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Food & Drink

Weekly meal plan: 28 cheap and healthy ideas

With just a few cheap and easy recipes, meal planning will save you both time and money. Prepare breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week ahead with our easy to follow meal plan!

meal prep lunch

Credit: Julia Mikhaylova – Shutterstock

Meal prep is basically preparing food in advance (shocker!) for the next few days or week ahead. Planning exactly what you're going to eat and when can feel like a bit of a chore, which is why we've done the hard work for you.

The average student spends £100 a month on groceries and an extra £33 on takeaways (that's £133 on food in total), which comes to around £1,596 for 12 months.

We've done the maths, and if you follow our cheap meal prep plan, you could end up saving £100s a year, with a day's worth of meals (that's breakfast, lunch, dinner AND snacks) coming in at just £2.67!

We've also added free downloadable shopping lists below to get you started on all the recipes. 🙂

Healthy weekly meal prep

meal planning tupperware healthy food

Credit: Kiian Oksana – Shutterstock

Seven different recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner PLUS snacks might seem like a lot at first glance. But the good news is: we've come up with 28 different recipes so you aren't eating porridge day in and day out! The prices listed* are how much one recipe costs for one person per portion.

Feel free to pick and mix if some look more tempting than others!

Breakfast meal plan ideas

DayMealCost
MondayPorridge£0.22
TuesdayCornflakes£0.12
WednesdayWeetabix£0.13
ThursdayToast£0.10
FridayYoghurt£0.12
SaturdayEggs£0.23
SundayPancakes£0.42

Total cost

Weekly: £1.34
28 days: £5.36

Lunch meal plan ideas

DayMealCost
MondayBean salad£0.44
TuesdayBacon and egg pasta£0.52
WednesdayCheese and onion rosti£0.58
ThursdayChickpea and chorizo couscous£1.15
FridaySausage and bean casserole£0.91
SaturdayItalian soup£0.67
SundayChilli con carne £0.72

Total cost

Weekly: £4.99
28 days: £19.96

Dinner meal plan ideas

DayMealCost
MondayPulled pork£1.26
TuesdayBolognese£0.69
WednesdayEnchiladas£1.67
ThursdayPea and mint spaghetti£0.66
FridayChicken with roasted vegetables traybake£1.66
SaturdayCod with pesto, vegetables and herb potatoes£1.25
SundayStir fry£1.47

Total cost

Weekly: £8.66
28 days: £34.64

Healthy snack ideas

DayMealCost
MondayOmelette muffins with vegetables£0.47
TuesdayCheese and crackers£0.15
WednesdayHomemade hummus and carrot sticks£0.20
ThursdayYoghurt and granola£0.27
FridayPopcorn£0.17
SaturdayAvocado on toast with egg£0.54
Sunday Celery and cream cheese£0.19

Total cost

Weekly: £1.99
28 days: £7.96

If none of those snacks take your fancy, maybe these will...

Shopping list for meal plan

shopping basket items fruit vegetables

redit: goffkein.pro – Shutterstock

If you do think that our student meal plan might sound like one for you, we've created a shopping list using all the recipes above that should last you a month.

We based our calculations on Tesco.com prices (which were accurate at the time of writing*) and as you can't generally buy just 25p's worth of porridge, we bought enough ingredients for four servings per recipe to last the month.

Things to have in your kitchen cupboard

Cupboard essentialsQuantityCost
Balsamic vinegar250ml£1.00
Breadcrumbs175g£0.80
Butter250g£1.49
Instant coffee100g£0.74
Cumin41g£0.59
Dried basil15g£0.90
Flour1.5kg£0.80
Ground coriander36g£0.85
Olive oil250ml£1.30
Paprika52g£0.90
Pepper 100g£1.80
Salt 750g£0.35
Stock cube beef flavour100g£0.55
Stock cube vegetable flavour100g£0.50
Sugar1kg£0.65
Tea bags200g (80 tea bags)£0.55
Tomato puree142g (1 tin)£0.28
Worcester sauce150ml£0.85
Fish sauce150ml£1.70
Total
£16.60

