Budget-Friendly Meal Prep Guide: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Berry Parfaits, Tuna & Chickpea Sandwiches & Sesame Tofu Pad Thai!
Happy Friday! Goodness, this week flew by quickly. We move in a little over two months, so that means the next few weeks are going to be hectic around here. Speaking of hectic, I woke up with morning to a suspicious acting furnace, so that’ll be a fun activity for me today! This weekend will be filled with cleaning the house top to bottom and tossing out all the junk. We’re hoping to bring very few things into this new house and want to make our purchases meaningful. With life being all over the place, it’s been nice having all of my meals for the week figured out. The convenience of meal prep is a dream. I usually find myself spending too much money on groceries, making multiple trips to the store, and stressing over what to cook every night. This week has been so smooth with already having my meals ready to go.
Please follow me on Instagram for more food inspiration! —> @TARALYNNMCNITT
Meal prepping is something I want to continue doing each Sunday, and one way to motivate myself is by sharing what I meal prep with you all! 😊 I made a YouTube video for the meal prep, so make sure to check that out & don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more! 😊
I know there are seven days a week, but I am only making my meal prep for five days. I’m a little weird about eating anything five days old, and I don’t believe in meal planning on the weekends. My weekends are when I like to try a new restaurant, pick up Chipotle, or make a giant salad to go with a few slices of pizza. This always helps me stay on track during the week, and usually, by day five, I’m ready for something different!
SETTING A BUDGET:
My budget for the week was around $100, but I think I underestimated myself because that was way over what I needed to spend. The budget also depends on the type of meals for the week. If I were to make anything a bit fancier or 100% organic, it would go up! I may try doing meal prep with everything from Trader Joe’s this weekend just to see how that changes the budget.
I hope you all love the meal prep guide I created! I create a lot of lists like this for my weekly schedule, and if you’d like to see more of them, let me know! You can save it by right-clicking or opening it up in a new tab and printing it.
On the left side, I write down my menu, the middle lines are for what groceries I need to pick up, the smaller boxes in the center are things I already have, and the far right is for all the notes about the meal.
One thing I do is go through the fridge to see what I already have before I start planning my meals for the week. Since I had things like oats, tuna, and green beans, I decided to incorporate those into the meal plan. Using items I already had helped with keeping the budget down, and it also helped prevent food from going to waste.
Without using any coupons, I only spent $52.02! I’m sure I could have kept it lower if I had coupons or had other things in my house already like cinnamon, chia seeds, apple cider vinegar, and syrup. I paid attention to the prices instead of grabbing whatever looked good. My goal was to keep it down as low as a could, and sometimes making small swaps like red grapes instead of green grapes saved $2 to 3 dollars alone.
Once you have your list, look for coupons, check prices at a few grocery stores, and plan your trip. Sometimes grocery stores will price match items, which can save you a few bucks.
I chose to make most of the meals plant-based because it’s what I’ve been craving lately, and it’s way cheaper. When people say it’s too expensive to eat plant-based, I get super confused. Plant-based packaged meals are super expensive, and fancy vegan restaurants will have you pulling out a second mortgage to eat there, but buying plant-based foods can be very affordable. If you want all of the meals to be plant-based, all you have to do is make sure to you Veganaise and trade the tuna for another can of chickpeas.
WHAT’S ON THE MENU?
Breakfast: Berry parfaits with homemade granola
Lunch: tuna & chickpea salad sandwiches
Dinner: sesame pad thai tofu
Snack: protein & energy balls
Dessert: 3-ingredient brownies
I included the macros for all meals and the daily total in the video if you’re interested in seeing that. I don’t keep track of my calories, but I figured I’d include them in the plan for anyone who does. You should always chat with your doctor or dietician when it comes to your dietary needs. We are all different, and our bodies require different things.
HOMEMADE GLUTEN FREE GRANOLA FOR BREAKFAST:
The first thing I made was my homemade granola. I LIVE for this throughout the week, and it’s super easy and budget-friendly to make. I always make my meals in a particular order to cut down the number of dishes and to speed up the time frame.
ENERGY PROTEIN BALLS FOR SNACKING:
While the granola is in the oven, I make the energy balls. These are perfect for snacking in the afternoon or a quick energy source before or after a workout.
You can customize these by using different nut butter, adding chocolate chips, or using your protein powder of choice.
**I mentioned this in the video, but to save time on dishes, use the same bowl for several of the recipes. I used this bowl for the granola, energy balls, brownies, and tuna salad. And if you clean up after each recipe, you’ll eliminate all the cleanup time in the end.
BROWNIES FOR DESSERT:
My 3-ingredient brownies are another favorite and a must-have! These take away my sugar cravings and help keep me from snacking on everything after dinner. They are a super inexpensive and healthy dessert to make.
LUNCH: CHICKPEA & TUNA SALAD SANDWICHES
I’m a sandwich-for-lunch type of gal. I don’t like anything to be heavy or warm for lunch because it makes me feel sluggish. I decided to go with chickpea and tuna salad sandwiches since I love them, and I already had chickpeas and tuna in the house.
LOW CARB OPTION:
If you’re looking to go with a lower-carb option for lunch, you can use a lettuce wrap or a bell pepper bun.
The key to keeping the bread fresh and dry is adding a lettuce barrier between the bread and the tuna chickpea salad. I’m on day five of the meal prep, and the bread has held up, and it’s not even slightly soggy.
ROASTED VEGGIES FOR DINNER:
I went with sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and green beans for my dinner sides.
I steamed the potatoes, sliced them, and cooked them with the Brussels sprouts in the oven at 400-degrees. I steamed and pan-fried the green beans.
If you’re not a fan of tofu, you can sub it for shrimp, chicken, or scallops! All three of those options taste delicious cooked the same way.
SESAME PAD THAI TOFU
This is one of my favorite ways to cook tofu! The pad thai sauce with the air-fried tofu tastes restaurant-style! After air-frying the tofu, I finished it off in the pan with sesame seeds, pad thai sauce, and sesame oil. This makes them extra crispy with a glaze. I use the Sky Valley pad thai sauce in pretty much every single meal now.
A couple of the reasons I love tofu is because it’s easily customizable. It hardly has any flavor, so whatever you want it to taste like, you can make it happen. You could make it taste like buffalo wings, breaded chicken nuggets, or even eggs! And compared to meat, it’s relatively cheaper.
If you do not have an air fryer, you can bake the tofu in the oven at 400-degrees for twenty minutes. Flip halfway!
MEAL PREP CONTAINERS:
I found my meal prep containers on amazon! I bought two of the ten-pack just in case I want to make extra meals, and it’s a fantastic deal for the quality of these containers. They’re easy to wash and way better than the plastic meal-prep containers.
Questions for you!
- Do you meal prep regularly?
- What is your grocery budget?
- What do you want to see in my next meal prep video/blog?