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‘It’s crazy that it’s way less expensive than cooking at home’: Woman shares ‘family meal’ hack for getting 8 meals for $35 at Panda Express

'Just bought basic kind of groceries and produce for 100 bucks, might switch it up.'


Brooke Sjoberg


Posted on May 24, 2023

As the cost of living increases and customers are faced with higher prices at the grocery store, some folks are getting creative with their meal-prepping methods, choosing to source their bulk-prepped foods from popular restaurants that offer catering services.

From Chipotle to Texas Roadhouse, Cheddar’s, and Jason’s Deli, frugal TikTokers are sharing their secrets for meal prepping without having to do any of the cooking, as well as sometimes saving money on the ingredients needed.

One TikToker, A McLean (@amclean), is exploring a variety of restaurants and eateries’ family meal specials as meal prep options. In her latest installment, she reckoned with a claim that a Panda Express family meal could create 8 individual meals for $36.

“So far guys, this has been really great for me doing this every Monday, 10 out of 10 would recommend,” she says in the clip.

The Daily Dot has reached out to McLean via comment on the video as other methods of contact were not available.

@amclean Replying to @Vicki Barnette Adams sooo much food!!! #mealprepmonday #takeoutmealprep ♬ Cruel Summer – Taylor Swift

Multiple commenters shared that they were seeing higher prices purchasing ingredients for meals at the grocery store, or buying meals individually.

“Just bought basic kind of groceries and produce for 100 bucks, might switch up,” one commenter wrote.

“I like the idea especially with the price of food now,” another said. “But I wouldn’t eat it past day 2. I’m very freaky about food safety.”

“It’s crazy that it’s way less expensive than cooking at home,” a third added.

Others suggested some family meal options for McLean to try in her ongoing series.

“O’Charley’s has their chicken tender family meal on sale for $25 right now!” one commenter wrote. “We always get 30+ tenders, two family sides, & rolls for $27.50 before tip.”

“I’ve done this with Outback Steak House,” another commented. “The salad began to wilt/brown by the 3rd day. But, decent amount for the price. 9/10 would try again.”

“Panera family meals are great; they have a few options,” a further user recommended. “I get 4 half sandwiches, a full salad, quart of soup, full baguette, and cookies for $40.”

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*First Published: May 24, 2023, 9:27 am CDT