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Food & Drink

Weekly meal plan: 28 cheap and healthy ideas

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With just a few cheap and easy recipes, meal planning will save you both time and money. Prepare breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week ahead with our easy to follow meal plan!

meal prep lunch

Credit: Julia Mikhaylova – Shutterstock

Meal prep is basically preparing food in advance (shocker!) for the next few days or week ahead. Planning exactly what you're going to eat and when can feel like a bit of a chore, which is why we've done the hard work for you.

In our latest National Student Money Survey, surveyed students spent around £133 a month on groceries and an extra £66 on takeaways and eating out (that's £199 on food in total), which comes to around £2,388 for 12 months.

We've done the maths, and if you follow our cheap meal prep plan, you could end up saving £100s a year. The monthly shopping list at the bottom of this page works out to around £3.42 per day.

We've also added free downloadable shopping lists below to get you started on all the recipes.

Healthy weekly meal prep

Seven different recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks might seem like a lot at first glance. However, we've come up with 28 different recipes for this student meal plan so you aren't eating porridge day in and day out. The prices listed* are roughly how much one recipe costs for one person per portion.

Feel free to pick and mix if some look more tempting than others!

Breakfast meal plan ideas


Total cost

Weekly: £1.59
28 days: £6.36

Lunch meal plan ideas

MondayBean salad£0.45
TuesdayBacon and egg pasta£0.65
WednesdayCheese and onion rosti£0.58
ThursdayChickpea and chorizo couscous£1.25
FridaySausage and bean casserole£0.97
SaturdayItalian soup£0.67
SundayChilli con carne £0.97

Total cost

Weekly: £5.54
28 days: £22.16

Dinner meal plan ideas

MondayPulled pork£1.54
ThursdayPea and mint spaghetti£0.69
FridayChicken with roasted vegetables traybake£1.96
SaturdayFish with pesto, vegetables and herb potatoes£1.64
SundayStir fry£1.49

Total cost

Weekly: £10.38
28 days: £41.52

Healthy snack ideas

TuesdayCheese and crackers£0.22
WednesdayChickpea and carrot salad£0.21
ThursdayYoghurt and granola£0.23
SaturdayAvocado on toast£0.76
Sunday Celery and cream cheese£0.28

Total cost

Weekly: £2.51
28 days: £10.04

Need more snack ideas? These snacks will help you study, too!

Shopping list for meal plan

shopping basket items fruit vegetables

redit: – Shutterstock

If you think that our student meal plan might sound like one for you, we've created a shopping list using all the recipes above that should last you a month.

We based our calculations on a range of supermarkets' prices*. As you can't generally buy just 25p's worth of porridge, the below ingredients should allow you to make four servings per recipe to last the month.

Things to have in your kitchen cupboard

Cupboard essentialsQuantityCost
Balsamic vinegar250ml£1.15
Instant coffee100g£0.99
Dried basil15g£1.10
Ground coriander36g£1.00
Olive oil250ml£2.75
Pepper 104g£2.25
Salt 750g£0.65
Stock cube beef flavour120g£0.90
Stock cube vegetable flavour120g£0.90
Tea bags200g (80 bags)£0.79
Tomato puree200g (1 tube)£0.65
Worcester sauce150ml£1.00
Fish sauce200ml£1.75

