A week of lunches for less than $20 total.

Victoria Seaver, M.S., R.D.
January 25, 2020

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As we enter the last week of January, I'm rounding out this month's meal-prep lunch theme with a budget-friendly focus. I've talked about the stress-busting, timesaving benefits of meal prep and how it helps you stick to a healthy diet, but what we haven't dug into yet are the cost-saving benefits—of which there are many!

This week I'm meal-prepping a few cheap base recipes (like we did a few weeks back with the vegan lunches) to use in different ways to create five unique lunches, all for less than $20.

Your Meal Plan

If you're at all like my husband, David, who has a bad habit of opting for lunch (and sometimes breakfast) out, you could be spending $75 or more per week on food you could have made at home for much less. Granted, David does know all the lunch deals in town, so I'll give him that! But still, when you add it all up, that's a ton of money you could be saving to spend on something else.

Meal planning in general is a great cost-saving strategy, and this budget-focused prep plan delivers even more savings, thanks to cheap yet healthy ingredients like eggs, canned tuna and canned chickpeas. Paired with simple base recipes, like Whole-Wheat Couscous, Oven-Roasted Chicken Thighs and some easy vinaigrettes, you get a week of unique lunches for less than $20, like the Chopped Cobb Salad, Mason Jar Salad with Chickpeas & Tuna and Buffalo Chicken Grain Bowl. You (and your wallet) will be very happy with the delicious results. Here's how it's done:

On Sunday, or whenever you do your meal prep ...

Step 1: Make the Oven-Roasted Chicken Thighs.

Step 2: Cook a batch of Whole-Wheat Couscous.

Step 3: Hard-boil 4 eggs.

Step 4: Whisk up the Basil Vinaigrette and Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

Step 5: Assemble lunches!

Looking for something different? Give one of these other budget-friendly meal-prep lunch recipes a try this week:

Mason Jar Chicken Salad with Japanese Hibachi Dressing

Mexican Spaghetti Squash Meal-Prep Bowls

Roasted Butternut Squash & Root Vegetables with Cauliflower Gnocchi

Let me know if you meal-prep any of these lunches or what else you're doing to prep ahead for a healthy week! Email me at ThePrep@eatingwell.com. If you have a question or requests for future newsletter topics, I'd love to hear those too.

Dinners for the Week

Life gets busy, but that doesn't mean takeout is the only option for dinner. Don't stress! You can still get a healthy meal on the table quickly. In this 7-day dinner plan, we use shortcut ingredients, like precooked brown rice, jarred salsa and canned chickpeas, for fast and delicious dinners ready in about 20 minutes.

Get the Plan: Quick 20-Minute Dinners for Busy Weeks

We're making shopping easier with a list of all the ingredients you need to make this week's dinners and featured treat, plus the budget meal-prep lunches. You can print it out, or just keep it on your phone when you hit the store. Get the shopping list.

Treat Yourself

Listen, I know I featured a margarita recipe last week but trust me, this Frozen Pineapple Margarita deserves your attention too. I'll be sipping this tropical cocktail this weekend, pretending it's not as cold outside as it actually is.

Get the Recipe: Frozen Pineapple Margarita

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