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Let’s face it, healthy meal prep for weight loss on a budget is challenging in America. We are a nation of very busy people where the cheapest foods are typically the most highly processed ones, so I wanted to share some meal prep ideas we’ve found that save us time and money.
Eating healthy is expensive, but is an absolute must when your goal is weight loss. Food quality and healthy meal prep are both key in weight management.
By now most of us know we need to cut back on carbs, calories, and processed foods if we want to maintain a healthy weight, but doing this can be costly.
Let’s get Started with our Tips-Meal Prep for Weight Loss on a Budget
We need to make sure we are first shopping in the right stores, not buying anything we won’t use or anything too tempting, and also have some good containers for packing lunches and pre-measuring serving-size quantities.
So what can we do to make sure we don’t go broke in the process of our meal prep for weight loss on a budget?
Here are a few tips:
1.) Make use of the Left Overs/Cook Once, Eat Twice.
My father in law was a navy cook and he once told me, “The number one best way to save money on your grocery bill is to make full use of your left-overs.” Enough said. I eat left-overs of our healthy meals for breakfast and lunch all the time! I mean think about a nice steaming bowl of gluten and dairy free soup , or a large stir fry.
If you prepare these on a Sunday and make enough, you can easily eat from these meals two or three times that week. After that when you get tired of it, freeze it! Soups and stir fries are generally great weight loss foods; especially ones using small amounts of protein and lots of high fiber, low carb vegetables.
2.) Taste Don’t Waste.
If you can, try the product before you spend a lot of money on it. I recommend buying the smallest package available of something new the first time, until you know you like it. I once bought a case of gluten free seed crackers and then found out nobody liked them. We fed the birds and spent over $25 to do so.
3.) Eat Less.
It took me a while to realize I didn’t need to eat every two hours. When I started eating nutrient dense foods, my appetite decreased because my body was getting what it needed at meal time. I focused on tasting my food and relaxing while I ate more mindfully.
My digestion is now getting a little break in between meals. Also, as Americans we tend to eat a lot of animal protein which is expensive. We actually only need a small portion at each meal. If you eat normal portion sizes, it stands to reason that you will spend less money for your food. High quality, clean organic meat is very expensive but very nutritional so savor it in small amounts.
4.) Shop Online.
Our frequent flyer for online shopping is Amazon. Soon, we want to try out the organic products from Thrive Market. Thrive Market’s annual membership fees are guaranteed.
They are confident that you will get the fee back in savings on products. Nettrition offers many things like gluten free foods, supplements, and low carb products. There are deals out there on organic products if you know where to look.
5.) Use Coupons.
Coupons still exist. Some companies will email coupons periodically and others offer online discounts. Cell phones and bar codes make coupons easy and convenient.
A simple google search can bring you to sites like inspiring savings where you can find such savings.
6.) Buy in bulk and Buy in Season.
Then see Number 1, and cook in bulk and freeze extra for the busy days. Seasonal eating is one of the most emphasized components of the Ayurvedic lifestyle.
Nature provides what our bodies need at the right times. For example, you do not want to eat too many winter foods in the summer. This can result in indigestion and other imbalances. The same goes for eating too many summer cooling foods in the dead of winter.
We shop at Costco which is carrying more organic meat and produce now as well as large containers of organic coconut oil and bulk organic eggs.
And we also visit the farmers market and are looking into joining a CSA or farmer’s market coop. Then we make large salads which is a great base for all kinds of healthy weight loss meals.
More Meal Prep Ideas
7.) Buy the whole animal.
Get a cow from a farmer and freeze the meat. Farmer’s markets are great places to make connections with local, organic farmers.
Not only can you find one that you can get your beef in bulk from, but you can also find places to buy your Thanksgiving turkeys, chickens, and pork. Cook a whole chicken and eat for days.
Have it roasted, chopped in a salad, with a stir-fry, and in that soup I linked to above!
8.) It is Okay to Buy Canned and Frozen Fruits and Vegetables.
Frozen veggies and fruits are packaged when just picked and retain a lot of the nutrients. Ever eyeball those beautiful, oh so colorful fresh berries in the store?
The rainbow of colors make them look so tempting. Until you see that price tag. My favorite are red raspberries. Buying my berries frozen definitely saves money and at Costco, we buy large bags of organic frozen berries every time we go.
I honestly do not eat a lot of canned vegetables but I do buy canned beans of all kinds. I personally just prefer my vegetables fresh or frozen.
