If you’re like me, you probably have good intentions about eating healthier, but eating healthy can be expensive! If you want to save money on your groceries and still eat cheap, healthy meals this week, I just spent several hours looking up recipes, shopping for the best ingredients to use cheaply and figuring out how to do weekly healthy meal prep. I’m going to share that plan with you here. You’ll get a shopping list and links to recipes along with other tips to help you save money this week.
Cheap Healthy Meal Prep
My oldest daughter often preps her meals for the week on Sundays, fixing up things such as turkey burrito bowls (that recipe is linked up below) and things she can just grab and take to work with her. She sometimes preps her dinners, too.
Probably the easiest thing to do is to get some meal prep containers. I have some larger 3-compartment ones for dinners and for my husband and some 2-compartment ones for lunches and my daughter. I actually bought these in preparation for my mom having knee surgery, because I knew I’d be taking meals to her and my dad each night (don’t worry, they are right across the street, so it was a fast trip each time).
However, I love these containers so much that I kept on using them and ordered some more. I can’t find them on Groupon anymore (there are some there, but not the ones I have), but I did find some just like them on Amazon (the affiliate links below will earn me a few cents and help pay to keep the site running, if you choose to order).
These meal prep containers stack inside each other for storage in your cabinets and stack nicely on top of each other in the fridge, not taking up nearly as much space as you might think.
Meal Prep Tip
Do keep in mind that some things don’t prep as well as others. If you plan to take salads for lunch, you will want to pack everything separately. I buy little containers with lids for this and put them down inside the prep boxes. I just buy them at Kroger. They are like the carry out sauce containers you get from any restaurant.
Cheap Healthy Meals Menu
Below is my menu for the coming week. You can certainly swap these things out for the menu items you like best. If you hate turkey, use ground chicken or beef, etc. Not that some cuts cost more than others, though, so you might have to shop around for sales to keep this in your budget. I chose turkey because turkey is cheap!
- Monday – Turkey burrito bowls
- Tuesday – Whole chicken in crock pot & green beans
- Wednesday – Leftover chicken on salad
- Thursday – Eggs, turkey bacon, fruit
- Friday – Turkey wraps in low carb or whole grain tortillas with fresh tomato
- Saturday – Chili (can make vegetarian or with lean beef)
- Sunday – Eat up leftovers
If you’ve followed my blog for a while or read my books You Made WHAT?!!!? for Dinner: 14-Day Menu Rotation Plan (you can get this one free by signing up for my newsletter!) or Cut Your Grocery Costs in Half without Coupons, then you know that I’m a big believer in using up leftovers and trying not to be so wasteful with food.
$40 Kroger Shopping List
Please note that I base my meals for a family of 4, but the portions are hearty. My children are grown, but the youngest still lives at home and goes to college and the oldest often stops by. My husband is also a tall man and eats big portions. I often have enough left to also send with him to work for his lunch. You may need to adjust these recipes if you have a larger or smaller family. If your family is smaller, then the good news is that you can either stretch the meals out further or make less, saving you money.
I like to divide my lists up the way my local Kroger is set up. You can move these around however makes sense to you. I’m also going to assume you already have all the seasonings and some basic things in your pantry, but I’ll list them anyway just to be safe and make sure you don’t forget a vital ingredient. Just mark them off the list before you go shopping. That is a smart thing to do with these lists anytime you shop, because it saves more money. Mark off anything you have already.
- 2 Heads of lettuce (shred your own – it’s much cheaper)
- 4 Tomatoes (Roma works good, but any kind. Split these between salad meals.)
- 1 Lime
- 1 Avocado (these are pricey, you can leave it off if you don’t like it)
- Strawberries or fruit of choice (try to keep it under $2)
- 1 pound ground turkey – I know the recipe says 1.25, but you can’t buy it in a package that way, so there you are, I adjusted it and it won’t impact the flavor any noticeable amount.
- Whole chicken – get whatever is on sale (I buy ahead to get the best prices possible on meat and freeze)
- 1 Turkey bacon
- Turkey lunch meat (can also get chicken if price is similar – and, I get whatever brand is on sale that I also like. I hate Budding meats, so I don’t go with those, but other than that, I will get the cheapest – usually around $2.50)
- 1 can beef broth (get the cheapest)
- 1 8-oz. can of tomato sauce (same, get the cheapest)
- 1 15-oz. can of black beans (cheapest)
- 1 small can of black olives (if you don’t like them on your burrito bowl, leave this off list)
- 1 can green beans (you can use frozen, but canned is cheaper)
- 1 15-oz. can hot chili beans
- 1 15-oz. can light red kidney beans
- 1 15-oz. can dark red kidney beans
- 1 14-oz. can petite diced tomatoes
- Salsa (the recipe calls for pico de gallo, but I just use salsa. Your choice)
- Salad dressing of choice (we like ranch – you can also make your own)
A quick note here. There is a lot of seasonings listed. If you don’t already own seasonings, don’t spend a fortune on them all at once and break the bank. Instead, choose a packet of taco seasoning and so on and stock up on spices a little bit at a time as they are on sale. You can get a few at the dollar store, too.
