3 Delicious And Budget Friendly Meal Prep Recipes

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The days are longer, the humidity has your energy sapped, and that lotto ticket that you were banking on didn’t come through – so the private chef isn’t happening. All you want at the end of the day is a tasty dinner that’s ready to eat, won’t cost a fortune, and holds some nutritional value.

We know the suss, and we’re here to help! We’ve got three tasty and budget friendly meal prep recipes that we’re sure will check all your boxes. All of these can be put in lunchboxes after cooking and enjoyed for a few days. It’s easy peasy.

Baked Chicken Mac and Cheese With Hidden Veg 


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Is there anything more comforting than Mac and Cheese? Short answer, no! Elevate the American style dinner with chicken and blended frozen veggies, for a healthy and budget friendly dinner that feels super comforting and packs a secret, healthy punch.

For four portions, ingredients are as follows:

  • 250g pasta (macaroni, rigatoni and penne all work well because the cheese can melt through them!)
  • 250 ml milk 
  • 150g block of cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 600g sliced chicken breast 
  • 3/4s tbsp vegetable oil (your choosing) 
  • 300g frozen cauliflower
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cup of pasta water

The Recipe:

  1. Cut your veggies into small chunks and drizzle your veggie oil over them.
  2. Roast at 200C for 20-25 minutes, flipping half way through.
  3. Cut your chicken into large pieces and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pop your pieces in the oven at 200C for 15 minutes, then let them rest for 10 mins when you take them out, and dice them up nice and small.
  5. Cook your pasta just past al dente – you don’t want it too soft. Don’t use too much water in the pot, because you want to hold on to a bit of the pasta water to thicken up the cheese sauce later!
  6. Once it’s done you can rinse it and keep it in cold water til later.
  7. When the vegetables have finished roasting, place them into a blender with the pasta water, milk, and the majority of the cheese (keep some to sprinkle on top. Blend on high speed for 30-60s or until smooth.
  8. In a baking dish, pour in half of your cheese sauce, then add your drained pasta, chicken, and the remaining sauce on top.
  9. Stir it all up and give it a taste test. Adjust with salt and pepper to taste. Mix again if necessary.
  10. Top the dish off with the remaining shredded cheese and place back into the oven at 200C for 10 minutes to brown the cheese and thicken the sauce. For the last two minutes, you can turn the oven up slightly to help the cheese brown. Et voila!

Image via jamieoliver.com

This hearty and nutritious vegan curry will warm you from the inside out on surprise gloomy days. It’s full of good stuff, super filling, and none of these ingredients will break the bank. Et voila! 

For six portions, ingredients are as follows:

  • olive oil
  • 2 red onions
  • 3 tablespoons rogan josh paste
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 3cm piece of ginger
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander
  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 1 x 400 g tin chickpeas
  • 8 ripe tomatoes or 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 400 ml tin light coconut milk
  • 400 g pre-washed spinach

The Recipe:

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Peel, finely slice and add the onion along with the curry paste, mix well, then cook for 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft and golden, stirring occasionally.
  3. Finely chop the chilli, then peel and finely grate the ginger. Pick the coriander leaves and finely slice the stalks. Chop the sweet potatoes into 2cm chunks.
  4. Add the chilli, ginger, coriander stalks and sweet potato to the softened onion. Drain and tip in the chickpeas, then cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Roughly chop and add the fresh tomatoes (if using) or tip in the tinned tomatoes. Add 200ml of water and bring to the boil.
  6. Reduce the heat to a simmer, then cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid, then cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sweet potato is cooked through and the sauce thickened.
  8. Stir in the coconut milk and cook for a couple of minutes, then stir in the spinach and cook until wilted.
  9. Scatter over the coriander leaves, then serve with poppadoms and rice, if you like.

Aubergine, Tomato & Halloumi Pie

Image via bbcgoodfood.com

This veggie pie is super hearty, packed with flavour, and has a gorgeous crisp texture on top that makes it extra more-ish. Serve it with some fresh salad leaves on the side for a deliciously healthy and easy meal that will make you forget all about that private chef…
For six portions, ingredients are as follows:
  • 6 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
  • 2 large aubergines, cut into thin rounds
  • 1 large red onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1½ tbsp pomegranate molasses or good balsamic vinegar
  • small bunch mint, leaves chopped
  • 270g block halloumi, cut into 8 slices
  • 500g block all-butter puff pastry
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

The Recipe:

  1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan. Cook the aubergine slices for about 5 mins on each side until golden brown and soft – you’ll need to add more oil between batches. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2.  Fry the onion in the remaining oil until soft, about 8 mins. Add the garlic and cook for another min or 2. Stir in the coriander, chopped tomatoes, molasses and some seasoning. Simmer for 15 mins until you have a thick, rich sauce. Stir in the mint leaves.
  3. Heat a drizzle more oil in a pan and fry the halloumi slices for 2 mins on each side until golden brown. Set aside with the aubergine. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
  4. Roll out the pastry to a rectangle, 50 x 25cm, and cut into two squares (don’t worry about all the edges being neat at this stage). Place one on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Layer the tomato sauce, aubergine, halloumi and a scattering of pine nuts (in that order) onto the middle of the pastry, leaving a border around the edge, about 1.5cm. Keep layering until the ingredients have all been used up. Brush the edges with a little egg.
  5. Roll the second sheet a little larger, then lift over the pie and press down the edges to seal. Neaten the edges with a knife, then brush the whole pie with more egg. Score fine lines over the top with your knife to decorate, making sure you don’t pierce the pastry. Cut a small cross in the centre of the pie and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30-35 mins until golden brown. Mmmm! 

Words by Alicia Maxwell