25 Cheap Meal Plan Ideas for Any Budget

25 Cheap Meal Plan Ideas for Any Budget

Cooking at home can help you lose weight and save some money while you’re at it. But what if you’re on a super-tight budget and can’t stock your kitchen with organic produce, rare spices, and choice cuts of meat? Good news — with a few inexpensive ingredients, you can put together cheap meal plans that help you reach your healthy eating goals. (Or take the guesswork out of meal planning completely with a custom-designed daily meal plan from Openfit Nutrition.)

If you’re looking for delicious recipes that won’t break the bank, check out these 25 simple, affordable meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Mix and match to create a DIY meal plan that works for you!

Find out how these recipes fit into a healthy, customized nutrition plan with the Openfit app. Download it here!

7 Budget-Friendly Breakfast Ideas

1. Healthy Vegan Tofu Scramble

healthy tofu scramble- low carb meal prep

Add this vegan take on scrambled eggs to your cheap meal plan — it’s made with vegan diet staples like tofu, riced cauliflower, unsweetened soy milk, spinach, and spices.

Get the recipe here.

2. Vegan Chocolate Green Shake

Chiseled abs are made in the kitchen. Skip the spendy juice bar and whip up this protein-packed green shake with zucchini, avocado, cauliflower, and a scoop of Openfit Plant-Based Nutrition Shake.

Get the recipe here.

3. Caramelized Banana Turmeric Oatmeal with Peanut Butter

This recipe has fancy brunch vibes, but it’s based around ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen — like oats, raisins, peanut butter, and banana. Skip the date sugar to help reduce your sugar intake. And keep in mind the finished recipe contains more than 700 calories — so make sure you split it with someone, or save half in the fridge for another meal.

Get the recipe at Chickpea & Herb.

4. Healthy Veggie Egg Scramble

cheap meal plan - egg scramble

Take basic scrambled eggs up a notch. This healthy, veggie-filled egg scramble is under 200 calories per serving (without the cheese) and full of nutritious ingredients.

Get the recipe at Everyday Eileen.

5. Sweet Potato Toast with Almond Butter and Banana

sweet potato toast - toast with banana

If a PB and banana sandwich is one of your favorite comfort foods, try this healthier take that uses sweet potato slices as a low-carb bread substitute.

Get the recipe here.

6. Breakfast Chia Pudding

Made with chia seeds, coconut milk, and pureed fruit, this is an easy breakfast option that’s cost effective and super delicious.

Get the recipe at Lathis Kitchen.

7. Black Bean Breakfast Enchiladas

cheap meal prep - veggie enchiladas
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If your spice rack is well-stocked, this cheap and easy recipe is a great way to turn your inexpensive pantry staples — like black beans, tomato paste, and broth — into a breakfast that’s full of flavor. As-is, the serving size for this recipe is one enchilada; for a heartier meal, reduce the oil and cheese by half and enjoy two enchiladas instead.

Get the recipe at Mae’s Menu.

 

6 Budget-Friendly Lunch Ideas

1. Chicken, Strawberry, and Spinach Salad with Walnuts

Chicken, Strawberry, and Spinach Salad

You’ll find this easy and inexpensive recipe on the Xtend Barre Meal Prep plan. Just mix four simple ingredients and drizzle with a no-sugar-added dressing, and you’ve got a fresh, colorful, healthy salad for lunch.

Get the recipe here.

2. 4-Ingredient Greek Chicken Bowls

Greek Chicken Bowls

Whip this beauty up in minutes! With 32 grams of protein in every bowl and just four simple ingredients, it’s a perfect lunch staple.

Get the recipe here.

3. Cucumber Tomato Salad

Cheap, easy, and super healthy, this salad includes just a few simple ingredients like cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, onion, olive oil, and vinegar. It’s perfect as a side dish, or add some protein to make it a light lunch.

Get the recipe at Deliciously Sprinkled.

4. Cheap & Easy Italian-Style Beans & Greens Soup

This is a must-have on your cheap meal plan, especially if you’re cooking for a family. This hearty soup is full of yummy garlic-and-tomato flavor, and each serving has 256 calories, 14 grams of protein, and 11 grams of fiber.

Get the recipe at Foodal.

