Meal prepping is one of the biggest things to hit Pinterest and busy people around the world in recent years. Blogs and people who seemingly have their life together make the project of meal prepping look so easy and beneficial. But, maybe you don't have an abundance of money to spend on food or you're not too fond of planning all your meals at once. The concept of meal planning is intriguing to you, but it doesn't seem like it would fit well in your life.

This is my current attitude towards meal prepping. I've scrolled through countless pins and felt really inspired only to realize the odds of me following through are slim to none. This week I attempted to come up with a meal prepping plan that could fit the needs and wants of people who are broke and spontaneous. 

I figured Pinterest would be the best place to start when looking for inspiration. I searched phrases like "meal prepping" "cheap meals" and "college meal prep" on the site and created my own plan inspired by recipes I found. My taste buds and I consulted and eventually came up with a plan that looked like this:

beer, wine, alcohol
Kayla Charles

I usually cook at home during the school week and save eating out for the weekend since my schedule is usually all over the place. With my plan finally set in motion and a general list of ingredients on head, I was finally ready to head to the grocery store.

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping on a Sunday is something I usually try to avoid, but I had to buy everything in advance in order to prep for the week. Winco is my usual go to grocery shopping destination. The store is employee owned and is known to have the best deals in town. I left the grocery store very satisfied with my $27 dollar purchase of 19 items.

The catch to my shopping is that I keep my fridge stocked with basic meats like chicken breast and ground beef. I've found that this keeps my grocery cost low and cuts down the number of times I have to make a grocery store run. Here's a glimpse of everything I purchased for under $30.

Kayla Charles

I separated the ingredients by meal and prepped myself for roughly two long hours in the kitchen. The key to meal prepping is to dedicate one day to cooking all your meals in order to save yourself time during the week. Luckily, I prepped my meats for thawing earlier in the day to save myself some time. I jumped into cooking armed with a knife, kitchen towel, and my phone full of pins.


The first meal I started with was the taco soup because it's the easiest and I have the recipe memorized. Using these ingredients I followed the recipe I've been using since sophomore year in high school. 

pizza, bacon
Kayla Charles

This recipe from Live, Eat, Learn is the closest one to my own, except I stick to one type of bean, don't use diced tomatoes, and add beef bouillon cubes for flavor. This recipe is so simple and doesn't require a ton of babysitting time once you finish browning the ground meat. Taco soup is often known as a dump recipe because you dump all the ingredients into the pot and let them do their thing.

I decided to start on my meat sauce while the taco soup simmered. I pre-browned the second half of ground meat earlier and seasoned it with salt, pepper, and garlic. I definitely cheated this time by using pre-made packaged sauce, but this option seemed more convenient at the time. I combined my browned ground meat and pasta sauce in a small pot and added a dash of sugar to mix.

I recommend you season your pasta sauce according to your taste. Some people enjoy the stronger tomato taste while others prefer one heavy in garlic and Parmesan flavors.  

soup, tomato, chili
Kayla Charles

Starting off with the taco soup and meat sauce made the meal prepping process seem a lot easier than I expected. I assumed I'd be burned out by meal two, but I was  motivated to see things through. I started my bacon on the next available burner and witnessed my motivation decrease with every pop of bacon grease.

I proceeded to cook the eggs for my breakfast burritos and check on the magic brewing in my other pots. I moved on to my final meal while the other foods cooled down. The crock-pot fajitas were extremely easy to prep.

The worst part was obviously cutting the onions and bell peppers, but I made it past that and dropped the freshly chopped veggies into a Ziploc bag with the chicken and fajita seasoning. I added a tablespoon of water to help the seasoning distribute evenly and put the bag in the freezer.

Kayla Charles
pizza, pork, beer
Kayla Charles

My last step in the cooking phase of the meal prepping plan was to store all the food to eat on a later date. I stored the pasta sauce in a jar and kept the pre-made pasta in the fridge for a quick and easy meal to throw together after class. 

Kayla Charles

Combining the ingredients and wrapping the breakfast burritos was fun and ensured that I could start every morning with a filling breakfast. I would recommend wrapping the burritos in plastic wrap instead of foil for freezing. 

chocolate, candy, milk, sweet
Kayla Charles

Lastly, I stored my taco soup in my trusty container but managed to sneak a bowl in to reward myself for all the hard work. 

soup, chicken
Kayla Charles

The cooking side of meal prepping was time-consuming, but also pretty fun at the same time. I reminded myself that I'd be grateful for the one day dedicated to cooking when my week starts getting crazy.

My biggest fear going into the week was whether I'd actually stay dedicated to eating this food during the week and how well I'd be able to suppress my random food cravings. 

My Week and Overall Experience

The three-cheese tortellini with meat sauce was easily my favorite meal of the week. Boiling the pasta and heating up the sauce was hardly a hassle after coming home from a long day. I didn't mind the fact that I would be eating it on Wednesday too. I learned my lesson on Monday and decided to switch between taco soup and pasta for lunch and dinner.

Overall, my meal prepping experience was really refreshing and stress relieving. I now understand the hype surrounding it and that I can do it even when I'm feeling broke. I don't think I can keep up with doing it every week, but I learned that I'm less opposed to scheduled meals than I originally thought. I plan on investing in more food storage containers to make my meal prepping less of a hassle. I wholeheartedly take back all my doubts about meal prepping and encourage all my broke and spontaneous sweethearts to go out and try it.