- 1/2 cup whole milk $0.16
ALL-PURPOSE GARLIC HERB SEASONING
- 1 tsp dried parsley $0.10
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.05
- 1/2 tsp dried basil $0.05
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
- 1/4 tsp onion powder $0.02
- 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
- freshly cracked pepper $0.02
- Peel and cut the russet potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubed potatoes in a colander and rinse well with cool water.
- Place the rinsed potatoes in a pot and add enough water to cover the potatoes by one inch. Season the water with 1/2 tsp salt. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes until they are VERY tender, about 7-10 minutes.
- Drain the cooked potatoes in a colander, then rinse briefly with hot water.
- Add the butter, milk, and garlic herb seasoning o the pot used to boil the potatoes. Stir and heat over low until the butter has melted and the milk is hot.
- Once the milk is hot, add the potatoes back to the pot, turn off the heat and mash with a potato masher. Once the potatoes are mostly mashed, use a hand mixer to briefly whip the potatoes until they are light and fluffy. Taste the potatoes and add salt to taste, if needed, then serve.
1 pound Green Beans: $1.39
Total Cost: $10.75
Cost Per Serving: $2.52
Cost of Leftovers (2 servings mashed potatoes): $0.68
By, Garcsa Brooks
Intern, Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc