Eating cheap can mean anything from buying generic brands to stocking up on canned goods to buying in bulk. Here are 23 healthy meals that will cost you less than $0.64 per serving:
.I am not a dietician, so I cannot tell you what meal plans are best for you. I can only tell you what I plan out for my family to keep costs down and keep us healthy. I am a very busy person and this is not a luxury activity for me. This is one of my daily activities. I have learned to make meals that I love and that are hard to mess up. I also have learned that making large batches of meals and freezing them is a great way to save time. When I first started making my own meals, I was single and living alone. I would cook a big batch of food and then freeze it in containers that would hold 2 servings. I would then grab a container from the freezer
Eating healthy on a budget can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be time consuming. In fact, you can get all the nutrients you need from a wide variety of foods for just $0.64 or less per serving, according to the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan. Making sure you eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for fiber and nutrients, lean protein for energy, and a healthy mix of fats is all you need to do.
Are you trying to start a healthy lifestyle with a clean slate? Don’t let excuses get in your way. I’ve heard everything from not having enough time to prepare healthy meals to not being able to afford healthier ingredients.
Eat a healthy diet. Save money.
But now you can get rid of your excuses and tighten your belt, because this article is about healthy food that fits within your budget and doesn’t take much time to prepare. These dishes are so delicious you’ll wish you had made them sooner! Most are free of the expensive ingredients we try to avoid when we’re tight on cash, but if you see any additions of cheese, feel free to add or omit as you see fit. Each of these recipes is hand-picked by me, so you can prepare satisfying meals in 30 minutes or less and with healthy products that fit your budget.
Meals prepared with healthy and inexpensive ingredients
How can I eat healthy on a limited budget? Just make them with the healthiest and cheapest ingredients. Here’s a list of the cheapest vegetables from my post on eating healthy on a budget, and the chart below. But now let’s look at my favorite budget meals.
23 Best Healthy Meals on a Budget
1. Black Bean Tacos ($1.15 per serving)
Let’s start our list with a simple, meatless way to enjoy a guilt-free taco. Black beans are high in protein to keep you going, and ….. they’re so cheap! Plus, this recipe can be adjusted to fit your budget, giving you a winning version of delicious tacos that are good for you and your bank account, all in about 14 minutes. Add lots of vegetables (red cabbage, tomatoes, etc.) and save on sauce or dressing or use yogurt to make sure they are good for you. From Cookie + Kate. Also read my article on how to eat more beans (or get your family used to them).
2. Egg fried rice with peas and carrots ($0.98 per serving)
I improvise a bit, but one of my favorite dishes is fried rice with eggs and a vegetable mixture. I use a minimal amount of oil or butter to keep my dishes healthy, yet tasty. The price is almost impossible to beat, as egg is one of the cheapest proteins you can find. Peas, carrots and other vegetables can also be very inexpensive and give you all the nutrients you need. Here’s a recipe for fried egg rice from Nibbles and Bits.
3. Whole wheat Penne Pasta wrapped with chicken ($1.18 per serving)
Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite foods: Pasta. This simply means replacing your regular food with whole grains. You can also choose gluten-free options. Anyway, you make your own sauce here, and the whole dish takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. From Cookin’ Canuck.
4. Salmon Fettuccine with Pesto and Steamed Broccoli ($2.46 per serving)
I know what you’re thinking… Salmon is expensive. I mean, if it’s fresh. A good solution for those who aren’t saving money and are still trying to stay healthy is to buy frozen fillets, which are usually much cheaper. With a recipe like this, with pesto in a jar, you won’t even remember it started in the freezer. Give it 20 minutes from start to finish, and you’ll really enjoy this healthy meal on a budget! Excerpt from the book Eating Well. You can also save money by using chicken or pork (instead of salmon) and carrots (instead of broccoli).
5. Easy Peasy Lemon Chicken – without oil ($2.19 per serving)
One of my favorite dishes is lemon chicken. But most recipes require butter, which makes them a bit unhealthy. So when I found this faster version, which takes only 22 minutes, with a lemony flavor and juicy, tender texture, I had to include it. Simple ingredients and simple preparation can sometimes produce the best results in terms of health, taste and budget. Excerpt from the book Mediterranean Dishes.
6. bowl of chicken salad ($1.64 per serving)
I think the hardest part about being on a budget is the FOMO when you can’t eat out when you want to. But if you start seeing it differently as a benefit, you won’t feel so bad. For example, P.F. Chang’s popular lettuce wraps. You can make them at home on a budget and keep them even healthier because you control the amount of oil you use. If you take stale chicken and grind it up in a food processor, you’ll save even more than if you buy ground chicken. And you only need 20 minutes to put this epic dish on the table tonight! It’s damn good.
7. Shakshuka ($1.81 per serving)
If you think eating healthy on a budget must be bland, you’re wrong. I highly recommend making shakshuka for dinner. It’s bold, brilliant and incredibly rich. Plus, eggs are an inexpensive protein in this Middle Eastern dish. The Walder Wellness.
