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This is our epic list of 50 Cheap Meal Prep Recipes that are less than $2 per serving! Use these to meal prep on a budget!
I love food.
I love good food.
I mostly love healthy food.
But I really love healthy food that is cheap.
My wife and I used to spend over $700 a month on groceries for just the two of us! The second we realized this we started making major cuts to our food spending.
The problem is we didn’t want to go back to our college days of eating ramen and dorm food.
We wanted to eat quality food that was good for us and good for our wallet.
The secret, life-changing, revolutionary hack has been meal prepping.
Meal prepping is actually stupid simple. Pick recipes you like and make extra. Viola! Over the past two years, we’ve compiled a massive list of cheap meal prep recipes that are all less than $2/ serving.
Want to pick up our favorite meal prep containers?
This is the Utopia kitchen glass container set. These are microwave safe, oven safe, freezer safe, and dishwasher safe. Whip up your favorite meal prep and store them in these long-lasting containers!
The list of 50 easy & cheap meal prep recipes below were not written by me, but by some of my favorite bloggers out there. Show them some love and check out their food.
I also have a list of 40+ cheap keto meal prep recipes you can check out for some more diet specific recipes!
50 Cheap Meal Prep Recipes You Can Make for $2 or less per serving
Table of Contents
- 8 Dirt Cheap Meal Prep Recipes
- 10 Chicken Meal Prep Recipes
- 7 Easy Meal Prep Ideas that Will Save you Hours a Week
- 7 Breakfast Meal Prep Recipes to Kick off your Day
- 12 Cheap Meal Prep Lunches to Save you Money
- 6 Healthy Meal Prep Recipes for Weight Loss
After several of years of meal prepping, I’ve compiled some of my all-time favorite cheap meal prep recipes! All of these are cheap meals and can be made for $2 or less per serving! but I’ve broken them down into some more categories! These cheap recipes have been our key to saving money with meal prepping.
If this list isn’t enough, here are 21 more budget meal ideas!
8 Dirt Cheap meal prep recipes
This is one of my go-to recipes made by yours truly! These slow cooker carnitas are amazing and when you pair them with some loaded up mexican rice–it makes for some incredibly cheap meals. I’m talking less than $1 per serving.
Any meal I can make for $2 or less AND cook in 15 minutes automatically gets added to my meal plan rotation. I grew up chowing down on stroganoff. The only problem with this dish is I can’t eat only one serving. The mushrooms and beef with the creamy sauce is just too good. Here are some more ground beef meal prep ideas that I love!
This recipe is legendary within the personal finance realm. The Frugalwoods are a blogger couple living on a 66 acre homestead in Vermont and they write all about frugality and life on a farm. This recipe is their ultra frugal recipe that comes out to a crazy low $0.39 per serving!
I’ve made this recipe MULTIPLE times and it always saves me a ton of money. The rice, beans, and mushrooms mixture is amazing. Give it a try and add a bit of chicken or beef to up the protein a bit if you need to. When it comes to cheap meals, this is one of the best.
This recipe by Pioneer Woman might be the world’s easiest, high-protein, packed with flavor meal. With only 4 ingredients and a couple of spices, you’ll spend more time staring at your food than it’ll take to get in the oven. Warning, it does need about 6 hours in the oven to cook, but you’ll get about 13 meals (6oz protein per serving) at $1.08 each.
This recipe might be the easiest on this whole list to make! All you need is a good sized hunk of beef, some spices, and 8-9 hours of crockpot time. Depending on the sale, this recipe could come out to less than $1/serving for 6+ ounces of beef. High protein and low cost makes this meal a staple.
I promise this is the last pulled pork recipe you’ll have to read about! It really does make the perfect pulled pork though. These pork sandwiches also come out to around $0.75 each, so if you’ve got a crowd to feed–this is the recipe for you! With 8-12 hours of brining time and another 8 hours of cooking, you definitely need to plan ahead for this one.
Pulled pork is probably the best cut of meat for those trying to save money. Usually you can find it anywhere from $1-3/lb, especially if you can get in on Costco’s legendary sales. The meat is super easy to cook with, but it needs a lot of time to break down the muscle fibers and meat. Once done, the meat is tender and loaded with flavor! If you’re a fan of bbq, this is a great recipe to pull off! This is one of our favorite easy Sunday dinner ideas!
Growing up in Austin, we had charro beans any time we ate our for Mexican food. This recipe is loaded up with spices, white onion, bacon, and different kinds of peppers to give it a kick. Make these as a side or a main dish if you want to use less animal protein. Be sure to check out our full list of instant pot meal prep recipes!
10 chicken meal prep recipes
We’ve got a list of 50+ chicken meal prep recipes if you want more than this!
