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Eating healthy whilst on a budget is easy when you have the right recipes! Healthy eating is vital for your health, both physically and mentally. There are now plenty of studies to suggest that your diet is important for good mental health. With our affordable diet plan, you will no longer have to stress about costs either!
You can enjoy the sense of accomplishment you get from sticking to a healthy meal planner. It will leave you clearer-minded, and offer you more energy to get on with your day.
Healthy eating has become stigmatized over the past few decades and many people brush it off because they think it is too expensive. We are here to show you how a clean meal plan is possible on a budget.
There has been a rise in frozen food and ready meals that are quick, easy, and cheap to make and have pushed healthy eating aside for many people.
But these foods are full of sugar, fat, and calories. These ingredients can be damaging to both your health and your waistline. Healthy eating is not as detrimental to your wallet as you may think – you just have to know where to look.
Today, we’re going to show you how eating healthily on a budget is easier than you think.
How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Healthy meal plans on a budget are not as difficult as you might think – you can cook a range of deliciously rich and fresh foods with superb nutrition without spending much time in the kitchen too!
Before you rush out to the store or skip ahead to our tips on how to shop, first you need to consider what it means to eat healthily.
A healthy diet is not all about fruit, vegetables, and grilled chicken. You don’t have to cut out all carbs or fat out of your life, and you can eat too much of one particular good thing.
The five major food groups
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits are most commonly associated with healthy eating because they are filling and sweet so ideal for replacing your typical sweet-tooth cravings. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat five servings of fruit and veg a day.
There is such a thing as too much fruit in your diet. It is not necessarily harmful to your body, but fruits do tend to house a lot of natural sugar and carbohydrates. If you’re aiming to lose weight in this process, too much fruit could be counterproductive.
Vegetables are much better and are an essential step to eating healthy, they don’t hold anywhere near as much sugar or carbohydrates. However, they do fill you up nicely and offer you lots of great health benefits.
This food group is where you’ll get the majority of your vitamins and minerals, so make sure you’re implementing it into your diet.
Protein helps our bodies to repair and restore themselves with the help of amino acids. Protein should make up around an eighth of our diet, and more if you regularly work out. We need to make sure that we’re getting enough yet not having too much.
The healthier sources of protein are lean meats and fish. Limit purchasing processed meats where you can, such as deli meats, hot dogs, and bacon. If you’re vegetarian you can also get protein from eggs, pulses, tofu, seeds and nuts, and beans.
Carbohydrates are where your body gets the majority of its energy from, so you must be getting enough. This food group should make up around a third of your diet, but carbs have achieved a bad reputation from many dieticians.
However, there are some better carbohydrates than others. For example, starchy carbs are generally considered unhealthier than other carbohydrate sources. Oats, sweet potatoes, and quinoa are healthy carbohydrates.
When you are looking for your rice, pasta, and breakfast cereals try to opt for whole-grain alternatives. These offer better nutrients and reduce the likelihood of diseases such as diabetes type 2 and heart disease.
Dairy is another source of protein as well as other vitamins and minerals. Calcium is the most prominent which is best known for its role in keeping your bones and teeth strong.
However, dairy can contain high levels of fat so it’s advised that you look for low-fat alternatives that don’t contain too many added sugars or flavorings.
We know that you’re screaming at your screen right now, but fat has once again been unfairly villainized by dieticians and cookbooks. Of course, not all fats are good for you and you should be cautious of how much you consume.
78% of fat is the maximum amount you should be eating in a day, and only 22% of that should be saturated fat. Saturated fat is found in animal skin, beef, pork, butter, and cheese. Unsaturated fat is considered healthier and comes from nuts, seeds, fish, and vegetable oils.
Tricks & Tips for Shopping Healthily on a Budget
Now that you have a rough idea of what you’re looking for, you can head to the store to purchase some supplies.
We have a few tips and tricks to share with you to ensure that you’re not spending more than you need to on healthy foods.
Take a shopping list
We’ll get into this a little later, but planning is incredibly important if you want to succeed at living a healthier lifestyle on a budget. A shopping list will help you to stay on track rather than picking and choosing whatever takes your fancy on the shelves.
Stock up on staples
Staple ingredients can be used in many different recipes and often come in bulk. Olive oil, for example, finds its way into almost every healthy dish. While the initial price might be a little higher, you won’t need to purchase the staples again for a while.