8. Delicious lentils in a jar ($0.64 per serving)
Lentils are one of my favorite ways to feed my family on a limited budget. They don’t need to be soaked like other beans, so they are ready to eat at any time. They are hearty and nutritious. Lentil soup is a great option, but it usually takes a little longer than 30 minutes to prepare. But it only takes 20 minutes to prepare this lentil dish in one pot. You can serve your favorite rice or quinoa with it, and it works in a pinch. The cumin and garlic add a lot of flavor, and because the lentils are cooked the way they are, it makes for a divine sauce you’ll love! From the book Ahead of Thyme.
9. Tuna and chickpea salad ($1.31 per serving)
On days when I’m too hot, too busy and too tired to spend even 30 minutes in front of the stove, I like to make a salad for dinner. I hate it when salads are nothing but boring, limp lettuce leaves and dressing. Make a real salad, with crunch, flavor and filling ingredients that give you energy. Using canned tuna offers you a cheap and healthy way to get the omega-3 fatty acids your body needs. And with chickpeas and fresh vegetables, you get a texture and flavor that really fills you up. From Well Plated.
10. Steamed Teriyaki Chicken with Cauliflower ($2.22 per serving)
For those of you screaming about how much you hate dishwashing, I hear you! And I offer you this recipe for cauliflower teriyaki chicken. It’s pretty easy, pretty tasty, and some of the ingredients are optional, so if you don’t have them and don’t have the budget to buy them, don’t worry. Steam your favorite brown rice or quinoa and let it soak up this delicious sauce. From LSL Cooking.
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11. Healthy Korean Beef ($1.88 per serving)
If you’ve ever been to Korea, you know as well as I do that bulgogi is one of the best dishes on the planet. Even if you’ve eaten at a Korean restaurant, you probably had a good time. But the beef traditionally used is quite expensive. Use ground beef instead, and top off the rest of the bowl with fresh seasonal vegetables like cucumbers and your favorite grains to mimic those authentic flavors in the healthiest and most economical way. From Well Plated.
12. Thin Chicken Salad Sliders ($2.24 per serving)
When I think of chicken salad, I picture plates of food sitting on the beach while on vacation in beautiful Palm Beach, Florida. Yes, most people would never consider chicken salad a healthy dish. Served as a slider. But with the right combination of ingredients, it really becomes a healthy and refreshing main dish that can be used as both an evening and lunch dish. You can choose any bread you like, but whole wheat bread is best. Leftover chicken is the tastiest, especially from the grill, but any other chicken is good for these creamy, dreamy sliders! From the book Beginner’s Cookie.
13. Fried cabbage ($1.14 per serving)
I hate it when I reach for takeout food, even though I know I’m supposed to behave. But if you start with something simple, it becomes easier to prepare other types of dishes. In this case, you can make roasted kale with namai kale and some ingredients from your pantry. You can serve it with brown rice, quinoa or pasta to make it more substantial and not expensive to prepare. Let yourself be carried away by the delicious authentic Chinese fragrances! From the Omnivore cookbook.
14. Chicken breast with sweet chili ($1.91 per serving)
A little sweet, a little spicy, a lot of perfection, all for a little money. What could be better than this? I think this is a dish you’ll want to make again and again. With chicken and some cheap cookware, you’ll get bowls full of flavor, thanks to the juicy pineapple chunks and sweet chili sauce that brings it all together. From Budget Bytes.
15. Mushroom Stroganoff ($1.40 per serving)
As a kid, I always loved it when my mom made beef stroganoff. I still love it, such a rich and full flavor. But beef can be expensive if you’re watching your budget. Not to mention that eating large amounts of beef is not the healthiest option. A good compromise is to cook without meat in the form of a mushroom stroganoff. The low-fat, low-salt sour cream and broth make this dish much healthier without sacrificing gourmet taste. From Skinny Taste.
16. Mexican cauliflower rice ($1.46 per serving)
Why settle for plain rice when you can make it Mexican style? But if you don’t like grains or are on a low-carb diet, how can you participate? Simple. You can use cauliflower instead of grains. You’ll completely forget you’re eating cauliflower when you enjoy a bowl of this tasty dish. Leave this dish without meat or serve it with roast pork, chicken, vegetables or tofu if you prefer. Everything is ready in only 25 minutes! From the book No Spoon Needed.
17. Zucchini Pizza ($1.32 per serving)
Are you still in the mood for pizza? I also have the urge to eat pizza. Ordering a pizza is very expensive these days. When did a pizza go from $5 to almost $20? This is too much! Plus, it’s not the healthiest food unless you can only eat one bite (and really, who does?!?). I therefore propose a fair compromise in the name of healthy and economical food: ….. Pizza with zucchini. The zucchini serves as the base and you can then decorate it however you like. If you limit the amount of cheese, you’ll stay within calories and budget. From Budget Bytes.