- Salt (pantry stock)
- Pepper (pantry stock)
- Cumin (pantry stock)
- Garlic powder (pantry stock)
- Chili powder (pantry stock)
- Onion powder (pantry stock)
- Oregano (pantry stock)
- Paprika (pantry stock)
- Flour (I use arrowroot, but it is expensive to buy, so use what you have on hand)
- White rice
- Whole wheat soft tortillas
- 1 loaf whole wheat bread
- 1 packet chili seasoning
- 1 bag frozen corn (cheapest)
- Sour cream (cheapest/smallest)
- Mexican shredded cheese (store brand)
- 1 dozen eggs (whatever size is cheapest – my local Dollar General has a dozen for .80, so I usually stop there, but priced them at Kroger for the purposes of this article)
- Sliced cheese for wraps (keep under $2)
Kroger Shopping List Results
After inputting the items above the typical person would need to purchase to make these meals, my total on my online Kroger ClickList account was $35.15. Some items were on sale, but keep in mind that when you shop, different ones may be. Your total may vary slightly, so I’ve rounded up to $40. If you have money left and want to buy some additional healthy snack items for your family, here are some of the cheapest/best things to invest in:
- Peanut Butter
- Additional eggs
- Cans of water packed tuna
- Frozen vegetables
- Whatever is on sale that you can stock up on
So, some of the recipes are favorites of mine and some I found by Googling online or checking out Pinterest. I’ll share each with you here. If not already up at CH, I will share it on this page to make your life easy. The easiest thing for you to do would be to bookmark this page, so you can flip back to the recipes as you need them.
Turkey Burrito Bowls
I searched through a bunch of recipes. This is the one I liked the best, because it has so many yummy ingredients. My mouth is watering. I can’t wait to make this one. I can tell by what it is in it that it will taste good. I’ve made enough Mexican dishes to just know. I also will use my own taco seasoning mix rather than the seasonings here, but you can stick to the recipe if you’re more comfortable with that.
Whole Chicken in Crock Pot & Green Beans
I like to keep this really simple. I usually throw on some salt, pepper, and a bit of savory. You can use whatever seasonings you prefer, but keep in mind you’ll be using leftover chicken in your salad the next day, so don’t go too crazy.
For the green beans, you can use fresh, frozen, or canned. The canned ones are cheapest, but if you find other things on sale and prefer fresh, just measure them out and stay within the amount you’ve allotted for green beans.
I throw a thawed chicken in the crock pot for 6-8 hours on low and it comes out tender and juicy. The green beans, I would cook on the stove top. I keep these super simple, too. I might add a bit of fresh garlic, salt and pepper.
Leftover Chicken on Salad
This is another easy meal that doesn’t really require a recipe at all. Chop one of the heads of lettuce, add a couple of the tomatoes, shred leftover chicken and add some cheese on top. You can of course use anything else you have on hand that you enjoy.
One of the keys to saving money is eating out less. If every meal is a big production, you will get burned out fast. Simple meals are often the healthiest and most frugal.
Eggs, Turkey Bacon, Fruit
I love eggs. They pack a protein punch. They are cheap. They are easy to fix. Breakfast for dinner is something we do about once a week here. It saves money and is simple.
For this meal, fix the eggs however your family prefers – we like scrambled or an omelet with some bits of veggies left over from salad day, such as peppers.
I cook my turkey bacon in the microwave between paper towels. I like my bacon crispy and turkey bacon is so easy to cook this way.
I just slice up strawberries and serve as is. No need to sweeten. They are healthy and delicious fresh with nothing added. You can use whatever fruit you prefer that is on sale.
This is a good place to use up any leftover lettuce and veggies you have on hand. I like to add cheese to my wraps, so I added that to the shopping list. Kroger Swiss was on sale for $1.99 this week. That is pretty inexpensive.
If you have extra money in your budget, you could make some homemade sweet potato chips to go with this meal, but sweet potatoes can be more expensive than say Russets, so go ahead and factor in if you can afford the addition.
I keep my chili really easy and simple. Personally, I grab some grass-fed, lean beef from a friend of ours who sells it for $6/pound. I’ve left this out of this recipe, because some people want a vegetarian meal and not putting meat in this saves a lot of money. Another idea is to save out some of the turkey from your turkey bowl, before adding the taco seasoning and throwing this in with your chili (or buy another pound as it was only $2.99/pound and you had extra in your budget). The choice is yours. I think it tastes good all of these ways.
Throw in the cans of beans (3) and the can of diced tomatoes into a large pot or into your slow cooker. Add the packet of chili seasoning and stir into the beans and tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you have an onion or onion powder on hand, this can add a lot of flavor to the chili.
If you plan to add meat, brown it and add it to the mixture. Cook on low for 4-6 hours in a slow cooker and on simmer for an hour or two on the stove top (stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn on the bottom). You will likely have leftovers.
I am a big believer is using up as much food as possible. I just cleaned out my freezer this week to get rid of unhealthy food that had sneaked in. It almost physically hurt to throw out all that money.
One way that I try to reduce the food waste in our house is to have a day each week when we eat leftovers. This might be a meal where one family member eats leftover chili and another fixes a turkey wrap from what is left, while the other two make up some eggs and turkey bacon. Or, you can divide up a little of everything an put it on all plates.
When my kids were little, I called this a hodge podge meal. It can be truly weird, but it helps us not waste food. You can even use muffin tins and put little bits of food in each opening. So, you might serve younger kids a few slices of strawberries, a spoonful of chili, some cut up cheese, a few goldfish crackers, celery with peanut butter, etc.
Don’t stress about whether this meal is balanced or not. Just use up the food and have fun with the concept. You can even see who has the weirdest combination of foods.
Keys to Staying on a Grocery Budget
Staying on a grocery budget requires a number of elements. First, you must have a meal plan. Second, you have to shop and buy things when they are on sale and save money over time by stockpiling things you use often. Finally, be creative in how you change recipes and put leftovers together to keep from wasting any food.