meal prep for your budget

There are many reasons why to start meal prepping, but one of the easiest to appreciate is how it can help your budget! Whether you are living paycheck-to-paycheck or just wanting to save a bit of extra cash, the grocery budget is one area that can have a lot of give. With the right planning most people can easily cut their grocery bill in half!

I want you to stop and think for a moment: When you go to the grocery store, how do you shop? Do you go and grab what looks good to you? Do you have a list that you follow? How did you create that list? Did you use specific recipes and check your pantry for what you already have or did you just write down the things you usually buy with a vague plan in mind?

These are all things that can affect how large your grocery bill is! And with a bit of thought and practice, they are all things that can become easier and help you save money. By using these practices, I routinely keep our grocery bill around $100-120 per week! I could reasonably cut that even lower if I wanted to, but we have decided that there are certain products that we buy that are worth the extra cost.

To have meal prep really help your budget, there are a few things that you want to keep in mind!

Meal prep can help you save a lot on your grocery budget! Here are the top 3 things I keep in mind when planning my own meal prep to be budget-friendly!

3 Things to Consider for Budget Meal Prep

What do I already have in my pantry that needs to be used up?

This is especially relevant for produce or dairy products that are going to expire or go bad soon. Have some veggies looking a little sad? Plan to make a soup or stew to use them up! Have some canned ingredients that have been lingering on your shelves? Pick a recipe to use them up!

What recipes can I pick that have overlapping ingredients?

This can work for just about any type of ingredient, though I use this a lot for meat and produce. Two of the most common ingredients I will plan to use in multiple recipes on a given week: chicken and cabbage! Chicken is often available in large packages at a reduced per-pound cost. And one head of cabbage produces a lot of cabbage for your recipes!

For example, if I plan to meal prep 3 chicken recipes in a given week, I can buy a large package with enough for all three, saving me money and lowering wasted ingredients. Cabbage I usually plan out that way because most recipes call for less than a full head of cabbage. If I plan for 2 recipes, the cabbage gets used up! (Plus cabbage is incredibly cheap!) But that is just two examples! There are so many recipes and ingredients you can do this with! Think about it for a bit: What are some ingredients you use frequently?

What items are on sale at my grocery store?

I don’t honestly do this one very often, but it can be very helpful and I have used it a lot in the past! When you sit down to write your menu, first pull up the websites for the grocery stores you go to (or grab their mailers) and check out what main ingredients are on sale. Now, you want to be careful with this one. Focus on main ingredients only and try to pick things you would buy normally. Otherwise, this can go from money-saving to expensive very quickly. One of the ways I used this most was looking at what meat was on sale, especially chicken breasts or pork chops. Then I would choose my recipes for the week centered around that type of meat. This could work for just about any main ingredient though and I have used it before for produce as well!

Keeping these 3 things in mind when planning your meal prep menu can significantly increase your savings each week and reduce food wastage too!

What are your favorite ways to lower your food budget? Have your tried planning out your meal prep to be more budget-friendly? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

Meal Planning: A Beginner’s Guide

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So you all know just how much I love meal planning. After all, it’s the first step to meal prep! I’ve been doing meal planning for years! A lot longer than I have been meal prepping. I grew up in a home that did meal planning every week. My parents still do!

I’m excited to say that today I’m talking about meal planning over at Sarah & Co! Head over to her lovely site and check out the full post!

Sunday Meal Prep

Hey everyone! Welcome to this week’s meal prep! I decided to keep things pretty simple this week, along with trying out a couple new recipes. I’ve been trying to branch out and try some new types of food. This week was a Indian lentil recipe called Dal. (After making it I realized this is possibly a type of lentil dish instead of a specific dish, so I may be trying out some new Dal recipes soon!)

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The extra rice from the bell peppers and a few of the bell peppers themselves were frozen. All of our salads are Shredded Buffalo Chicken this week!
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Sausage and Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers. I love these! Not only are the delicious and easy to make, but they also freeze great!
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The two new recipes for this week: The Dal was much more tasty than it looks, I promise! From what I read, this can be more soup-like if you add more liquid, but I made it much thicker. I think next time I would make it thinner or serve it with rice. It was delish with a hard boiled egg though! The Easy Supper Casserole was good, but a bit too meaty for my tastes though Boyfriend really liked it!

The recipe for the Dal can be found in a free for download cookbook from this site. There are a bunch of tasty sounding recipes in here, so expect to see more in the future! The Casserole was in the “Steps to Healthy, Economical Meals” free government cookbook on this site. While it was good, I don’t know that I will make this again, at least not without some serious editing!

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As always, our regular snacks and sweets! Boyfriend has been taking the Cookie Dough Protein Bites to work, so I have started prepping them right into the containers when I’m making them.

That’s it for this week! What are you making this week? Have you tried any new types of foods lately?

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

Sunday Meal Prep

You know what amazes me? How out of all of the expenses that we have as adults, one of the only essential ones we have any control over is our grocery budget! We have control over all non-essential costs (or at least most), but when it comes to essential costs like bills, food and gas, we are pretty much out of luck. The grocery budget can make a huge impact on weekly costs…I know it does on ours.

So this week I decided to rejuvenate my efforts to reduce our grocery expenses while still keeping a focus on healthy eating. No easy task! That being said, I think I did a pretty good job this week! I did try a couple things this week I’ve never done before in my attempts to keep our budget lower and still healthy. I made homemade vegetable stock and cooked a dish using chicken drumsticks. I know, neither of these sound particularly adventurous, but I have never cooked either of these before. I have never even cooked chicken with any sort of bone in.

In my re-focusing on budget as well as health, I did some extra research when creating my menu this week. A few of the recipes came from this site and while I was originally unsure about how good recipes coming from a government resource would be, I was pleasantly surprised by how well these turned out! The Barley Jambalaya, Couscous with Peas and Onions and Quick Tuna Casserole all came from free cookbooks on this site. 🙂

So on to this week’s meal prep! Enjoy!

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Molly’s Chicken, Couscous with Peas and Onions, Saucy Green Beans and Barley Jambalaya.

For the Molly’s Chicken, make sure to read the comments section. There are a lot of good ideas in there! As for the Saucy Green Beans, check out the recipe below if you have missed it in previous posts!

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Our regular salads, looking delicious as always!
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This is mostly our freezer foods, excluding the Quick Tuna Casserole. The tuna casserole I forgot to photograph earlier, so it got included in this one instead! Also present are enough breakfast burritos for over 2 weeks, smoothies and vegetable stock.
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I really like how this tuna casserole turned out. It definitely was quick and so tasty!
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Smoothies! My favorite post-workout food, now prepped in the freezer to be pulled out the night before!

These are quite possibly the best smoothies I have ever made and sadly I can’t tell you how to make them. I kinda just threw things in, blended it for a long time (I really need a new blender) and voila! Very Berry Smoothies! I promise, I will try to record the ingredients and amounts next time!

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My first attempt at homemade vegetable stock! I think it turned out pretty well, though I’m sure there is room for much improvement.

For these, I used vegetable scrapes from previous meal preps that I had frozen with this in mind. I love that I could make all of this stock out of scrapes that would have otherwise just gone in the trash can!

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And last, but definitely not least, our sweets and treats! All of the weekly favs are there, including our newest addition: Cookie Dough Protein Bites!
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Seriously, these Cookie Dough Protein Bites are awesome. Make sure to check out this lovely lady for the recipe!

That’s it for this week! What have you been cooking? Do you focus much on budget meals? I would love to hear some of your healthy budget-friendly meals!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

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I will also sometimes add red pepper flakes to this while it is cooking for that extra kick!