This one comes from one of my favorite food bloggers out there, FitMenCook. With only 4 ingredients, it is one of my favorite, cheap meal prep recipes for novices in the kitchen. Loaded with flavor, this chicken curry is a great high-protein option. The best part is, this recipe only takes about 20 minutes start to finish, so you can pull it off when you’re in a hurry! For those who are low-carb or keto dieting, this chicken is a great staple to put on a salad or in a veggie wrap.
The past 6 months I’ve been on a huge kick for African and other ethnic foods. If you want to branch out and expand your tastes, try this dish! If you’ve never used allspice and cumin on chicken, then you are totally missing out! This dish is super easy to put together and can be a great high-protein meal prep to get you through your week.
If you’re a fan of tomatoes, then this dish is for you! Put the chicken and spices in the crockpot, dump fresh or canned tomatoes in and then wait. It’ll definitely be a test to your patience as you have to wait 6-8 hours, but that makes this the perfect meal to put together before you head to work.
Come home to a the smell of a fresh-cooked meal with little effort.As a bonus, this one is also dairy-free, gluten-free, and whole-30. Did I miss anything? If you don’t own a crock pot or slow cooker, I can’t recommend this one enough→ InstantPot 6Qt. My wife and I use it on a weekly basis and it has paid for itself 10x over in the amount of time it saves us.
We’ve got a whole list of whole30 meal prep ideas if you want more!
Want to know how to meal prep a week’s worth of food in an hour? Sheet pans. Load up a baking pan with chicken, different veggies, drizzle some olive oil, and season it all to your preference. The Italian seasoned broccoli, red onion, and cherry tomatoes go great with the chicken and pair well over rice or quinoa. The next four are all sheet-pan, easy meal prep recipes you can prep in 30 minutes or less!
One of my secrets to meal prepping is cooking a main dish of protein that can be dressed up and served a number of ways. This cilantro lime chicken is just as good in tacos as it is over a salad. Or you stuff them in a burrito or layer it on a bed of rice. Have kids? Make them some delicious, protein-filled quesadillas.
If you’re looking for a healthy chicken dish loaded with veggies, this is the one for you. Sweet potatoes, green beans, bell pepper, and broccoli served with chicken and topped in a cheese makes this budget friendly meal a winner in my book! Double the recipe and you’ve got healthy lunches for the whole week!
This is the second dish from Chelsea’s Messy Apron and is amazing! It has a totally different set of flavor than the other sheet-pan recipes, but is incredibly easy to throw together. The balsamic glaze takes no time to put together and serves well as a dipping sauce for the chicken and veggies. If you have a hard time eating broccoli, this recipe is for you!
If you love garlic, put this recipe at the top of the list for this week’s meal plan. This asian inspired chicken is perfect for feeding the whole family or getting you through the rest of the week! I love putting it over some rice for a great post-workout meal, but if you’re trying to avoid the carbs, double up on the veggies and call it a day.
Even though I’ve always been a huge fan of slow cookers, I’ve only just started using them to make soups and chili! It takes 6-8 hours to cook, but will give you 6+ servings. Put this on right before you go to bed, wake up, and pack your lunch!
What I love about asian dishes is how easy they are to make and how they stay good for several days! This healthy take on sesame chicken is lighter on the brown sugar and honey but still heavy with flavor. I wish it had some veggies tossed in, but get creative and add them yourselves! Red bell pepper, snap peas, and broccoli would be great to add.
7 Easy meal prep ideas that will save you hours a week
This right here is a home-run by Pioneer Woman. There’s nothing better than a hunk of meat slapped between two pieces of buttered and toasted bread with a bowl of au-jus broth to dip it in. If you’re able to find beef chuck roast on sale, you can come out at around $1.60 for each of the ten meals you’ll get to eat throughout the week! It seriously takes less than 10 minutes to get in the oven and then you’ll have to wait the most painful 6 hours while the amazing pot roast smell fills up your home.
We made this enchiladas a few months ago for a group of friends and everyone asked us for the recipe by the time the night was over. The best part: we were able to introduce them to the amazing blogger, Rosemarie Groner of BusyBudgeter. Double, triple, or quadruple the recipe and eat these enchiladas all week.
If you haven’t gotten sucked into the instant pot craze by this point, then I’m actually impressed! Instant pots are basically a pressure cooker, but they have taken the food blogging world by storm. Want to skip on the 6-8 hour wait times with a crockpot? Buy yourself an instant pot and get the same meal done in 10% of the time.
We were given one for Christmas this year and are obsessed! This instant pot beef stew is loaded with flavor and light on the budget. With only 6 ingredients, this is definitely a budget friendly meal you can cook in a hurry. Pinch of Yum is my favorite food blog by far. Anything you see on their site gets a huge vote of approval from me.
