5 High-Protein Meals for Fueling Your Muscles on a Budget

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WHEN IT COMES to meal-prep, you often can’t have it all.

By that we mean that most budget-friendly meal-prep plans often fall short when it comes to flavor (there’s only so much chicken and rice one man can eat). And most flavorful meal-prep plans can cost you—both in terms of money and effort.

That’s why we created 5 for $50, the new meal-prep plan that serves up a week of delicious high-protein meals for right around 50 bucks.

Each plan builds itself upon two base proteins, which you work into meals to reheat and eat throughout the workweek.

This month: pork and beans—proof that you can eat like a boss on a budget.

Shop It

We’re guessing you have cooking oil and seasonings. For the rest, we make it easy. Just click this link and Instacart will do the rest.

But if you need the full list:

1 lb. ground pork
1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
1 (14 oz) can black beans
1 (14 oz) can pinto beans
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas
1 (6 0z) package cheddar cheese
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 (5.3 oz) containers plain Greek yogurt
1 packet taco seasoning
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 red bell peppers
2 medium zucchini
1 cucumber
1 small red onion
1 bunch fresh dill
1 lemon
2 scallions
1 (8.5 oz) can corn
1 (12 oz) box whole-wheat elbow macaroni
1 small yellow onion

Prep It

Cook these key components to set the foundation for your five meals.

Pork Chili
In a large pan over medium, heat 2 tsp oil. Cook 1 cup chopped yellow onion and 1⁄2 lb ground pork till browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 chopped, seeded red bell pepper and 1chopped zucchini; cook 4 minutes more. Stir in 1⁄2 can corn, 1 can blackbeans, 1 1⁄2 cups canned crushed tomatoes, 1 Tbsp taco seasoning, and 1⁄4 tsp salt. Simmer covered for 15 minutes, stirring now and then.

Pork-and-Bean Meatballs
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mash 1⁄2 can pinto beans. Mix in 1⁄2 lb ground pork, 1⁄2 tsp salt, 1⁄2 tsp cumin powder, and 1⁄4 tsp black pepper. Shape into golf-ball-sized meatballs; add to the baking sheet. Roast till browned, about 15 minutes.

The Extras

1. Cook 2 oz whole-wheat elbow macaroni according to package instructions. Set aside.

2. Cook 1⁄3 cup quinoa according to package instructions. Set aside. (You’re on a roll now.)

3. Using a spiralizer or a serrated peeler, slice 1 small zucchini into thin, noodle like strips. Set aside.

4. In a small bowl, stir 1 cup plain Greek yogurt,1⁄3 cup chopped dill, 2 tsp lemon zest, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Pack It

Now store the food you made to reheat different meals all week.

1. Chili Mac

men's health 5 for 50

Laura Murray

Layer the macaroni, half the chili, and 1⁄3 cup grated cheddar. Microwave till heated through; add chopped scallion.

Nutrition per meal: 928 calories, 48g protein, 83g carbs (17g fiber), 45g fat

2. Meatball Zoodles

5 for 50 men's health

Laura Murray

Pack half the meatballs, 1⁄2 can pinto beans, 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes, and 1 Tbsp taco seasoning. Pack zoodles in another container. Dump re-heated meatball mix onto the zoodles.

675 calories, 46g protein, 65g carbs (18g fiber), 26g fat

3. Meatball Gyro Bowl

5 for 50 men's health

Laura Murray

In a large container, pack half the quinoa, half the meatballs, 1⁄2 can chickpeas, 1⁄2 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1⁄2 cup chopped cucumber, and 2 Tbsp chopped red onion. Pack half the yogurt sauce separately and spread on salad before serving.

803 calories, 59g protein, 78g carbs(18g fiber), 28g fat

4. Med-Style Chickpea Jar

5 for 50 men's health

Laura Murray

In a large glass container, add a quarter of the yogurt sauce, 1⁄4 can chickpeas, half the remaining quinoa, 1⁄4 cup sliced cherry tomatoes, 1⁄4 cup chopped cucumber, and 2 Tbsp chopped red onion. Repeat with another layer of the same amount of each ingredient. When it comes time to eat, pour everything onto a plate or dig straight into the jar.

428 calories, 29g protein, 71g carbs (15g fiber), 4g fat

5. Chili-Stuffed Pepper

5 for 50 men's health

Laura Murray

Pack half the chili and 1/3 cup grated cheddar. In a separate container, place 1 halved, seeded red bell pepper, cut sides up. Cover the pepper container with a paper towel and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Heat chili until warmed through. Stuff pepper halves with chili; top with the cheese.

895 calories, 47g protein, 75g carbs (18g fiber), 45g fat

A version of this article originally appeared in the November 2022 issue of Men’s Health.

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