Is it possible to construct healthy meals on a budget? If you’re living on a budget due to the coronavirus recession or any other reason, you know it’s difficult to shop for healthy foods.
In most cases, you sacrifice health to afford foods that are both affordable and easy to make.
Thankfully, I have heartening news. There are many healthy meals on a budget you can make without breaking the bank.
Healthy eating supports weight loss along with a healthy body and mind. If you want to function at your best, it all starts with your diet. So, set that ramen down and learn how you can make healthy meals on a budget.
My Favorite Healthy Meals on a Budget
One of the questions I often get when I open up my Instagram stories is how to get the body that you want without breaking the bank.
Below I reveal 10 of my all-time favorite healthy meals on a budget that are both healthy and delicious!
1. Stuffed Peppers (So Delicious!)
Stuffed peppers are a fast and easy meal that’s both healthy and friendly on any budget. The best part is they’re incredibly customizable to fit every taste or dietary need.
In addition to being beautiful, they’re one of my very favorite foods.
The main ingredients in this dish are colored bell peppers, your favorite protein, and your choice of rice (white, brown or wild rice).
For protein, I recommend lean ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken. For a vegetarian option, you can substitute the meat for tofu or beans.
If you want a healthier option, then swap out the traditional rice for cauliflower rice.
One serving of cauliflower rice is under 30 calories and has only 3g of net carbs!
Pump up the flavor by mixing in chopped onions and garlic and top with marinara, pesto, or another healthy sauce.
Simply cut the bell peppers in half and remove the seeds. Then fill the peppers with the protein, veggies, and rice and bake them in the oven.
My favorite variations of this meal are:
- Ground beef, brown rice, and black beans, with chopped onions, garlic, tomato sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.
- Mushroom and wild rice, with chopped onions, garlic, tomato sauce, oregano and a a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
If you need a recipe to get you started, here’s a classic one you can use. Let me know your other favorite variations in the comments below too!
2. Chili (So Easy!)
Chili is a time-tested classic, because it is hearty, inexpensive, flavorful and can be made with many different variations.
It’s also an easy-to-make meal with plenty of leftovers for you to enjoy throughout the week.
In addition to a big pot, all you need is protein source of your choice (ground beef, ground turkey, brisket, or beef chuck), a diced onion, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and broth.
You can also add a wide range of beans or vegetables to fit your flavor profile. Beans are particularly cheap, so load up on them if you’re looking to drop the price per serving on this for this recipe.
Sprinkle in some spices, such as chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper salt and pepper, and you’ll have a healthy flavorful meal that you’ll love.
Shop for ingredients on-sale and you can enjoy this dish for around $2 per serving.
If you’re looking for a simple and classic chili recipe, this one is great!
3. Bean, Egg, and Kale Stew (So Healthy!)
This healthy meal on a budget is incredibly healthy for you. It features beans which are a good source of fiber and protein to keep you fuller longer.
Kale is a superfood that offers plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
You’ll need 2 cans of kidney beans, your favorite broth, and 1 bunch of kale to start. Season the stew with soy sauce, red onion, and pepper to give it a little extra zest.
When finished, top it off with a fried egg for a tasty cheap healthy meal.
Need a recipe to work from? I’ve got you covered right here.
4. Chicken Stir Fry (So Simple!)
Stir-fries are super easy and customizable. Made with chicken breasts and your choice of vegetables, you’ll create a super affordable and tasty dish.
One of the reasons this is an inexpensive meal is that chicken is a less expensive protein source than beef, pork or seafood. On average, boneless chicken breast is only $3.18 a pound in the U.S.
Simply start cooking the boneless chicken breasts in a pan or the oven. Next, sauté any vegetables you’d like to add with your chicken. I love using bell peppers, onions, and broccoli, but it’s really up to you!
Add a few dashes of olive oil and cumin to season it.
Place your stir fry on a bed of brown rice and voila! You have a flavorful healthy meal in under 30 minutes.
Best of all, you can combine the cooked chicken breast with just about any combination of vegetables that you have on hand, which makes this recipe not only cheap, but super versatile.
5. Skillet Lemon Chicken with Potatoes (One Pot!)
A healthy flavorful chicken dinner doesn’t have to be expensive. This skillet lemon chicken with potatoes is tasty and budget-friendly.
All you need is boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs, fingerling potatoes, and sliced lemon. Super easy, right?
If you want, you can substitute the fingerling potatoes with sweet potatoes as they offer more fiber, nutrients, and vitamins.
