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20 Cheap Meal Prep Ideas for Low Budgets

cheap meal prep

Are you on a tight budget? One of the best ways to stretch your dollars is to meal prep.

By meal prepping, you’ll be less likely to order takeout or buy pricey convenience foods.

But sometimes, meal prepping can still be expensive. Particularly if you use expensive ingredients like steak.

So, today I’m sharing 20 extra cheap meal prep ideas. They’re not only affordable but taste delicious as well.

And to keep your food fresh longer, make sure you store it in airtight food storage containers. I recommend these glass ones here. Glass tends to keep food fresh for longer.

1. Meal Prep Roasted Tofu

Roasted Tofu


Are you vegan? Then, you probably know how pricey ultra-processed meat substitutes can get … Particularly if you’re using them every single day.

That’s where a less processed meat alternative like tofu comes in handy. A block of tofu is quite cheap compared to more processed meat substitutes.

What’s more, it’s a good source of plant-based protein. And it contains a number of bone-building minerals like manganese, calcium, and phosphorus.

This Meal Prep Roasted Tofu is brimming with flavor. That’s because you’re seasoning it with 7 different spices, so get out measuring spoons like these.

Besides the tofu, you’ll also be roasting some cabbage “steaks” and bell peppers. So, you’re getting a ton of nutrition.

What I love most is that this is a sheet pan meal. So, there isn’t a ton of pots and pans to wash at the end of your meal prep.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 371
  • Fats: 27g
  • Protein: 27g
  • Carbs: 9g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sugar: 4g

2. One-Pot Cheesy Broccoli Chickpea Rice Casserole

Cheesy Broccoli Chickpea Rice Casserole


Are you looking for some vegetarian comfort food? Then give this casserole a try.

It’s creamy and packed with ooey gooey cheese. The chickpeas make it nice and hearty.

And the broccoli adds color and a ton of antioxidants. It’s definitely a great way to get your kids (or you) to eat more veggies.

Besides being delicious, this casserole is pretty nutritious. One serving provides 40% of your daily fiber needs.

And it’s packed with protein too. So, it’s great for growing kids.

It’s also a one-pot dish. So, you spend less time cleaning up and more time relaxing.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 412
  • Fats: 16g
  • Protein: 21g
  • Carbs: 49g
  • Fiber: 10g
  • Sugar: 12g

3. Mexican Red Bean Quinoa Casserole Meal Prep

Mexican Red Bean Quinoa Casserole


Looking for some more vegetarian eats? This is a great option.

This casserole offers a Mexican twist to your classic casserole. Instead of ground beef, you use red kidney beans, a much cheaper alternative to beef.

The corn adds sweetness, while the tomatoes add acidity. Meanwhile, the red bell peppers add some freshness.

And we can’t forget about the cheese, right? For this casserole, I use cheddar cheese, but to give it extra Mexican flare, you can use Pepper Jack cheese instead. Yum!

Believe it or not, but this meal prep is also high protein!

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 560
  • Fats: 18g
  • Protein: 27g
  • Carbs: 77g
  • Fiber: 14g
  • Sugar: 15g

4. Broccoli Lentil Stir-Fry

Broccoli Lentil Stir-Fry


When you think stir-fry, what comes to mind? Probably veggies, and some sort of protein like chicken or beef.

But beef and even chicken can get pretty expensive. Particularly if you’re feeding a large family.

That’s where using legumes like lentils comes in handy. Lentils are pretty inexpensive, and as an added bonus, they take less time to cook than beans.

They’re also a great source of plant-based protein and iron.

And they contain bone-building minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. So, eat up those lentils.

This broccoli lentil stir-fry will leave your taste buds satisfied. And your tummy happy.

Just one serving provides more than 75% of your daily fiber needs. Now, that’s a whole lot of fiber.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 446
  • Fats: 2g
  • Protein: 24g
  • Carbs: 86g
  • Fiber: 19g
  • Sugar: 6g

5. Vegan Burrito Bowls Loaded With Veggies

Vegan Burrito Bowls


Craving Mexican takeout? Have these Burrito Bowls instead.

These Burrito Bowls taste just as good as they look. They’re loaded with southwestern spices and veggies such as onions, corn, zucchini, carrots, and squash.

And of course, there are some black beans. After all, you can’t have a vegan burrito bowl without beans, right?

