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I’ve harped on about it a fair few times on this blog, but for a good reason!
When I ask you guys what your number one wallet drains are, the food bill is almost always listed. People love food. It makes us happy. And spending less on things that make us happy is tough.
However, you can still have delicious meals every night of the week and be on budget. Back when I was living in one spot and actually had access to a kitchen all the time (I know, I know, woe is the girl who travels and eats out for $1 most nights!), I spent far too much money on food.
I love cooking and would always be researching new recipes to try – and splurging my money on amazing cookbooks (Deliciously Ella’s book is totally worth the spend, FYI!)
I think something about being a super fussy child when I was younger has now made me really appreciate different flavours and tastes – and now, I want every single meal I have to be delicious.
So, meal prep came into play for me both to tackle my spending habits and when I got into fitness. If you’re looking to lose fat, put on some muscle, or simply eat healthier – the good news is that meal prep is as good for losing pounds as it is for saving pounds (I’m trying to do a word play here – does it work? You guys appreciate it, right?).
Here are my ultimate top ten meal prep recipes perfect for trying out this summer:
1) Chicken Burrito Bowls
My chicken burrito bowl recipe is one of my favourite meals to eat, ever (same goes for pretty much all Mexican food!), and better still, it costs just £1.75 ($2.30) per serving. If you prepped the ingredients to have this meal every night in a week, you’d be spending just £12.25 ($16) for a delicious, nutritious dinner!
Every night in a week is a little extreme and may get a little boring, but this is certainly a meal prep recipe that’s perfect for making in bulk for a few weeknights. Just keep the ingredients cooked but separate and assemble before re-heating. Check out the link above to see all the ingredients you need.
- Slice your chicken, marinate in Mexican spices and pan-fry
- Slice and pan fry your veggies in a separate pan
- Cook your rice as normal (I always add a veggie stock cube for a taste sensation)
- Serve with salad, mashed avocado, salsa and a sprinkling of cheese!
2) Marinated Kale and Chicken Bowls with Sun Dried Tomato Sauce from Pinch of Yum
I absolutely adore Lindsay’s site, Pinch of Yum. I used to just waste hours at work browsing the delicious looking food on there. This marinated kale and chicken bowl with the sauce shot to my top meal prep recipes in an instant.
I made this recipe to the dot last year and guys, it is amazing. The sun dried tomato sauce is an absolute game changer – and this is coming from a person who refused to eat anything tomato-based until the age of 18.
Meal prep wise, make a big batch of the tomato sauce and quinoa and then add your protein and kale as you see fit. Kale is a super sturdy green and always lasts in the fridge at least a week for me – making it a firm favourite compared to spinach or rocket which tends to wilt much faster.
I also tried this recipe with salmon it was amazing. Trust the sauce.
3) Chili sin Carne
To anyone who says ‘chili si carne isn’t a summer dish,’ I say shame on you.
Whether it’s hot enough outside to melt your skin off, or cold enough to freeze your fingertips, I will always be down for a smoky bowl of chili sin carne packed with beans, veg and maybe some sweet potato. Why do you think so many tropical countries eat spicy foods? It’s good for ya!
Chili sin carne, to me, is one of the most versatile and meal-prep friendly recipes out there. I’ve been known to make enormous batches and have it for lunch and dinner several days in a row. I just mix things up with rice, pita bread, or simply chili on its own topped with avocado (I’m sorry, apparently I’m a text-book millennial because I add avocado to everything!)
For recipes, don’t be afraid to do your own thing. Add chocolate, wine, beer, beans, different veg and spices – its your choice!
4) Chicken Jambalaya from Delia Online
Jambalaya is one of my mum’s fall-back recipes for when everyone is coming home at different hours, and I’ve followed suit by having it as one of my top meal-prep recipes.
This recipe can really be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Personally, I rarely make a recipe with all the ingredients listed – that’s just one day to end up spending more money on ingredients you’ll only use once! Treat them as guidelines, not rules.
Check out this great recipe for a mouth-watering jambalaya.
5) Chicken Enchilada Rice Casserole from Jo Cook’s
The recipe for this chicken enchilada rice casserole over at Jo Cook’s is a little high in calories, so I tend to have a lighter lunch to balance that out. Never sacrifice a delicious meal in the name of something as flexible as calories!
Enchiladas and tacos aren’t primed for meal prep, so this casserole version is the perfect option! This could either serve a family or if you’re feeding just one or two of you, it’s perfect for sticking in the fridge for a second serving the next day.
6) Basil Pesto Pasta with Roasted Veggies from Joyful Healthy Eats
Pesto? Yum. Roasted Veggies? Yessss. Add in some pasta? My idea of a perfect night.
Roasted vegetables are one of the easiest and cheapest things to make – you really don’t need a lot of oil to get a great crisp on your veggies, and all you have to do is put them on one baking tray, cook for 30 – 45 minutes and voila!
I love this basil pesto pasta with roasted veggies from Joyful Healthy Eats – so simple, so cheap, and so, so delicious.
7) Coconut Milk Curry
I made this chicken coconut milk curry one night on a whim, and it turned out delicious. Curries of all kinds are great for meal prep recipes – and often taste better the night after making them too!
Check out my post here to see how to make the curry, and the ingredients you need for a bargain £1.30 per serving!
8) Veggie Buddha Bowls from The Minimalist Baker
When I first heard of Buddha bowls, I thought they sound way too complicated for me. In fact, they’re the opposite.
There are tonnes of Buddha bowl recipes, but in reality, the options are limitless. Literally see what you have in the cupboard, cook it up, and throw it in a bowl! To get started, this sweet potato and chickpea bowl from the minimalist baker is heavenly.
9) Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Meatballs from Cotter Crunch
I know sriracha has now been ridiculed as the sauce for hipsters but it’s actually really tasty.
Especially when involved in these sweet and spicy sriracha meatballs! Cook up a batch and pair with spaghetti, rice or salad to have for dinners throughout the week.
I haven’t linked a recipe to this meal because I’m not sure I’ll find one, but this is one of my go-to’s when I’ve planned nothing for dinner and want a quick and healthy dinner. I call it hash, and it often consists of chucking several ingredients into a pan, such as:
- Diced Potatoes
- Veg (onions, bell peppers, broccoli, green beans, sweet corn – go nuts!)
- Ham/leftover chicken
Pictured with avocado and rocket here:
I just cook everything up and you’re good to go. My photos of this meal always turn out disastrous but trust me, a big ole hash of leftovers hits the spot every time.
Essential Meal Prep Staples!
Coconut Oil – I cook most of my meals with Lucy Bee Coconut Oil and it’s a definite staple in my pantry. Great for cooking (especially at higher temperatures compared to Olive Oil!) and it can even be used for things like coconut oil hair and face masks!
Oats – super cheap, versatile and high in protein, rolled oats are my go-to breakfast and remain a meal prep favourite of mine. I love making a batch of overnight oats or baked oatmeal for cheap, healthy breakfasts throughout the week.
Beans & Lentils – I love eating meals like dahl and burrito bowls throughout the week, so I always keep big bags of dried beans and lentils on hand for batch cooking.
Hope you enjoyed this list!
To get your meal prep game on point, click here to download my weekly meal planner for free – simply print out and plan your meals for the week to get organised!
What are your go-to meal prep recipes when trying to stay healthy and on budget? Let me know your recommendations in the comments!