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Try These 15 Cheap Healthy Meals to Step Up Your Nutrition Game

Try These 15 Cheap Healthy Meals to Step up Your Nutrition Game
Written by Jennifer Smith

When you’re on a tight budget, it can be easy to give up healthy foods to cut costs. But just because a meal is healthy doesn’t mean its ingredients will break the bank! There are a ton of cheap healthy meals out there that are so delicious you might forget they’re good for you.

Eating at home is consistently cheaper than going out, but when life gets busy, it can be easier to go with unhealthy options. With a little meal planning and prepping you can make these home-cooked meals easily and quickly throughout the week. Probably in less time than it takes to order a pizza.

1. Greek Turkey Burgers

Protein is an essential part of your diet, but nutritionists agree red meat is not the healthiest way to get it. A 3.5 oz beef burger patty has 270 calories whereas a 4 oz turkey burger patty has only 193.

When you throw your next grill-out try these Greek Turkey Burgers. They’re packed with nutritious flavors like sun-dried tomato, spinach, and garlic. You can make a batch of these patties ahead of time and freeze them for later or stick them in the fridge for a quick midweek dinner.

Cheap Healthy Meal: Greek Turkey Burgers

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2. Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Turning on the slow-cooker in the morning means no cooking at dinner time. It’s the easiest cooking method, and I kick myself for not using it more often! This Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup is an excellent way to step up your CrockPot game.

This recipe is especially easy because all you have to chop is the cilantro and onion, and you can easily do that the night before. Everything else gets thrown in, and you have a yummy dinner ready to go.

Cheap Healthy Meal: Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

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3. Cauliflower ‘Couscous’ with Goat Cheese

If you’re still eating cauliflower in florets, you’re leaving a lot of healthy options on the table, or off the table. Cauliflower can be a substitute for rice, pizza dough, mac n cheese, tortillas, and now, couscous.

It’s easy to make too, just whiz it around in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. And don’t throw out that stem! It’s just as healthy as the florets. Prep everything ahead of time and make this a healthy one-pot dinner.

Cheap Healthy Meal: Cauliflower ‘Couscous’ with Goat Cheese

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4. Vibrant Vegetarian Casserole

Brown rice and veggies is a wholesome meal that everyone enjoys, especially with a little cheese sprinkled on top. While brown rice has slightly more calories than white rice, it also has more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This easy two pan meal has just the right balance of carbohydrates to vegetables.

This recipe is versatile making it a great meal to shop the Aldi produce specials for. Find what’s on sale and design your own healthy vegetarian casserole!

Cheap Healthy Meal: Vibrant Vegetarian Casserole

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5. Paleo Chicken BLT Salad

You can’t have a list of healthy recipes without a salad! But this is no boring side salad, this Paleo Chicken BLT Salad is grain and dairy free (if using a vegan mayo) and packs a big healthy punch.

Romaine is a great source of folic acid, an important vitamin for women who are or plan to become pregnant. It’s also my go-to salad green because it’s less expensive than other popular leafy greens.

Cheap Healthy Meal: Paleo Chicken BLT Salad

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6. Minestrone Soup

Vegetable soup is my favorite way to eat lots of different veggies at once. Minestrone Soup is the Italian’s version of vegetable soup, and they hit the nail on the head with this one. This version is loaded with green beans, carrots, onions, celery, and protein-packed kidney beans.

Other variations include spinach, zucchini, cannellini beans. However you make yours, you’re sure to get lots of nutrients in this soup.

Cheap Healthy Meal: Minestrone Soup

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7. Pan Seared Salmon with Sweet Potato ‘Rice’

Salmon is chocked full of omega-3’s, vitamin B12, B3, B6, D, protein, the list goes on. It’s one of the healthiest fish you can treat yourself to, and it looks scrumptious over a bed of sweet potato “rice” with shallots and red peppers.

And if you don’t use all your asparagus in this recipe, store it upright in water to make them last longer in the fridge and keep them crunchy until you need them.