Never go hungry
Grocery shopping while hungry is the worst idea when you’re trying to eat healthily. The stores are smart and they display the junk food proudly so that you’re always tempted the entire way around the shop. Alternatively, healthy foods are hidden away.
You’re 31% more likely to leave with high-calorie snacks if you shop hungry, both wreaking havoc on your healthy eating and budget shopping.
Compare fresh to frozen
Frozen fruit and vegetables are often cheaper in the long run than buying the produce fresh. Frozen alternatives have a longer shelf life which makes them a good shout!
When fresh produce is stored in the stores, it can sit out for days before you end up taking it home. There has been some evidence that indicates that fresh produce might lose more vitamins and phytonutrients by sitting out.
That’s why it’s important to source your fresh fruit and veg from good quality suppliers!
Skip perusing every aisle
If there is an aisle that is going to tempt you, don’t walk down it! Chocolate, chips, and sweets are often grouped in one or two aisles of the store, so it’s best to avoid these if you’re not feeling particularly strong-willed.
Why Planning your Meals can Save You Money
As promised, now we’re going to explore the importance of planning. There are plenty of reasons why you should figure out a meal plan at the start of the week, so get a pad and paper and take the time to do it. Your budget and diet will thank you.
1. Keeps you on track for eating healthy
Meal planning helps you to stay accountable for your eating and leaves you with less guilt when you mess up. We’ve all caved and reached for that candy bar when we’re trying to eat healthily, but meal planning helps to give you a clear image of what your day looks like when it comes to eating.
Meal planning can also ensure that you eat the right amount and that you’re getting the correct servings of the five major food groups. You won’t have to throw a meal together and hope that you have enough protein because you’ll have planned out your meals for the entire week.
2. Saves you time
Planning always saves you time, and you won’t be having to think about what you’re going to make dinner for later that day. You won’t have to spend all of your lunch break trying to find food, which is probably going to be unhealthy and unsatisfying.
Meal planning also allows you to make a grocery list for the trips to the store. A grocery list will help you to reduce the amount of time you spend in the store.
Creating a list will also help you to prevent multiple trips to the grocery store a week as you can plan to get everything you need for a week in one go.
3. Prevents you from going over budget
Planning ensures that you keep to a budget by only purchasing what’s on your grocery list. You’re less likely to stray from your list, and it’s up to you how strict you want to be with your budget.
Some grocery stores allow you to see their current prices online so that you can get an idea of how much you can expect to spend.
One-Week Healthy Meal Plan Example on a Budget
Still, confused about how you can plan what you’re going to cook for the entire week? Meal planning can take a while to get used to, but once you do it will make your healthy eating and budgeting target much easier.
Let’s take a look at an example of a healthy meal plan, as well as an affordable shopping list that you’d need to write up as well.
The Healthy Meal Plan
|Monday||Whole-grain cereal with raspberries and skim milk||Black bean soup with whole wheat nachos||Seared salmon, green beans, and sweet potato||One cup of blueberries and one orange|
|Tuesday||Low-fat Greek yogurt with blueberries, almonds, and honey.||Spinach and strawberry salad||Curried sweet potato and peanut soup||One cup of raspberries and one orange|
|Wednesday||Whole-grain cereal with blueberries and skimmed milk||Spicy tomato soup with whole wheat nachos||Grilled chicken salad with low-fat dressing||One apple and one orange|
|Thursday||Low-fat Greek yogurt with blueberries, almonds, and honey.||Black bean soup with whole wheat nachos||Tuna salad with whole wheat pasta and cherry tomatoes||One banana and one cup of raspberries|
|Friday||Whole-grain cereal with blueberries and skimmed milk||Spinach and strawberry salad||Shrimp and pesto quinoa, with avocado and cherry tomatoes||One apple and one orange|
|Saturday||Low-fat Greek yogurt with blueberries, almonds, and honey.||Spicy tomato soup with whole wheat nachos||Grilled chicken and quinoa with a side salad||One cup carrots and two tablespoons hummus|
|Sunday||Whole-grain cereal with blueberries and skimmed milk||Spinach and strawberry salad||Curried sweet potato and peanut soup||One cup carrots and two tablespoons hummus|
- Whole-grain cereal
- Skimmed milk
- Low-fat Greek yogurt
- Almonds and peanuts
- Black bean soup
- Spicy tomato soup
- Whole wheat nachos
- Sweet potatoes
- Chicken breasts
- Cherry tomatoes
- Canned tuna
- Whole wheat pasta
- Green beans
- Low-fat hummus
You might not need to plan to purchase all of these items as you already have them in your cupboards.
