Budget-Friendly Meal Prep Guide: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Berry Parfaits, Tuna & Chickpea Sandwiches & Sesame Tofu Pad Thai!

Budget-Friendly Meal Prep Guide: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Berry Parfaits, Tuna & Chickpea Sandwiches & Sesame Tofu Pad Thai!

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! 😊
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eatingI know there are seven days in 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!
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eatingSETTING A BUDGET:

My budget for the week is 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 for sure go up! I may try doing meal prep with everything from Trader Joe’s this weekend just to see how that changes the budget.
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eating

PLANNING MEALS

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 are 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, 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 helps prevent food from going to waste.
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eatingGROCERY SHOPPING

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.
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eatingI 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. Sure, 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 of the 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 into 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.
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eating
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eatingHOMEMADE 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.
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eatingENERGY 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. 
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eating
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eating

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.
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eating
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eatingLUNCH: 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.
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eatingmeal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eatingROASTED 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. meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eating
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.
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eatingSESAME 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 template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eatingMEAL 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.
meal prep template, budget template, budget friendly, meal prep, simply taralynn, budgeting, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan options, pescatarian, tofu, vegetables , healthy eatingQuestions for you!

  1. Do you meal prep regularly?
  2. What is your grocery budget?
  3. What do you want to see in my next meal prep video/blog?


Check out my last meal prep blog post here!


 

Comments

  • Joana

    Hey Taralynn! Your recipe is too yum. I am a big shrimp lover. So instead of tofu, I used shrimp and cooked in the same way as tofu. My friends loved it too. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply to Joana
  • Kendra Raduly

    What kind of tuna do you use?

    Reply to Kendra Raduly
  • Karyssa Schmitt

    What kind of yogurt did you get ?

    Reply to Karyssa Schmitt
  • Angie

    Hi Taralynn,

    I’ve been meaning to ask how going gluten and dairy free has affected you. What improvements have you seen overall?

    Also, is there a particular plant based protein powder you use?

    I am only on day two of GF/DF for PCOS but your recipes are life saving for me!

    Thank you!

    Reply to Angie
  • Rachel

    I meal prep every single week. Honestly, I would either starve or make really poor food choices if I didn’t. Plus, my hubby loves having a homemade lunch too. I usually just prep breakfast and lunch, but I have my dinner menu prepared so I stay on track.

    Reply to Rachel
  • Shantel Jones

    I love your practical meal plans! It seems like you have more real life wisdom and sense than a lot of cooking blogs I follow, which I love!

    Reply to Shantel Jones
  • Leah

    This is exactly what I needed! I meal plan guide that I can use to tailor to my weight loss journey! Thank you so much, everything you make always looks so delicious!

    Reply to Leah
  • Monika

    Do you really make all of these and store in the fridge for five days, including sandwiches? How come the bread does not get stale or mouldy? Makes me wonder about what it is made of…

    Reply to Monika
    • Taralynn McNitt

      My bread didn’t get soggy at all and it helped because the lettuce was the barrier from the tuna salad. I bought the bread from the refrigerator section to start with too.

      Here’s the ingredients in the gluten-free 7 grain bread i used!

      WATER, BROWN RICE FLOUR, TAPIOCA FLOUR, WHOLE GRAIN SORGHUM FLOUR, ORGANIC AGAVE SYRUP, CANE SUGAR, WHOLE GRAIN MILLET, EGGS, XANTHAN GUM, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, YEAST, WHOLE GRAIN TEFF, EGG WHITES, WHOLE GRAIN QUINOA, MOLASSES, WHOLE GRAIN AMARANTH, CULTURED BROWN RICE FLOUR, SEA SALT, VINEGAR (ORGANIC CANE SUGAR VINEGAR), WHOLE GRAIN BUCKWHEAT FLOUR, ENZYMES.

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Heather N

    I am SO excited for this post and to try it out. Thank you! Just the boost I needed 🙂 always look forward to your posts if I’m honest.

    Reply to Heather N
  • Sofia

    I don’t have an air fryer is there another way to get the tofu crispy?

    Reply to Sofia
  • Marian Hine

    It doesn’t seem like you get enough calories in each meal. I would be so hungry!

    Reply to Marian Hine
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, the entire day = 1600 calories, and that’s a great maintenance number for me, but I also stated that this isn’t a diet plan for anyone to use for weight loss and that everyone is different and should consult with their doctor about their needs. And if I’m hungry after a meal, I listen to my body and grab another snack to eat. This meal plan is to help me not worry about cooking, not a meal plan to follow a diet.

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Looks amazing and super delicious! Thanks for the recipe! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    Reply to Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
  • Ashley

    I’ve started meal prepping and trying to eat healthier after Christmas, and it’s so helpful! All of these recipes look so yummy, I can’t wait to try them soon!!

    Reply to Ashley
  • Suzie

    I have been eyeing that granola on your posts for a while now and may finally have to make it! Wondering how long it lasts in the fridge? Also, what brand of maple syrup do you recommend? On your receipt it just says “pancake syrup.” Thanks for the info and keep those recipes coming!

    Reply to Suzie
  • Chassidy Anasky

    Loved this post !! Very inspirational & helpful ! I would love to see more post like this 😃

    Reply to Chassidy Anasky
  • Kara Smith

    Love this. I’m going to try the chickpea sandwich and sub out the tuna like you recommended. Also do you usually only eat one / two energy balls?

    Reply to Kara Smith
  • Lauren

    The $100 a week just for you, or for you and Kyle?

    Reply to Lauren
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Lauren! The $100 is for me only, but only a number I won’t go over! I usually only go to about $50-$70 😊 Kyle usually spends $60 for his meal prep

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Paige Cassandra Flamm

    Is there anything better than seeing a bunch of healthy meals ready to go? These all look amazing! Can’t wait to try some of these!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

    Reply to Paige Cassandra Flamm
    • Kara Smith

      Also, where is your cookie sheet from?

      Reply to Kara Smith
      • Taralynn McNitt

        Homegoods 😊

        Reply to Taralynn McNitt
        • Cassie

          Hi Taralynn!

          I actually don’t meal prep. I have always struggled because I just walk into a store and buy food I would like to try or things that just looked good. Thank you for making this guide! It’ll me by stepping stone until I can ace it!

          As I mentioned before, I would buy food I’d like to try and the normal food we eat at home. I don’t have a budget when it comes to grocery shopping. I’m hopeful your meal prep guide will help me in this department as well!

          Do you think you could possibly make some kid friendly snacks/meals? I have such a hard time sneaking in health food sometimes! My daughter, who’s turning 4 this month, is very hard to feed at times. She’ll have a few sips of the smoothies I make or maybe just a tiny bite of something, but that’s it. She’ll go hardcore for all the junk before the healthy stuff. If you can, this would be absolutely so awesome and helpful!

          Thanks for your time and take care!

          Reply to Cassie
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Thanks so much, Paige!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Jennifer

    Love the printable meal and grocery sheet! Would love to see more of these that you use. Can’t wait to fill mine out this weekend 🙂

    Reply to Jennifer
  • Marisa

    Thank you!!!

    Reply to Marisa

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