The Working Week Meal Prep Budget Challenge

The Working Week Meal Prep Budget Challenge

Based on a 5 day working week, 3 days a week strength training and 2 days a week cardio training.

Personal Trainers and Health Coaches collectively assert that the best method of progressive strength gains whilst losing fat is done through moderate carb cycling – that is, lower carbs and higher fats on days when you’re performing cardiovascular training (i.e. HIIT, brisk walking or jogging) and higher carbs, lower fats on days when you’re performing strength training. Protein intake should remain relatively the same throughout the week.

Step 1:

Choose your high carb lunch meal – this will be your meal for 3 days of lunches (ideally Monday, Wednesday, Friday – but it’s up to you and your workout schedule. I find working in alternative low carb days followed by a high carb day keeps me satisfied for longer and doesn’t have me excessively craving food or being super hungry).

High Carb Lunch Options:

  • Stuffed Capsicums with Steamed Veg
  • Coconut Tumeric Curry
  • Chili Con Carne
  • Stuffed Sweet Potato (vegetarian)
  • Open Grill Avocado, Chicken and Cottage Cheese Sandwich

Low Carb Lunch Options:

  • Chicken and Zoodles with Homemade Pesto
  • Tuna Zucchini Fritters
  • Deconstructed Sushi Bowl
  • Asian Chicken Salad
  • Spicy Peanut Tofu with Steamed Veg (Vegetarian)

Step 2:

Choose your high carb dinners – note that on these strength training days you can alternate your lunch or your dinner option depending on what you feel like. I do try and keep it simpler for the dinner front – mostly because dinner is a time for relaxing and spending with family and friends and a lot of people have time in the evenings to make these meals fresh. I personally like to prepare dinner each evening fresh, but if you don’t have the time for this you can certainly do it in advance.

High Carb Dinner Options:

  • Lean Beef Stir Fry with Brown Rice
  • Mexican Rice Salad (vegetarian)
  • Lean White Fish Fillet with Vegetables and Brown rice
  • Kanga Bangas with Sweet Potato Mash and Steamed Green Veg
  • Chicken Quinoa/Rice Burrito Bowl

Low Carb Dinner Options:

  • Poached Chicken with salad
  • Lamb and Beetroot Salad
  • Atlantic Salmon with Brussel Sprouts and Green Veg
  • Chicken Waldorf Salad
  • Portobello Mushroom Bun Burgers (Vegetarian)

Step 3:

Once you’ve picked your combination, you can go shopping! Keep in mind you can actually mix up these meals and purchase more ingredients if you like, but that will obviously cost more accordingly.

Breakfasts will be interchangeable between eggs on low carb days, and oats or toast on high carb days. This is for the purpose of convenience, and ultimately, money saving!

If you happen to not like eggs or are vegan, perhaps consider protein bread by the Protein Bread Co.; it’s a great alternative to toast on low carb days. You can also try some low-carb fruits like berries with Coconut Yogurt or Cottage Cheese. Keep in mind fruit is still a carbohydrate (and berries are expensive unless frozen in Australia!) so stick to eggs unless you’re particularly averse to them.

Snacks are also interchangeable due to convenience and budget. They will alter between Fruit and Rice Cakes on High Carb Days, and Protein Shakes, Berries or Cottage Cheese on low carb days.

Construct your sample meal plan and grocery list:

Sample 1: Meat Eaters

Monday – High Carb Day Tuesday – Low Carb Day Wednesday – High Carb Day Thursday – Low Carb Day Friday – High Carb Day
Breakfast 40g Oats with boiling water and 10g honey 2 whole eggs cooked to your liking (Veggie Omelette Optional) 40g Oats with boiling water and 10g honey 2 eggs cooked to your liking (Veggie Omelette optional) 40g Oats with boiling water and 10g honey
Morning Snack 1 Medium Apple 1 scoop protein shake with 250ml skim milk/low carb protein bar 1 banana 1 scoop protein shake with 250ml skim milk/low carb protein bar 1 Medium Apple
Lunch Stuffed Capsicums with Steamed Veg Tuna Zucchini Fritters Stuffed Capsicums with Steamed Veg Tuna Zucchini Fritters Stuffed Capsicums with Steamed Veg
Afternoon Snack 4 Thin Rice Cakes (25g) with tomato and cucumber 100g cottage cheese with 50g blueberries 4 Thin Rice Cakes (25g) with tomato and cucumber 100g cottage cheese with 50g blueberries 4 Thin Rice Cakes (25g) with tomato and cucumber
Dinner Lean White Fish Fillet with Vegetables and Brown rice Poached Chicken with salad Lean White Fish Fillet with Vegetables and cooked brown rice Poached Chicken with salad Lean White Fish Fillet with Vegetables and Brown rice