And instead of your typical white rice, you have brown rice instead. Brown rice has more fiber than white rice, so it won’t leave you hungry.

Now, you will be shredding a lot of veggies, which can be a pain. To make it easier, simply use the shredding attachment of your food processor. If you don’t have one, this one can do the job quite well.

Serve with salsa or avocado.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 317
  • Fats: 6g
  • Protein: 10g
  • Carbs: 58g
  • Fiber: 10g
  • Sugar: 4g

6. Low Carb Greek Chicken Meal Prep Bowls

Low Carb Greek Chicken


Chicken breasts tend to be pricier. But sometimes, they go on sale.

And when they do go on sale, it can be so tempting to grab more than you need. So, what can you do with all that chicken breast?

Make these Low Carb Greek Chicken Meal Prep Bowls. They chicken breasts are juicy and tender and seasoned to perfection with Greek spices.

While the veggies are nicely caramelized. And the feta cheese on top makes you want to keep eating them.

Besides being tasty, these meal prep bowls are also low carb. Just one serving has only 6 grams of net carbs.

What I love most about them is that this a sheet pan dish. So, you don’t have a ton of pans to wash at the end.

And to make clean up even easier, you can use a sheet pan like this. It’s made of silicone, which is a safer alternative to other non-stick materials.

Check out more sheet pan recipe ideas here.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 287
  • Fats: 15g
  • Protein: 28g
  • Carbs: 7g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 4g

7. Breakfast Burrito Recipe

Breakfast Burrito Recipe


I love breakfast burritos, as I’m sure many of you do too. You have a warm tortilla packed with your favorite breakfast foods.

And they’re perfect for eating on the run.

But if you’re on a low carb diet, breakfast burritos can be a no-no. That’s because they’re loaded with carbs.

These breakfast burritos are filled with yummy ingredients. Like sauteed cremini mushrooms, sausage, cheddar cheese, eggs, and bell peppers.

And the best part is that one burrito contains only 3 grams of net carbs. So, you can have one or two and not feel guilty. It’s a perfect low carb low-calorie meal!

To keep them low carb, you’ll want to make sure you use low carb tortillas. These ones here contain only 3 grams of net carbs per tortilla.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 220
  • Fats: 6g
  • Protein: 13g
  • Carbs: 3g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 1g

8. Meal Prep Sweet Potato Hash

Sweet Potato Hash


Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. And for a good reason.

Having a good breakfast sets the tone for the day.

But often, mornings can be so hectic that we don’t have time to eat. Or we end up going through the drive-through.

This meal prep sweet potato hash is better than a drive-through. On the menu is nicely seasoned homemade sausage and a medley of veggies.

Veggies like roasted sweet potatoes, red, green and yellow bell peppers, red onions, and kale.

So, it’s not only delicious, but it is pretty healthy too. It’s packed with fiber and protein, which keep you full.

And it also contains a lot of Vitamin A, which you need for a healthy immune system.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 352
  • Fats: 16g
  • Protein: 27g
  • Carbs: 26g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Sugar: 9g

9. One-Pan Chicken Legs With Chickpeas & Quinoa Meal Prep

Chicken Legs With Chickpeas


I’m a big fan of chicken legs, as I’m sure many of you are too. They’re cheaper than chicken breasts, so they’re great for your wallet.

And since they’re packed with fat, they’re also more flavorful too.

This meal prep is packed with flavor. The lightness of the quinoa complements the hearty chicken and chickpeas.

While the dried cranberries add sweetness. And the tomatoes add acidity.

What I love about this meal is that it’s pretty substantial. You definitely won’t be craving snacks after finishing it.

So, it’s the perfect meal prep to have on hand if you’re working really long shifts.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 932
  • Fats: 46g
  • Protein: 54g
  • Carbs: 79g
  • Fiber: 14g
  • Sugar: 19g

10. Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Turkey Stuffed Peppers


Chicken is nice and all. But after a while, it can get kind of boring.

So, if you’re looking for a nice change, try these turkey stuffed peppers.

They look and taste amazing. Bell peppers are filled with seasoned ground turkey and brown rice.

This offers a healthier spin to your traditional ground beef and white rice stuffing.

Then, they’re topped with ooey-gooey mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce.