Monthly shopping list

Baby potatoes1kg£1.00
Beef mince2 x 500g£4.98
Black beans400g£0.65
Cannellini beans1.2kg (3 x 400g)£1.95
Cheddar cheese400g£2.69
Cherry tomatoes2 x 250g£1.20
Chicken breast2 x 650g£9.50
Chickpeas1.2kg (3 x 400g)£1.65
Chilli powder50g£1.00
Chopped tomatoes 2kg (5 x 400g)£1.75
Chorizo sausage225g£2.50
Cream cheese200g£0.83
Curry paste200g£2.10
Dark soy sauce150ml£0.75
Eggs2 x 15 & 1 x 6£5.48
Egg noodles300g£1.25
Fresh mint30g£0.52
Frozen peas1kg£1.45
Frozen spinach850g£1.50
Frozen vegetable mix1kg£0.85
Garlic2 bulbs£0.48
Grana padano175g£1.79
Green pesto190g£1.25
Kidney beans400g£0.33
Low-fat yoghurt3 x 500g£1.05
Milk8 pints (2 x 4 pints)£2.90
Mustard powder57g£2.30
Orange juice3 x 1L£1.95
Penne pasta2 x 500g£0.82
Peppers 12 (2 x 600g)£2.90
Popcorn6 bags£1.50
Pork shoulder1kg£4.70
Potatoes 900g£0.63
Red onions1kg£1.00
Spaghetti3 x 500g£0.84
Spring onions100g£0.50
Stir fry vegetables2 x 570g£2.80
Sweet potatoes1kg£1.09
Wheat biscuits cereal 432g£1.00
White fish520g£2.50
Wraps1 pack of 8£0.99
Total per day

Note: Certain items will have to be bought in bulk and may cost more than our rough estimations for each recipe.

Download student meal plan shopping list

We've created a Google Doc checklist that contains all the items on this page. You can download it, edit the list and then print it off to have with you when you go to the supermarket.

Click the button below where you can find the link within our 'useful tools' page.

Important: Please read the steps at the top of the document on how to download the file.

Free editable shopping lists


Make sure you follow these tips at the supermarket to save even more.

How to do a weekly meal plan on a budget

To make it easier to follow the cheap and healthy student meal plan, try these tips:

  1. Start with one meal a day

    Planning three meals a day for seven days a week can seem like a huge task if you've never done meal prep before. Starting small and prepping one meal a day for yourself is the way to go.

    Lunch is probably the best one to start with as you're most likely to eat it at uni. Even though uni canteens and cafes are generally cheaper than Pret, you could still end up spending around a fiver every day. May we remind you of our bean salad recipe that costs around 45p per serving?

    You can make a different dish for every lunchtime the night before. However, we'd suggest you either make enough of what you had for dinner to use for lunch the next day, or make a really big portion to last you a few days. Then feel free to add in breakfast, dinner and snacks as you go along.

  2. Set aside time to do meal prep

    The easiest way to work meal prep into your very busy schedule of uni, coursework, socialising and extracurriculars, is to set aside one day a week or a month to do all of your meal prep cooking. Getting organised is key.

    Remember, the freezer is your friend. If you wanted to do lunches for a whole month, for example, you could make five portions (seven if you want to include the weekend) of four different dishes on a Sunday afternoon and freeze everything. That way you can alternate your lunches so you don't end up eating the same dish for a week.

    Our Digital Marketing Manager, Lauren Nash, uses her freezer to easily prepare for multiple meals:

    lauren nashI tend to create a large portion of a beef mince sauce that can be utilised for bolognese, chilli and shepherds pie – it's great so you don't get bored.

    I use one 500g pack of mince and then bulk out the sauce with chopped tomatoes, as well as lots of carrots and onions. Adding this extra veg can really stretch the portions out so you get more for your money.

    I'll either portion them up for the fridge or will pop into my silicone SouperCubes portions for the freezer. When you're ready to eat, you can add in some chilli powder or Italian herbs to further flavour the meal. Less time, less prep, more enjoyment.

  3. Choose quick and easy recipes for your meal plan

    Choose a bunch of yummy recipes that you love and are easy to make. Going back to our lunch example, that might just be four recipes to start with.

    It'll make your meal prep much easier and you won't spend hours on end figuring out what to munch on for the next week.

  4. Make meal planning fun

    If you enjoy cooking, spending an afternoon in the kitchen won't be a problem. But even if you don't, there are ways to make meal prep a more enjoyable activity.

    Put on some music or have a Netflix series on in the background (but make sure you're paying attention when chopping veg!).

    You could also meal prep with one of your housemates if your kitchen is big enough. Cooking together is a great bonding activity and having a gossip while waiting for something to cook will make time fly.

    If your housemate fancies joining in on the money-saving, you could each choose a couple of recipes and split the end result. Four hands work a lot faster than two!

For more tips, see our long list of ways to save money on food.

* Prices were correct at the time of writing (using, and prices as guidelines).


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