Healthy Meal Prep Ideas For Weight Loss On A Budget


If you’re looking for the best healthy meal prep ideas for weight loss on a budget, then you’ve come to the right place. Meal prepping is an excellent way to streamline your diet and take control of your weight. If you’re concerned about your health, meal prepping can make all the difference in the world. And if you want to save some cash by meal prepping on a budget — it’s totally possible!


Having a plan, and healthy meals prepared, makes it so much easier to eat well on busy days, and resist ordering that pizza again. In a 2017 study of 40,000 adults in France, researchers found that those who meal prepped were less likely to be overweight, and consumed a wider variety of high quality foods. A couple of reasons for this may include portion control and less temptation. 


  • Healthy Meal Prep Bowls: Choose a grain base (like quinoa or farro, a couple of veggies, a protein (like beans or tofu), and a sauce/dressing (like Vegan Pesto, Tahini or Thai Peanut). Cook those components, let cool, then pack in your containers. 
  • Soups: Make a pot of soup and let cool completely. Portion in glass jars and refrigerate for up to 3 days in the refrigerator, or 3 months in the freezer. Leave at least 1/2″ headspace in jars if freezing. 
  • Salads: When packing leafy greens, pack the dressing separately so it doesn’t wilt. Alternatively, choose lettuce-free salads like the ones below. 
  • Smoothies: You can freeze smoothie packs (solid ingredients frozen in freezer bags to add to the blender later), or freeze pre-made smoothies following these instructions.
  • Fruit & Veggies: Wash and let your produce dry completely. Rinsing berries in an apple cider vinegar rinse will keep them fresher longer. Then store in the fridge. Make a batch of hummus for dipping raw veggies. 
  • Lean & Plant-Based Proteins like tempeh, which is fermented and good for gut-health, and tofu. 
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas

Cheap Meal Prep Recipes You’ll Love

Take your meal planning to a whole new level with these cheap meal prep recipes. They’re healthy, flavorful, nutritious, and easy to make!

Do you have a tight food budget? Then prepping your meals ahead of time can save you some dough.

That’s because you can save on expensive takeout. Not only that, you’ll have less food waste.

And the less food you waste, the more money in your pockets.

But do you know what can save you even more money? Making cheap meal prep.

To keep your food fresh and reduce food waste, it’s best to store your meal in a good set of food storage containers.

1. Healthy Chicken Burrito Bowls

Healthy Chicken Burrito Bowls

Are you craving Mexican takeout? Have my Healthy Chicken Burrito Bowls instead.

They’re full of yummy Mexican flavors. You’ve got spicy Mexican rice, creamy black beans, sweet corn, fresh arugula, and juicy tomatoes.

Now you will be using chicken breasts for your protein. So, to keep the costs lower, stock up on chicken breasts when they’re on sale.

Then store them in freezer bags in the freezer for later.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 520
  • Fats: 13g
  • Protein: 37g
  • Carbs: 64g
  • Fiber: 9.5g
  • Sugar: 4.2g

2. Greek Chickpea Salad

Greek Chickpea Salad

Missing the tastes of Greece? Try this Greek Chickpea salad.

It’s packed with dreamy Greek flavors. There’s fluffy couscous, sweet cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, fresh cucumbers, salty olives, and creamy feta cheese.

Besides being delicious, this salad is also good for you. It contains almost 50% of your daily fiber needs.

So, it’s good for your digestion. It also has a lot of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

Now, this Greek Chickpea Salad is already bursting with Greek flavors. But for even more Greek flavors, you can add some red onions. Yum!

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 688
  • Fats: 27g
  • Protein: 22g
  • Carbs: 91g
  • Fiber: 12g
  • Sugar: 11g

3. Meal Prep Shrimp Taco Bowls

Meal Prep Shrimp Taco Bowls

I love seafood, as I’m sure many of you do too. But let’s face it: seafood tends to be expensive.

So what’s a gal (or guy) to do? Combine seafood with a cheaper protein like beans, for instance.

And these Meal Prep Shrimp Taco Bowls do just that. You’ve got Mexican-seasoned shrimp combined with black beans.

So, you have just enough shrimp to satisfy yourself – without breaking your budget. And that’s not all.

There’s corn, tomatoes, brown rice, and cheddar cheese. So, you’ll definitely feel full after eating this dish.

Besides being tasty, shrimp is also good for you. It contains heart-healthy omega-3s.

It also contains astaxanthin antioxidants which may reduce inflammation. So, chow on that shrimp!

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 335
  • Fats: 10g
  • Protein: 17g
  • Carbs: 45g
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Sugar: 3g

4. Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken

Feel like having Japanese? I’ve got you covered.

On the menu is shredded chicken Japanese-style. It’s been simmered in a slow-cooker for a couple of hours.

So, it’s juicy-tender. It’s definitely a meal you’ll want to eat again and again.

And it’s served with rice, and roasted red bell peppers, snow peas, broccoli, and onions. So, you’re getting a healthy helping of veggies.

