Eating healthy is a goal that pops up in New Year’s resolutions, during the approach of swimsuit season, and right after we’ve regretfully scarfed down many large chocolate chip cookie. There are many excuses you might be holding on to when it comes to starting your new, healthy lifestyle, and we’re here to debunk them. Whether you think time, money or a lack of ideas is keeping you from finding healthy family meals on a budget, we’ve got some suggestions (and tasty recipes) that will help you kick off your new habit.

Recipes to Help Your Family Eat Healthy on a Budget

                                  

Myth: It Won’t Taste Good

 

Cutting calories doesn’t mean you have to cut taste. No one said you have to stop eating your favorite foods and just munch on raw carrots all day. While a quarter-cup of shredded cheddar cheese might cost you 114 calories, the same serving of reduced fat cheddar cheese comes in at just 90 calories. Simple swaps like this can be a great way to continue eating foods you love without feeling as if you’re missing something. Take a few moments during your grocery shopping trips to check food labels and see where a few quick swaps can save you some extra calories in your budget-friendly healthy meals.

 

Myth: It’s Too Much Work

 

For many families, a lack of meal planning makes dinner feel like extra work. Plan your meals and get your grocery shopping for the week completed in one trip. You’ll find your kitchen is well stocked, you eat all the food you buy, and you make fewer trips to the drive thru window when you’re missing an ingredient or too zapped to come up with another recipe idea.

 

Myth: Eating Healthy Is Expensive

 

It is possible to eat healthy family meals on a budget. There are several things you can do to ensure you don’t overspend at the grocery store. Keep in mind the meal planning we discussed earlier can greatly cut back on your food waste. Throwing less in the trash means you’re getting more nutrients from your foods because you eat them quickly rather than waste them.

 

Also, try to eat with the seasons. Your local grocery store or farmers market is often packed with seasonal produce at a discount thanks to a surplus in stock. Look for fresh blueberries and strawberries in the spring, peppers and sweet corn in the summer, and potatoes, broccoli and pickled veggies in the colder months.

 

Healthy Budget-Friendly Recipes for Dinner

 

Dinner can be an overwhelming meal. At the end of the day, it’s easy for people to dial the pizza delivery guy or pick up some burgers on the way home from work when all you want to do is throw on some comfy clothes and relax. Before you gulp down another meal that could rack in at hundreds of unhealthy calories, try some of these budget-friendly meals for families.

 

Slow Cooker Veggie Chili

 

If you know you have a hectic day ahead of you, set and forget your dinner in the slow cooker. This vegetable-packed chili is a quick, budget-friendly recipes that will be ready to greet you when you walk in the door at the end of the day. Not only will your family get to eat a homemade, healthy meal, but now you have an easy recipe you can fall on when things get busy.

 

Slow Cooker Veggie Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

 

Directions:

In a skillet, add the olive oil, onion, garlic and red bell peppers. Cook on medium until softened. Add the cumin, chili powder and cayenne. Stir it into the mixture and let it cook until aromatic, about two minutes.

 

Scoop the mixture into a slow cooker, set on low. Add the two cans of beans, diced tomatoes and frozen corn. Stir in the broth. Set the slow cooker on a four-hour timer that will turn to the “warm” setting to keep the food hot until it’s time for dinner.

 

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita

Yes, you can still eat pizza and stick to budget-friendly meals for your family. Loading a pizza with vegetables can be a great way to cut back on the cost and grease you’ll come across in more traditional meat toppings. And don’t worry about making a homemade crust. Many grocery stores sell refrigerated or frozen pizza doughs you can take home to make homemade pizza. Look for whole-wheat versions that are loaded with fiber and protein.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen whole wheat pizza dough
  • 1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • Several fresh basil leaves

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the pizza dough out on a pizza stone or greased cookie sheet. Drizzle the olive oil on to the dough and smooth it out with the back of a spoon. Spread the garlic, onion and tomato over the dough. Top with the shredded mozzarella cheese.

 

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is cooked through and the cheese is melted. Top the pizza with several shreds of the fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately.

 

Budget Meals for the Family for Lunch

Packing a healthy lunch for work can be even tougher than preparing a fresh, budget-friendly, healthy meal at home. Instead of spending money on eating out and facing the risk of a greasy meal, pack one of these healthy lunch recipes that will keep you satisfied until dinner.

 

Quick and Easy Chicken Pitas

Quick and Easy Chicken Pitas

This spicy, flavorful dish will have you rethinking packed lunches. Great cold, this hand-held meal is packed with lean protein and colorful vegetables that will have you questioning if something that could taste so good could be so good for you. The answer: Yes, it can. This recipe serves about four people.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber
  • 1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 4 pitas, about 6 inches in diameter
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 large tomato, sliced thin

 

Directions:

Season the raw chicken with salt and pepper. Add the garam masala and rub it into the meat until it’s well covered. Grill until it’s fully cooked or reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Set the chicken aside to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, cilantro and mint together in a bowl. Slice each pita in half so you have 8 pockets. Fill each pocket with a scoop of the yogurt mixture, some lettuce, tomato and cucumber. Thinly slice the chicken and divide it among the pockets as well.

Wrap the pitas in foil for easy packing in a sturdy, plastic container. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to eat and enjoy.