Monthly shopping list

ItemQuantityCost
Avocado2£1.70
Baby potatoes1kg£0.99
Bacon500g£0.75
Baked beans2 tins£0.60
Beef mince2 x 500g£3.10
Black beans1 tin£0.55
Bread1 loaf£0.36
Broccoli1£0.53
Cannellini beans2 tins£1.10
Carrots4£0.20
Celery1 pack£0.49
Cheddar cheese460g£2.30
Cherry tomatoes500g£1.00
Chicken breast2 x 650g£7.60
Chickpeas3 cans£1.65
Chilli powder50g£0.85
Chopped tomatoes 5 cans£1.40
Chorizo sausage1 ring£2.50
Cod520g£2.18
Cornflakes500g£0.60
Courgettes3£1.20
Couscous500g£0.70
Crackers300g£0.40
Cream cheese200g£0.49
Curry paste200g£1.35
Dark soy sauce150ml£0.65
Eggs3 boxes of 10 and 1 of 6£3.07
Egg noodles300g£1.50
Fresh mint30g£0.70
Frozen peas900g£0.62
Frozen spinach900g£1.50
Frozen vegetable mix1kg£0.79
Garlic2 bulbs£0.50
Grana padano175g£1.65
Granola1kg£1.60
Green pesto190g£0.90
Kidney beans1 tin£0.30
Lemon1£0.30
Lettuce1£0.45
Low-fat yoghurt3 x 500g£1.35
Mayonnaise500ml£0.65
Milk8 pints£2.18
Mushrooms200g£0.55
Mustard powder57g£1.35
Onions12£1.20
Orange juice3L£1.35
Passata500g£0.32
Penne pasta2 x 500g£0.58
Peppers 9£2.85
Popcorn6 bags£0.99
Pork shoulder1kg£3.84
Porridge1kg£0.75
Potatoes 750g£1.25
Red onions3£0.63
Rice1kg£0.45
Sausages8£1.70
Spaghetti3 x 500g£0.60
Spring onions100g£0.55
Stir fry vegetables600g£1.40
Sweet potatoes1kg£0.99
Wheat biscuits cereal 432g£0.74
Wraps1 pack of 8£0.79
Total per day
£2.65
Total
£74.25

Note: Certain items will have to be bought in bulk and may cost more than our rough estimations for each recipe.

Download student meal plan shopping list

shopping bag vegetables shopping list

Credit: kreus – Depositphotos

We've created a Google Doc checklist that contains all the items on this page. You can download it, edit the list and then print it off to have with you when you go to the supermarket.

Click the button below where you can find the link within our 'useful tools' page.

Important: Please read the steps at the top of the document on how to download the file!

Free editable shopping lists here

Make sure you follow these tips at the supermarket to get as much bang for your buck as poss!

How to do a weekly meal plan on a budget

Here's how to do a cheap and healthy meal plan without it taking up your whole weekend:

  1. Start with one meal a day

    chopped tomato

    Planning three meals a day for seven days a week can seem like a mammoth task if you've never done meal prep before, so start small and prep one meal a day for yourself.

    Lunch is probably the best one to start with as it's the one you're most likely to eat at uni. Even though uni canteens and cafes are generally cheaper than a Pret, you still end up spending around a fiver for one dish. May we remind you of our bean salad recipe that only costs you 46p per serving?

    You can make a different dish for every lunchtime the night before, but we'd suggest you either make enough of what you had for dinner to use for lunch the next day, or make a really big portion to last you a few days. Then feel free to add in breakfast, dinner and snacks as you go along!

  2. Set aside time to do meal prep

    The easiest way to work meal prep into your very busy schedule of uni, coursework, socialising and extracurriculars, is to set aside one day a week or a month to do all of your meal prep cooking.

    Remember, the freezer is your friend. If you wanted to do lunches for a whole month, for example, you could make five portions (seven if you want to include the weekend) of four different dishes on a Sunday afternoon and freeze the lot. That way you can alternate your lunches so you don't end up eating the same dish for a week!

  3. Choose quick and easy recipes for your meal plan

    dried pasta shapes

    Credit: Jiri Hera – Shutterstock

    Choose a bunch of yummy recipes that you love AND are easy to make. Going back to our lunch example, that's only four recipes. It'll make your meal prep much easier and you won't spend hours on end figuring out what to munch on for the next week.

  4. Make meal planning fun

    If you enjoy cooking, spending an afternoon in the kitchen won't be a problem. But even if you don't, there are ways to make meal prep a more enjoyable activity. Whack on some tunes or have a Netflix series on in the background (don't get distracted and cut yourself when you're chopping veg, mind!).

    Meal prep with one of your housemates if your kitchen is big enough. Cooking together is a great bonding activity and having a gossip while cutting cucumbers will make time fly! If your housemate fancies joining in the on the money-saving, you could each choose a couple of recipes and split the end result. Four hands work a lot quicker than two!

To fridge or not to fridge the tomatoes?

And while we're on the subject of life admin, here's some apps which'll sort out even the most disorganised of students everywhere!

* Prices are correct as of August 2020 (using Tesco.com, Sainsburys.co.uk and Asda.com prices as guidelines).