$50 Whole Foods Meal Prep Budget Challenge!

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Meal Prep Under $50 – I am going to show you that you can meal prep ALL of your meals for the week, that’s five days of breakfasts, lunch, dinners and snacks, for UNDER $50! AND I’m shopping at Whole Foods to make it even MORE challenging. I know a lot of people think eating healthy has to be expensive, but it doesn’t! It may require a bit more planning, or time, or brain power, but it can be done.

FYI I did not include regular pantry items that I already had like olive oil, or spices like cinnamon, salt, pepper, etcetera in the price, because I don’t need to buy those every week. If you’re looking for extra meal prepping help, my meal prep eBook is a beginner guide to teach you HOW to meal prep for YOUR lifestyle.

Meal Prep Under $50

It offers tips and guidance to help you plan your most efficient and effective prep, and it’s available right now at mindovermunch.com. If you use the code “50DOLLAR” that’s five-zero-dollar, at checkout for this week only, you can get 10% off any eBook or package of your choice! On to the prep! On the breakfast menu this week, we’ve got prepped freezer smoothies and steel cut oatmeal. For the smoothies I’m using frozen fruit—remember that fruit is frozen at it’s peak time of freshness so nutrients are not lost—bananas, which are pretty affordable year round—although at Whole Foods they are of course much higher than I usually find elsewhere—and frozen spinach.

FUN TIP: did you know you can freeze greens? Greens like kale and spinach freeze really well for smoothies, but since I’m going to freeze these smoothies anyway, I thought, why spend the extra money on fresh, when I could save a TON and get frozen– and just like with the fruits, greens will retain their nutrients when frozen, too. Simply blend everything together with a little bit of water.

$50 Whole Foods Meal Prep Budget Challenge!

You do want this to be REALLY thick, because you’re going to freeze it and then blend it again later with more liquid, so we don’t need too much at first. And then, we can transfer to an ice cube tray. I like to use the trays with covers like these, which I will link in the description, because these are going to be used all week long. When you’re ready to make your smoothie, simply allow those cubes to thaw for a few minutes, add some liquid—milk, water or juice will all work—and blend into your smoothie! Perfect.

On to the oats– for all oats, whether they are steel cut, rolled or quick cooking, buying in bulk will keep the price tag down AND you can buy as much as you need. I know a lot of people prefer steel cut oats. They aren’t really “healthier” than rolled but they are less processed, and they digest more slowly than rolled, they were also surprisingly the SAME price as rolled oats when I bought in bulk.

Meal Prep Under $50

The problem: they usually take FOREVER to cook– like an hour on the stove! So today, I’m teaching you a hack to get these oats done quickly. We’re going to bring steel cut oats, water, salt and cinnamon to a boil. Simmer for about three minutes, and then turn off the heat. Then, divide into jars to store for the week, and allow to cool for about an hour without the lids, and then add those lids on and transfer to the fridge.

When you’re ready to eat, stir up the oatmeal, microwave two to three minutes until hot, and then you can add whatever add-ins you like! I was able to afford currants, which are just a version of seedless raisins that happened to be cheaper than raisins, and put some cinnamon in there as well. This quick method works because you are almost “pre-cooking” the oats just briefly at first, and then finishing them off in the microwave later, expediting the process.

See Also: I Meal Prep For A Family of 5 With Less Than $100

And that is my nutritious meal prepped breakfast, bringing us to a total so far of eight dollars and sixty-seven cents for the week. On to lunch! I am going with a classic combo: Veggie Soup & a Chickpea Salad! This is the easiest soup in the world – I’ve got frozen cauliflower and corn, they actually only had organic cauliflower today, both of which are pretty affordable frozen, as well as some white potatoes, carrots and salt to season.

Remember, white potatoes get a bad rep, but they are still a great choice! Don’t be afraid of potatoes – the problem is when we fry them and smother them with buttery-cheesy deliciousness. White potatoes still offer fiber, Vitamin B6, potassium, Vitamin C, and other vitamins, minerals and nutrients. For this soup, you literally just add in your ingredients with some salt, bring water to a boil, and let them cook until fork tender.

