Planning and preparing your meals a week in advance is a great way to reduce your time in the kitchen, monitor your calorie intake, and save money. Additionally, if you plan your meals well, you can enjoy variety throughout the week and avoid the boredom of eating the same meal for seven days in a row.

My favorite reason for knowing how much I spend on meals is that I can maintain my budget. Many people spend more than they can afford on food because they haven’t worked out how much they can afford. By knowing how much you should spend on groceries, you can stick to your budget, save money, and pay off your car, house, or student loan faster.

## How Much Does Meal Prep Cost for a Week?

**The cost of your weekly meal prep will depend on how many meals you plan to meal prep for the week. For example, suppose you want to meal prep for three main meals every day of the week. In that case, you can work out the cost for 21 meals.**

You will need your **receipts**, **pen and paper**, a **calculator**, the **original product packaging**, and maybe the **store’s website for backup** to calculate meal costs. Once you have these, you can work out the price of each meal. This is how you do it:

- First,
**write down the ingredients for the recipes you have chosen**. If you’re doubling a recipe for meal prep, make sure you double up the ingredients. - On your list,
**fill in how much the “whole” products cost**. e.g., a whole bag of shredded cheese or an entire bag of pasta. - Next,
**calculate the cost of items**bought in bulk. E.g., if you buy a 3-pack of tomatoes for $1.50, each tomato will cost 50 cents. - Often, you will only use part of a product. In that case, you will
**calculate the cost of the ingredient based on the amount you used**. For example, if you only used a quart of milk which cost $2.88 per gallon, the milk you used to costs only $0.72. - Estimating the cost of herbs and spices is better, as they last a long time. For example, for a teaspoon of salt and pepper, you can estimate about $0.10. For more exotic herbs and spices, you can estimate a higher amount, e.g., $0.20 for saffron.
- Finally, once you’ve calculated all the ingredients’ costs, you can
**add them up to get the total meal prep cost**. - For those wanting to work out the cost of a whole week of meal prep, you will
**add up the cost per serving for each meal planned for**7 days.

For the sake of simplicity, I’ll look at the cost of groceries to give you an idea of how much meal prep costs. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated a moderate weekly grocery budget for a man aged 19 – 50 should cost about $83. For women of the same age and budget, a weekly amount of $70.30 for groceries is the average.

I will show you how I work out my weekly meal prep grocery costs using a **moderate budget** (though I usually try to be thrifty as much as possible). I want to see how my weekly food prep budget compares to the USDA’s guidelines.

### Calculate the Cost of Seven Breakfasts

For breakfast this week, I’ll meal prep four high-protein breakfast bowls for those early-morning gym days and three baked chocolate and banana oatmeal cups.

The ingredients and cost of four breakfast bowls are as follows:

4 x High-protein breakfast bowls | |

2 lbs. russet potatoes | $2.16 |

6 large eggs | $2.09 |

2 Tbsp butter | $0.32 |

1 cup salsa | $1.77 |

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($0.85) | $1.11 |

Freshly cracked black pepper | $0.10 |

¼ tsp salt | $0.03 |

½ tsp garlic powder | $0.05 |

1 tsp smoked paprika | $0.10 |

2 Tbsp olive oil | $0.36 |

Total | $8.09 |

Total per meal | $2.02 |

The recipe for the baked chocolate and banana oatmeal cups yields 12 muffins. Therefore, the total cost of the recipe can be divided by 4 to get the price of three muffins.

12 x Baked Chocolate And Banana Oatmeal Cups | |

3 cups rolled oats or old-fashioned oats | $2.28 |

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon | $0.14 |

1 teaspoon baking powder | $0.34 |

¼ teaspoon salt | $0.03 |

2 large eggs | $0.70 |

¼ cup pure maple syrup (or brown sugar) | $1.00 |

2 bananas, mashed | $0.54 |

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract | $0.49 |

1 cup dairy milk (can be substituted) | $0.18 |

¼ cup melted coconut oil | $1.63 |

1 cup chocolate chips | $1.74 |

Total for 12 oatmeal cups | $9.07 |

Cost per oatmeal cup | $0.76 |

So, to eat four breakfast bowls and three baked oatmeal cups in the week, the cost would be calculated as follows:

(4 x $2.02) + (3 x $0.76) = $8.08 + $2.28 = **$10.36 for 7 breakfast portions**.

### Calculate the Cost of Seven Lunches

When planning your lunches, check your schedule to see if you’ll be in the office or running errands. Then, you can meal prep accordingly based on where you’ll likely enjoy lunch. For instance, I’m including three on-the-go lunches this week because I’ve got a few appointments scattered throughout the week.

Burritos are great on-the-go meals. The following ingredients can be turned into 12 vegetarian burritos, which can be wrapped in parchment paper and frozen. Optional extras like shredded chicken can be added. The cost is included.