Besides being tasty, these turkey stuffed peppers are lower in fat. So, they’re perfect if you’re following a low-fat diet.

What I love about this dish is that you don’t have to brown the ground turkey first. So, this cuts down on the prep work.

Just make sure that once your peppers are done baking, that your ground turkey is cooked all the way through.

You want to make sure that the internal temperature of your ground turkey reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit using a digital thermometer like this.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 330
  • Fats: 5g
  • Protein: 23g
  • Carbs: 48g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 6g

11. Cajun Chicken Thighs Meal Prep

Cajun Chicken Thighs


After a good workout, the last thing you want to do is cook. So, for days when you work out, it’s good to have a good meal already made.

This Cajun Chicken Thighs Meal Prep is a great option. One serving has a whopping 50 grams of protein.

So, it makes for the perfect post-workout meal. And it has tons of fat to help you feel and stay full… And away from the cookies that are calling your name.

The chicken thighs are nice and spicy. And we can’t forget about the chicken skin… It’s super crispy.

The roasted sweet potatoes and corn add sweetness, perfectly balancing out the meal. With a meal like this, you’ll want to work out every day.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 811
  • Fats: 58g
  • Protein: 50g
  • Carbs: 23g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 4g

12. Healthy Chicken Fajitas Meal Prep

Chicken Fajitas


Are you craving some Tex-Mex? Give this Chicken Fajitas meal prep a try.

The chicken breasts are tasty and juicy. The black beans are pretty yummy too.

That’s because the jalapeno peppers add some heat, while the fresh lime juice adds a nice tang.

Meanwhile, the bell peppers are sauteed in chicken drippings, along with poblano peppers for some heat. Perfect if you like it spicy.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 445
  • Fats: 13g
  • Protein: 53g
  • Carbs: 29g
  • Fiber: 9g
  • Sugar: 4g

13. Baked Herb Chicken Breasts With Couscous Meal Prep

Herb Chicken Breasts With Couscous


Do you prefer your chicken a little less spicy? Then, you’ll love this meal prep.

The chicken breasts are juicy, tender, and flavorful. That’s because you’re using Mediterranean spices like oregano and basil.

And the Mediterranean influences don’t stop there. The couscous is fluffy and infused with flavor from the vegetable broth.

And to complete the meal, you’ll also be roasting a ton of veggies. Veggies like zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, and red onions. Eating healthy doesn’t get much better than this.

This is a wonderful high protein lunch as well!

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 633
  • Fats: 17g
  • Protein: 61g
  • Carbs: 56g
  • Fiber: 7.5g
  • Sugar: 9.7g

14. Buddha Bowl Recipe

Buddha Bowl


More and more of us are turning to plant-based diets. And for a good reason: plant-based diets have many health benefits.

But changing your eating habits can be hard. So, having your meals prepped ahead of time makes it so much easier.

This Buddha Bowl is filled with lots of flavors, colors, and textures. You have sweet carrots, nicely caramelized Brussels Sprouts, and red onions.

Also, you have fluffy quinoa and hearty chickpeas. You definitely won’t miss the meat.

The Tahini dressing is the icing on top of the cake. It’s creamy, sweet, and has some tang.

And it’s so easy to make. Just mix together some tahini paste, water, maple syrup, lemon juice, and salt.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 496
  • Fats: 16g
  • Protein: 19g
  • Carbs: 70g
  • Fiber: 15g
  • Sugar: 12g

15. Easy Roasted Veggies Meal Prep Bowls

Roasted Veggies


When you’re on a tight budget, you need to pinch your pennies. And eggs are a tasty, affordable way to do this.

Besides being good sources of protein, eggs are pretty nutritious. They’re rich in selenium, a powerful antioxidant.

They’re also rich in choline- an important nutrient that many people don’t get enough of. So, eat up those eggs!

On the menu are soft-boiled eggs with roasted veggies. Veggies like sweet potatoes, kale, cauliflower, and green beans.

The creaminess of the soft-boiled eggs works perfectly with the sweetness of the caramelized veggies.