While this might seem like a long shopping list, bear in mind that it is for a week and you can often find great deals on a lot of these food items.
A List of Healthy Budget Meals
Starting on a healthy eating journey can be difficult when you don’t know where to start, which is why we’ve found 30 of the best cheap and healthy recipes to get you started.
We’ve mixed in some breakfast and snack recipes as well as more substantial meal ideas so that you can plan everything that you’re eating for the entire week.
Healthy Breakfast Meal Prep Recipe Ideas
Asian Eggs – Serves 4, 30 minutes
- 2.2 cups long-grain rice, cooked
- ½ cup unsalted peanuts
- 0.4 cup sunflower oil
- 8 eggs
- Handful of coriander
- Handful of basil
- Bean sprouts
- Chilli paste
Roast the peanuts in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Chop up once cool enough. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat before cracking the eggs into the center. Cook for one minute or until the egg white begins to turn golden. The yolk should still be runny.
Remove from the oil and repeat with the remaining eggs. Spoon the rice into bowls and top with eggs, chopped peanuts, herbs, and chili sauce. Serve with bean sprouts and lime wedges to taste.
Healthy Porridge Bowl – Serves 2, 15 minutes
- 1 ½ cups porridge oats
- ½ banana, sliced
- 0.7 cup frozen raspberries
- 0.4 cup milk
- 1 orange, ½ juiced ½ sliced
- 2tbsp almond butter
- 1tbsp goji berries
- 1tbsp chia seeds
Add half the raspberries and the orange juice into a pan and simmer for around 5 minutes or until the raspberries soften. Stir the oats, milk, and 2 cups water in a pan over low heat until the porridge starts to form.
Serve in a bowl and top with the raspberry compote, orange slices, banana, almond butter, goji berries, raspberries, and chia seeds.
Breakfast Burrito – Serves 1, 15 minutes
- Wholemeal tortilla wrap
- 1tsp chipotle paste
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp rapeseed oil
- ¾ cup kale
- 7 cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ small avocado, sliced
Whisk the egg with the chipotle paste and some seasoning. Heat the rapeseed oil in a pan and add the kale and tomatoes. Cook until the kale is wilted, then push the veg to the side of the pan.
Pour the egg into the empty space of the pan and scramble. Heat your wrap briefly before layering the egg, kale and tomatoes, and avocado onto the wrap. Fold like a burrito and serve immediately.
Overnight Oats – Serves 1, 10 minutes
- 0.7 cup rolled oats
- 1tbsp natural yogurt
- 0.4 cup berries
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- Drizzle of honey
- ½ tbsp nut butter
Mix the cinnamon with 0.4 cup water or milk and introduce the oats with a pinch of salt. Leave them overnight.
The following day, loosen with some more water if needed. Top with berries, nut butter, and honey.
Healthy Lunch Meal Prep Recipe Ideas
Chicken Hummus Bowl – Serves 1, 10 minutes
- ½ cup low-fat hummus
- Juice of ½ small lemon
- ¾ cup quinoa
- 0.4 cup spinach, chopped
- ½ small avocado, sliced
- ½ cooked chicken breast, cooked and sliced
- ¼ red onion, chopped
- 0.3 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
- 1 tbsp almonds (optional)
Mix one tbsp of hummus with half of the lemon juice and enough water to make a dressing. Add the quinoa to a bowl and toss the dressing through. Add the chopped spinach on top. Drizzle the rest of the lemon juice over the avocado and add to the bowl. Add all of the other ingredients and enjoy.
Note: Making your own hummus can make this recipe even healthier! It only takes 10 minutes, just make sure to use good ingredients and a good quality blender. Check out this Best Blender For Hummus review, which gives you all the information you need!
Orzo and Tomato Soup – Serves 4, 30 minutes
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1.1 cup orzo pasta
- 2 celery sticks, trimmed and chopped
- 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
- 300 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 ⅕ cups chopped tomatoes
- 2 ⅕ cups chickpeas
- 2 tbsp basil pesto
- Crusty bread (optional)
Heat half the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and celery, frying for 10-12 minutes until it starts to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another minute before stirring in the rest of the ingredients except for the remaining oil and the pesto. Bring to the boil.