Then we can drain the salted water, but save some some of it, and blend! An immersion blender, regular blender, and food processor will all work just fine! Add the salted water back in until you get the consistency that you prefer. I like my soup SUPER creamy and thick, but if you prefer a broth-based soup you don’t even need to blend it, or you could blend it and leave it chunky, it’s up to you! For our salad, we’re turning to a very dependable affordable ingredient: BEANS.

I am going with chickpeas. Now we have an interesting situation here with the chickpeas so excuse me for a second while I digress from meal prep to make a point. Most of the time in these budget situations, people suggest DRY beans over canned. But honestly, canned beans are very affordable. Check it out – This can of cooked chickpeas is seventy-nine cents, and measures out to one and three-quarters cup of total cooked beans. This bag of dry chickpeas is currently two dollars and ninety-nine cents, and will yield you seven cups of cooked beans.

Seven cups of cooked beans is equal to four cans. Four cans would cost you three dollars and sixteen cents. So as you can see, there is a seventeen cent difference between the two, but the dry chickpeas take SIGNIFICANTLY more time to make. My point is, don’t fret about getting canned beans to save money. Just try to get the no or low-sodium beans, and drain them and rinse them so you’re in control of the salt content.

If you guys enjoy these types of breakdowns in videos, please give this video a thumbs up, and remember to subscribe for more affordable meal prep content! But, it’s not “hard” to make the dry chickpeas, and for the sake of this being a CHALLENGE video I am going to show you how to do it WITHOUT SOAKING THEM.

So to cook your dry chickpeas, rinse the chickpeas, and then add them to a pot with enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a boil over high heat. Use a spoon to remove any of the foam that rises, and then lower the heat so that the water is at a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add water if it’s needed, and cook until they are as tender as you’d like. It will take between 2 and 4 hours, which is a lot, but it’s significantly less than letting them sit overnight.

Is it worth the seventeen cents we saved by not buying canned? That’s for you to decide. Back to the meal prep! For the salad, I used about half the cooked chickpeas. For some fresh elements I chose cucumber, tomatoes – and Romas will almost always be the cheapest tomato option – green bell peppers, which will almost always be your cheapest pepper option because they’re less mature, onion, AND we’re going to double up on this and use it for dinner as well, as we are fresh parsley, and finishing it off with a lime, olive oil, and salt & pep to season.

I literally chop all of these ingredients and then mix them together. For your lime, make the most of that item by using the juice AND zest for flavor. And then drizzle with that olive oil and season to taste. And boom! Salad. I don’t add greens because the salad will last much better throughout the week if there aren’t any.

Lunch cost me eighteen dollars and forty-seven cents for these 5 very hefty servings (remember you can freeze the soup if it’s too much or save part of it for dinner), so we are at a tally of twenty-seven dollars and fourteen cents so far for the week! For dinner, I wanted to take this challenge to the MAX and include a protein, so I am going to show a garlic chicken rice bowl.

Protein is generally a big ticket item, and I could have made this a completely vegan meal prep, but honestly, including chicken made it harder for the challenge budget-wise, so here it is. If you are looking for a vegan meal prep, all you have to do is sub out this protein with a plant-based protein like tofu, beans, etcetera, and the entire prep will be vegan.

Of course, this is Whole Foods so it is PRICEY, so I was left with whatever was on sale. Beef was actually on sale this week but I prefer to include poultry in meal prep, so I can save red meat consumption for more occasional indulgences. This week ground turkey and chicken were also on sale, and by on sale I mean still priced higher than you’ll find elsewhere, and I went with chicken.

Now it’s not the EXTRA lean kind, that was even more expensive, this is the blend that includes both white AND dark meat. BUT remember, dark meat in chicken and poultry doesn’t need to be avoided completely. Yes, white meat is leaner so it has less fat, but dark meat actually contains more nutrients and minerals, like iron, zinc, vitamins A, K, B complex, etcetera.