To make cooking your eggs a breeze, you can simply skip the stovetop and use an egg maker. This egg maker right here is high quality, yet budget-friendly.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 254
  • Fats: 13g
  • Protein: 13g
  • Carbs: 25g
  • Fiber: 8g
  • Sugar: 8g

16. Tuna Chickpea Meal Prep Lunch Bowls

Tuna Chickpea Lunch Bowls


Canned tuna is another good protein option if you’re on a tight budget. Not only is it high in protein, it also contains a lot of heart-healthy, brain-boosting omega-3s.

The combination of sauteed tuna and chickpeas is interesting. But it works wonderfully.

The tomato paste and lemon juice add acidity. Meanwhile, the crushed red pepper adds some heat…you may want to have canned tuna like this more often.

Making this meal prep is pretty easy. All it takes is 15 minutes… Yes, you read that right!

So, it’s perfect for those times when you don’t have a lot of time on your hands. Check out more high protein chickpea recipes here.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 334
  • Fats: 18g
  • Protein: 21g
  • Carbs: 27g
  • Fiber: 10g
  • Sugar: 5g

17. Grilled Veggie & Black Bean Meal Prep Bowls

Grilled Veggie & Black Bean Bowls


When it’s blazing hot outside, the last thing you want to do is turn your oven on. These meal prep bowls are for times like that.

These meal prep bowls are light and refreshing. That’s because you have fluffy quinoa, black beans, and nicely grilled veggies like zucchini, bell peppers, and red onions.

The homemade barbecue vinaigrette complements the dish perfectly.

When you’re grilling your veggies, it’s a good idea to grill them on a vegetable grilling plate like this. That’s so your veggies don’t fall through.

Besides being packed with protein, these meal prep bowls are packed with fiber too. Just one serving provides a whopping 44% of your daily fiber needs.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 365
  • Fats: 7g
  • Protein: 16g
  • Carbs: 64g
  • Fiber: 11g
  • Sugar: 13g

18. Instant Pot Meal Prep Quinoa Burrito Bowl

 Instant Pot Meal Prep Quinoa Burrito Bowl


Sometimes, despite our best intentions, Sunday evening rolls by. And we haven’t done any meal prep.

This Burrito Bowl is for times like that. It’s tasty and sure to satisfy your cravings.

The fluffy quinoa and creamy beans provide protein. Meanwhile, the corn and green bell peppers add freshness and extra nutrition.

And it literally takes only 15 minutes to make this meal. And that includes the 10 minutes you need to allow for the pressure to be released when you’re done cooking.

The key to the short cook time is that you use an Instant Pot to do your cooking. So, it saves you lots of time.

Besides using it for cooking quinoa, you can also use it for cooking dried beans from scratch. So, it saves you not only time but money as well.

If you’re in the market for an Instant Pot, there’s a good deal right now on this Instant Pot here.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 351
  • Fats: 14g
  • Protein: 13g
  • Carbs: 50g
  • Fiber: 14g
  • Sugar: 8g

19. Healthy Meatloaf Meal Prep Bowls

Healthy Meatloaf


Sometimes, life can get so stressful. And all you want is some good old-fashioned comfort food.

These meatloaf meal prep bowls are for times like that.

On the menu is juicy, moist meatloaf topped with a tomato glaze. All served with roasted green beans and sweet potatoes.

And unlike your typical comfort food, these meal prep bowls don’t have a ton of calories. So, you’ll still be able to fit into your skinny jeans after eating them. Yay!

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 484
  • Fats: 23g
  • Protein: 31g
  • Carbs: 39g
  • Fiber: 8g
  • Sugar: 13g

20. Meal Prep Buffalo Chickpea Salad

 Buffalo Chickpea Salad


Craving a good vegan “chicken” salad? This chickpea salad is a great option.

It’s creamy, spicy, and really filling. The crunchiness of the celery is a nice complement to the smoothness of the hummus and mashed garbanzo beans.

Besides being tasty, this chickpea salad is pretty nutritious. It’s packed with protein, so it helps keep you full.

And it’s rich in Vitamins A and C, which you need for a healthy immune system. So, bring on the chickpea salad!

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 240
  • Fats: 4g
  • Protein: 14g
  • Carbs: 42g
  • Fiber: 10g
  • Sugar: 9g


Which one of these meal preps is your favorite? Which are you cooking next? Let me know!


Tuesday 30th of November 2021

Hi Caro! Thanks for the amazing recipes! Tuna Chickpea Meal is my favorite! I have recommended your post to my followers as well.