Lower the heat and allow the soup to simmer for 6-8 minutes. The orzo should be tender at this point. Serve into 4 bowls and season to taste. Mix the oil and pesto to drizzle on top of the soup. Serve immediately with crusty bread.
Goat’s Cheese, Tomato, and Olive Triangles – Serves 2, 5 minutes
- 4 triangular bread thins
- ¼ cup soft goat cheese
- 4 slices of cucumber
- 4 tomatoes, sliced
- 4 olives, chopped
- A handful of rocket leaves
Spread the goat cheese on the bread thins, layering the cucumber slices and tomatoes on top. Sprinkle the olives and garnish with rocket leaves. Enjoy!
Prawn Salad – Serves 1, 25 minutes
- 0.7 cups cooked prawns
- 1 egg
- 1 baby gem lettuce, shredded
- 1 ¼ cup sweetcorn
- 1 carrot, grated
- ½ cucumber, diced and deseeded
- 2 tbsp low-fat mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
- Lemon wedge (optional)
Boil the egg in a pan of boiling water for 8 minutes, drain, and run under some cold water. Remove the shell and slice. Lay the lettuce in a bowl, topping with the sweetcorn, carrot, cucumber, and egg in layers. Add the prawns to the top of the salad.
Mix the ketchup and mayonnaise and pour over the prawn salad. Serve with a lemon wedge to squeeze on top.
Fresh Salmon with Thai Noodle Salad – Serves 2, 20 minutes
- 2 skinless salmon fillets
- 0.8 cup french beans, trimmed
- 0.3 cup mangetout, shredded
- ½ cup frozen peas
- ½ cup rice noodles
- 1 large orange, ½ zested and juiced, ½ peeled and chopped
- 2 tsp red curry paste
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 3 spring onions, finely chopped
- A handful of basil, chopped
Steam the salmon fillets in a steamer with some orange zest sprinkled on top for 5 minutes or until cooked. Add beans to a pan of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Add peas and mangetout to the pan and cook for a further 1 minute.
Drain the vegetables but keep the boiling water in the pan. Introduce the noodles and cook for another 5 minutes. Mix the curry paste and fish sauce in a bowl with the orange juice and some more of the zest. Add in the spring onions as well.
Drain the noodles and move them from the pan into the bowl, toss well until everything is combined. Now put the chopped orange, basil, and cooked veg into the same bowl. Cover with the juices from the steamer, toss again, and serve with the salmon on top.
Burrito Bowl – Serves 2, 30 minutes
- 1 cup rice
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 ⅕ black beans, drained and rinsed
- 0.6 cup curly kale, chopped
- 1 avocado, halved and sliced
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1tsp honey
- 1tbsp chipotle paste
- Chipotle hot sauce (optional)
- Lime wedges (optional)
- Coriander leaves (optional)
Cook the rice following the instructions on the packet, drain and return to the pan to keep warm. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the garlic for 2 minutes. Add the beans, honey, chipotle paste, and vinegar. Warm through for 2 minutes.
Boil the curly kale for 1 minute and drain. Add rice to two bowls, topping with the beans mixture, kale, tomato, onion, and avocado. You can serve with hot sauce for added spice or lime wedges for a tang.
Vegan Fajita Bowl – Serves 2, 30 minutes
- 1 large red pepper, sliced and seeded
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 tbsp chipotle paste
- 1 ¼ cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 small cauliflower, chopped
- ½ small avocado stoned and halved
- ½ tsp of each: cumin seeds, garlic salt, smoked paprika, dried oregano, chili flakes
- Olive oil
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and peppers for 10 minutes until soft. Introduce the chipotle paste, a small amount of water, and tomatoes. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. The sauce should become thicker this time.
Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until it looks like rice. Toast the cumin seeds in a frying pan with a little oil and add the garlic salt, oregano, paprika, and chili flakes. Fry together for one minute and then add the cauliflower rice.
Continuously stir for 4 to 6 minutes until the rice is cooked and tender. Plate up into bowls and add the peppers and onion on top, along with the avocado. You can serve with lime wedges.
