A well known fact in the fitness world is that a big portion of results come from dieting. Now, I know what foods are healthy and which ones aren't. That's not an issue for me; however, I seem to have issues with meal prep, and I really hate the texture of salad. I'm definitely an on the go type person; I am always moving, and my kids make life even more hectic. Due to this, the idea of meal prep has always been daunting to me. I've done it one time (a week's worth of meals) and absolutely hated it. It took hours, my food as always was bland and tasteless, and then microwaving it made it worse. So as a result, I am here wondering if you guys can help me out?

  • What are some cheap alternatives to meal prepping?
    • Things such as box meals and quick easy foods are preferred but not required.
  • I am not a fan of the following:
    • Fish (though I will eat tuna)
    • Salads
    • Seafood
    • Avocados and similar fruits.
    • Most melons.
    • Squash and Zucchini

I know that I can always cart around bags of carrots and similar vegetables, but I am hoping someone knows of some whole hearted meals that have just about everything I could need in a simple alternative. The cheaper the better obviously because my kids get all the good stuff. :D

Also, please understand that I will consider meal prepping foods that are quick and hard to make tasteless. For example, throwing 5lbs of chicken breast into a boiler with 10 sliced bell peppers and some chili powder is kind of hard to mess up and only takes about 20-30 minutes to prep a week's worth of lunch.

Thanks in advance!

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure how "on the go" you are, but something I regularly encounter with clients on this front is them overestimating how often they need to eat.

For example, the old "you gotta eat 6 meals a day." That's very daunting when it comes to meal prep.

A road I send many of them down is one of less eating frequency. Back in the day we called it "normal eating." These days it often goes by "intermittent fasting" :).

Point being, if you go long stretches without eating, 99% of people are going to be fine from a physical appearance standpoint.

I've had plenty of clients who were killing themselves to get up at 5am to eat breakfast, then come to the gym with me, then try to have a healthy snack ready for their post-workout, then get ready for work, etc. Not only is it not necessary for results, it's a lot of work, which longterm makes the person less likely to stick with it, if not throw their hands up and quit.

Instead I told them if they don't want to eat before the gym, don't worry about it. (Unless you're doing something very cardiovascularly demanding, you'll likely be fine. Or a small snack at most will be sufficient.)

While I know it's become taboo in many eyes to get most of your calories later in the day -when most are home and it's easier to cook- it's fine. The overall daily amount of calories is what will matter most. Whether it's spread out every two hours or the majority of eating ends up in an 8 hour window is largely irrelevant.

Lastly, I haven't quoted any research because

  1. I have found individual eating preferences to vary tremendously
  2. If you look up intermittent fasting you should be able to get plenty of research more or less illustrating going long periods without eating is not detrimental

The caveat to 2. though is you might not handle something like intermittent fasting well.

The overarching point though is the less meals you need to prep, the easier meal prep becomes.

  • +1 From me! This was a thorough answer and I appreciate it. My lifestyle already coincides with intermittent fasting without purposely doing it. I usually don't eat until roughly 6 or 7pm and its my only food for the day. I actually wrote the tag info for that one! HAHA Staying lean is harder than I thought it would be. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 15:44
  • As a side note: Even extended cardio is fine without eating. I often will have runs of 30-60 minutes before breakfast. More when I was running in college.
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 14:56
  • @PerpetualJ that's impressive being able to wait that long! 1pm or so is my limit. It's very rare, but I have had some clients who were able to down an entire's day worth of food within a couple hours, where the hunger that set in from going too long with IF actually backfired on them. I know many get used to it and acclimate, but some seem to only end up with a practically insatiable appetite. It really drained their will power too. Kind of like they were having to fight something all day.
    – b-reddy
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 12:48
  • @JohnP I'm able to do that too. I can eat a pound of McDonald's right before or nothing the last 12 hours and usually not feel any different. Yet I've had clients where the difference between a granola bar and nothing was the difference between them looking in-shape or a zombie. It's been by far the most unpredictable variable I've seen. Very strange.
    – b-reddy
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 12:51
  • @BrianReddy - I'm a little different. I really can't each much right before an exercise session. If it's going to be extended, I need to have gatorade and gu or similar on hand.
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 13:41

This is never a viable option but if you really have no choice then meal replacement shakes can be an option for parts of the week. Just based off what foods you've listed you don't like I'm assuming you're trying to either lose weight or maintain a lean body composition so things like sweet potatoes, chicken (as you've mentioned), clean carbs and good fats are what you should be looking to consume. No quick meal prep is ever going to be a Michelin star levelled food. You can make it taste okay but as the day goes on and after microwaving your meals they're going to taste progressively worse.

Its hard to get cheap food alternatives to meal prepping as it means you are buying pre-made food which is never cheap no matter where you are. Especially to cater to your dietary needs which may require catered meal plans but will cost you more.


It took hours, my food as always was bland and tasteless, and then microwaving it made it worse.

If you've watched "A day in the life of Kai Greene" (If not I recommend it) on youtube then he goes through the basic fundamentals of fitness and the basic practices that you need to go through in order to be successful. If you are doing fitness 'casually' then this may not be for you but if you want to be fit and it is not just a hobby but your goal then he mentions that as you go through your day of meal preps they will slowly taste worse and worse as it has been in the box for longer and then the microwave makes it even worse. But this is a show of your character and desire to succeed. If you can go through this everyday and go through basic principles of prepping and eating no matter how fancy or how well off you are. Then you will reach your fitness goals.

Just for thought (p.s. it's a good watch)

As everyone will say and yourself also, Meal prep is the way to do it. There is no alternative that is as effective, cost efficient and personalised. You just sometimes have to find the right things to cook quick, tasty and good for you.

  • I disagree with meal replacement shakes not being a viable option. Why wouldn’t they be? Naturally you’re going to have some that are rubbish, but there are certainly some good ones out there. —> labdoor.com/rankings/meal-replacements Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 14:38
  • Maintenance is the idea for me; I'm already lean but I've always lived an active lifestyle. Now I work behind a desk and am sitting multiple hours a day so I'm trying to ensure I stay lean and healthy to the core. Very thorough answer +1! Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 15:45

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