18. Asian Peanut Steamed Noodles with Carrots ($1.10 per serving)
Hey, let’s order some Thai food! Oh, wait. It’s too expensive. How do you deal with cravings for food? Make Asian peanut noodles and you’ll be embarrassed you haven’t made them before. This is a surprisingly easy and quick dish that requires basic essentials like peanut butter and soy sauce. A little lime and fresh herbs help to accentuate the flavor, but if you don’t have all these herbs on hand, choose a simple one (like cilantro) and stick with this recipe. With chicken or vegetarian, this delicious Thai-style dish is ready in about 15 minutes. From the book “Eat Yourself Slender”.
19. Zucchini noodles with chicken, cilantro and lime ($2.25 per serving)
Get out the vegetable spiralizer and turn the zucchini into noodles (or noodles as they are often called). This fun dish gives you the feel of pasta and combines the bold flavors of lime and cilantro to make a healthy meal truly delicious. The best part is that the pasta doesn’t take long to prepare. This means that you will have the food ready in about 20 minutes, from start to finish. What is it, you say? Don’t you have a spiralizer? Slice the zucchini for a similar effect! From iFoodReal.
20. Chow Mein Pork ($2.48 per serving)
Everyone loves chicken, but pork is only slightly more expensive and can be stocked if the price is right. Another dish using spiralized zucchini is a healthy variation on chow mein pork. Chop the pork itself in a food processor to get the desired texture, or just slice it thinly. These bold flavor combinations are prepared in a jiffy, and much faster than takeout. And much healthier and cheaper than takeaway food! From Taste.com.
21. Indonesian fried rice ($1.88 per serving)
Known as Nasi Goreng, this dish is a must try if you are tired of all the usual dishes. You know what I mean. If you don’t feel like eating everything you know and love, shake things up with this popular Indonesian recipe. You can use egg whites of your choice or no egg whites at all and put a fried egg on top. It’s so easy, quick and delicious, you’ll be surprised how healthy and economical it is. From the book Recipes for Pewter Dishes.
22. Tofu Curry with Green Beans ($1.49 per serving)
Tofu is one of my favorite proteins for meatless dinners. It’s cheap and easy to work with. And it doesn’t take long to prepare, so you’ll always have a quick meal you’ll enjoy. With a little curry powder, coconut milk and shredded green beans, you’ll make an epic sauce dish that you’ll love to sprinkle over white or brown rice. From Martha Stewart.
23. Coconut Noodle Soup ($1.68 per serving)
Sometimes the soup itself is the perfect dish! When it’s filled with savory ingredients, you don’t need anything else to feel full. Such is the case with the coconut noodle soup, a 15-minute creation that combines sweet potatoes, coconut milk and noodles into a culinary delight you’ll want to eat every night! From the Omnivore cookbook. With recipes like this, your excuses won’t run out. You’ll have everything you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle on a budget when you prepare these dishes in your kitchen!
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This morning I was thinking about all the options available for lunch and I realized how expensive it can be to eat healthy. I’ve been working on a meal prep series for a while now, and have discovered many cheap meals that I enjoy and are healthy. I have a lot of ideas for posts, but I’m trying to get the most bang for my buck and sometimes the most cost-effective options don’t photograph as well. So I decided to choose my most budget-friendly recipes and photograph them in a way that made them look fancy.. Read more about meals under $3 and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some cheap healthy meals?
When we think about going out to eat or preparing a meal at home, our stomachs might start rumbling, but our wallets may start to sweat. The average dinner out costs $36.67, but if you frequent restaurants, you may spend up to $200 for yourself and three friends. That’s where preparing healthy meals at home comes in. Many of these healthy meals can be made for less than five dollars, and even more can be made for less the $10. In fact, over the last several years, studies have shown that the cost of healthy foods are on the decline as the cost of unhealthy foods continues to rise. Even if you’re on a budget, you don’t have to compromise on your health when it comes to mealtime. Here are 23 healthy meals that cost less than $1 per serving. These meals are also easy to make, quick to eat, and easy to store.
What is the cheapest meal to feed a crowd?
Wherever you live, it’s no secret that eating healthy can be expensive, and big meals are no exception. Unfortunately, if you’re trying to impress a crowd with your culinary skills or impress your significant other’s parents, cooking on a budget is a must. Luckily, a few popular bloggers have already taken it upon themselves to find the cheapest, but delicious meals you can make. Here are some of our favorites: Although you can easily feed a crowd with a handful of ingredients, the cheapest way to feed a crowd is to serve up pasta, bread or rice, and a protein. You can have a meal for less than $0.50 per serving, and you can get your guests to clean their plates, since nearly all Americans seem to enjoy pasta, bread and rice.
What is a good meal to serve guests?
Anybody who has ever hosted a dinner party knows that planning the event can be as stressful as the party itself. There are so many decisions to make: what to serve, how to serve it, how many people to invite, what to wear, and how to make everyone you invite comfortable with each other. When you’re hosting a dinner party, it can be difficult to decide what to serve. On the one hand, you want to impress your guests with your culinary prowess. On the other hand, you want to make sure you can afford the ingredients for the meal. So, what’s a home cook to do?
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