One of the best ways to ensure you eat healthier is to do meal prep. I often have clients at The Worx in Alexandria, VA, ask for tips and recipes for meal prep on a budget. I have some favorites that my family loves and some big aids that are generalized to help you no matter what your food preferences. It can start by using some tried and true options, like beans and rice or making soup. You can save money by planning your meals around the sales at groceries and shopping on one day, after you ate, so you don’t buy anything else. When you do food prep, make double. You can use one for the week and freeze the other servings for later.
Opt for several meals to use all the food.
If a roasted chicken is on the menu, use the bones to make bone broth. Use leftover veggies and celery tops for soups. Create several meals from a piece of meat or other animal protein. You can make a slow cooker beef roast with an inexpensive cut of meat for one meal and combine it with a salad, vegetable and brown rice. Use the extra cut of meat to make a shredded beef salad or mix it with beans, low sodium salsa, onions and a can of diced tomatoes and chilies for a heart healthy burrito. Fill a burrito or whole wheat taco shell and garnish with chopped tomatoes, lettuce, onions and jalapenos.
Go meatless once a week.
If you’ve never heard of a meatless Monday, it’s time to start thinking about doing it yourself to save money. Animal protein adds a substantial amount to the grocery bill. You can get a complete protein from vegetarian sources by combining ingredients, such as nuts and seeds with whole grain bread. It’s a simple recipe, just think peanut butter on whole wheat toast. To add the sugary component, don’t use jelly, use sliced and lightly blended fruit, like grapes or apples. Beans and brown rice is another favorite dish that’s easy to make. Make your rice, add beans and a can of diced tomatoes and season to taste.
If you want a yummy one pan meal, try roast chicken and Italian vegetables.
A third cup of balsamic vinegar and half cup of Italian dressing make a great marinade for 1 ½ pounds of chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces. Put 1/3 cup of the marinade in a plastic bag with the chicken pieces and marinate it in the refrigerator for a few hours. Mix broccoli, carrots and tomatoes with 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic powder and some dried Italian seasoning. You can use the leftover veggies you have on hand, or fresh ones. Place in a pan and put in a 400 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove, turn and brush mixture with half the remaining vinegar mixture. Bake another 15 minutes and drizzle with the last of the marinade. Serve over rice.
- Plan for leftovers. Leftover veggies, rice and protein source, whether vegetarian or animal, can be combined to a make a power bowl that’s delicious. Just pile them together and microwave.
- Create a salad everyone will love that has a wide mix of vegetables and topped with left over meat. Leftover grilled veggies also enhance the flavor. If you’re using marinated or seasoned meat or veggies, you may not need any dressing for flavor.
- If you’re making extra to freeze, you can make meal prep easier by freezing on a tray and then putting them in a plastic bag. It helps prevent the food from sticking together and makes taking a specific amount out easier. It’s especially helpful if you plan to use them in other recipes later.
- Plan around the seasonal produce and freeze some for later, making sure you freeze it on a tray first so it separates easily. When you use in-season fruits and vegetables, your budget will go even further.
For more information, contact us today at The Worx