Eating Healthy on a Budget: 4 Diet and Wallet Friendly Recipes
Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean spending more on food. With a little planning and smart shopping, it can be a breeze to eat healthy meals and snacks without busting your family budget.
Healthy meal planning tips
A great way to save on costs while eating healthy is simply to plan ahead. Take a few minutes to think about your meals for the week. Shop the sales at your local grocery store and see where you can use ingredients in more than one dish. A meal plan also helps make a concise grocery list which can keep you from over purchasing for the week – saving you money and reducing waste. Pull your cookbooks or search online to find easy recipe ideas. Grab your calendar and write meal ideas for each day of the week. Pinterest is also a great place to find sample meal plans for the week for families of all sizes.
Grocery shopping for healthy foods on a budget
Have you ever noticed that the vegetables, meats and dairy items are usually on the edges of the grocery store, while the chips, pasta and other processed snacks are in the middle? There are some good things in the middle aisles, but one of the simplest ways to clean up your diet is to do most of your shopping on the edges. Stock up on seasonal fruits and vegetables to get the best prices. For example, carrots, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, pears and bananas are in season during the fall and winter. Yes, you can find them in spring and summer too, but prices are usually lowest when the items are in season.
Another money saving tip for getting healthy groceries is to shop for produce that keeps well. This helps reduce your food waste and since you have to buy your food, it reduces your money waste as well. Some produce that keeps well includes: onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, apples and oranges. You can also chop and freeze fresh fruits and vegetables to delay them from spoiling. Frozen and canned vegetables can be healthy too. Just be sure to check the labels for added ingredients, like extra sugar and salt that can sabotage your healthy plans.
Don’t forget to use the grocery store loyalty rewards and coupons to make healthy eating habits fit into your budget. Look through the newspaper, go online or check your mailbox before you go shopping to see if there are coupons for any of the products you need. Some stores may have mobile apps too. If you forget to plan ahead, be sure to check while you’re at the store to see if anything on your list is being offered at a lower price with your loyalty card or number.
Healthy recipe ideas
Try this versatile idea for lunch or dinner next time you are planning weekly meals:
Light Tuna or Chicken Salad
Feeds: 4 people
- - 4 cans (5 oz.) of tuna or chicken in water, drained
- - ½ cup grapes, halved
- ¼ cup chopped nuts of your choice
- ¼ cup chopped green onions
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup mustard
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
Mix all ingredients together. Enjoy with crackers, as a sandwich, in a lettuce wrap or a tortilla wrap. Yum!
This light and comforting five ingredient casserole is perfect for chilly nights at home with your family this winter. You can also try this dish with cream of mushroom soup and substitute mushrooms instead of chicken for a vegetarian option.
Cracker Chicken Casserole
Feeds: 4 people
- 3 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped or shredded (or rotisserie chicken)
- 1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
- 1 cup light sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- 1 sleeve of your favorite low-sodium crackers
- ½ stick of butter or margarine
- Optional: Add broccoli, carrots or your favorite veggie to the mix
- Optional: Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 3 quart or 13×9 dish with cooking spray. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together. Spoon into the baking dish. Top with crumbled crackers and drizzle melted butter over the crackers. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.
These sweet and savory baked apples are perfect to make for you and your family or to take with you to a holiday party. Try it with Fuji, Pink Lady or Rome apples – all of which are in season in fall and winter
Feeds: 4 people
- 5 apples peeled, cored and sliced
- ½ tablespoon butter or cooking oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons of water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking dish with the butter or spray with cooking oil. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Layer about ⅓ of the apples in a dish and sprinkle ⅓ of the sugar mixture on top. Repeat until there are no more apples and sugar mixture is used up. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Pour water over apples, mix and continue baking until tender, about 15 minutes.
For a light and protein packed snack bar, try this no-bake four ingredient recipe:
4 Ingredient Snack Bar
Makes: 12 bars
- 2 cups quick oats
- 1 cup peanut butter
- ¼ cup of your favorite (or the least expensive) nuts, chopped
- ¼ cup honey
- Optional: replace nuts or add your favorite berries for some extra sweetness
- Optional: salt and cinnamon, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Line a pan, preferably 8×8, with parchment paper. Press the oat mixture into the pan. Freeze for 45 minutes to an hour or until firm. Remove contents from pan, then cut into 12 rectangles. Wrap individually and store in the refrigerator or freezer. You could also chop into bite size pieces for an easy snack to take to a holiday party!