Cheap and Healthy Meal Preps for the Week
Meal prepping is a smart and cost-effective way to maintain a healthy diet while saving money. By planning and preparing your meals in advance, you can ensure that you have nutritious and satisfying dishes ready to enjoy throughout the week. This not only helps you stay on track with your dietary goals but also reduces the temptation to eat out or opt for less healthy convenience foods. In this article, we will dive into cheap and healthy options when preparing meals for the week.
To start, healthy foods are those that provide essential nutrients to your body, support overall well-being, and can contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases. This usually consists of a variety of foods from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and certain types of meats on a balanced diet. That means eating too much of one type of food can cause a deficiency in nutrients, ultimately leading to diseases and immunity compromises in the body.
However, we also forget that added or purified ingredients are part of this cycle. You may think that taking a vitamin pill will save your body from nutrient deficiency, but it can also cause a whole plethora of problems as well. If we look deeper at what supplements, added sugars, and fats have in common, we can narrow in on the idea that they have all been unnaturally processed and purified to give the most concentrated form of the nutrient in question. This can lead to nutrient overdose which can also lead to diseases in the long run. So how can we prevent this? Usually, this means just scaling back in the evolution of the modern diet. Instead of taking pills for your vitamin C needs, just eat an orange (preferably organic). If you need protein, try just eating roasted meat without seasoning.
We have to remember that most things that we eat now we take for granted, salt for example never really existed in the wild if you did not live next to a body of water. Cooking oils are a nutrient that humans absorb naturally by eating foods that have them already, these include avocados, olives, and peanuts. There is really no need to extract certain aspects of foods, we as humans develop these methods to make eating more interesting. Although I am not a health expert, it has been proven that most healthy centenarians eat food this way, either by only boiling, baking, or roasting natural foods and only adding a small amount of seasoning for taste. When we speak of healthy eating we must consider what humans were designed to eat in the first place.
Now in terms of how to make healthy options cheap, we have to look at which types of foods are probably the most available. The more readily available a type of food is, the more likely it will be dirt cheap.
Breakfast meal option:
Oats and Bananas: Although wheat is cheaper than oats, oats are the better option due to the idea that wheat is not a natural food option when trying to eat healthy. Wheat is highly processed before it becomes edible which in turn is unusually high in carbohydrates compared to its other brothers in the carb family. Oats on the other hand can naturally be eaten raw by humans without much unnatural processing. This means eating oats will allow you to absorb natural fibers and nutrients that usually are subtracted from conventional processing. Making Oats the winner in the fiber category. As added nutrients, Bananas are cheap which form our road to natural sugars for a complete healthy breakfast for weightless.
Scrabbled Eggs and Tomatoes: Although the eggs do not need to be scrabbled, eggs alone are a good breakfast option due to the fact that they are literally life itself. For babies to pop out of eggs, they require every piece of nutrients needed for a baby to exist. This means eggs are high in every nutrient that you can think of, however, just make sure that the animal that produced the eggs was also healthy enough to lay them. To find these types of eggs, make sure to only buy pasture-raised eggs, which are basically produced by happy and naturally living animals. With the addition of tomatoes for a change in the palette, You have a nutrient-rich breakfast on the heavier side due to the fats from the eggs. I would recommend this dish for those who work physically demanding jobs because of the extra fat that has.
Greek Yogurt and Grapes: Although Greek Yogurt isn't too cheap nor is it natural, I would still recommend it as a strong healthy alternative to almost everything else. Find the right type of Greek yogurt and you will find that they are low in calories, low in fat, and high in protein. And with the addition of probiotics for your gut, Greek Yogurt is one superfood that you should not replace in your diet. With the addition of relatively cheap fruits such as grapes for some natural sugars, you get a strong post-morning workout breakfast.
Lunch meal option:
Spaghetti: Spaghetti is on this list because it is made from wheat, one of the most produced crops in the world, wheat is very cheap to buy and is reflected in its prices when you buy a box of pasta. However, beware of pasta because it is also a processed food filled with preservatives, this is why its self life is nearly forever. If you are to get any sort of pasta, try the healthier whole wheat or organic options. With the addition of tomato sauce, you are adding vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. If you plan to buy it as is, make sure to buy it in glass instead of a metal can, to help avoid any metallic contamination.
Rice and Chicken: With rice and chicken being the top of the list of most produced foods, you will find them to be relatively cheap. Although not necessary, try eating brown rice instead of white rice, brown rice is higher in nutrients and fiber compared to its counterpart. Keep in mind that white rice is more processed which makes it easier to digest, this knowledge may come in handy if you have digestion problems. With the addition of chicken, you will have access to lean meat that can easily be portioned out for meal preparations for the week.
Tofu and noodles: Tofu which is created from soy, and noodles which is created from rice is a combo that can replace any carbohydrate and protein mixture. With veganism increasing in popularity, the option of tofu and noodles is great for having an animal-friendly meal. Make sure to mix up the entree with a variety of other foods to keep the dish fresh and new. My advice is to add green onions and garlic as a base with the addition of small amounts of soy sauce for taste. And as an added bonus, try to choose the organic option if you can.
Diner meal option:
Chicken, Cucumbers, and Tomatoes: With chicken as a recurring theme, adding cucumbers and tomatoes creates a hydrating palette after a long day. Since Dinner is a later meal during the day, subtracting carbohydrates from your dinner meal will enable you to sleep without gaining too much extra weight. I personally like to eat this dish, as chicken breast can easily be air-fried or baked for 15-25 mins, and cucumbers and tomatoes can be eaten raw. Just add a little bit of seasoning and you have yourself a naturally healthy meal that costs less than $4.
Baked Pork Tenderloin and Vegetables: Although said to be a dirty animal, pork is just as nutritious compared to other meats as said by Webmd.com. Just like chicken, make sure to cook the meat thoroughly to kill other forms of parasites and viruses. Other than that, pork is just as safe as any other meat. The only reason it is said to cause health problems is the fact that people associate the animal with bacon, which is processed and formed from one of the most fatty parts of the animal. However, if you choose to eat the tenderloin of the pig, you will be getting the leanest part of the animal, making its nutrient content superior in some aspects compared to chicken. Feel free to eat this food without fear with vegetables to get a fairly cheap dinner option.
Rice and vegetables stir fry: As a strong contender for a dinner vegetarian option, this dish is relatively cheap with vegetables usually being the main price inflator. Although you can separate the dish into two separate ones, adding them together can make for some awesome fried rice combinations, just make sure to adjust the oil and seasoning levels to suit your lifestyle. With less seasoning and additives, you well can ensure that you meal is as healthy as possible.
From this chart created by Statista, we can assume that the crops that have been produced the most are the ones that cost the least. If you go to your local grocery store, you will probably find these food items to be relatively cheap compared to their cousins. Now we have to just take these items and try to make a meal plan with them.
In conclusion, achieving cheap and healthy meal options is both practical and important for maintaining a balanced diet on a budget. By adopting a few key principles, you can enjoy cost-effective, nutritious, and tasty meals. It starts with thoughtful planning, a focus on whole foods, and the idea of trying to eat your food as is without the need for seasoning or preservatives. With the knowledge of knowing which foods are produced the most, we can determine which foods are the cheapest the purchase. The addition of cooking at home, minimizing waste, and using meat sparingly can further stretch your budget. Additionally, creativity with spices and herbs, as well as keeping an eye out for sales and discounts, can make a significant difference. With a little effort, you can strike a balance between financial responsibility and your health, making affordable and nutritious eating a sustainable part of your lifestyle