Meal Prep #1: Low Budget $$$

I will add the self-grown greens to my soup and I already divided my dinner and lunch into the right boxes for work and my home office days. The brownie will be cut into bite sizes when its fully cooled down. 
1:42 PM I can't believe how excited I am about June being finally here. I jump from one exciting month to the next exciting one! After successfully ending mental health awareness month, I want to talk about something this month, which is one big tool that helps me staying sane and so much calmer a lot. 

Welcome to meal prep month! Meal prep - meal prepping. Everything about food, cooking, and a stress-free daily. 

I talked about meal prep (check out this post!) in the past, but somehow I never really stuck to it for longer than 2-3 days. My work schedule was too messy, I had many projects to work on - I ate whatever I liked and I let my mood or hormones decide which dinner is best for me. It wasn't that bad, but I noticed how corrupting it can be on a longer term. 

I ate throughout the day, I definitely overate, I didn't care a lot about food groups and pairing, I guess I was ignorant when it comes to so much. 

After eating the same stuff every other week, I decided to go back to serious meal prepping. I sat down, wrote a list about my favorite foods and the goal I want to reach with my meal prepping. 

It's spring - I want to eat comfort food for stressful and cold days,  but also easy bites for when I'm beyond busy plus a huge focus on healthy food, because summer is coming soon! 

I checked my pantry (luckily, I love to shop too much, so I always have an army of things being spread in the kitchen) and I wrote a new shopping list with things I would need for the week. I decided to meal prep for 5 days - I calculated and made myself a budget. 

I was a bit scared to really do it, because with my meals I wasn't sure how to keep them fresh until the 5th day, so I had a hard time picking the perfect meals and dinners. 
A couple of weeks later, I find myself writing this post for you to tell you that this was the best decision in the last weeks! Meal prepping is everything. 

It's not only time saving and cheaper, it is also very beneficial for your health and mood. All of a sudden, there's no more stress in my life when it comes to food. 

My breakfast, snacks, lunch, and dinner are all set and I only need to walk to the fridge and grab the right box and reheat it. Yes, I might miss the fresh crispiness after three days, but my body is so happy to have more time to do different things or just relax. 
5 days of no cooking is really soothing and I also get a little bit excited when Friday comes and I know that now I have to get back in the kitchen and create something for two more days until a new round of meal prepping starts. 

Right now, I am in heaven. 
I don't know if this is something for you, but I would definitely recommend this to anyone out there! Especially for healthy people - this is not going to disturb your strict meal plan and you never get a chance to make any mistakes or cheat too much. It's just not possible... 
That's why I guess my weight is finally stable again ~

For meal prep month, I want to show you different things. You don't have to meal prep all healthy and only eat green things. You can also meal prep pasta, your favorite chicken dish, or a fancy stew. Believe me, the world is full of nice recipes and I created some meal prep routines, which I'd love to share with you (in case you have no inspiration at all) and I will also add some knowledge and good tips throughout the month, so in July, you can call yourself meal prep pro! 

This very first meal prep motto will be low budget. 

I love to shop on a low budget. When I did my first grocery haul for my first week, I panicked and freaked out, because I was spending A LOT of money. I bought some extra things also, because I thought the food wasn't enough, but I learned from these experiences. 
Yes, you might spend a little money in the beginning (especially when you have to stock up your pantry!), but it's also a big deal to know where to get the cheapest or best things in town. 
When it comes to buying a lot, I don't choose the most expensive supermarket... Sometimes I go to three different shops, because each and every one has a special offer I could use to save some money. 
Also when you know about your next meal prep, you can already pre-shop certain ingredients which are on sale, for example, so you don't have to pay full price the week after. 

So what's the deal - what can I understand under low budget? Low budget means that you will spend less than 30$ for a week. Again, I'm sharing my experiences from my German supermarkets. I go to REWE, Aldi, and Penny... The Americans reading this should know Aldi - a great place to get fresh and cheap things. 

Low budget might sound like boring food is waiting for us, but this isn't meant by the title.

Yes, with a lower budget one cannot eat steaks like crazy, but one can create wonderful dishes with not so many ingredients, but such bomb flavor. 

Let's check the meal plan for week #1

BREAKFAST: yogurt + granola 
For breakfast I decided to go very simple, but yet still delicious. I bought some of my favorite protein yogurts and a thick Greek yogurt. I am eating this with my homemade granola which is so easy to make and it is all healthy! A quickie, healthy, delicious, and with the fiber so fulling! 