 

Sage and White Bean-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Meatless meals are a great way to save on your grocery bill while sticking to healthy family meals on a budget. This bean-filled treat is great for packed lunches because it’s full of protein, fiber and winter-friendly flavors that are as tasty as they are nutritional.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup white beans
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped sage
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the sweet potatoes all over. Coat in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until soft. Set the potatoes aside to cool.

Rinse the beans and put them with the stock in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then turn to a simmer, letting the liquid be absorbed by the canned beans. Add the cumin, garlic and chili powders. Stir in the sage.

When the liquid is nearly absorbed and is thick like a sauce, turn the heat off. Cut a slit into the top of each sweet potato and open the slit to create a space for the beans. Push some of the sweet potato insides around with a fork if you need to make room. Overflow the potatoes with the bean mixture. Pack in plastic containers and reheat when it’s time to eat. They also are tasty if you get hungry and need to eat them immediately.

 

Quick Budget-Friendly Recipes for Breakfast

The most important meal of the day is a great opportunity to flex your healthy, budget-friendly recipe ideas. Try these wholesome recipes that will help you gather the energy to get through the day ahead.

 

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

That’s right: Who said you can’t have pie for dessert? This tasty breakfast option is also packed full of nutrients. So, while your taste buds might be telling you you’re devouring something that resembles dessert, your body is thanking you for downing a meal that’s full of healthy qualities. The oats are dense with fiber while the pumpkin puree brings a punch of vitamins and additional fiber-filling benefits. Plus, it’s a little sweet and nutty — the perfect taste for those cold winter mornings.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree — not the pumpkin pie filling
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice — or more, if you like things really spicy
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Cinnamon for garnish

 

Directions:

Add the oats and milk to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to a simmer and stir in the pumpkin puree. Cook for about five more minutes. Add the pumpkin pie spice and vanilla and stir until well blended. Cook for an additional five minutes, watching and stirring on occasion. When the liquid is properly absorbed and the oats are cooked, scoop the oatmeal into a bowl. Pour the syrup over the oatmeal and garnish with the chopped pecans and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve immediately.


Very Berry Parfait

Very Berry Parfait

Keep a tub of plain, Greek yogurt in your refrigerator, and you’ll have a handy ingredient in stock for snacks, quick breakfasts and emergency hunger pangs. Greek yogurt is a little thicker than traditional yogurt and is loaded with protein — up to 17 grams in a 1 cup serving. Combine it with some other nutritional powerhouses, such as grains and fruit, for a well-balanced, budget-friendly healthy meal.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ cup plain granola
  • ¼ cup fresh blueberries
  • ¼ cup fresh raspberries
  • ¼ cup fresh strawberries, sliced

 

Directions:

Grab a clear cup and have some fun with this one. Mix the honey with the Greek yogurt in a bowl. Place a dollop of the Greek yogurt in the bottom of the cup. Layer a line of blueberries, then a line of granola, followed by another dollop of Greek yogurt. With each new layer, switch between the types of berries to create a colorful, healthy breakfast. When the cup is filled, you’re ready to dig in!


Healthy Snack Recipes

We all get hunger pangs in the middle of the day, and it can be tempting to reach for a bag of potato chips or sneak a candy bar from the office vending machine. Prepare for those mid-afternoon snack attacks with a healthy serving of budget friendly snacks that will help quiet your growling tummy without making you feel guilty about it later.


Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Not only is a handful of this snack easy to make, it’s good for you, too. A 1-ounce serving has 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein and only 46 calories. Roast some at the start of the week, and you’ll have a yummy, filling snack to get you through those busy work days.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the chickpeas in the olive oil and spread them across a baking sheet. Mix the dry, powdered spices into a bowl until well blended. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chickpeas and toss until they are well coated. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to get an even, crunchy coating. Let the chickpeas cool completely when you’re done baking before storing in an airtight container.


Homemade Trail Mix

Making your own trail mix is a great way to keep the cost of the sometimes-expensive snack on the low side. Also, be sure to watch your portions.  You should only eat ¼ cup of this snack at a time thanks to its high fat content from the nuts and added sweetness from the dried fruit. One serving, however, can provide you with enough energy to get through the day. Pair it with a piece of low-fat string cheese for a balanced, filling snack.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted almonds
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, no or less sugar added
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted shelled pumpkin seeds

 

Directions:

Toss all of the ingredients together and store in an air-tight container for up to a week. Eat just a ¼ cup at a time to watch your calorie intake.


Let Us Help You Live a Healthy, Budget-Friendly Life

At VF Outlet, we understand the value of your dollar and that you want to get the best deals out there. We hope our budget-friendly family meals help inspire you to lead a healthy lifestyle while sticking to your budget goals. To get more articles like this in your inbox, click here to enter your email address into our blog subscription box, located on the right of the page.

Eating healthy is a goal that pops up in New Year’s resolutions, during the approach of swimsuit season, and right after we’ve regretfully scarfed down many large chocolate chip cookie. There are many excuses you might be holding on to when it comes to starting your new, healthy lifestyle, and we’re here to debunk them. Whether you think time, money or a lack of ideas is keeping you from finding healthy family meals on a budget, we’ve got some suggestions (and tasty recipes) that will help you kick off your new habit.