5 Ways to Make Meal Prep Quick & Affordable

5 ways to make meal prep quick and affordableThere’s no shortage of glitzy, colorful, meticulous meal prep photos across Pinterest and Instagram. They’re beautiful, but they can also be misleading and disheartening. It takes time and a whole lot of money to create that much variety. And, this sort of prep isn’t always doable for anyone with a busy schedule and tight budget.

Money and time are the two biggest excuses I’ve heard when it comes to not creating healthier habits. And they may sound perfectly legitimate in your head when you haven’t been exposed to other options. Cue my dramatic entrance.

I’m not letting you get away with those excuses anymore, sista! I will show you quicker and more affordable ways to prep meals for the week to stay on track and reach your fitness goals.Β 

When you become a Life in Spandex member, I show you how to prep meals step-by-step in the Eat Guide. But until it’s released, I didn’t want to leave you hanging. I’m sharing 5 little tidbits that will turn you into a meal prep freak like myself.

5 ways to make meal prep quick and affordable


1. Start small.

You had to learn addition before multiplication and walking before running, so why would you start by prepping all your meals for the week? Choose the meals that occur during the busiest times of your day (mine are breakfast, lunch, and snacks while I’m at work) and start with prepping those for 3 to 4 days. The busiest times of your day are the times when you’re more likely to choose unhealthy options or end up skipping meals (which we all know does not help progress).

5 Ways to Make Meal Prep Quick and Affordable

2. Repeat meals.

Choose between 1 to 2 breakfast, lunch, and dinner variations and repeat them throughout the week. You can buy groceries in bulk to save money and you don’t have to worry about spending half a day in the kitchen making 5+ different recipes. I would never want you to feel bored with your food, so it’s important to make meals you really like and rotate them week to week. But, is it really necessary to eat something completely different for lunch every single day? If it is, you can easily make simple changes to a base meal to give it new flavor for each day – i.e. adding different veggie and nut toppings to each salad or swapping avocado for hummus in your sandwich.

5 Ways to Make Meal Prep Quick and Affordable

3. Chop it, peel it, store it.

I HATE food waste. The easiest way to avoid it, is to prep it. We tend to reach for whatever is most convenient after a busy day. Healthier options that take a bit more work tend to get shoved to the bottom of the fresh drawers. We forget about them until 7 days later when they’re soggy and need to be thrown out. That’s money down the drain! Make those healthy options the most convenient. Chop up your lean protein, fruits, and veggies so it’s ready to be added to tomorrow’s lunch, last minute meals, or eaten as a snack after school or work.

5 Ways to Make Meal Prep Quick and Affordable

4. The oven is your ride or die.

The most passive way to prep delicious food is in your oven. You turn it on, fill it up, and wait. The more you can cook at one time (choose foods that can cook at a similar temperature), the quicker you’re meal prep will go. I love baking chicken, sweet potato, protein muffins, breakfast casseroles, and roasting veggies all of which bake between 375 and 425 degrees F.

5 Ways to Make Meal Prep Quick and Affordable

5. Season like a #bossbabe.

Healthy does not have to lack in flavor. In fact, I think fresh, whole food packs the most pizazz. You can give your simple meal prep more variety with your seasonings . Β I love to season one pan of chicken with turmeric, cumin, paprika, and garlic powder for a Middle East flavor and another with rosemary, oregano, sea salt, garlic, and pepper for a more subtle but delicious flavor.

5 Ways to Make Meal Prep Quick and Affordable

Do you like to meal prep? How do you save time and money? Tell me in the comment box below!

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Health and happiness,




Hi and welcome to Life in Spandex! I'm Emily, a personal trainer who believes there should be no secrets standing in your way to getting fit. I am sharing my knowledge here on this blog in order to help you reach your goals. Fitness should be fun, eating healthy should taste good, and feeling your absolute best is the ultimate goal. Let's get fit together!
  1. These are all such great tips! πŸ˜€ I am all for repeating meals and all sorts of seasonings to keep up with variety! I’m too cheap to use my oven (hahaha ._.), so I use my slow cooker and rice cooker for most of my meal prepping goodness! :]

  2. […] 10. 5 Ways to Make Meal Prep Quick and AffordableΒ  […]

  3. […] the quickest options. Roasting/baking your vegetables, squash, chicken, fish, etc is the less-mess meal prep option. Preheat, bake, and done! I like to wrap my baking dishes with tinfoil to cut down on dish […]

  4. Great Ideas for Meal Prepping! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday. Hope you have a great week and come back to see us real soon!
    Miz Helen

    1. Thank you Helen!! You’re so welcome πŸ™‚

  5. Really great and practical tips! Thanks for this!

    1. You’re so welcome! Glad you found them useful

  6. I think you hit the nail on the head. I’ve always jumped in a week at a time, definitely going to try a slower start! Thank you for sharing at Designing You!