Meal Prep Ideas-Saving Time
1.) Plan ahead and shop with a carefully made list.
When you are prepared, it takes a lot less time to cook and pack lunches and snacks. It is also a time saver at the store when you have that carefully planned list. You can zip through the store much faster than when you go shopping with no specific agenda.
Preplanning your meals and snacks definitely helps you stick to your diet plan. If you have everything planned out for the week, you are less likely to be grabbing fast foods, or snacks not on your plan.
2.) Invest in a crock pot if you don’t have one.
This is one of the best meal prep ideas. Crock pots are SO handy! Like I’ve already said the better prepared you are the higher the chances of sticking to your plan for the day. Dump in your ingredients and go to work. Dinner’s ready when you get home. We use our crock pot year round. There are a plethora of great crock pot recipes out there. Adapt for your specific sensitivities and enjoy!
3.) Cook a whole chicken or turkey and cut it up.
You can use the parts to make different meals like soup, chicken salad, roasted chicken pieces, etc.
4.) Bake and freeze
Make use of any extra time you have and bake some treats and then freeze in single serving sizes on rainy weekends or snow days.
5.) Wash and chop ahead of time
If you can, wash and chop your fresh veggies the night before you plan to use them or on a weekend and keep in containers for fast, easy use during the week.
6.) Boil eggs
Eggs are so easy to throw in a lunch pack. What a great thing to snack on too! So boiling a half dozen on a Sunday night can be very helpful. If you don’t care for boiled eggs, try a version of egg salad on paleo bread. We also do this on the weekend or evenings and keep in the fridge for topping salads too.
7.) Cook big batches of whatever grain you eat
If you eat grains like rice or quinoa, cook a bunch and use throughout the week. One night, serve plain with a little butter and salt, another, fry it up with olive oil, garlic, onions, and a little soy substitute, and the next add cilantro and lime. You get the idea.
8.) Once Again, Shop online!
This is my favorite time saver. Giant, Wegmans, and Harris Teeter have a grocery delivery service where you can order your groceries online and get them delivered to your door!
What’s nice about this is that you may spend less money if you are not tempted by the impulse buying we all do when browsing the aisles.
And don’t forget about the other online stores mentioned earlier and you will also see an affiliate link for Thrive Market at the end of this post.
Meal Prep for Weight Loss on a Budget
Voila! If you follow these easy meal prep ideas and tips, despite how simple, you will be on your way to saving money. The bottom line is that in order to lose weight, you will have to prep meals ahead and pre-plan.
Spending money and shopping is obviously involved in that process. Now you can spend less money on the shopping and planning side of your weight loss program.
I have to mention how time is money and saving time by shopping online equates to money in my book. In addition, many grocery stores offer services where you can simply drive up to the front of the store and your groceries are loaded straight into your vehicle. Yes, there is a fee for that service but determining the value of your time versus your money is a personal decision.
Bonus: Extra Weight Loss Tips
You will also want to:
- Listen to your cravings-what do your cravings really mean? If you crave chocolate, it could be that you need a rest or some magnesium rich foods. When you crave something sweet do you just need a hug? The point is to be aware and be sure to meet your nutritional needs with healthy vegetables, fats, and proteins to minimize cravings that are actually based from nutrient deficiency.
- Eat mindfully-we know by now we are not supposed to work or watch TV when we eat, but did you know that to eat mindfully, you should be aware of the texture of the food; the smell, how it looks, and definitely relax while you eat it? Also, make sure you chew enough to break down the food and get those critical enzymes for digestion started.
- Eat organic as much as possible-toxins like to hide out in fat, just saying.
- Enjoy seasonal foods in reasonable amounts-seasonal eating is very important for so many reasons. Take a look here for the reasons why.
- Of course, we can not forget about the importance of exercise-here’s a post on our site about fat burning exercise.
- Drink your water to stay well hydrated.
- Another thing to note is that just because something is labeled gluten free or organic does not automatically make it a health or weight loss food. One needs to consider the carb content, calories, and sugars.
Get our Free E-Book on Living with Food Sensitivities for more Meal Prep Ideas and recipes-this Ebook is focused towards people who have Multiple Food Sensitivities. Just click this link to receive it.
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Disclaimer for the meal prep for our weight loss on a budget/meal prep ideas article: The information provided in this website is for informational purposes. It is based on my own personal experiences and opinions. I am not a medical doctor and what is written should not be used to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. The product links are not meant to be construed as medications or treatments and you should consult your doctor before taking any supplements, herbal products, or starting exercise programs.