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How to Meal Prep on a Budget: A College Athlete's Guide

Katie Breazeale, MS, RD, LD

Are you a college athlete looking to fuel your body on a budget? Meal prepping is your secret weapon! Not only does it save you time and effort during busy weeks of training and classes, but it also helps you stick to a budget while ensuring you have nutritious meals ready to go. Let's dive into some practical tips on how to meal prep efficiently without breaking the bank.

Planning is Key

Before you embark on your meal prep journey, take some time to plan your meals for the week. Think about your training schedule, nutritional needs, and budget constraints. Creating a meal plan will not only help you stay organized but also avoid unnecessary spending on impulse purchases. Look for budget-friendly recipes that are easy to make in bulk, such as rice bowls, stir-fries, and sheet pan meals.

Shop Smart

When it comes to grocery shopping, a little strategy can go a long way in saving you money. Make a list of the ingredients you need based on your meal plan and stick to it. Avoid shopping when you're hungry to prevent unnecessary purchases. Consider buying items in bulk, such as grains, legumes, and frozen vegetables, as they tend to be more cost-effective. Look out for sales and discounts on staple items to maximize your savings.

Embrace Batch Cooking

Batch cooking is the cornerstone of successful meal prepping. Dedicate some time on a day off to cook large batches of proteins, grains, and vegetables that can be mixed and matched throughout the week. Invest in reusable containers to portion out your meals for easy grab-and-go options. By having ready-made components at hand, you can assemble quick and balanced meals without resorting to expensive takeout or dining hall options.

Get Creative with Leftovers

Don't let leftovers go to waste! Repurpose yesterday's dinner into a new and exciting meal to keep things interesting. Turn roasted vegetables into a hearty salad, transform grilled chicken into tacos, or blend cooked grains into a nutritious breakfast bowl. Experimenting with different flavor combinations can breathe new life into your leftovers and prevent food from ending up in the trash.

Stick to the Basics

While fancy ingredients and elaborate recipes can be tempting, simplicity is key when meal prepping on a budget. Focus on wholesome staples like grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables that provide the nutrients your body needs without breaking the bank. Spice things up with herbs, spices, and condiments to add flavor without additional cost. By keeping your meals simple and nutrient-dense, you can fuel your athletic performance without straining your wallet.


Meal prepping on a budget is a game-changer for college athletes looking to optimize their nutrition without overspending. With a little planning, smart shopping, and batch cooking, you can have affordable and nutritious meals at your fingertips throughout the week. Remember, meal prepping is not only a cost-effective way to eat well but also a time-saving solution that allows you to focus on what truly matters – your athletic performance. So, grab your apron and containers, and get ready to conquer your meal prep goals like a pro!

Meal prepping on a budget doesn't have to be daunting, especially for busy college athletes. By following these practical tips and tricks, you can master the art of meal prep while staying within your financial means. With a little preparation and creativity, you can fuel your body for success without breaking the bank.

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