One of the most common misconceptions (in my opinion) is that to eat healthy, you need to spend a fortune. Not true. If you shop wisely, focus on seasonal ingredients and pantry staples, you can easily make a variety of meals for less than you would expect. I’ve highlighted some of my go to under $20 recipes below. Some are recipes I’ve been making for years, others I’ve developed over time when I’ve been in a pinch. The key is getting a little creative, or looking for help if you’re not sure where to start. Fortunately, I’ve got you covered!
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes: 1/2 a stuffed sweet potato is enough to fill you up for a full meal. If you’re super hungry, then go for the whole thing! All you need for 1-2 servings is: 1 large sweet potato, diced tomatoes, 8 white mushrooms, 2 cups diced spinach (vegan version) or 1 large sweet potato, diced tomatoes, a small pack of lean ground beef and corn. Salt, pepper and garlic powder (1/2 tsp each) are the seasonings for this recipe.
- Poke a few holes with a fork in your sweet potato and bake in the oven for an hour at 400.
- While the potato is cooking, start with your filling. For the meat version, brown your ground beef in a medium sauce pan, on medium heat until there is no pink left
- Drain out any excess fat, and add your diced tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook for 30 minutes on medium-low heat. Add in the corn in the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
- For the veggie version, in a medium frying pan on medium heat, heat 1/2 tsp of olive oil. Add in your sliced mushrooms and cook until the juices release. Add in the diced tomatoes, salt, pepper and garlic powder and cook for 30 minutes on medium-low heat. Add in the spinach in the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
- When the potatoes are ready, remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Cut in half and using a fork, lightly mash down the potato.
- Top with your sauce, and pop back in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
Eggplant Parmesan: This recipe is surprisingly easy to make, feels super indulgent, but really isn’t expensive. All you need is 1 large eggplant, tomato sauce of choice, mozzarella cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried basil & olive oil.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Slice your eggplant either lengthwise into thin “sheets” or into thin circles. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place your eggplant in a flat later on your tray.
- Brush each round on both sides with olive oil, then season with your spices. Bake in the over for 20 minutes, flipping your eggplant half way.
- Get an 8″ by 4″ baking dish, I tend to use a bread loaf dish. Start by putting a layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan, then a layer of eggplant, then more sauce, some cheese, and more eggplant. Continue to layer until all your eggplant is gone. Your top layer of eggplant will then be covered with sauce and cheese.
- Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the top layer of cheese is nice and bubbly.
Stir Fry: There are so many great options when it comes to stir fry! You can use just veggies, add meat, serve with a variety of bases, or eat on it’s own. I have so many recipes to choose from, but have been loving my Ground Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry. It’s become my go to and yes, it’s under $20 to make!
Here are a few more simple recipes that won’t break the bank! A roasted protein plus a vegetable are healthy, filling and can easily be made for $20 or less.
- Chili (veggie or meat)- I love this as an option because it makes a great meal, but it’s also a great prepare in advance option. Chili freezes really well, so making a big batch to have for later is another way to stay prepared and always have a healthy meal on hand.
- Chicken Soup– This is one of my favourite cold weather choices. Chicken soup is surprisingly versatile too. You can add in extra veggies, some rice, or gluten free pasta, to switch it up and make it more of less filling depending on your mood.
- Tacos or fajitas- this is a fun option, and can be done healthily. The key with this meal is to steer clear of the traditional packaged taco kit seasonings. There are more natural versions available, so always read the label and look for spices you recognize, like cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper and garlic.
- Roasted Salmon with Brussel sprouts
- Whole Roasted Chicken with root vegetables
- Pasta a l’olio (garlic and olive oil pasta)
- Stuffed peppers
- Pesto or tomato sauce and gluten free rotini pasta