SNACK: apple 
As my first snack I am always grabbing a piece of fruit. Since apples were on sale, I went with apples. I seem to always switch between bananas, grapes, and apples - this is where I get the most for my money. 

LUNCH: roasted sweet potatoes + gochujang marinated mushrooms + extra Japanese cucumber salad  
For lunch I am enjoying a meal which is not only filling, but so satisfying. Watch out, your mouth will have the greatest experience. Japanese sweet potatoes are a dream - roast them until they get a nice crust, serve them with spicy mushrooms, and enjoy a sweet and sour cucumber salad - sooo yummy. The cucumber salad wasn't actually planned, but as I told you in the beginning, I always have plenty of stuff in my fridge, so I found the cucumber and didn't want to throw it away! You can surely leave the cucumber and the salad out of the menu, but if you like it, you can definitely prep it, too! It's not expensive at all - no worries! 

SNACK: adzuki bean brownie 
This snack has to be one of my new favorites right now. As I remove more and more gluten from my life, I was struggling finding good recipes without flour... Online I found a recipe of a brownie, based on red beans - how perfect, I love adzuki beans!! We got delicious chocolate here packed with fiber which keeps us full, so we don't experience this horror 3pm hole where we want to go crazy and eat chocolate bar after chocolate bar. 

DINNER: Hawaij coconut chicken soup 
To finish off right, I fell more than in love with this dinner. Now that spring wasn't as warm and crazy as we thought, I created the perfect dinner that kept me warm and cozy when the rain or some cold wind hit us again. This soup is based on coconut milk and gets the perfect treatment with Hawaij spice and a juiy chicken. Ever tried the Yemen spice blend? You will love this dinner! 

Now tell me, does this sound poor or boring? 
I am showing you now that low budget cooking can be so much fun! 
Let's go! 

What do we have to shop?  

yogurt (I bought 3 protein yogurts and one pot greek yogurt - 4,26€)
oatmeal (I bought 500g - 0,49€)
apples (any fruit you like, I bought 10 for 1.79€)
sweet potatoes (I bought 3 big ones for 2,50€)
mushrooms (I bought 500g - 1€)
cucumber (I had one big one as a leftover, I think it was 0,59€)
adzuki beans (I bought adzuki bean paste for 2,99€)
coconut milk (I bought 500ml for 1,89€)
chicken breats (I bought 3 big ones for under 2€ (I caught a special price))
chickpeas (I bought one can for 0.69€)

So I spent: 18,20€ 
I told you we are under 30€ here - so depending on your supermarket and your pantry, you still have room to spend your money on some extra things (more or less). 

What shall I have at home in my pantry?

I know every pantry looks different. This is all from my perspective! 
sugars (coconut sugar, maple syrup, agave - I prefer healthier sugars...)
baking supply (again, sugars, flours, baking powder, coconut flakes, cocoa)
international cuisine helpers (soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, salsa, sriracha, gochujang paste)
oily situations (sunflower oil, coconut oil, olive oil)
basic spices (salt, pepper, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, plus broth - yes, I use powdered broth)
pantry veggies (veggies that can lay around forever.... for example garlic or onions) 

What substitute can I use? 

I would highly recommend to cook with the ingredients I have listed, because that's how I know that the recipe will turn out great! If you use any substitute, it can happen that the taste and texture might differ... 
for the granola, for example, you can also use honey instead of maple syrup (I just love the maple aroma) - or if this is too creepy for you, buy your favorite granola at the supermarket and mix this with oats! 
for the sweet potatoes you can also use normal potatoes
for the gochujang paste you can surely use sriracha or a favorite salsa of yours. Or you can leave it out and just give it a little spice with some chilli.
for the Hawaij soup you can just spice the soup with some turmeric and curry to get the color and add the basic spices like salt and pepper and a hint of cinnmon - then you are halfway there, too. Also you don't need to eat the chicken if you are vegetarian! Add more protein by buying one more can of chickpeas or add another type of bean! 

What do we have to prepare now? 

The granola, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, cucumber salad, the brownie, and the soup. Sunday is meal prep day! It sounds like a long day, but it's all about planning! Start with the sweet potatoes, prepare the brownie meanwhile and cook the mushrooms at the same time. When the sweet potatoes are done, put the brownie into the oven, remove the mushrooms from the heat and start preparing the soup. As soon as the brownie is done, let it cool down and start with the cucumber salad. The soup is cooking and you can clean your kitchen. Set up your boxes and prepare each box so you can find your dinner easily the next couple of days.


