How to Meal Prep on a Tight Budget

Many of us aspire to live a budget-conscious healthy life. But let’s face it life can get crazy busy.  When you’re busy navigating through your daily life, the thought of cooking all of your own meals at home can sometimes feel impossible. No shocker here that food is one of the budget areas that many people overspend in. That’s because cooking dinners and making lunches can feel like a lot of work when you are busy. Here are a few ways you can meal prep on a tight budget. 

Meal Prepping

Meal prepping is when you prepare meals ahead of time to help you save time cooking throughout the week. It allows us to eat our favorite meals with pre-determined portion sizes to ensure you don’t overindulge. Having a collection of well-balanced meals on hand will help you regulate what you eat and help you stay on track with your personal diet goals.

Apart from the health benefits meal prepping, will help you save money as it prevents you from eating out. Along with this, meal preparation gives you complete control over ingredients, giving you the ability to selectively shop for groceries. With proper planning, you can prevent making unnecessary food purchases, saving you money and reducing food.

RELATED: How to Feed a Family of 5 For $350 Per Month

The Cost of Dining Out

The average American household spends about $3,000 a year dining out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (remember that one person spending only on him/herself counts as a household, too.)

10 Tips for Meal Prepping on A Budget

Keep it Simple to Start

Meal prep can be easy, but it does take some practice to get the hang of things. Keep your recipes simple and familiar to you for at least a couple of weeks while you master the best meal prep process. Start small by planning just a few meals for the upcoming week and add a few more each week as you become better at prepping.

Here are a few ways you can meal prep on a tight budget. Click To Tweet

Make a Shopping List 

The first step of meal prep is planning out your recipes for the week and making a grocery list based on that. Choose your recipes and then check your fridge and pantry to see what ingredients you already have. You can also start with the ingredients you have on hand and then select recipes to use them up.

Choose Easy Recipes

Do some research and select some recipes that call for affordable and minimal ingredients. Recipes with little prep time are ideal and make it easier to make a bunch of recipes at once.

Keep track of the recipes that you like so you can build up a collection of favorite meals over time.

RELATED: 5+ Best Meal Planning Ideas to Save More Money

Be Smart When Experimenting

You’ll never become a better cook if you don’t try new things, and varying up your meals will help you avoid menu fatigue. keep it slow and simple, it’s important not to go too fast, too soon on the challenging recipe front or you might end up throwing out more food than you eat. Over time, you’ll get a better grasp of what you like and what your capabilities are as a cook, which will help guide the recipes you choose.

RELATED: How to Eat 1,200 Calories a Day and Feel Full

Have Set Days to Meal Prep 

Select set days to do your meal prep. Doing all your meal prep in one go can be tiring, especially if you’re new to meal prep and don’t have a lot of stamina built up yet. Spread out your meal prep so you shop on Saturday and cook on Sunday (or whatever days work best for your schedule). This will ensure that you have the most energy and willpower to avoid costly impulse purchases and cooking mistakes.

Shop in Bulk

If you’re wondering how to meal prep on a budget, buying large quantities of ingredients is usually cheaper—as long as you use them up. Purchasing large quantities of ingredients that will keep for a long time, such as lentils, dry beans, and grains, can help you save money. You can also buy in bulk and select the exact quantity of ingredients that you need to avoid awkward leftovers.

RELATED: 13 Budget-Friendly Heart-Healthy Foods and Activities

Invest in Storage Containers

Another tip I highly recommend is to invest in some high-quality meal prep containers. Glass containers are perfect for soups and tomato-based products. Containers that are airtight, microwavable, and BPA-free will keep your food fresh for much longer and make the meal prep process more manageable as a result.

Cook in Large Batches

The same principle also applies to cooking your recipes. Larger recipes mean you can eat the food for more meals, which means you won’t have to cook as many different recipes and therefore won’t need to buy as many ingredients. If you can’t eat it all up before it goes bad, you can always freeze it and thaw it later.

Use a Kitchen Gadget

One way to meal prep on a tight budget is to use your kitchen gadgets to get the job done quickly and easily. For example, A slow cooker can save you time if you’re busy during the day! Just place your ingredients in the slow cooker, then turn on low for 6-8 hours, and come home to a meal that’s ready to serve.

Go Freezer-Friendly

Freezer-friendly meal prep items are a great way to save money. They’re also suitable for busy people who don’t have time to stop by the grocery store every couple of days!

It also allows you to cook in large batches, freeze for later, and eat the same meal for multiple days. Not only you’ll be saving time and money but also reducing waste – always a good thing to do.


Meal prep on a tight budget with these tips above requires preparation! It may feel overwhelming at first, but you will get the hang of it very quickly. Plus not only will you save money, but you will also reduce wastage, get you reusing containers and be more eco-friendly in ways you didn’t even realize!

Don’t forget to plan ahead. Always stick to a budget, make it fun and involve the entire family in the process.  

What are some of the ways you meal prep?