This roasted pumpkin soup is the perfect cheap meal prep recipe. It’s easy to make and makes a ton of servings! All you have to do is roast the pumpkin and add it to a pot with some veggies and stock and let it come to a boil. You can jazz it up with some fun toppings.
Tip: make a batch of this soup and freeze half for a rainy day!
Goulash is a hungarian dish that is basically just stewed meat, veggies, and pasta that is seasoned well with paprika and other spices. What I love about this recipe is that there are only 5 steps to finish it. Brown the meat, cook the pasta, add in the veggies, and put it all together.
Unfortunately I don’t eat a ton of pasta these days because if I even look at carbs I’ll gain weight. That being said, every once in a while I like to treat myself to some rich, carby, cheesy pasta. This one pan penne is loaded with beef and chunks of mozzarella cheese, and you can do it all in one skillet
Sausage wraps were a staple in my house growing up. My dad would fire up the grill and 15 minutes later we’d be chowing down. This recipe definitely dresses them up a bit more but the mix of garlic, cheese, and tomatoes definitely take this to the next level.
7 Breakfast meal prep recipes to kick off your day
Breakfast is usually my hardest meal of the day, but creating a few staples in my rotation has made all the difference. I recently compiled these all together in one place: breakfast meal prep ideas. If you don’t like eggs, you can also try one of our egg free breakfasts!
Oatmeal is one of the easiest things to meal prep for breakfast! If you’re looking for a quick breakfast idea, then this instant pot oatmeal is perfect for you!
This is also the best looking oatmeal I’ve ever seen. You can load up the toppings with whatever you have on hand. This one has apples, walnuts, blueberries, sliced up carrots, and flax seed. Here are a bunch of overnight oats recipes to give you more options like this!
I have an unhealthy obsessions with peanut butter so this recipe totally caught my eye when I saw it. This slow cooker oatmeal takes about 7-8 hours so you can put it on right before you go to bed or before you leave for work in the morning! You’ll have breakfast ready to eat.
Breakfast burritos make for a great grab & go breakfast. These sweet potato and black bean burritos are the perfect breakfast meal prep & they are vegetarian! You can re-heat them in about a minute and eat it on your way to work. You could also make a couple of eggs to stuff in the burrito for some extra protein.
29. Mostly Prepped Sausage and Eggs: “Breakfast bomb”
If you have a bit of extra time in the morning or you’re willing to get up a few minutes early, then this is what I recommend. Make a “breakfast bomb” of whatever meat & veggies you want. This is your base for breakfast.
Then each morning, crack some eggs into your pan and when they’re halfway done, drop a scoop of the meat & veggies in.
Do this and you’ll have a fresh breakfast every day while also cutting down on the time you have to spend each morning.
Quiche is a an easy meal prep idea! You spend a bit of time making one and you can eat away at it all week. If you want to sneak some veggies into your diet, this is a great option. I do recommend eating it within a few days of first making it though.
Finding breakfast meal prep ideas that taste good throughout the week is tough. Egg muffins usually work well for me! They reheat easily & with a little hot sauce, they taste great.
I usually make 20-25 at a time and eat 5 a day for breakfast or a quick protein packed snack.
You can also change up the meat and veggies used each time you make it! Once made, they take about a minute to heat up and can easily be eaten on the go.
32. Green Smoothies
Green smoothies are a regular for me! It’s by far the easiest way I load up on veggies in my diet. They’re super easy to make and store easily in mason jars.
3 Step Green Smoothies:
- Fill blender with spinach, kale, or mixed greens
- Fill halfway up with water & blend thoroughly.
- Add cucumber, celery, or both. Blend some more.
Jar it up and drink one every morning.
Here’s a list of 40 more protein shake ideas.
12 Cheap Meal prep lunches to save you money
If you’re only here to grab some lunch ideas, then check out our list of 40 lunch meal prep ideas!
This salad looks amazing! I love every ingredient in this salad and I’m sure it would make for an awesome side salad with chicken or salmon. If you’re looking for something light and fresh, give this one a try and let me know what you think! If you want some more salad options, we’ve got 30 salad prep ideas you can check out!
I first had lentil soup a few months ago and was blown away! It was hearty, tasty, and incredibly filling. This lentil curry recipe will take a bit of effort and some of the ingredients are less common, but if you’re wanting to try something out of the box this is a great recipe to go with.
Now I’m super skeptical of vegan chili but after having some vegan queso last week with taco tofu on top, I’ve decided to give this one a try! This recipe is loaded with veggies and spices and might be the only way this meat lover gives vegetarian recipes a try. At 225 calories a serving, this recipe will help you save money, time, and eat healthy. Everything we’re all trying to do.