Making the Teriyaki Chicken is pretty simple. Just put your chicken breasts in a slow cooker, and top with some homemade Teriyaki sauce.

Then cook on low for 4-6 hours. Once ready, shred with two forks or use a meat shredder like this instead.

To avoid the chicken from getting dry, it’s best to cook it in a programmable slow cooker. That way, the slow cooker will turn off by itself – and the chicken won’t dry out.

That comes in handy when you’re making the chicken while at work.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 534
  • Fats: 14g
  • Protein: 43g
  • Carbs: 63g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 22g

5. Spicy Pineapple Chicken Meal Prep

Spicy Pineapple Chicken Meal Prep

Looking to save even more money? Make my Spicy Pineapple Chicken Meal Prep.

It’s full of Island flavors, from the spicy chicken and tropical pineapple.

And it’s really easy on your wallet. That’s because you’re using chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts.

Not only are chicken thighs cheaper, but they’re also tastier. That’s because they contain more fat.

And as we all know, more fat means more flavor.

Now, this meal prep does contain a lot of sodium. However, you can cut down on the sodium by using a reduced-sodium soy sauce.

This one here contains close to 40% less sodium than traditional soy sauce. Or, to cut the sodium, even more, you can use coconut aminos.

Coconut aminos have close to 70% less sodium than regular soy sauce. They would also add more Island flavors to this dish. If you’d like to use coconut aminos instead, you can get some here.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 324
  • Fats: 10g
  • Protein: 31g
  • Carbs: 29g
  • Fiber: 1.8g
  • Sugar: 23g

6. Mediterranean Hummus Bowls

Mediterranean Hummus Bowls

Looking to eat Mediterranean food at a bargain price? Try these Mediterranean Hummus Bowls.

These bowls are full of delicious flavors and textures. There’s Greek-seasoned ground beef, creamy hummus, refreshing cucumbers, grape tomatoes, salty olives, and tasty feta cheese.

What’s more, these bowls take only 25 minutes to make. So, they’re great when you don’t have much time for meal prep.

Do keep in mind that the Mediterranean Hummus Bowls contain beef. Since beef has a large carbon footprint, you may want to eat it on occasion.

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 644.3
  • Fats: 31.88g
  • Protein: 20.93g
  • Carbs: 64g
  • Fiber: 7.3g
  • Sugar:

7. Meal Prep Whole30 Sweet Potato Hash

Meal Prep Whole30 Sweet Potato Hash

Do you love your sweets? Me too!

This Sweet Potato Hash provides a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth. That’s because it contains sweet veggies like sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and red onions.

So, it balances the bitterness of the kale and the savory of the homemade sausage.

And the homemade sausage is pretty easy to make. That’s because you’re not putting the sausage into a casing.

You just brown some ground chicken and turkey in a skillet. And you season your meat with breakfast sausage spices.

So you have all the taste of sausages – without all the work.

Healthy Meal Prep Ideas for Weight Loss

While the idea of meal planning is simple, the execution can take some strategy. Once you have an idea of the diet plan you are looking to follow – whether it is clean eating, paleo, vegan, etc., you can start planning your approach. You’ll want to consider the following:  

  • Gauge your level of commitment. Be realistic with yourself and your level of cooking expertise – how much do you want to cook and how often? If you aren’t a culinary expert, opt for more quick-cook foods, pre-chopped produce, and simple recipes. 
  • Tackle your weak spots first. What meals or snacks need the most attention? If you’re eating out every night, but doing all right when it comes to lunches, you may want to start with dinner. 
  • Start small. Begin by prepping for only 2 to 3 days or meals each week. Or start with something easy like breakfast or snacks. 
  • Pick a day to plan and execute. You can dedicate one or more days per week to prepping. And don’t forget to set aside some time to plan for the following week. For many, Sunday works as a great day to menu plan and cook for the week. 
  • Stock up on food containers and cooking equipment you will need. Having reliable meal prep containers can help you portion your food better, and keep meals tasting fresh and stored safely. And be prepared with any travel coolers if needed.  

Meal Plan Template



You’ll need to determine exactly how much you plan to spend on meals each week, or your menu planning can easily get out of hand.

Overall, Americans spend roughly 10% of their income on food, so estimating somewhere around 10% of your take-home salary could be a good start . Or if you are already tracking how much you spend on food each month, including take-out and restaurant, you can use this amount as a high starting estimate. 

Here are a few easy shopping tricks that can help make your planning even more budget-friendly: 

  • Mix and match ingredients to get more bang for your buck. As you plan your menu, look for versatile ingredients that work in multiple dishes. 
  • Look for items on sale and stock up on non-perishables when they are on sale, like dried beans and grains, and canned and frozen.
  • Swap out expensive foods for a less expensive but similar option, such as cranberries in place of goji berries or brown rice instead of quinoa. 
  • Buy portion sizes that make sense to reduce waste. For example, you probably don’t need a 5-pound bag of apples for one person, unless you plan on using them in multiple recipes and for snacking. 
  • Shop different stores and online to get the best deals you can find. And look for what’s in season—it’s usually traveled shorter distances to get there, meaning it’s fresher and probably cheaper than during out of season. 

