Non-Diet Meal Planning on a Budget


So many of us are worried about money. We are worried about our income, we are worried about our spending, and we are worried about our next meal breaking the bank. I get it. I’m bothered too. The last thing I want to do right now is drop $20 on a squash or $10 on a bag of grapes. So let’s explore– there are endless possibilities for a balanced non-diet meal on a budget.

But first, I’m handing you a little reminder that not every meal can or should be perfect.

Society has taught us to look at food as a dichotomy of healthy and unhealthy, but that is not the case. There is not one food that can make or break your health, just as there is no one food that can guarantee you’ll never get sick or get a zit again.

Try to remember, that just like life, eating is all about balance

and labeling food as “good” or “bad” can get in the way.

If there aren’t vegetables in some of your meals, that’s more than ok. There is often more than one serving of vegetables in another meal, or on another day, that will provide your body with these nutrients. I promise that your body will be just fine if you eat less fruit or fewer vegetables on Tuesday than you did on Monday (if you want to dig more into this idea, check out this post on Intuitive Eating).


I realize that this is a suggestion that may make you roll your eyes, but I’m serious. Pasta checks a bunch of boxes: Comforting, affordable, energy-providing. Yes, this is a simple ingredient, yet it is versatile and can so easily be transformed into an upscale dish. There is so much potential.

  • Pasta with pumpkin sauce 

    • HELLO FALL. Pick a pasta shape, make a bomb sauce, leave the questions behind. These options are tasty, quick, don’t require too many special ingredients, and can help you prepare a large amount for minimal cost.

  • Pasta with marinara (store-bought or homemade)

  • Mac and cheese — C’mon you knew I wasn’t going to tell you leave this bad boy out of the routine. Annie’s? Kraft? The one on sale at Target? Sounds good.

Things to note:

  • Pumpkin puree ($2-$4) + 1 lb pasta ($1-$4) = $8 for 2+ meals

  • Gluten-free? Swap in a gluten free pasta, or try a lentil or bean pasta which provide a similar texture and taste, plus a boost of protein

  • Protein: Toss on some chicken, cannellini beans, cheese, or hemp seeds for added protein


I wouldn’t want to live in a world where breakfast for dinner isn’t an option. Eggs are an affordable protein that last for 3 to 5 weeks in the fridge and take minimal time to prepare.

  • Frittata

    • Essentially, if you have eggs, an onion, salt and pepper, you have a frittata (a crustless quiche). Chop up some vegetables, meats, or herbs you have on hand and you’ve got a tasty meal for a couple days.

  • Scrambled, fried, poached, hard boiled, boiled with a jammy yolk

    • No matter how you cook an egg, it’s still a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Choose your fighter and go off.


This one is versatile– breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. Cheese holds everything together and is a bonus protein in combination with eggs, beans, or chicken. Be liberal with the cheese, you won’t regret it.

  • Breakfast quesadilla

    • Scramble your eggs (or tofu) with whatever add-ins you want then tuck them into a tortilla with cheese. You can’t go wrong.

      • A brick of tofu costs <$3 for 2+ servings

  • Southwest Veggie Quesadillas

    • Black beans are a great source of protein, fiber and iron. And they cost about $0.99/ can. That’s 2-4 servings of protein for $0.99. Black beans all day erry day, amirite?


There are so many different types of soup to make and customize, but a huge bonus is that soup can be FROZEN. Make a big batch, portion some for the week into a tupperware(s) then tuck the rest away in the freezer. This will help to both prevent soup fatigue (I understand not wanting to eat soup 6 days in a row), but also this means you’ll have meals ready to go for days in the future when cooking is unappealing.

  • Curried Lentil Tomato and Coconut Soup

    • Lentils provide an affordable source of protein while sitting in a broth of warm and creamy tomatoes. Feel free to tweak the spices to what you have on hand!

  • Chili

    • Maybe somebody will fight me on calling chili a soup, but nobody will fight me on how delicious and budget-friendly it is. Loaded with beans for protein and fiber, you can’t go wrong.

Frozen Vegetables

People often feel apprehensive about frozen vegetables, but the truth is that they are just vegetables. Frozen vegetables are flash frozen at their peak freshness, meaning they might even have more nutrients than the carrots that have been in your fridge for 3 months. Not to mention, frozen vegetables are an affordable option that you can keep on hand for whenever the need strikes.

  • Stir-fry

    • Saute vegetables over medium heat with oil

    • Add a protein: chicken, beans, edamame (fresh or frozen), or tofu (TW: recipe mentions calories)

    • Make your own stir-fry sauce, or grab one from the supermarket

    • Lay it on top of some rice

  • Fried Rice

    • Add whatever vegetables you have in the freezer. You’ll never be able to tell the difference, I swear– especially if we are talking peas, carrots, or corn.

  • Defrost some vegetables in the microwave or on the stove and add them to any of the above dishes

Some other staples to keep on hand

  • Canned tuna/salmon

  • Peanut butter

  • Oats

  • Canned chickpeas, try roasting them for a crunchy, protein-packed snack

By no means is this list extensive, but I hope it gives you a few non-diet meal ideas. The goal is to give you fuel, nutrients, and something to enjoy.

And by the way, there’s nothing wrong with PB&J being in the routine!

Ready to stop feeling obsessed around food? Book a free discovery call today!


Latest blog

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join Our IG Community