Healthy Can Be Expensive: 5 Budget-Friendly Healthy Meals
It’s challenging enough forgoing fat and sugar-laden foods in our quest to eat better, but sticking to a weekly budget when the prices of healthy foods are skyrocketing can be difficult as well. Learning how to eat healthy on a budget can be challenging as fresh, organic ingredients are often higher in price; that alone can be a key factor in discouraging even the most committed people from staying on course. It is, however, possible to learn how to eat healthy on a budget—with some proper planning!
Here at Bare Performance Nutrition, we’re all about providing high quality athletic supplements that help our customers be healthy and get fit. With these five budget-friendly, healthy meals, you’ll be saving money and eating healthy in no time! Each of these quick, easy meals can be prepared for $10 or less* leaving you with the time you need to do what matters most—taking care of yourself.
*Each meal can be prepared for under $10 assuming you have staples like seasonings and oil already on hand.
Budget-Friendly, Healthy Meal #1:
Red Beans, Brown Rice, and Lean Beef/Turkey
Learning how to eat healthy on a budget is easy with this meal packed with fiber and protein galore!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ red onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
½ tsp. liquid smoke
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 c. cooked red beans or 2, 15-oz. cans, rinsed & drained
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (adjust to taste)
1 large tomato, chopped, or 1, 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
½ c. water
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
½ c. Spanish olives, pitted and chopped
2 Tbsp. capers
2 c. cooked long-grain brown rice
Heat the oil over medium heat in a 4-quart saute pan. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ground meat and cook until browned, 5-6 minutes. Drain excess fat. Add liquid smoke, salt, pepper, and oregano. Mix spices into the meat and saute for 2 minutes. Add beans, peppers, and diced tomatoes. Stir in water and tomato paste. Simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Stir in olives and capers. Fold in rice and serve.
Yield: 6-8 servings
Budget-Friendly, Healthy Meal #2:
Spinach with Curried Chickpeas
This easy weeknight staple is a perfect, quick meal for when you’re learning how to eat healthy on a budget. It’s so filling, and it freezes great!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 inch fresh ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp. curry powder
8 oz. spinach, fresh or frozen
1, 15-oz. can tomato sauce
1, 29-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Dice the onion and garlic. Grate the ginger on a small-holed cheese grater and mix with onion and garlic. Saute the mixture in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium heat until the onions have softened (about 3-5 minutes). Add the curry powder and continue to saute for one minute. Add 1/4 cup of water to the skillet along with the fresh spinach and continue to saute until the greens have wilted (no water needed if using frozen spinach). Add chickpeas to the skillet along with the tomato sauce. Stir well to distribute the spices and heat through, about 5 minutes. Serve over rice or with bread.
Yield: 4 servings
Budget-Friendly, Healthy Meal #3:
Persian-Style Chicken with Pomegranate Nut Sauce
A delicious disease-fighter and anti-aging dish—so easy, you’ll wonder why you didn’t learn how to eat healthy on a budget sooner!
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter or olive oil
2 ½ - 3 lbs. chicken, cut into pieces
2 medium onions, sliced thinly
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 c. toasted walnuts or pecans, coarsely ground
⅔ c. pomegranate juice
½ c. tomato sauce
1 ½ c. low sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. molasses (preferably blackstrap)
Heat the butter or oil over medium-high heat in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven until melted and foam dissipates. Saute the chicken for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned. Transfer pieces to a plate to rest. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the onion. Saute and scrape up browned bits for 10 minutes or until onions are golden and soft. Stir in cinnamon and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for one more minute. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer for 3 minutes. Add the chicken, leaving any juice that has pooled on the plate. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice or with bread.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Budget-Friendly, Healthy Meal #4:
Quinoa Risotto with White Beans, Arugula, and Parmesan
This nutritional powerhouse packs a punch and can be made with an animal protein like chicken or beef if you want to experiment with how to eat healthy on a budget.Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
½ Vidalia (sweet) yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. quinoa, well rinsed
3 c. low-sodium vegetable broth
¼ - ½ c. pine nuts
1 can organic Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed, or 2 cups cooked beans
1 c. thinly sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 carrot, finely grated
2 ½ c. rocket arugula, stemmed and chopped
¼ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent (about 4 minutes). Add garlic and quinoa and cook for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add broth, increasing heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the quinoa is tender (about 12 minutes). In the meantime, toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until they release their fragrance and oils, 3-4 minutes. Once the quinoa is cooked, stir in the beans, mushrooms, carrot, and arugula and simmer until the grains turn from white to translucent, about 2-3 minutes longer. Fold in the cheese, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle pine nuts over the top for garnish.
Yield: 4 servings
Budget-Friendly, Healthy Meal #5:
Striped Bass with Sun-Dried Tomato and Kalamata Paste
Take learning how to eat healthy on a budget to the beach with this heart-healthy, Mediterranean diet staple!
½ c. sun-dried tomatoes, soaked for 15 minutes, drained and blotted dry
(if packed in oil, rinsed and drained well)
¼ c. pitted Kalamata olives
¼ c. fresh basil, rinsed and dried
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp capers
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 ¼ lbs. skinless, striped bass fillet
Heat grill or skillet to medium-low. In a food processor or blender, combine tomatoes, basil, olives, and pepper. Process until mixture forms a thick paste. Stir in capers and set aside. Rinse fish and pat dry, then lightly oil one side of the filet and place oil-side down on the skillet. After 7 minutes, turn the bass and coat the cooked side to taste with the paste. Close grill or cover and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the bass is cooked through (white and soft when pierced with a fork).
Yield: 4 servings
Sometimes even the best healthy-eating intentions can fall short. That’s where Bare Performance Nutrition comes in—our clean, no-nonsense supplements are made with only the best ingredients. We are dedicated to helping you learn how to eat healthy on a budget and keep your body in top shape. Contact us today, and we’ll match you up with the perfect formula to help you reach your goals!