12 x Baked Vegetable Burritos | |

1 cup of uncooked brown rice | $0.35 |

1 large sweet potato (about 15 oz) | $1.30 |

2 Tbsp olive oil | $0.36 |

1 onion | $0.84 |

4 garlic cloves | $0.32 |

8 oz sliced mushrooms | $2.17 |

1 tablespoon ground cumin | $0.20 |

1 tablespoon ground chili powder | $0.15 |

1 or 2 chipotles | $1.00 |

1 Tbsp maple syrup | $0.30 |

Juice from 1 lime | $0.44 |

1 bunch kale | $1.48 |

2 cans black beans (15 oz each) | $1.56 |

8 oz shredded cheese | $2.22 |

12 (10-inch) burrito-sized tortillas | $3.26 |

Salt and pepper to taste | $0.20 |

Total | $16.15 |

Cost per burrito | $1.35 |

I have chosen a steak cobb salad for the other four lunches this week. The steak is even more delicious if it is barbecued (Sunday barbecue with the family) and then cooled quickly for meal prepping.

The ingredients and costs for a delicious steak cobb salad are as follows:

4 x Steak Cobb Salad | |

2 Tbsp unsalted butter | $0.32 |

2 Tbsp olive oil | $0.36 |

1 pound steak | $8.94 |

6 large eggs | $2.09 |

6 cups baby spinach | $1.60 |

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved | $1.12 |

1 cup pecan halves | $4.90 |

½ cup crumbled feta cheese | $2.64 |

Salt and freshly ground black pepper | $0.20 |

Total | $22.17 |

Cost per meal | $5.54 |

So, if my lunches for the week include three vegetable burritos and four steak cobb salads, the cost would be as follows:

(3 x $1.35) + ( 4 x $5.54) = $4.05 + $22.16 = **$26.21 for 7 lunches**.

### Calculate the Cost of Seven Suppers

I’m not sure about you, but I enjoy a good chili – especially one that can be frozen and reheated easily. The following ingredients are for a turkey chili yield 8 portions.

8 x Turkey Chili | |

2 lbs. Ground Turkey | $7.36 |

1½ cups Chicken Stock | $1.10 |

2 cans Kidney Beans | $1.56 |

1 x can Chopped Tomatoes | $1.34 |

1/3 cup Tomato Paste | $0.46 |

¼ cup canned Jalapeños | $0.77 |

1 large White Onion | $0.84 |

1 large red bell pepper | $1.38 |

4 garlic cloves | $0.32 |

2 Tbsp each: Cumin, Smoked Paprika, Mild Chili Powder | $1.10 |

1½ tsp each: Oregano, Ground Coriander, Salt | $0.70 |

1 tsp Sugar | $0.15 |

¾ tsp Black Pepper | $0.10 |

2 Tbsp Olive Oil | $0.36 |

8 oz Tortilla Chips | $1.22 |

8 oz shredded cheese | $2.22 |

16 oz Sour Cream | $2.38 |

Fresh Cilantro | $0.88 |

Total | $24.24 |

Cost per portion | $3.03 |

I’ll plan for turkey chili for three nights of the week. The other firm family favorite is a classic lasagna. Lasagna freezes well, so it’s great to have a meal prep day and freeze the rest into meal-size portions.

8 x Classic Lasagna | |

3/4 lb. lasagna noodles | $1.08 |

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil | $0.18 |

2 lbs. ground beef | $7.58 |

4 cloves garlic | $0.32 |

2 tsp dried oregano | $0.40 |

Salt | $0.10 |

Freshly ground black pepper | $0.10 |

64 oz marinara sauce | $4.10 |

16 oz whole milk ricotta | $2.71 |

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan | $3.82 |

¼ cup chopped parsley | $0.98 |

1 large egg | $0.35 |

2 lbs. sliced mozzarella | $7.96 |

Total | $29.68 |

Cost per portion | $3.71 |

Assuming I have chili three nights of the week and lasagna four nights, the meal prep cost for suppers for the week would be as follows:

(3 x $3.03) + (4 x $3.71) = $9.09 + $14.84 = **$23.93 for seven suppers**.

### Add the Totals for Weekly Meal Prep Costs

You’ve seen how meal prep costs are broken down to determine the cost per portion. Once you know how to calculate the cost per portion per meal, you can add up your totals. In this example, I covered meal prep for breakfast, lunch, and supper for seven days using six recipes.

**Breakfast for one person for the week**: $10.36**Lunch for one person for the week**: $26.21**Dinner for one person for the week**: $23.93

The total for these 21 meals is as follows:

$10.36 + $26.21 + $23.93 = **$60,50 for 3 meals a day, 7 days a week**.

As you can see, this meal prep that includes a lot of protein and yummy flavors comes lower than the USDA suggestions. Of course, you can adjust your meal prep costs to be more expensive or cheaper, depending on where and how you buy groceries. Additionally, if you meal prep **snacks**, you should factor those into your meal prep costs.

## Related Questions

### How Can I Reduce My Meal Prep Costs?

You can reduce your meal prep costs by buying groceries on promotion, buying in bulk, shopping at supermarkets, or growing your own vegetables.

### How Do I Know How Much Money I Should Spend on Groceries?

Your grocery budget will depend on your dietary needs and your income. The USDA has guidelines on how much a person should spend to enjoy a nutritious diet. However, if you need help with how much to allocate to groceries, you can use a grocery budget calculator.

## Conclusion

Working out the cost of meal prep for a whole week becomes simple when you work out the cost per meal. If you meal prep many freezable meals, it’s a good idea to keep a summary of how much each serving of a meal prep batch costs for future reference.

Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. He is a contributing chef at Mashed, and his recipes and contributions have been featured in Tasting Table, Edible Arrangements, Insanely Good Recipes, and The Daily Meal.