Budget Friendly Meal Prep Ideas – Today I’m going to be working on a meal prep for five people with a budget of under $100.
I’m at home right now, so I’m gonna be doing this for my own family. What I’m gonna do now, before I plan the menu, is shop my pantry and find out what I can make use of that’s already in the house.
Budget Friendly Meal Prep Ideas
We have a really good selection of canned goods, which is great. Here we’ve got some maple syrup, I think I can put that to use. My family does have a really well stocked oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, spices kind of situation so I’m gonna use those for sure. Those can be pricier items so I’m gonna eliminate those from my grocery list. Okay, so now that I’ve shopped my pantry, I am going to place my grocery order.
I am leaning in a more vegetarian direction because I know that that will help me stretch my budget. What I’m planning for this meal prep is three mains and three sides. And I’m doing this in a family style format, which means that I’m gonna store everything in large containers. That means my family and I are gonna be able to mix and match the food over the course of the week.
I Meal Prep For A Family of 5 With Less Than $100
For mains. I’m gonna do a pasta salad, a cold pasta salad. And then I’m also going to do a roasted tomato stewed butterbeans. And a rice curry chicken meatball. So I’m adding a grain into my meatballs so that I can stretch my meat. And in terms of portioning, I’m gonna do I think 10 servings of the– (high pitch sped up voice) Five days worth of dinners for my entire family of five.
Sides, I’m gonna go with a balsamic tahini roasted cauliflower and potato salad. I’m gonna do a grainy mustard slaw. I’m also gonna do an herbed brown rice. I’m gonna be able to incorporate the rice in two ways in this prep, which means that I will not have to order two different grains. All right. My groceries have arrived. I’m going to unpack them, but before I do that, I wanna show you my work station setup.
The same I do before every client prep or personal prep. I have my cutting board set up, it’s stabilized, I’ve got my nice sharp knife. I have a salt cellar here ready to go. I’ve got a towel for grabbing anything hot. And then finally I’ve got my trustee scrap bowl for when the veggies come out. I have a theory that it’s best to always have something going on your stove, in your oven and on your cutting board all at once. So what I’ve done is I have gotten my oven heated and it has potatoes that are going to go into the cauliflower potato salad.
Water on the stove boiling away, that’s going to blanch some broccoli. And I am getting ready to cut into this cabbage. So this is a big time saving tip. I have garlic going into a couple of different dishes, and I’m going to chop all of the garlic at once, I’m going to chop all this parsley now at once. As you can see, I’ve kept quite a bit of the stem on this parsley. That’s another parsley tip is, with most soft herbs, you can keep a good amount of the stem.
It’s gonna be a little bit more pungent than the leaf. It may be a tiny bit tougher, but if you’re finely mincing, that’s gonna be okay, and that’s a shortcut that I often take. I’m getting ready to compile and finish my slaw. You can see the one head of cabbage gave me a huge amount of salad, and I’ve also topped it with this dressing that I’ve made. I love the cabbage because, like I said, it yields quite a bit.
It lasts forever in the fridge, which is great. Once it’s actually dressed, it still holds up for at least three to four days. And that is it. If this is done, I’m gonna pop this into my big container now. I just realized that the pasta that I ordered is a much smaller amount than I was expecting. Which is totally fine. What I’ve done is (chuckles) gone back and shopped my pantry again. And I was lucky to find that there is another box of pasta back there! So, it is a different shape, but that is totally fine.
Another option to fill in for pasta would be subbing in some rice, maybe adding some additional beans to the dish. The pasta is in and it is a gluten free pasta, so it’s especially important to stir it until the water returns to a boil. It’s in salted water and I am just giving it a stir until the water comes back up, and this will prevent it from sticking. Since I am adding broccoli to this pasta salad, I’m actually using the same exact water that I’m cooking the pasta in to blanch the broccoli.
I just got my two heads of cauliflower onto two separate baking sheets, very well spread, and they’re in the oven at 425 with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and they’re gonna go until they’re nice and golden. All right, I have my meatball mixture less the meat, ready to go here. I am getting ready to roll my meatballs, and one of the things I always have handy when I’m doing that is a bowl of warm water.
I dip my hands in it and that makes rolling the meatball without getting the meatball stuck all over your hand a lot easier. And this will make quite a few. I’m going to bake these off between 20 and 30 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
So I have most of the components of my pasta salad here ready to go except the dressing component. And then I also have my beans stewing away, simmering over there on the stove, and I have my meatballs in the oven. One of the last things I have to do here is mix up my herbed rice. When I reheat this, I am going to pop it either onto the stove or into the microwave with a little bit of water, maybe like a tablespoon of water per one to two cups of rice.
Cooked rice. And then I am going to add a drizzle of olive oil and that’s gonna bring it really nicely back to life so it’s not like a crunchy rice salad. I’m putting the finishing touches on the last dish which is the tomato stewed butterbeans. You can use Lima beans here. Really any other white bean. And I wanna talk about one of the most important things you need to be doing as you cook which is tasting your food. And that is it!
So we have our herbed rice salad. Our delicious balsamic and tahini cauliflower potato salad. We’ve got our pasta salad that has some blanched broccoli, mozzarella, Parmesan, and lemon zest. Our curried meatballs. Our tomato stewed white beans. Our very voluminous slaw. And then some more pasta salad over here. So, what I’ve done is really plan a menu that focuses on pretty similar flavors throughout.
See Also: HEALTHY MEAL PREP IDEAS FOR WEIGHT LOSS
And what I would call the flavor profile here is kind of like light, bright, mediterranean slash Middle Eastern inspired. And this is gonna give me the flexibility to pair various items together. So the bill for this prep actually came out to be just around $75, and one of the main things that I did other than shopping my pantry for this meal prep was to lean into a mostly vegetarian menu.
I do have the meatballs and the rest of the proteins in this meal prep are legumes, which are very inexpensive. All right! That concludes the cooking portion, and now onto the cleanup. I have done my best to kind of reuse the same pots and pans, and clean up throughout, so it shouldn’t be too painful. But it does have to get done. Once again, this has been me showing you guys how I meal prep for five people, for five days worth of food, for under $100, and it has been such a joy to cook along with you.