YOU NEED 400g oatmeal + 3-4 tablespoons coconut flakes + 1/4 Cup maple syrup + 1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1 teaspoon maca + 1 teaspoon Moon Juice's "Brain Dust" (if you love adaptogens and you love them just as much as I do, you can add your favorite here) + 1 teaspoon coconut sugar for some extra caramel flavor + 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil

1. Take out your biggest pan and put it over medium heat - add the coconut oil. 
2. As soon as the coconut oil is melted, add the oatmeal and coconut flakes and spread it evenly inside the pan. 
3. Let it sit for a 2 minutes before adding all the other ingredients! 
4. Always have a spatula in your hands to stir the oatmeal and coconut flakes - we don't want to burn them! 
5. Time to add the stuff that gives our oats more color and flavor! Add the coconut sugar first and let it cook for a little bit. Give it a short amount of time to develop the caramel flavor! 
6. Now add the maple syrup and make sure to incorporate all the oats. If it's not enough maple syrup and you want your oatmeal to be stickier, add more! 
7. Don't roast your oats over a too hot pan - we are still on medium heat or we even go lower when we notice that the pan is getting too hot and the oat turns too fast too dark. 
8. Sprinkle the spices inside and give the oats another last stir. 
9. Taste it (watch out - it's freaking hot). 
10. If you are into more flavor you can surely add things like vanilla, nuts, or goji berries. 
11. Store the granola in an airtight container and enjoy it forever with your yogurt or eat it as a snack with some peanut butter. 


YOU NEED 3-4  Japanese sweet potatoes or the sweet potatoes you prefer + 1 teaspoon salt + 1-2 tablespoons olive oil + 1 teaspoon turmeric + 1 tablespoon paprika + 1 teaspoon garlic powder 

1. This is my favorite meal prep recipe, because it's a quickie and so delicious. 
2. Preheat your oven to 200°C.
3. Wash your potatoes and cut them into chunks. 
4. Spread the olive oil on your baking tray which is covered with some parchment paper. Add the sweet potatoes and cover them all with the oil - yes this is a little messy party. 
5. Sprinkle the spices on top and give it one more messing around by covering everything evenly. You are invited to add more spices of course!! 
6. Bake the sweet potatoes for about 30 minutes until they are nicely golden brown. 
7. The thing with preheating here is totally working, but be aware that they won't be as crunchy as on day one anymore. So you might use an air fryer for reheating or you throw them back into the oven every day - again, it's a testing thing! 


YOU NEED 500g mushrooms of your choice + 1 tablespoon ginger + 1 big tablespoon gochujang paste + 2 tablespoons maple syrup + 1 tablespoon soy sauce + optional panko crumbs 

1. Prepare your mushrooms first. Wash and cut them and place them in your pan over medium heat with a drizzle of oil.
2. Until the mushrooms are cooked, prepare the spicy sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a small bowl. 
3. As soon as the mushrooms look done, add the sauce and make sure to coat everything well. 
4. I like to add a little panko to this to have some more calories and a little more texture in this dish - you don't have to add it, it doesn't change the flavor. 
5. Make sure you don't burn the maple syrup by heating the mushrooms too high.
6. As soon as the mushrooms look super glossy, you can remove them from the heat. 
7. This is the perfect dish that you can eat aaaaall week without any worries!


YOU NEED 2 cucumbers + 1/4 teaspoon salt + 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar + 2 teaspoons sugar + 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce + 1 teaspoon sesame 

1. Prepare the cucumbers first. Cut them very thin and sprinkle them afterwards with salt to get rid of all the extra water. For this, use a big bowl. 
2. Let the cucumbers sit for a few minutes, if you wish. You will see the salt is already doing its job and the cucumber is loosing water. 
3. Now use your hands. Squeeze the cucumbers in between your hands and make sure they loose all the rest of their water. 
4. After you are done, put them back in the bowl and set it aside. 
5. Mix the dressing: you can put everything into a mason ball jar and shake it until everything is well combined. 
6. Now it's up to you - when it comes to salads, I learned that marinading it right on day one might be not as sexy as it should be on day 5. So what I do is preparing the salad seperatly - the cucumber slices are ready and the dressing is waiting in my mason jar. Whenever I am in the mood to eat this, I will just grab a little bit of both and mix it. Knowing that I am busy the first two days of the week, I can surely mix two portions and I know they will taste just as good as they are made on day one. So as you see, this is a testing thing. Try it and follow your own flow and taste. 


