$37 Trader Joes Budget Meal Prep | 1 Hour Vegetarian Meal Prep

$37 Trader Joes Budget Meal Prep | 1 Hour Vegetarian Meal Prep

(upbeat music) – Hey Munchies and Happy New Year! Welcome to my channel if
you’re new or if you’re not, I’m Alyssia and I am so happy
to have you here either way. At the new year I like
to focus on meal prep because I know a lot people
set goals and make resolutions involving meal prep, and with good reason. It can set you up for success with making your healthy
lifestyle more accessible and less stressful during the week. Of course, that doesn’t make it easy. So I am spending time this month sharing videos that show how meal prep doesn’t need to be complicated, doesn’t need to be time-consuming, and it doesn’t need to be expensive if you do it right. I created today’s meal prep by shopping at Trader Joe’s. It’s for two people for four weekdays, and it costs less than $40 and on top of that, you aren’t gonna believe how simple it is. The entire prep will
really only take one hour. I wanted to start off with a bang. I have got an easy smoothie for breakfast and I’m storing a little
differently than usual. A simple but tasty soup
and salad for lunch that will keep prep time down, and two different dinners that are made using my brand new 3, 2, 1 meal prep system I designed to keep meals versatile. Stay tuned for that. This meal prep is also vegetarian, which helps keep costs down, but you can easily add
animal protein to this menu if you’d like. First I am making a peanut
butter banana breakfast smoothie and I’m doing it in bulk. I have shared smoothie bags
a few times in the past. So you put everything in a bag and you freeze it for the week, and then you thaw it out and blend the day you want
to drink it with milk. Easy enough but you don’t have to do it that way. You can actually make your
smoothie on meal prep day and then store it in smoothie form. I add bananas, peanut butter, yogurt, and almond milk to a blender. I love how few ingredients it requires, making it easy and healthy
without any added sugar, and it cost me only about $5 for the week to have eight of these available, because all of these ingredients are already typically not that pricey. It’s so tasty, but we don’t wanna drink it now; we’ve gotta store it for the week. I distribute it into freezer-safe jars, and these can go into the
fridge for up to two days. You can just shake and
drink and you’re good to go. Longer than two days, and you’ll wanna store
them in the freezer, and you can just thaw them out the day before you wanna
drink them in the fridge. This method takes out the step
of having to blend that day. You could, of course, use
any nut butter as well, but peanut butter will
always be the cheapest. I want to acknowledge that the reason I often choose to prep for four weekdays is that I prep on weekends, and I like to go out a
couple of times per week. So leaving the meal
prep flexible like that makes it easier for me because A, I have to prep less food, and B, I don’t feel bad about going out and wasting the food I’ve prepped. Wasting prepped food is
one of the fastest ways to get sick of meal prep. So start by prepping less and work your way up to more if you want. There’s nothing wrong with only prepping breakfast, lunch, or dinner
for the week, either. Lunch is the easiest prep of the day. It’s soup and salad, and I am cheating, but only sort of. I am using a pre-made
soup from Trader Joe’s. The lentil soup with
ancient grains is clean, which all pre-made items, both at Trader Joe’s and other
grocery stores in general, are not. But this one works, and it is filling because
of the amaranth, quinoa, flax seeds, and millet. I also get some veggies in, and you can also stretch the
soup to be a larger serving by diluting it with a
bit of vegetable broth. But the soup alone wouldn’t be enough, so I am adding the simplest
kale salad of all time to the side. I bought kale that is
washed and ready to use for less than $2, but I cannot eat kale raw. I’ve got to add oil and salt and then massage the kale
to make it more edible. I am talking three minutes of massaging to really loosen it up. It makes a huge difference in the taste. I toss it with lemon
juice and some cheese. I would usually use Parmesan
in a salad like this, but I am using cheese in a dinner recipe, and I didn’t want to buy two cheeses. Blocks of cheese and shredded cheese are typically going to
bring up your costs. Trader Joe’s carries
an unexpected cheddar, which starts by tasting
like a creamy cheddar but evolves into the
taste of an aged Parmesan. It is unexpected but it works here, and this is also one of
the most affordable cheeses available at Trader Joe’s. That is my soup and salad, and if you can spare an extra two bucks, I would suggest adding avocado
for a more satisfying dish. A four pack at Trader Joe’s is often one of the best deals they offer. So breakfast took five minutes to make; lunch took five minutes to make. Meal prep is not so bad, right? Or it doesn’t need to be. So I’ve done meal prep videos in the past where it only cost 25 or 30 dollars. Meal prep can be done for less money. Pre-made items like this soup will put more of a dent in your budget, but this is where you have
to learn to compromise and find what is worth it to you. So if you only want to, or can only spend, 20 bucks for the week, you are likely gonna have to do more meal prep work. So more planning, more
cooking, more cleaning. If that is worth it to you, great. Now on the other side of the spectrum, there are the people who say, “Money is no object. “I just want the food available” and they might pay for food delivery to have everything there and ready to go. There is nothing wrong with that, either, if that’s an option for them. I, and I think most people, will fall somewhere in the middle. We need to find a way to keep costs down or to moderate, but also to keep the prep manageable so that we don’t get too stressed out and find that it isn’t sustainable. I teach this concept; I call it the spectrum of meal prep in my Meal Prep Ignite course. We did spend the last year updating it to be a Meal Prep Ignite 2.0. We consolidated the information so it’s super easy to digest, and it takes you very
little time to go through. It’s broken up into four weeks, where you learn to prep
breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a full meal prep along the way. And one of the coolest parts is we added an online application that will help you plan your meals and it will calculate
your grocery list for you. You can save old meal preps and edit them to make your journey easier as you go. All of the information is
available at mealprepignite.com if you’re interested in learning more. So back to today’s prep. Dinner is my favorite part of this prep because it uses my new 3, 2,
1 meal prep system for meals. The idea is you have
three main ingredients to draw inspiration from: a protein, a vegetable, and a carb, and that is an effort
for a more balanced meal. But you use those three ingredients in two different ways to have some versatility with your meals if you don’t wanna eat
the same thing every day. And the whole prep for that meal is done in one hour or less. So today we are doing the entire meal prep in less than hour, but I designed an e-book that shares 3, 2, 1 dinner recipes specifically and ideas to make it easy on you. It’s available at
mindovermunch.com right now, but my Meal Prep Ignite