Grocery List based on above sample:

Dairy and Eggs:

  • Australian Shredded Light Mozzarella $4.00
  • Cage X Large Eggs 12 pack $2.99
  • Lite Creamed Cottage Cheese $2.90

Frozen Food:

  • Frozen Blueberries $4.00

Fruit & Vegetables:

  • Australian Brocolli Florets x 2 $4.00
  • Banana x 1 $0.27
  • Brown Onion x 1 $0.54
  • Carrot x 1 $0.43
  • Kale x 1 bag $3.00
  • Continental Cucumber x 2 $3.80
  • Coriander x 1 bunch $2.98
  • Apples x 2 $1.50
  • Zuchinni x 3 $4.35
  • Red Capsicum x 3 $7.20
  • Roma Tomatoes x 2 $1.38
  • Sliced Green Beans approx 410g. x 3 $3.30

Meat, Seafood and Deli:

  • Chicken Breast Fillets, approx. 310g $3.72
  • Chicken Mince approx. 500g $5.50
  • Thawed Barramundi Fillets approx. 350g $5.60

Pantry:

  • Chicken Style Stock Cubes $3.30
  • Lo Carb Honey Almond Crunch Protein Bar x 2 $6.14
  • Ground Cumin Seeds $2.10
  • Medium Grain Brown Rice 2kg $5.00
  • Natural Thin Rice Cakes $1.65
  • Pure Australian Honey $4.62
  • Quick Oats $1.45
  • Tomato Paste $1.30
  • Tuna Chunks in Olive Oil 95g Can x 2 $1.60

TOTAL = $88.62

Sample 2: Vegetarian

Monday – High Carb Day Tuesday – Low Carb Day Wednesday – High Carb Day Thursday – Low Carb Day Friday – High Carb Day
Breakfast 40g Oats with boiling water and 10g honey 2 whole eggs cooked to your liking (Veggie Omelette Optional) 40g Oats with boiling water and 10g honey 2 eggs cooked to your liking (Veggie Omelette optional) 40g Oats with boiling water and 10g honey
Morning Snack 1 Medium Apple 1 scoop protein shake with 250ml skim milk/low carb protein bar 1 banana 1 scoop protein shake with 250ml skim milk/low carb protein bar 1 Medium Apple
Lunch Stuffed Sweet Potato Spicy Peanut Tofu with Steamed Veg and Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Sweet Potato Spicy Peanut Tofu with Steamed Veg and Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Sweet Potato
Afternoon Snack 4 Thin Rice Cakes (25g) with tomato and cucumber 100g cottage cheese with 50g blueberries 4 Thin Rice Cakes (25g) with tomato and cucumber 100g cottage cheese with 50g blueberries 4 Thin Rice Cakes (25g) with tomato and cucumber
Dinner Mexican Rice Salad Portobello Mushroom Bun Burgers Mexican Rice Salad Portobello Mushroom Bun Burgers Mexican Rice Salad

Grocery List based on above sample:

Dairy and Eggs:

  • Cage X Large Eggs 12 pack $2.99
  • Lite Creamed Cottage Cheese x 2 $5.80
  • Firm Tofu 300g $3.19
  • Vegetarian Lentil Burger (2 pack) $3.51

Frozen Food:

  • Frozen Blueberries $4.00

Fruit & Vegetables:

  • Asian Pak Choy $2.50
  • Australian Broccoli Florets x 3 $6.00
  • Banana x 1 $0.27
  • Brown Onion x 1 $0.54
  • Portobello Mushrooms approx 200g (enough for two burgers) $2.40
  • Cauliflower Whole x 1 $3.00
  • Continental Cucumber x 1 $1.90
  • Coriander x 1 bunch $2.98
  • Gold Sweet Potatoes x 2 $2.80
  • Garlic x 1 $1.20
  • Apples x 2 $1.50
  • Zuchinni x 2 $2.90
  • Red Capsicum x 1 $2.40
  • Roma Tomatoes x 2 $1.38
  • Hass Avocado x 2 $5.96
  • Lemon x 1 $1.20