YOU NEED  1 1/2 Cup adzuki beans or black beans + 2 tablespoons cocoa + 1/2 Cups oats + 1/3 Cup maple syrup + 40ml coconut oil + 2 teaspoons vanilla + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder + optional extra chocolate chips 

1. Preheat your oven to 176°C . 
2. I worked with an adzuki bean paste which you can buy at any Asian supermarket (it's time saving) if you are using beans out of the can, make sure to prepare them first. Mash them with a fork or in a blender - to make this easier and more smooth, you can already add the coconut oil to your beans. 
3. Now put your mashed beans or bean paste into a bowl and add all the other ingredients. Give it a good stir. 
4. Don't worry, the dough doesn't need to be runny - we want a silky and thick dough! Taste it once before you fill your dough into your baking pan. Too much bean flavor? You can surely add more maple syrup. You can also add some nuts if you are missing something crunchy here. 
5. Once you are happy with your dough, take out an 8inch square pan and put some parchment paper inside which prevents our brownie to stick to the bottom and walls. 
6. Fill in the dough and spread it evenly. You can sprinkle some coconut flakes on top, just like I did... it looks nice and also adds a little sweetness to the brownie. Yeah..I love it sweet. 
7. The brownie takes a little time - 20 minutes should be enough, but depening on the beans and the consistency, the brownie might also take 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, make sure to check with a tooth picker if the dough is still wet or if it comes out clean and the brownie looks risen and done. 
8. A tip for everyone who loves a little extra sexiness: add some orange zest to your brownie! My favorite thing ~ 


*I know this doesn't look inviting and the color is quiet boring, but I finish this soup with some fresh spinach from my garden!
If you have any herbs or such at home, you can surely give this soup a little highlight! 

YOU NEED 3 chicken breasts + 500ml coconut milk + 700ml chicken broth + 1 onion + 1-2 cans chickpeas (your preference) + 1 teaspoon ginger + 1/4 teaspoon pink salt + 1 big teaspoon Hawaij spice + 1 teaspoon olive oil + optional 1 teaspoon coconut sugar  

1. Cut the onion into little chunks and cook it over medium heat with a splash of olive oil until it's becoming glossy and translucent. Make sure you are using a big pot that can carry a huge amount of soup. I love to sprinkle a little coconut sugar on top of my onions to caramelize them a little bit - they get a nice color then and give plenty of flavor to the soup. 
2. Now when the onion is done getting a little color and flavor, add the chickpeas to soak in all the flavor. Give it a little stir and mix well. 
3. Add the coconut milk and the chicken broth and let the mixture boil for a little bit. 
4. While the milk is getting one with the broth and the chickpeas, add the spices and give it another good stir. 
5. Time to add the chicken breasts - add them as a whole. 
6. Put a lid on top and let the soup boil for 10 minutes before you turn the heat down to medium or a even a bit lower. 
7. Test your soup. Testing is always important. Not spicy? You can add some chili if you like. Would you love to have an intense Hawaij flavor? Add one more teaspoon! Just don't go too crazy, because heat will always develop while cooking! 
8. Let the soup simmer for a little bit and let the chicken get nice and juicy swimming in the soup. 
9. Check your chicken - your soup is cooking already for 20 minutes, the chicken must be done so you can pull it out, cut it into little chunks and put it back in! 
10. Let the soup still simmer a little bit to let all the chicken bites get soaked with soup. 
11. Put the soup into an airtight container and enjoy this warming and so creamy treat forever! I swear this is one if the most delicious things I ever had! So simple, not many ingredients, but so satisfying! I would say it's so much more intriguing than a normal Thai curry soup ~ 

Hawaij spice mix: 6 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns + 1/4 Cup cumin seed + 2 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds + 1 1/2 tablespoons green cardamom pods +1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves + 3 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric

Don't feel overwhelmed with this first week. 
I chose easy recipes which anyone out there can cook at home! No matter if you cook this for yourself or your loved ones - you can surely change the ingredients and make more or less. 

Take a deep breath. 
The first weeks are always the hardest. We need to find a groove first. 

Once your pantry has all the basic stuff, it is easier for me and you to cook and create awesomeness! 
Especially during the hot summer days I believe that meal prepping is a blessing, so we only have to sweat one day in the week in front of the oven. 

Test this week of low budget meal prep or pick one recipe only you can imagine to recreate at home. Whatever you choose to do with this post here - share it! I'm curious to hear your opinion and your experiences! If you have any further questions, contact me and I will get back at you! 

*Also don't forget to drink enough water. 

Happy meal prepping! 🙃

*Boys and girls, write down the new vocabulary you have learned today: günstig — low budget.