Apparently lentils are pretty common for vegetarian and vegan eating. They’re a cheap source of non-animal protein and adds great texture / heartiness to a meal. A full cup of lentils will give you about 20 grams a protein! This lentil soup recipe looks amazing! And since all of the ingredients are veggies or spices, it is super cheap to put together if you’re in a hurry!
One of my absolute favorite food combos is pasta with sundried tomatoes! Add in some spinach and other veggies and you have a super healthy, but really good tasting pasta. If you want to up the protein simply add some chicken. At less than $2/bowl this is a super great budget friendly meal!
This recipe comes from my wife! Last fall she I came home to the amazing smell of this sweet potato turkey chili! I’ve asked her to make it several times since then because it is so good! Healthy and with only 5 ingredients + spices, it’s so easy to make. If you’re a fan of chili, you will love this one. Also, Pinch of Yum is my favorite food blog that exists, so check them out. If I am craving anything the first thing I do is google, “______ pinch of yum”. Amazing food and even more amazing people behind it.
If you’re looking for a cheap, low carb recipe these meatballs have to be on your list! They are super easy to make but loaded with flavor. Combine these with a side salad and you’ll make your heart and wallet happy.
Now I know the name might throw you off, but this meal is incredible. The sausage and the potatoes soften up and almost create this mash of goodness. If you’ve got any meat & potato types in your family, this one HAS to be in your line-up. It’s one of those meals that really does warm you up all over.
This recipe comes from a fellow finance blogger, MrsMummyPenny! I’ve actually never had bolognese, but this recipe just got added to my list! This meal is loaded up with vegetables and since Lynn has been cooking this recipe for over 25 years I imagine she has perfected it! Check out her blog and give this recipe a try!
If you’ve never had cuban beef, you haven’t lived. This shredded beef recipe is seriously life changing. Sear the meat, drop it in a slow cooker, and put it over some rice and beans. I’ll warn you that this one is a bit more time intensive, but it’s worth it. And again, at less than $2/meal, this is an easy meal prep recipe you’ll want to make again and again.
These healthy burritos are one of the few vegetarian meal prep recipes on this list! They’re super easy to meal prep and all you need are tortillas, beans, rice, and any veggies you want to add. The beans give it some protein. You could even make some taco style tofu to add to them! Bake them, freeze them, and you’ve got a vegetarian friendly lunch ready for you.
I made this recipe the other day and my wife was obsessed! We both grew up eating chili on a weekly basis. This recipe is easy to make, cooks plenty for leftovers, it’s cheap, and healthy. Everything we’re looking for.
What set’s Texas chili apart is the use of non-ground beef. Get yourself a chuck roast, trim the fat, and you’ll be set.
6 Healthy meal prep recipes for weight loss
Finding the right healthy recipes can be the key to losing weight. Here are six of our favorites, but we’ve got a whole list of 54 healthy meal prep ideas for weight loss on our other site!
This is the second recipe from Chelsea and it is the perfect answer if you are dieting, but want to get your taco fix. Ditch the tortillas and put this delicious taco meat over a salad with all of your favorite fixings. I highly recommend guacamole, greek yogurt as a sub for sour cream, and some sliced up cherry tomatoes. Try this one and thank me later! Less than 30 minutes to prep and under $2/meal.
If you haven’t caught on yet, but of my favorite recipes are some form of meat & veggies. I generally try to avoid carbs, but sometimes it’s hard to eat on a budget this way. This recipe of turkey sausage and veggies is amazing! Super healthy, super easy, and a budget friendly meal you can cook over and over.
Last time I ran a Keto diet I ate this meal ALL the time. Eating healthy and saving money can be a difficult balance to strike. You need to try this one if you’re trying to save money and eat low-carb. It’s basically everything all of the goodness inside of eggrolls, stuffed into a lettuce wrap instead.
Tilapia is one of the cheapest cuts of fish, but can be questionable. Sure, it may not be best to eat farm-raised fish, but wild caught ain’t cheap and I figure if eating tilapia helps me lose weight I’ll end up better for it. This dish is SUPER easy to make and only takes about 20 minutes! Just make sure you de-thaw your fish if it comes frozen.
This one actually has 4 different fish recipes you can use! Not all of them fall into the $2 or less range, but the “Citrus Soy Salmon Fillet Recipe” is awesome! Salmon is by far one of the healthiest foods anyone can eat and this recipe knocks it out of the park. Easy to make and about as close to a budget friendly meal as you can get with salmon.
Here’s another easy to make skillet meal for you! My wife gives me a hard time, but most of the food I eat is basically just a mash of meat, veggies, and however many carbs I allow myself to eat. These take a bit longer to make because of the chopping involved but you can easily make a week’s worth of food in one go. Depending on your health goals you can double the meat, veggies, or rice to get the balance you want.