5. Rotisserie Chicken Taco Salad Meal Prep

Budget-friendly and ideal for meal prep, this low-carb lunch recipe turns a store-bought rotisserie chicken into a week’s worth of cheap and easy meals. Even better, it’s only 209 calories per serving!

Get the recipe at Key to My Lime.

6. Easy Tuna Patties

Do the most with your cheap canned tuna! Add eggs, dijon mustard, and spices to create tasty tuna patties with 35 grams of protein per serving.

Get the recipe at To Simply Inspire.

 

6 Budget-Friendly Dinner Ideas

1. Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

instant pot white chicken chili

Full of fresh veggies and canned beans, this chicken chili is nutritious, simple, and super affordable!

Get the recipe here.

2. Zucchini Boats

Turkey Zucchini Boats

Filled with ground turkey, fresh salsa, and cheddar cheese, these zucchini taco boats are delicious and healthy, with under 400 calories per serving. When you’re putting together cheap meal plans, this recipe offers a lot of bang for your buck as a healthy, inexpensive option.

Get the recipe here.

3. Vegan Teriyaki Chickpea Bowl

Gluten-free, dairy-free, and kid-approved, this vegan teriyaki chickpea bowl with roasted broccoli and rice is sure to become a new household staple. To lower your sugar and sodium intake, reduce the amount of maple syrup and soy sauce used in the teriyaki sauce.

Get the recipe at Cass Clay Cooking.

4. Crispy Oven Baked Chicken Wings

These oven-baked chicken wings are coated in a yummy spice mix, which gives them the perfect amount of crispiness without deep-frying. To make this recipe even healthier, use a leaner part of the chicken, such as chicken tenders.

Get the recipe at Dr. Davinah’s Eats.

5. Vegan Bolognese

Made with tempeh instead of meat, this vegan bolognese has less than 400 calories per serving and only contains 5 grams of sugar. Follow the instructions for dried herbs instead of fresh for a more wallet-friendly recipe.

Get the recipe at Happy Kitchen.

6. Loaded Veggie Meatballs with Cabbage and Egg Noodles

Packed with veggies, these meatballs are nutrient dense and have 41 grams of protein per serving. Store leftovers in the freezer for an easy, kid-friendly meal later in the week.

Get the recipe at Confessions of a Thrifty Mom.

 

6 Budget-Friendly Snacks and Desserts

1. Banana & Almond Butter Quesadilla

T-Minus 30 Recipes -- Banana and Almond Butter Quesadilla

Using just whole wheat tortillas, bananas, cinnamon, and almond butter, this simple and cheap dessert only takes 15 minutes to make and tastes amazing.

Get the recipe here.

2. Dark Chocolate & Coconut Frozen Yogurt Granola Cups

Coconut, granola, frozen Greek yogurt, and a little bit of maple syrup? Yum! Make a whole batch of these and store them in the freezer as a healthier option when you’re craving something sweet.

Get the recipe at A Hundred Affections.

3. Butternut Squash Fries

kid friendly meal preps - butternut squash fries

These butternut squash fries are a healthier twist on the cheap staple, with healthy nutrients (including 5 grams of fiber) in every serving.

Get the recipe here.

4. Zucchini Fritters In The Air Fryer

This zucchini fritter recipe is a healthier air-fried alternative to French fries — and best of all, it only takes 5 minutes to prep and 6 minutes to cook.

Get the recipe at Recipe This.

5. Roasted Sweet Potato Hummus

A yummy spin on a classic dip, this roasted sweet potato hummus with spices and chickpeas is the perfect partner for toasted pita chips, crackers, or veggie sticks.

Get the recipe at Nourish Plate.

6. Banana Nice Cream

nice cream scoop

Talk about cheap and easy — this “nice cream” recipe only calls for two large ripe bananas, frozen and blended for a dessert that’s simple, healthy, and delicious.

Get the recipe here.

 

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Chelsea Frank

About

Chelsea Frank was born and bullied in Los Angeles, CA. When she's not performing stand up comedy or crying while doing squats, Chelsea writes about all things health, beauty, and travel. Her work has been featured in Shape, Uproxx, TripSavvy, The Daily Beast, Thrillist, and Reductress, among others. Fun fact: she's traveled to over 50 countries and has gotten sick in pretty much all of them! Follow her on Twitter.

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