Weekly Meal Prep Menu 

Once you have your budget in place and plan in mind, you can curate your menu accordingly. It helps to actually write out a full week’s worth of meals and snacks so that you can plan for exactly how much food you will need to buy.

Consider how leftovers can be used or how staples like chicken breast, brown rice, or sweet potatoes can be executed in multiple ways. 

Once you have a menu, you’ll need to create detailed recipes for each meal you are looking to prep. Do you need oil or seasonings? How much of each ingredient is necessary for each meal and all of your meals combined? 

Shopping Lists

Once you have your desired menu set, you can now create your shopping list and adjust as needed based on your budget. Include weights or desired package sizes on your list to make sure you have enough on hand to execute your plan. It is also helpful to bring your full menu to the store with you in case last-minute substitutions are needed.  

Best Meal Prep Recipes for Beginners

Looking for some recipe inspiration? Here are some of our favorite, easy recipes that work for meal preppers.

Up your portions as needed or swap in more variety with multiple proteins, veggies and grains you can divide up throughout the week! And don’t be afraid to get a little fancy with new flavors and seasonings – it will help keep your daily meal grind from getting boring and cut down on cravings. 

Easy Dinner Recipes

shrimp noodle stir fry recipe for weight loss

Take the stress out of having to decide what to cook each night with simple prepped options you can reheat or cook in no time. 

  1. Salmon Cakes – make ahead of time and reheat in a skillet or oven. Serve with a side salad and baked sweet potatoes. Or go for a salmon burger that won’t disappoint. 
  2. Lean Crock Pot Pulled Pork – Everyone loves a good BBQ! Here’s one without any added sugar or fuss. Serve this with a low-fat slaw and corn on the cob. 
  3. Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies – Try with your favorite veggies and add potatoes or serve with brown rice or quinoa. 
  4. Low-Calorie Stir Fry – Craving Chinese? Meal prep some of the ingredients ahead of time with pre-chopped veggies and pre-cooked grains. Then toss it all together in a skillet with your favorite protein for an easy dinner in no time. 
  5. Butternut Squash and Chicken Pad Thai – Double up this recipe for lunch leftovers and serve with lots of fresh herbs, scallions, and a drizzle of extra sriracha to keep it tasting fresh.  
  6. Healthy Salmon Chowder – Impress your dinner guests with this light, smoky, and flavor-packed chowder, or make ahead and enjoy at lunch all week. 
  7. Simple Bolognese – Yes, pasta can fit into your diet! Choose whole-grain noodles, or swap in zoodles for fewer carbs, and load up on veggies and protein using this simple sauce recipe.  

Breakfasts and Lunches

gluten free protein waffles for weight loss

Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to make ahead of time. And there are also multiple grab-and-go options you can get from the store, like Greek yogurt with fruit or a lean and protein-packed frozen burrito.

The trick is to get more protein into your mornings and avoid high sugar, high-calorie options—like pastries, sugary cereal, syrups, and white breads—that are going to drain your energy later in the day and mess with your appetite. 

10 Breakfast Recipes: 

  1. Egg White Frittata – Veggies are also for breakfast! Try these in individual muffin tins for a pre-portioned option. Serve alone, with roasted sweet potatoes, or sprouted grain toast and avocado for more carbs and calories when you need it. 
  2. Pumpkin Chia Pudding – Need something a little sweeter in the morning? This simple pudding tastes like Thanksgiving and is guaranteed to make your day. Add 4 to 6 scoops of vanilla protein powder to this recipe for a healthy protein boost.
  3. Maple Sweet Potato Waffles – Need we say more? Make ahead and serve warm with some fruit and yogurt topping or a drizzle of sugar-free syrup. 
  4. Greek Yogurt Parfait – These look as good as they taste. Fill small mason jars in advance and grab these on the run. 
  5. Freezer Friendly Breakfast Burritos – Forget fast food. Make these bad boys in advance, wrap in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. Then just pop them in the microwave and make everyone jealous! 
  6. High Protein Salmon Toast – This simple toast recipe feels gourmet but packs a ton of nutrition into your morning.
  7. Overnight Oats – Mason jars were built for this. Make your hearty oats ahead of time and flavor multiple ways. Add a scoop of protein powder for even more flavor and nutrition. 
  8. Clean Eating Breakfast Casserole – Make this once and have breakfast or snack options all week. A perfect blend of eggs, sweet potatoes, and veggies.
  9. Egg and Pesto Toast – Enjoy this quick recipe in less than 15 minutes of prep time to fill your belly with a delicious egg sandwich. Loaded with protein and radish for a little kick.
  10. High Protein French Toast – Great way to curb your sweet cravings without the guilt. Make the toast first and pack sugar-free syrup or nut butter on the side for topping. You can also top it with fresh berries or fruit. 

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