If you have a limited budget for groceries, follow these tips on How to Meal Prep on a Budget. They include frugal ways to grocery shop and choose recipes.
If you have a limited budget for groceries, you are probably looking for any way you can to cut your spending and not sacrifice too much to do so. One way to save money on groceries is to cook from scratch at home. The problem with cooking from scratch is, many people think it takes too much time and money to do so. In fact, if you do it by meal prepping and batch cooking, it takes far less time than you think and you can save a quite a bit of money in the process.
In fact, I started meal prepping to save money and time while still feeding my family wholesome meals. Buy real ingredients and batch cooking them are the foundation for my cookbooks Prep-Ahead Breakfasts and Lunches and Prep-Ahead Meals from Scratch. Below are some tips on How to Meal Prep on a Budget that you can apply to any recipe or cooking style.
How to Meal Prep on a Budget
Choose meats that are in season. Did you know meat has a season? It's true! Just like produce, meat has a season and that is usually in the Spring or Fall, but depending on the type of meat, it could be other times as well. This is why you see chicken or beef lower priced at certain times of the year, for example. It's also why you should load up your freezer space with extra turkey near the holidays. Most cuts of raw meat can last in the freezer for 6 months and whole chickens and turkeys can be frozen for up to a year. You can also batch cook your meat and then freeze it in usable portions. This will cut down on the amount of time it takes you to prepare meals on busy nights. The first 3 chapters in Prep-Ahead Meals from Scratch includes a section with directions for multiple ways to batch cook different cuts of meat. You will also find videos for cooking meat in large batches on my Youtube channel.
Shop for in-season produce. This is probably something you are already doing, but shopping in-season for produce is extremely smart for your wallet. And, when you shop for in-season produce, you can get a little help deciding what to make because you just make recipes that use those ingredients. Additionally, you can freeze produce that is already chopped and ready to go if you find an extra good sale for later meal planning.
Go for low-cost grains. The good news is, grains are one of the cheapest categories of food to buy and they are exactly what you will need if you do meal prep lunch bowls and dinner side dishes. Even healthier grains like quinoa and brown rice are extremely reasonable in price when bought without any added seasonings and will be perfect for building your meals as well as cooking in advance. You will find videos for cooking quinoa and rice in batches on my Youtube channel. Save even more by shopping for grains in the bulk food section.
Buy in bulk whenever you can. Buying in bulk just makes sense if you will be cooking large amounts at one time during meal prep. It also saves you a lot of money because you aren't paying for as much packaging (if at all) and you can get deals that are super cheap, allowing you to stretch your dollar even further. Then save time by using my simple trick for saving time meal prepping.
Batch Cook Foods when you find them on sale and then freeze them for future use. This allows you to buy large quantities without having to worry about food spoilage. You can batch cook your meats and grains. But don't forget that you can also batch cook breakfasts foods. You will find recipes for batch cooking breakfasts foods in the cookbook Prep-Ahead Breakfasts and Lunches. The other benefit to batch cooking is that if you have precooked foods in the freezer you can grab them on days when you are too busy to cook, so you are less likely to stop for fast food.
Look for recipes that use low-cost ingredients. Once you have an idea of what ingredients you can afford, start looking for recipes that use those ingredients. You may even notice that many of the easy recipes out there call for low-cost ingredients, too. Pick what makes sense for your budget and keep in mind that low cost and simple ingredients do not mean bland meals! Spices and seasoning can really kick recipes up and they can be bought at incredible prices in bulk as well. If you need help finding delicious, family-friendly recipes that use low-cost ingredients, check out my cookbooks Prep-Ahead Breakfasts and Lunches and Prep-Ahead Meals from Scratch.