students do get it for free. So if you sign up, you would get it there. The three ingredients I’m using
in today’s vegetarian prep are tofu, bell peppers,
and you have the option, either pitas, tortillas, or rice. All of these items at Trader
Joe’s are close in price, so you could use the same item
for the two different meals or you could buy two of
these and have more variety. It’s up to you, but that is our carbohydrate for the week. I will use those three
items to make a fajita pita and an Asian tofu wrap or, of course, a bowl of rice. Again, it is whatever calls to you. You aren’t going to believe
how easy this prep is. First, I’ve gotta press the tofu, so I do recommend doing this for longer than an hour if you can. I don’t think it really
counts in our prep time because it’s just sitting there, but this is why you’ve gotta
plan ahead for prep day, and I teach how to plan
ahead in my course. Once it’s prepped, slice
your tofu as you’d like. It can be cubes or strips, but if you want it crispy, which I’m gonna show you how to do today, I would recommend going
thinner or smaller. I cut the two differently, which is just one more thing to help it feel like a different meal. If you have the time, press it again for 30 minutes, but it is not essential. Prepare your trays. I like to use foil to create
a little divider in the middle so I can cook everything on one pan without mixing the flavors, but you could also just
use two smaller trays if you aren’t a fan of foil. Tofu is not my favorite
protein on its own, because it’s pretty bland
in flavor and texture. But when I make it crispy I enjoy it. To do this I use corn
starch or arrowroot powder, which I am tossing with fajita
seasoning for the first meal. You can skip the coating, but it will really add to the texture. I have to make it taste
crispy to enjoy it, so I think it’s worth it, especially for a more affordable
and vegetarian meal prep. I take the tofu, I toss it with oil, and then the fajita seasoning mixture, coating completely. For the Asian-inspired tofu, I mix corn starch or arrowroot powder with garlic powder and onion powder. The tofu gets tossed with oil and a bit of gyoza
sauce from Trader Joe’s. It’s an Asian dipping sauce that can also be a marinade. Now you could totally marinate the tofu if you wanted to spend
a little bit more time and it would give it more flavor. It is sweet and savory and has
a hint of vinegary tartness. It’s delicious and a
great way to flavor meals without much effort. This is another compromise that you can choose for meal prepping. So pre-made sauces make cooking
tasty food less stressful because you don’t have
to waste time or energy making your own. Yes, you gotta pay for them, but a little goes a long way. This whole bottle will last a while, so it’s worth it. And it becomes like a condiment where you may have it on
hand if you use it regularly, which means it’s not a weekly cost to you. The corn starch mixture coats that tofu as well for crispiness, and the pan is ready to go, but we still need the veggies. For bell peppers I got green and red. Green are always going
to be cheaper than red so I went for those, but I want variety, so I splurged for a few red, too. To keep costs lower
you could do all green. I add oil to the pan for all peppers and toss half with a little
hot sauce, lime juice, and Trader Joe’s chili lime seasoning, which is a staple in my house. For the other half I toss with sesame oil, Trader Joe’s umami seasoning, and salt. Again, two flavors, one pan, boom. Into the oven they all go
together until cooked through and it’s ready to store for the week. A note about bell peppers: Once they are sliced they are
not great for meal prepping when they’re raw. But once they’re cooked, they will last you the week. So learning these kinds of things helps you figure out
which foods you can prep and which foods won’t last. I created a PDF called
The Best and Worst Guide that I’m gonna give to you for free today. It is in my Meal Prep Ignite course, but you can download it using
the link in the description, and it will help guide you
on what lasts for meal prep and what doesn’t. For the fajita pitas, I store the peppers and
tofu with some greens, the unexpected cheddar, and a small container of sour cream. Assemble it the day of with your pita to keep the components fresh. For the Asian tofu bowl you can store the rice,
peppers, and tofu together, and it will last just fine. Or if you want the wrap or pita, serve that along on the side. So I have two different
dinners ready to go. I also wanted to have some snacks and a healthy sweet available
as a sweet treat or dessert. I got carrots and hummus
from Trader Joe’s, two affordable options, and I am also making a fruit
salad that will last the week. So how do you make it last? Lemme show ya. I went with apples and oranges. Produce at Trader Joe’s is
not typically the cheapest because most of it is sold per item or pre-packaged in set amounts and not sold individually per pound. Bags of produce are a better deal, though. I chop oranges by slicing
off the top and bottom, removing the rind, and cubing. I also cut the apples into cubes; skin on or off is fine. To preserve, I am going
to make a citrus syrup. It helps prevent oxidization of the fruit, which makes the apples
brown and disintegrate. So the syrup prolongs the
life and keeps it fresh, even the apples. You can also add mango, peach, or other fruits you like to the salad. I use additional oranges
to get the orange juice, and that goes into the
saucepan with lemon juice and a bit of honey. Boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for five minutes
or so until thick. I add the apples in
syrup and toss to coat, followed by the oranges. Then it’s stored for the week. Now, I know, some of you are gonna be mad that there’s added sugar
in your fruit salad. It is not essential to the
preservation of the fruit; you can skip it. But the citrus syrup
alone without the honey is going to be tart and will
make your fruit even more tart. The little bit of sugar is
going to help sweeten it back up so that your fruit tastes, well, tasty. You could use regular
sugar, coconut sugar, honey, agave, whatever, but just a little. I’m talking one tablespoon will help. And remember, that is for the entire week. So if we have got eight or ten or maybe 12 servings of fruit salad here, that one tablespoon averages out to about one gram of added
sugar per serving or less. I know that added sugar is not
providing nutritional value and it’s been made out to be the devil. And while, yes, we wanna stay
away from it for the most part this another example of compromise. If having the fruit salad available makes it easier for you to
stay on track and eat fruit and not grab the bag of
chips or the box of cereal, to me, that less than one gram
of added sugar is worth it. To you it may not be and that’s okay. That’s why we all have
to learn how to meal prep to suit our needs. I wanna teach you this concept so that you don’t feel that you need to follow
anyone’s advice blindly anymore. I hope you found this video helpful. The goal is not for you
to replicate this prep but to inspire you. Healthy meal prep can be done
sustainably and affordably. You can do it for even less cost than this with a little more work or for a higher cost with less work. You’ve gotta find what works for you. I’ll be sharing more
meal prep all month long, so subscribe and hit the bell and come back and see me. I look forward to seeing you and remember, it’s all a matter of mind over munch.