To make this prep super easy and efficient, I am doing a ONE POT rice dish, and for the ingredients I went with garlic, brown rice from the bulk bins, frozen broccoli, the remaining frozen spinach, fresh parsley, onion, and chickpeas from earlier, and some olive oil, salt and pep, and water.

And, FUN FACT: one cup of uncooked white rice will yield three cups cooked, but one cup of uncooked BROWN rice will yield FOUR cups cooked—so you’re really getting WAY more for your dollar! In a bit of olive oil, sauté your onions and whole garlic cloves. I LOVE whole garlic, and since I used my budget to buy that whole head of garlic I am sure as heck gonna use it to give this dish TONS of flavor, you could use less. Also, on my Facebook page today I’m showing you a video for how to peel a head of garlic SUPER EASILY, so be sure to check that out after this! Then you can add your ground meat, any kind of ground meat will work for this dish, OR again you could omit completely or sub tofu, and heat until it’s cooked through. Then we can add in our salt & pep for seasoning, rice, frozen broccoli, spinach and water.

Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer for twenty to thirty minutes until the water is absorbed, and then we can stir in the chickpeas and parsley from earlier. If you don’t want chickpeas in both meals, you could of course use any other beans that you prefer, I just didn’t want these to go to waste from earlier.

This dish is so easy, has so much flavor, and is a great option for storing food all week long. By the way, if you guys want more one pot dishes, be sure to let me know in the comments below because maybe I could do a video on that! Dinner was a total of eleven dollars and forty-eight cents, meaning we are at thirty-eight dollars and sixty-two cents for the week so far, and that leaves us some room in the budget for snacks! I wanted at least one fresh fruit snack, we did use bananas in the freezer smoothies, but I wanted to make sure we have a truly fresh piece of fruit every single day.

Those Lady Alice apples were on sale, so I went with those! I also wanted some more fat and protein to keep me full between meals, so I looked at the bulk bin snacky foods for a DIY trail mix. I decided to get the most affordable options, which were sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and popcorn kernels.

For your popcorn, if you don’t have an air-popper, you can use the microwave or the stove – my website newsletter subs know how to do this from a few weeks ago. Cover the bottom of your pot with your kernels and close your lid. Turn the stove on medium heat, and stay close by to listen as it pops. Once you have a few seconds between pops, you can turn off the stove and wait a minute for it to cool before storing or serving.

Popcorn is one of my favorite ways to bulk up trail mix because it’s low in calories to contrast the higher calories of the nuts, but also provides fiber and whole-grain goodness! And that is my meal prep for the week! With those snacks, we’ve reached a total of forty-four dollars and eighty-six cents, and look at that… only forty-five dollars total! I saved five dollars during this challenge and ended up with prepped meals for the week! Of course I know prices altogether will vary based on your location and what’s in season for you, but the point is , as always, not to replicate this EXACT meal prep – it’s to offer inspiration and show you that, with a little bit of planning and consideration, healthy meals can absolutely be affordable, EVEN if you choose to purchase organic items and shop at places like Whole Foods.

Which I generally don’t. But that’s not the point. Anyway, If you’re someone who’s thinking “I don’t want to eat the same thing every day,” that’s fine! I have a whole playlist of meal prep, and many of those videos show “basic” prep for people who want to switch it up throughout the week and have some items prepared.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have TIME to do this much prep, because this probably will take me tree to four hours with clean up if I wasn’t filming it, that’s fine, too! I have a ONE HOUR meal prep video that you can check out! The recipes from this episode are on mindovermunch.com and they are linked in the description box below for easy access! You can also find info on my meal prep eBook there, too.

If you enjoyed this episode I would really appreciate if you would share it with a friend and give it a thumbs up! I would love to help show others who are skeptical that healthy CAN be affordable, even at Whole Foods! I look forward to reading your comments below, and if you do try out some meal prepping don’t forget to tag me on social. Have a wonderful week and weekend, and remember!

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