    1. Yes little by little! You’re so welcome πŸ™‚

  7. Thanks for some great tips! Unfortunately my husband is of the sort that tends to absolutely forget that food is still fully edible the day after even when it’s in the fridge… so he tends to insist on giving that to the dog…sigh. And then making new foods every meal. :/
    Any tips on curing him of this ailment? hehe

    1. Hmmmm that’s a tough one. Can you put your name on the Tupperware so he knows it’s yours?? Maybe you should send him some articles on food waste??

  8. Great tips for sure! Seasoning and double batching meals are a must for sure.

    1. Thank you Mikki! Yes they so are. Helps me meal prep in under an hour

  9. Meal planning makes all the difference! Thanks for sharing your tips!

    1. You’re so welcome! I love having one less thing to think about… free up some brain space πŸ™‚

  10. great tips! I’m all about reducing food waste too

    1. Yes! So happy someone else agrees!

  11. I definitely need to get better at meal prep. I’ve been working so many more hours lately and the meals are starting to suffer! It was easier when I was only a SAHM.

    1. the busier I am, the more important my prep! Especially because I tend to under eat when I’m busy.

  12. So many great tips!! Though I’m totally that person that hates to repeat meals, lol. I don’t mind a dinner/lunch the next day repeat, but I generally try to have something different every night for dinner. πŸ™‚

    1. It’s all about finding that balance through compromise right?? I totally get what you’re saying

  13. Awesome tips girl! Definitely agree with starting small so it’s not too much of a burden or overwhelming!

    1. Aw thanks lady!!! Definitely, in anything in life, right?!

  14. Repeat meals save me. I usually just make a huge, family-sized portion of something and enjoy it all week long.

    1. Same here!! I actually enjoy eating the same thing hehe

  15. Prepping meals helps me quite a bit. It is easy to make casseroles and muffins to freeze. it can be more work up front but it pays off

    1. Definitely pays off! I love having one less thing to think about during the week

  16. I’m all about meal prep…and yes, to great seasoning. Makes all the difference!

    1. I’m glad you agree!! I love experimenting with new flavors πŸ™‚

  17. Great post! I’m always looking at ways to make meal prep just a little faster. As a single mom who works from home there never seems to be enough time! I’ll have to try some of these tips next week.

    1. Yes try them and please let me know if they help! You have your hands full!!!

  18. I love to make steel cut oats in the crock pot overnight. I just don’t have 20 minuets to devote to making them on the stove top in the morning, this way they are warm and ready as soon as I get up. Plus the leftovers (usually 3 days worth), heat up really well.

    I also like to make dual purpose things, like chicken, so i can use it in multiple meals. The same basic seasoning, but I can than use it in a couple of different dishes. Such as fajitas, and then use leftover chicken for chicken Cesar salads.

    1. Oh this all sounds so yummy and convenient!!! I love making overnight oats much like your crockpot tip πŸ™‚

  19. Thanks for the great post! I’ve been thinking about trying meal prepping for a long time but never really had a courage to do it. I guess it’s time to start it now. πŸ™‚

    1. Yay!! I’m so happy I could persuade you that it doesn’t have to be stressful πŸ™‚

  20. Found you blog through Blog Boost group and LOVE this simple and SMART post! Great work girl!

    1. Aw thank you so much Madeline!! Love making connections with other bloggers πŸ™‚

  21. These are some great tips, specially for women on the go like me.

    1. I’m so glad to hear that!! I am on the go as well πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Ellen! Do you like to meal prep?

    1. Thank you Crystal! Do you meal prep?

      1. I use to do macro counting and prepped around that

  22. I’m always wondering how many people actually take the time (and money) to replicate the beautiful and sometimes complicated meals I see on Pinterest. If I had the time and money, I may try a couple, but that just sounds exhausting! Thank you for your tips!

    1. I am a fan of quick and easy so you can count me out for any of those intricate recipes!

  23. Meal prep is new to me – I’ve started doing meal prep recipe posts but they always take me a good few hours to prepare. I’ll have to use some of these tips!

    1. Yes definitely!! Who wants to take up that much time each weekend?? I don’t!

  24. […] I always prep my meals on Saturday or Sundays to make sure I’m fueling properly throughout my busy workweek. Take a couple hours to prepare some lean protein and whole grains, chop some fresh fruit, cook some vegetables, hard boil some eggs, and prepare healthy snacks for on-the-go. You can find more meal prep tips in this post. […]

  25. If Trader Joes doesn’t sponsor you, they are crazy!!!
    Great ideas Em! I really appreciate knowing so many healthy and quick options available out there. Even though I’m not currently working like some people, those of us who prefer to spend less time in the kitchen really benefit from your ideas and resources. πŸ˜‰
    You go girl, xxxx

    1. Thanks mom! Glad you’re enjoying all my tips πŸ™‚ Spread the word!

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