Cheap Healthy Meal: Pan Seared Salmon with Sweet Potato ‘Rice’

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8. Egg & Sweet Potato Hash with Brussel Sprouts

Anybody else a fan of breakfast for dinner? Breakfast is the king of cheap healthy meals, and this particular recipe adds the benefit of vegetables usually reserved for dinner. Brussel sprouts help lower cholesterol, and sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A. This is an easy Whole 30 approved dinner everyone will love.

Cheap Healthy Meal: Egg & Sweet Potato Hash with Brussel Sprouts

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9. Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Gnocchi is traditionally a white potato pasta, but when you replace the white potato with a healthy gourd such as butternut squash, you can elevate the flavor and health of an already yummy dish. This recipe is vegan but you can easily make a substitution to make it vegetarian, and it’s just as healthy.

Cheap Healthy Meal: Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash Gnocchi

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10. Healthy Carnitas

Pork isn’t the healthiest protein in the grocery store, but if you’re craving red meat, then this recipe is what you’re hankering for. Instead of using lard or oil to cook these carnitas to perfection all you need is a pressure cooker and 45 minutes. Serve them up with some fresh corn, avocado and pico de gallo, and you’ll have a filling and healthy fiesta!

Cheap Healthy Meal: Healthy Carnitas

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11. Lemon Asparagus Quinoa with Pesto

One cup of cooked quinoa has over 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 118 mg of magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral in our bodies, and unfortunately, USDA studies show nearly half of all individuals have inadequate intakes of magnesium.

This recipe is a delicious way to incorporate quinoa into your diet with inexpensive add-ins and an arugula pesto. And if it couldn’t get any better than all the nutrients, it only takes one pot and 20 minutes to make. Your friends might start asking you for healthy eating advice after this one.

Cheap Healthy Meal: Lemon Asparagus Quinoa with Pesto

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12. Seafood Quesadillas

Shrimp are rich in selenium, which fight aging and improve immune function, and they’re low in calories. While this recipe contains shrimp, anyone with a shellfish allergy could easily switch it out for their favorite heart-healthy fish. You can decrease the calories even more by using a low-fat or non-dairy cheese.

Cheap Healthy Meal: Seafood Quesadillas

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13. Tomato Basil Soup

Tomatoes, aside from making all healthy recipes tastier, are an excellent source of vitamin C, K, and biotin. And every bowl of tomato soup goes better with a grilled cheese on whole wheat bread! Make this recipe even healthier by replacing the roux with a slurry of flour and water as the thickener, or leave it out altogether. Test a bowl and see what you like.

Tomato Basil Soup

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14. Butternut Squash Pasta with Sage & Brown Butter

This pasta could not look any yummier. Both squash and sage are loaded with nutrients and amino acids. And there’s just a sprinkle of bacon for all the paleo fanatics out there. This pasta is rich making it a great candidate for whole wheat pasta.

Cheap Healthy Meal: Butternut Squash Pasta with Sage & Brown Butter

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15. Easy Vegan Buddha Bowl

A Buddha bowl is essentially a rice bowl with greens, veggies, beans, and usually topped with dressing. It’s that meal you make when you’re hungry but you forgot to go to the grocery store. This one contains broccoli, avocado, tomato, and black beans but also includes suggestions on what to put in your own Buddha bowl creation.

It goes to show that you can make cheap healthy meals on a budget with any plant-based food you have available. You don’t have to buy expensive fancy produce or be an awesome cook. Use what you have and learn more as you go.

Cheap Healthy Meal: Easy Vegan Buddha Bowl

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If you incorporate these 15 recipes into your meal planning you’re sure to see the health and saving benefits of eating at home. Who knows, maybe you’ll start getting adventurous with special cuisines like Chinese take-out or even vegan recipes!

Be sure to let us know in the comments if you try any of these recipes and what you think. Do you have any quick and cheap healthy meals for the week in your recipe box? We’d love to hear those too, tell us in the comments!

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Try These 15 Cheap Healthy Meals to Step up Your Nutrition Game

About the author

Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith is a personal finance writer and creator of SavingwithSpunk.com. She paid off $78,000 in student loan debt in two years and lives to tell the tale.

1 Comment

  • Thanks, Jennifer, for including my Vibrant Vegetable Casserole in your round up! I see quite a few recipes here that I’m going to have to try. 🙂

    Mollie

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