No Time to Cook? Tips for Preparing Easy, Cheap Weeknight Meals

Cheap Weeknight Meals

Eating healthy can prove difficult for a lot of people. Committing to a healthier diet requires a lot of thought and preparation, as sourcing fresh vegetables and lean protein can often be a daunting and expensive task. Plus, if you work Monday to Friday and have a range of evening commitments, whipping together healthy and tasty meals during the week can feel like an impossible task.

However, by approaching your grocery visits and weekly meal planning with a little more creativity and ingenuity, it is possible to eat healthy every night of the week with zero fuss. And it’s cheaper than you think!

How to Source Cheaper Ingredients

  1. Shop the Sales: Save money on your grocery bills by being vigilant about purchasing ingredients that are on sale. Every grocery store will offer weekly discounts on certain items and it pays to take advantage of them. The trick is to first find recipes that incorporate the fresh or canned discounted food items, rather than simply stockpiling your pantry with food you only bought because it was on sale. For instance, if you’d like to try your hand at a Tilapia Power Bowl, keep your eye out for weeks when fish is discounted. All it takes is a little forethought and planning, with the savings you’ll make really adding up in the long run.
  2. Shop Vegetables in Season: A lot of people make the mistake of tackling recipes that require obscure, out-of-season ingredients. If you’re trying to find something that is only in season two months out of the year, you will be paying a premium for it the other ten months. A great resource can be your local farmers markets. Even in winter, many areas still host weekly markets where local farmers can sell their produce. Additionally, this list will provide an overview of what’s in season month to month.
  3. Frozen Foods: Stocking your freezer with frozen foods is a great way to ensure you always have a healthy meal on hand. Not only are frozen vegetables and legumes like peas, carrots and beans generally cheaper than their fresh counterparts, but they also go a long way as they don’t go bad like fresh produce does. Keeping fish in the freezer also ensures a good dose of protein is just a matter of defrosting before work or using one of these techniques to expertly cook frozen fish. You can pick up boxes of fish from the freezer aisle of any grocery store, but it’s a smarter move to buy fresh fillets of a protein-rich fish like Tilapia and freeze it yourself so that you know how long that fish has been out of the sea.
  4. Buy in Bulk: Joining a shopping club allows you to buy wholesale. You can stock up on many items at very reasonable prices without paying a premium like you would at an independent grocery. Some of these shopping clubs require a membership with an annual fee, so be sure you really commit to using your membership in order to reap the benefits.

Healthy, Cheap Recipes For Every Day Of The Workweek

Monday: The ingredients for this baked Tilapia recipe are easy to source and very affordable. You can also heat up some frozen peas or broccoli with it to make it a tasty and nutritious meal.

Try the recipe: Smothered Baked Tilapia from Fun, Cheap or Free.

Tuesday: Super healthy and quick, this protein-packed salad is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Plus, your dinner will be ready in less than 30 minutes! Tilapia is a great fish to use as it’s lean and inexpensive.

Try the recipe: Tilapia Salad with Apples and Almonds from Real Simple.

Wednesday: Getting your children to eat fish isn’t the easiest task. However, tacos like these help turn dinner into fun finger food that’s ready in a flash.

Try the recipe: Tilapia Tacos with Cucumber Relish from Real Simple.

Thursday: Your family won’t have to wait long for this one. This delicious salmon dish is quick (ready in under 30 minutes) and super easy to make in just one pot.

Try the recipe: One Pot Salmon with Snap Peas and Rice from Real Simple.

Friday: This Tilapia recipe only takes 20 minutes to make and is incredibly filling. Serve it with a tasty little couscous salad and it’s a great way to end your week!

Try the recipe: Garlicky Grilled Tilapia with Couscous from Real Simple.

Cooking cheap, fast and healthy meals every night of the week is entirely doable—you just need to stay motivated and give yourself time on the weekend to do your meal prep. Eating healthy shouldn’t be a chore, after all, so be sure to have some fun with it!

Looking for more easy Tilapia recipes? Check out these quick and delicious dinners for when you’re dining solo!

Photo Credits: Eat Well 101, TijanaM / Shutterstock Inc., Africa Studio / Shutterstock Inc.