Meal Prep Ideas – Save Money on Food

Meal Prep Ideas – Save Money on Food

Every month, we vow to do better about eating out so much and save money on food costs by coming up with meal prep ideas for each week. Today, I actually sat down and did some meal prep to get us through this week. Your meal prep may vary from mine and I found half the work was figuring out what we’d eat on what days. Fortunately, I learned a few tips that I think will help you, too. I’m going to share my recipes and plan in case you just want something quick to grab and go, but I’m also going to explain how you can create your own meal plan.

I started my meal prep ideas out by planning a menu for the week. Since we tend to have last minute things come up (and we have a grandbaby due any day), I do meal numbers rather than days. Here is my Meal Prep Menu Plan for the week:

Healthy meal prep containers with rukola, turkey grill, tomatoes and avocado Meal prep ideas.
Meal prep containers give you a fast lunch to grab.

Meal Prep Menu Ideas

Breakfast

  • Banana Nut Muffins
  • Bacon
  • Sliced berries

Lunch

  • Salad with grilled chicken
  • Hard boiled eggs and cubed cheese
  • Cold cuts and sliced green peppers

Dinner

  • Chicken bacon ranch casserole
  • Tacos
  • Cheeseburger casserole
  • Keto lasagna
  • Breakfast for dinner
  • Leftovers

You’ll note I only planned for six dinners. This allows flex room if we eat out. I prepped for everything but the breakfast for dinner. I also try to stick with just a couple types of meat and have at least one meat free day each week. Because I’m doing low carb, these recipes are low carb or adaptable to. You may use different recipes if you aren’t doing low carb and add noodles or bread to your meals. 

Shopping List

Before you start, gather everything you’ll need for a week’s worth of meal prep for two people with some leftovers:

Non-Food

  • 2 – disposable casserole dishes
  • 5 – meal prep containers for lunch
  • 1 – container for cubed cheese
  • Large bowl with lid for prepped fruit 
  • 3 – Freezer safe containers

Food

  • 3 – pounds boneless skinless chicken tenderloins
  • 3 – pounds ground beef
  • 1 – Onion
  • 1 – Low carb tortillas
  • 1 – Package bacon
  • 24 – Eggs
  • 1 – Package Mexican cheese
  • Mayonnaise
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • Imitation banana flavoring
  • Walnut pieces (small package)
  • Flax seed – ground
  • Almond flour
  • Butter
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • 2 Avocadoes
  • Artificial sweetener of choice
  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 – Jar pasta sauce
  • 1 – 16 oz. bag shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 – 16 oz. bag shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 1 head fresh brocolli
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 package American cheese

The list above assumes you already have spices and seasoning and a few common items on hand.

Meal Prep Ideas Recipes

These are the recipes I used:

Breakfast

  • Keto Banana Nut Muffins – this was my first time using this recipe and these turned out amazing. 
  • Almond Flour Pancakes – I make these fresh, but you can also make ahead and even freeze.
  • Bacon – cook in the oven or microwave between paper towels. I cook the whole package for recipes and quick breakfasts.
  • Eggs – I always cook fresh unless making a breakfast casserole.

Lunch

  • Salads with lettuce, tomato and cucumber.
  • Hard boiled eggs. I usually boil six at a time.
  • Leftovers.

Dinner

  • Dinner # 1: Chicken bacon ranch casserole
  • Dinner # 2: Tacos
  • Dinner # 3: Cheeseburger casserole – I make this minus the bacon and I top with cheese slices.
  • Dinner # 4: Keto Lasagna
  • Dinner # 5: Breakfast for Dinner (you could make ahead a breakfast casserole but I prefer to do scrambled eggs and throw in any leftover veggies from the week)
  • Dinner # 6: Leftovers

Best Method to Prep Your Meals

I find it is easiest with meal prep ideas to do one type of meat at a time. You may find it is better to line up everything. It depends on your counter space and how you work in a kitchen. For me, I did this:

  1. Started eggs boiling.
  2. Seasoned and grilled chicken tenders. Once they were done, I diced them and put 2/3 into the casserole dish and 1/3 aside for salads.
  3. Nuked bacon. While that cooked, I mixed up the sauce for the chicken casserole. Crumbled bacon, assembled everything and put plastic wrap on the casserole and popped into fridge.
  4. I then assembled salads but kept the chicken separate. I like to heat my chicken up and this way I can grab a salad and heat a spoonful of chicken to toss on top. 
  5. Eggs had been removed when they came to a hard boil and had now sat for about 15 minutes, so I ran cool water over them and placed the cooked eggs in the fridge. You can go ahead and peel them if you want to save even more time during the week. 
  6. Started two pans of ground beef, one with onions diced in (1 pound) and one without (2 pounds). Once the meat was browned, I placed the beef and onions in a container and labeled (for casserole) and then I removed 1 pound of plain beef and put in another container marked for lasagna. To the remaining ground beef, I added my taco seasonings and water and mixed up before placing in a third container which went into the fridge for tacos. The other two containers went into the freezer because meat only keeps a few days and I wanted meals for the whole week. I will simply pull them out the night before I plan to cook that meal. 

Other Tips for Quick Meals

My goal for my meal prep this week was to get major efforts out of the way so I can throw meals together fast. However, there were a lot of other things I could have done ahead of time to save even more time during the busy work week, such as peeling those eggs, cubing cheese and cutting up vegetables for snacks. 

It took me around four hours to cook everything and clean up, but I’ll still have about 15-20 minutes a day to heat and add sides, etc. If you don’t have a block of time to meal prep, there are some options for you that might work better. They just aren’t as cost effective and you won’t be able to control ingredients as well.

Our local Kroger has a station where you can go through and add frozen items for a meal you can heat up in minutes. All the meats and veggies are precooked and then flash frozen. You decide which items to add and then pay for the dish by weight. It’s also one-pot style meals, so you won’t have a lot of cleanup after.

You could also try a meal delivery service such as Hello Fresh. The meals are prepped for you. All you do is follow the instructions. However, I personally found this just as time consuming as cooking from scratch. I did like the variety. 

As you prep meals and look for ways to get dinner on the table in 15 to 20 minutes, you’ll find ways of cutting corners and saving time. 

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Crabby Housewife

AuthorCrabby Housewife

Lori is a full-time housewife and writer, living in the Midwest with her husband of 28 years - they have two daughters. They have a house full of pets and her house is never quite perfect.