More and more these days it is becoming utterly important to save money wherever we can. In some ways, this seems more feasible than others, but when it comes to saving on groceries, we often think we need to eat poorly in order to conserve money.
Cheap, healthy meals may seem like a contradiction in terms, but I promise you it’s not. It is possible to eat healthy on a budget, and that does not mean hitting up your local fast food joints, either. Take a look at these cheap healthy recipes that will keep your diet on the right track and give your budget a break.
- Soups and Stews
There are a variety of soup and stew ideas from which to choose, so your options are truly infinite. What I love about making a soup or stew is that not only are they super healthy meal ideas, but they can stretch out throughout the week and make use of whatever you have in your pantry or fridge.
Consider adding rice, canned beans, tomatoes, the cornucopia of vegetables in your fridge like onions, celery, carrots or potatoes; all of these ingredients are inexpensive and provide a lot of flavor. And try including other pantry items that will add extra flavor like coconut milk, garlic, dried herbs, think bay leaves, as they are also inexpensive to buy.
When choosing meat for your stew, simply select a cheaper cut of meat and let it cook for a longer period of time to soften its texture. Soups and stews can handle longer cooking times, plus are great as leftovers since their flavors will intensify and marry well together over time.
Check out this yummy, healthy, and cheap creamy spiced coconut lentil soup to fill your belly and warm your insides.
- Re-purpose Your Ingredients
Reusing ingredients and re-purposing sides or mains from previous meals is a great way to create some cheap, yet healthy meals. I love reusing a roasted chicken because the options are quite varied, which is important when you have multiple mouths to feed.
Some great ideas to use the leftover meat from your bird are chicken quesadillas, chicken salad, a great lunch option, and for dinner simply add some pasta to make it more substantial. But one of my favorite ways to not let any of the chicken go to waste is to make my own chicken broth once all the meat is done.
Throw your chicken remains in a pot of cold water, adding onion, celery, carrots, and some seasoning, bay leaves, black peppercorns, dried thyme and the like. Let simmer on medium-low for about an hour or so and then drain out (once cooled) all of the goodness into a jar or into ice cube trays to freeze and add flavor to dishes at a later date.
- Breakfast for Dinner?
Yup! Whenever I’m in a pinch for an idea, one of my favorite and cheap, healthy meals for my family is to bring breakfast ideas to the dinner table. Who says eggs and pancakes are only for the morning hours? My kids (and yours truly) love pancakes with a side of fruit or how about eggs turned into a hearty and healthy frittata with lots of veggies and maybe some sausage?
Check out this cheap, healthy recipe of egg and tomato on an open-faced sandwich to make for your next dinner.
- Salivating Salads
Salads tend to get a bad rap, and sure if you are simply throwing some greens on a plate and slather it with some store-bought dressing, it may not seem all that appealing. But I promise you there are some fantastic, cheap and healthy recipes that will make you reconsider the humble salad.
What makes salads go from blah to wow, are including some delicious garnishes and learning how to make your own salad dressings. I love to add quinoa, beans, nuts, hemp hearts, homemade croutons, basically anything healthy that will give my salad some texture, extra flavor, and extra nutrition.
Wanting to eat healthy meals on a budget is not easier said than done when following the above ideas. Other helpful tips include shopping and using ingredients that are in season, remembering that frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh, and consider cutting out the meat or reducing your overall consumption.
Danielle thrives on researching and writing on all aspects of life. Further to writing for Zumper blog and personal finance, she is an advocate of self-improvement and living a life that is both financially responsible and knowledgeable. When she is not on her computer, she can be found spending time with her husband and two sons.