For spices, I’d recommend garlic, rosemary (or basil) and olive oil, but again, flavor it differently if you prefer!
Gently toss all of the ingredients together in a cast iron pan or baking pan and bake. In about 30 minutes, you’ll have a delicious healthy meal.
Here’s my go-to recipe if you need one.
6. Healthy French Toast (So Adaptable!)
We often forget that sweet dishes can be just as healthy as savory. This is certainly true with this healthy French toast made with wheat bread. In addition to the bread, you’ll need eggs, milk, and cinnamon.
The first trick to making this meal healthy is to use a low carb, low calorie bread.
One option for this is Schmidt’s 647 Bread, because it is only 40 calories and 6 grams of net carbs per slice.
There are other good breads too. The key is to find one with low calories and a reduced number of net carbs per slice.
(*Note: To calculate net carbs, simply take the total carbs and subtract the carbs from fiber, because the body can’t digest them. The result will be your net carbs!)
The other trick is to making this recipe healthy is to use egg whites instead of whole eggs.
This tip will dramatically drop your fat content and reduce your overall calories, because a whole egg has 5 grams of fat. That means that if you would have used three eggs to make French Toast, you’d have consumed 15 grams of fat (which is a LOT for one meal).
In contrast, egg whites are fat free but will can tasty and crispy French Toast!
Of course, you’ll want to mix cinnamon in with your egg whites to give you French Toast that classic flavor that is certain to remind you of your childhood.
Finally, top your French toast with berries or a small amount of maple syrup. For your choice of fruit, I highly recommend strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries because they are low carb fruits.
In the end, this is one of my favorite meals because it can easily be modified it to be healthy, cheap, delicious, and most importantly, quick to prepare!
7. Vegetable Barley Pilaf (So Nutritious!)
This hearty pilaf is filling and incredibly healthy. Barley is an affordable health food with soluble fiber that helps with digestion. It also offers some protein and can help lower your cholesterol.
For this dish, you’ll need quick-cooking barley, chicken broth, and butter. After that, you can add any of your favorite vegetables.
A few recommended vegetables include zucchini, green onions, and carrots.
Feel free to mix and match your vegetables or add chicken or beef to make it a heartier meal.
8. Hummus and Veggie Wrap (So Quick!)
Hummus is a garbanzo bean-based spread with healthy amounts of fiber and protein.
You’ll also need tortilla wraps (or flatbread) and your favorite mix of veggies.
No recipe needed here. Just spread everything on the wrap, roll it up, and it’s ready to eat!
Mix and match your favorite vegetables or add chicken for added protein.
9. Pot Roast (So Traditional!)
Seeing as I grew up in the Midwest in St. Paul, Minnesota, I ate a lot of pot roast growing up. And, I loved it!
A pot roast is the easiest healthy meals on a budget you can make. For this dish, you only need four basic ingredients (plus spices):
- Boneless beef chuck
While you can flavor it however you want, I like using tomato sauce, garlic, and chili powder.
Toss the ingredients in your slow cooker and let it cook for 6-8 hours.
Of course, you can substitute the beef with pork or chicken and you can add as many vegetables as you like.
If you’re looking for a simple pot roast recipe, this is a great one and that is both simple and delicious. For spices, it uses thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.
However, you can definitely get creative with the spices to make different variations of this meal.
10. Tomato and Melon Chicken Salad (So Zesty!)
Add some zest to your healthy meals on a budget with this unique and nutrient-dense salad. This salad features summer fruits such as cantaloupe and raspberries.
You can easily swap or add other types of fruit as well.
Start with your favorite blend of salad greens (spring mix works great) and add in the fruit.
Then add tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinegar. Top it off with grilled chicken breast or chickpeas (for vegetarians) and you’ll have a tasty salad in no time.
When you build this dish, remember that some fruits have more carbs than others, so if you’re trying to keep this meal healthy, then stick with low carbs fruits, such as:
And, of course, if you up your ratio of leafy greens to fruit, you can make this meal even healthier. For example, 3 cups of spring mix has only 20 calories and 3 grams of net carbs!
Enjoy These Healthy Meals on a Budget Today
Eating healthy shouldn’t be an option only some can enjoy. With these 10 healthy meals on a budget, you can ditch your ramen and start eating healthy foods you’ll enjoy no matter how long we have to stay on lockdown.
Do you have more great ideas about staying healthy? Send me a note and let me know your favorite recipes!
Are we connected yet on Instagram? If not, let’s make it happen because I would love to share in your world too.