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31 thoughts on “$37 Trader Joes Budget Meal Prep | 1 Hour Vegetarian Meal Prep

  1. You're making me thirsty for smoothie recipes, Alyssia. What's your best tip for making homemade chocolate bars?

  2. Amazing content as always – I love how you spoke about incorporating a few meals out. T his is something that always messes me up, I meal prep for 3 meals a day 7 days a week and then start falling behind when I have to eat out for work or with friends. I'm so dumb that I never thought to just meal prep less and "make space" for some eating out!

  3. Nomnomnom. I find that the healthiest habit I can do for myself is plan meals and indulgences. Thank you, Alyssia!

  4. Shortcuts, short meal prep, flexible, vegetarian, low-cost… dang girl you really do deliver 👏👏 thank you for listening to ALL of us. I’ve been rewatching some your old meal preps too. There’s something to learn from all of your content

  5. I love love LOVE your meal prep videos. Unfortunately we don't have a trader Joe's where I live. Could you do another maybe whole foods or Costco one?

  6. You are always on point! Back to meal prep to stay on my course. No matter if you are Keto, Whole 30, vegetarian, Paleo etc… meal prep is the way to go to stay on track. Good luck on your resolutions for 2020.

  7. My NutriBullet 600W died January 2! It was almost 6 years old. I will remember the good times I had with it.
    Fortunately it's time to get a new one, the blender combo you used in a prior video lmao! Trying to avoid Amazon so hopefully I can buy it physically in a store.

  8. I love you and your videos unequivocally. So don’t take this as a huge harsh criticism…but your videos recently seem incredibly rushed. You’re talking so fast it’s almost hard to listen to. What’s the rush?

  9. This approach to meal prep really resonates with me. I definitely fall on the 'less work' end of the meal prep spectrum but am unhappy with what I have been spending on food so your video has encouraged me to step up the prep. I'd forgotten about TJ fresh soups – their boxed soups are usually too sweet for me but I used to buy 4 of their chicken soups at a time for work lunches. Now you need to do a video showing me how to avoid all the snacks at Trader Joe's!

  10. Meal prep is the best!!
    I'm having one of your soup recipes for lunch today Alyssia:)) It's delicious by the way.
    Happy New Year!

  11. These are some great ideas! I want to try that tofu, but in my air fryer…. might have to alter the time and temp.

  12. This really is so inspiring. My husband is an over the road truck driver and trying to get him to eat healthy and on a budget is always a struggle. These videos help me so much to keep him on track even when hes away. Thank you for coming up with so many simple ideas!

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