Pantry:

  • Lo Carb Honey Almond Crunch Protein Bar x 2 $6.14
  • Ground Cumin Seeds $2.10
  • Medium Grain Brown Rice 2kg $5.00
  • Natural Thin Rice Cakes $1.65
  • Pure Australian Honey $4.62
  • Quick Oats $1.45
  • Olive Oil $3.00
  • Smooth Peanut Butter $2.95

TOTAL = $86.52

Sample 3 – Supersaver:

This meal plan is based on the assumption you’re perhaps at the end of the month, or you just need to save a little extra this month! As a result, you’ll be using primarily the same ingredients for most meals in order to maximize your budget.

Monday – High Carb Day Tuesday – Low Carb Day Wednesday – High Carb Day Thursday – Low Carb Day Friday – High Carb Day
Breakfast 1 egg with 2 slices Rye Toast 2 whole eggs cooked to your liking (Veggie Omelette Optional) 1 egg with 2 slices Rye Toast 2 eggs cooked to your liking (Veggie Omelette optional) 1 egg with 2 slices Rye Toast
Morning Snack 1 Medium Apple 1 scoop protein shake with 250ml skim milk/low carb protein bar 1 Medium Apple 1 scoop protein shake with 250ml skim milk/low carb protein bar 1 Medium Apple
Lunch Open Grill Avocado, Cheese Sandwich Chicken and Zoodles with Pesto Open Grill Avocado, Cheese Sandwich Chicken and Zoodles with Pesto Open Grill Avocado, Cheese Sandwich
Afternoon Snack 4 Rice Cakes w/Peanut Butter 100g cottage cheese with 50g blueberries 4 Rice Cakes w/Peanut Butter 100g cottage cheese with 50g blueberries 4 Rice Cakes w/Peanut Butter
Dinner Chicken Rice Burrito Bowl Poached Chicken with salad Chicken Rice Burrito Bowl Poached Chicken with salad Chicken Rice Burrito Bowl

Grocery List based on above sample:

Breads and Bakery:

  • Light Rye Bread x 1 $3.40

Dairy and Eggs:

  • Cage X Large Eggs 12 pack $2.99
  • Lite Creamed Cottage Cheese x 2 $5.80

Frozen Food:

  • Frozen Blueberries $4.00

Fruit & Vegetables:

  • Australian Broccoli Florets x 2 $4.00
  • Continental Cucumber x 1 $1.90
  • Carrot x 2 $0.85
  • Coriander x 1 bunch $2.98
  • Garlic x 1 $1.20
  • Apples x 3 $2.25
  • Zuchinni x 2 $2.90
  • Red Capsicum x 1 $2.40
  • Roma Tomatoes x 2 $1.38
  • Hass Avocado x 2 $5.96
  • Capsicum x 2 $4.80
  • Kale x 1 bag $3.00

Pantry:

  • Lo Carb Honey Almond Crunch Protein Bar x 2 $6.14
  • Ground Cumin Seeds $2.10
  • Paprika $2.15
  • Medium Grain Brown Rice 2kg $5.00
  • Natural Thin Rice Cakes $1.65
  • Olive Oil $3.00
  • Smooth Peanut Butter $2.95
  • Pine Nuts $2.95

TOTAL = $70.67

These are simply guidelines for the average woman who is seeking to maintain strength but lose bodyfat. Long-term moderate carb cycling in the above fashion means you can enjoy what you love and fight off cravings with the continuous interchange of macronutrients.

Common research shows that the average individual under 35, single and living alone pays up to $104 per week on food drink – not including meals and entertainment eaten outside the house. By eliminating meals eaten out during the week, you can ensure you save at least $20-30/per week and reserve one or two meals out of home on the weekend (note; eating out comes under the recreation tab in moneysmart.gov.au – a hefty $106/week spent on average by the under 35 year old single Aussie.

The above calculations are based on Coles Online Shopping – and whilst I can certainly vouch for the quality of product that emerges from the supermarket chain, Aldi is a fantastic alternative for those concentrating closely on their budget. I have been able to slash nearly $20 from the SuperSaver menu as depicted above when shopping at Aldi as opposed to Coles – which is something to consider when nearing the end of the month grocery crisis!

Good luck with the groceries and as always, comment with your experience and suggestions! 

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