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How to master your food budget within a week

This seven-day meal planning challenge will cut your food spending in half — see how it’s done.

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How much do you spend on food each week? Ordering out for every single meal is an unsustainable financial investment, and buying food that is left in the fridge to rot contributes both to limited weekly funds and food waste. But it happens — we’ve all be susceptible to the fanfare of a midday takeout order. If you’re looking for a new way to save bank, Capital One’s Budget Masters is here.

If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry. Meal planning and batch cooking are here to help. By taking time to prepare a few ingredients, your food budget (and food waste) can be cut in half by the end of the week. You know that dish you order every single day? The one you love? Look into making that for yourself for the next seven days. That way, you’ll be able to eat your favorite food for the whole week, and all it took was a little time and preparation.

Sure, eating the same thing over and over and over again can make food less interesting, leading us back to our ordering-out cycle again. Planning ahead will keep you on track when hitting meal fatigue. And when you’re so very over the dish you’ve prepared, just envision the amount of money you’re saving by meal prepping. Those extra dollars can go toward treating yourself to an extra veggie or grain to transform your meal, without going over budget.

This seven-day challenge is a straightforward plan to cut your weekly food spend in half. In this episode of Budget Masters, our experts will talk through realistic solutions to keeping your weekly spend low, while also setting your lunch anticipations high. It’s possible, we promise. To really maximize the savings, watch this video and learn the secret behind grocery store pricing cycles and how to make modern couponing work for you!

Need some more meal prepping inspiration? Check out the recipes below. You can also adjust the amounts depending on the size of your family. For a partner, double the portions for the meals. For young children, a half a portion per child will generally work — and for hungry teens, you can safely assume they’ll need a larger portion. Here’s how to start meal prepping for your upcoming week.

Quinoa Egg Muffins


Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, pepper, and salt. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Spoon into a standard muffin pan lined with silicone muffin liners.

Sprinkle tops with remaining ¼ cup of cheese.

Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins

Classic Chicken Salad


Simply combine all the ingredients together in a bowl, stir to mix, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Want some additional variation? Try in a wrap or on a bed of greens, or add your favorite ingredients to customize.

Serves 6

Slow Cooker Carnitas


Place pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Roughly chop the garlic and place in the slow cooker.

Add salt, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, and cayenne to the slow cooker and rub seasonings onto the pork.

Add lime juice, orange juice, beer, and salsa. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Shred meat with two forks directly in the slow cooker (or take out, shred, and place back in sauce). It should fall apart easily.

Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the shredded meat on the cooking sheet and pour a few spoonfuls of sauce over the top. Broil until you get browned edges on the pork, 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve on tortillas with fresh cilantro, avocado, and lime juice, or try on rolls for carnitas tortas. Enjoy — and save!

Serves 10 to 12

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