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 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.
In our latest National Student Money Survey, surveyed students spent around £133 a month on groceries and an extra £66 on takeaways and eating out (that's £199 on food in total), which comes to around £2,388 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. The monthly shopping list at the bottom of this page works out to around £3.42 per day.
We've also added free downloadable shopping lists below to get you started on all the recipes.
Cheap meal prep ideas
Healthy weekly meal prep
Seven different recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks might seem like a lot at first glance. But the good news is that we've come up with 28 different recipes so you aren't eating porridge day in and day out. The prices listed* are roughly how much one recipe costs for one person per portion.
Breakfast meal plan ideas
Lunch meal plan ideas
|Tuesday||Bacon and egg pasta||£0.65|
|Wednesday||Cheese and onion rosti||£0.58|
|Thursday||Chickpea and chorizo couscous||£1.25|
|Friday||Sausage and bean casserole||£0.97|
|Sunday||Chilli con carne||£0.97|
Dinner meal plan ideas
|Thursday||Pea and mint spaghetti||£0.69|
|Friday||Chicken with roasted vegetables traybake||£1.96|
|Saturday||Fish with pesto, vegetables and herb potatoes||£1.64|
Healthy snack ideas
|Tuesday||Cheese and crackers||£0.22|
|Wednesday||Chickpea and carrot salad||£0.21|
|Thursday||Yoghurt and granola||£0.23|
|Saturday||Avocado on toast||£0.76|
|Sunday||Celery and cream cheese||£0.28|
28 days: £10.04
Shopping list for meal plan
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 a range of supermarkets' prices*. As you can't generally buy just 25p's worth of porridge, the below ingredients should allow you to make four servings per recipe to last the month.
Things to have in your kitchen cupboard
|Stock cube beef flavour||120g||£0.90|
|Stock cube vegetable flavour||120g||£0.90|
|Tea bags||200g (80 bags)||£0.79|
|Tomato puree||200g (1 tube)||£0.65|
Monthly shopping list
|Beef mince||2 x 500g||£4.98|
|Cannellini beans||1.2kg (3 x 400g)||£1.95|
|Cherry tomatoes||2 x 250g||£1.20|
|Chicken breast||2 x 650g||£9.50|
|Chickpeas||1.2kg (3 x 400g)||£1.65|
|Chopped tomatoes||2kg (5 x 400g)||£1.75|
|Dark soy sauce||150ml||£0.75|
|Eggs||2 x 15 & 1 x 6||£5.48|
|Frozen vegetable mix||1kg||£0.85|
|Low-fat yoghurt||3 x 500g||£1.05|
|Milk||8 pints (2 x 4 pints)||£2.90|
|Orange juice||3 x 1L||£1.95|
|Penne pasta||2 x 500g||£0.82|
|Peppers||12 (2 x 600g)||£2.90|
|Spaghetti||3 x 500g||£0.84|
|Stir fry vegetables||2 x 570g||£2.80|
|Wheat biscuits cereal||432g||£1.00|
|Wraps||1 pack of 8||£0.99|
Download student meal plan shopping list
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.
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:
Start with one meal a day
Planning three meals a day for seven days a week can seem like a huge task if you've never done meal prep before. Starting small and prepping one meal a day for yourself is the way to go.
Lunch is probably the best one to start with as you're most likely to eat it at uni. Even though uni canteens and cafes are generally cheaper than Pret, you could still end up spending around a fiver every day. May we remind you of our bean salad recipe that costs around 45p per serving?
You can make a different dish for every lunchtime the night before. However, 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.
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. Getting organised is key.
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 everything. That way you can alternate your lunches so you don't end up eating the same dish for a week.
Choose quick and easy recipes for your meal plan
Choose a bunch of yummy recipes that you love and are easy to make. Going back to our lunch example, that might just be four recipes to start with.
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.
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.
Put on some music or have a Netflix series on in the background (but make sure you're paying attention when chopping veg!).
You could also 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 waiting for something to cook will make time fly.
If your housemate fancies joining in on the money-saving, you could each choose a couple of recipes and split the end result. Four hands work a lot faster than two!
For more tips, see our long list of ways to save money on food.