Tuna Lettuce Lunch Wraps – Serves 2, 17 minutes
- 8 romaine lettuce leaves
- 2 fresh tuna fillets
- 1 ripe avocado
- 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp capers
- 2 drops rapeseed oil
Bruch the tuna with the rapeseed oil and cook the fillets for one minute on each side. For a thicker fillet cook for a little longer. Move to a plate to rest while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Halve and pit the avocado and place the flesh into a bowl. Add the vinegar and mustard powder, then mash together until you have a smooth avocado paste. Stir the capers in and spoon into two small sauce dishes.
Spoon some of the sauce onto the lettuce leaf. Slice the tuna – don’t worry about the pink coloring, it’s supposed to look like that – and place it on top of the avocado paste. Add as many cherry tomatoes as you want. Roll the leaf up around the tuna and eat like a wrap.
Black Bean Soup – Serves 4, 25 minutes
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 ⅖ cups black beans, rinsed
- 3 cups water
- ⅕ cup salsa
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 4 tbsp low-fat sour cream (optional)
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion. After about 2 minutes add the chili powder and cumin, stirring and cooking for another minute. Now introduce the beans, salsa, salt, and water. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add lime juice.
Remove half of the soup from the pan and transfer it to a bender. Puree until smooth and add back into the original pan. Make sure it’s heated thoroughly and serve immediately with sour cream and cilantro.
Pepper, Tomato, and Ham Omelette – Serves 2, 25 minutes
- 2 whole eggs
- 3 egg whites
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 red pepper, finely chopped
- 2 spring onions, white and green kept separate, chopped
- 3 slices thin ham, shredded
- 1 ½ tbsp low-fat cheese
- Wholemeal toast (optional)
- 1 fresh tomato, chopped (optional)
Whisk the eggs and egg whites together. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the pepper for 3 minutes. Add the white sections of spring onion and cook for another 1 minute. Pour the eggs over and cook until the egg is completely set.
Sprinkle the ham and cheese over the top. You can cook the top under a grill if you prefer your omelet more well done. Serve from the pan with the green parts of the spring onion sprinkled over. You can also serve with toast and tomatoes.
Note: To make the perfect omelette it’s crucial to use the right pans. If you need some help on which pans work the best, these Best Nonstick Pan for Eggs will point you in the right direction.
Healthy Dinner Meal Prep Recipe Ideas
Sweet Potato and Chicken Curry – Serves 4, 30 minutes
- 2 ¾ cups sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 4 chicken thigh fillets, skinned and chopped
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 2tbsp curry paste
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- ¾ cup spinach
Boil the sweet potatoes for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Drain and leave aside. Heat oil in a frying pan and add the chicken and onion. Fry for 5-6 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Stir the curry paste in and cook for one minute, before adding the tomatoes. Cook for another minute.
Add in 0.4 cups of boiling water and mix. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes before adding the spinach and waiting another 2 minutes. Slowly fold in the cooked potatoes and cook until they’re heated through again. Serve with rice.
Creamy Tomato Risotto – Serves 2, 40 minutesIngredients:
- 1 ¼ cup chopped tomatoes
- 2 ⅕ cups vegetable stock
- Knob of butter
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 0.7 cup risotto rice
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- A handful of basil, washed and torn
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Pulse the chopped tomatoes and half the vegetable stock together in a food processor until smooth. Add to a saucepan with the remaining stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Place the butter and oil into a saucepan and heat until the butter is all melted.
Add the onion and cook until soft. Stir in the rosemary and garlic and cook for one more minute. Now introduce the rice and cook for another minute while stirring constantly so the rice doesn’t burn.
Slowly add the tomato and stock into the saucepan, being careful not to add too much too quickly. You want to add ¼ at a time. Halfway through add the cherry tomatoes. This process should take around 25 minutes. By the end of this time, the rice should be fluffy and creamy.
Cover and cook for a further minute before stirring in the basil. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and some crushed black pepper.
Egg and Rocket Pizza – Serves 2, 30 minutes
- 2 wholewheat wraps
- 1 roasted red pepper
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup rocket
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp chopped dill
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- Olive oil, for brushing
Preheat the oven to 200C. Lay the tortillas on a baking tray and brush lightly with olive oil. Bake for 3 minutes. Cut the pepper and tomatoes into small chunks and mix with tomato puree and herbs. Turn the tortillas over and spread the tomato sauce over both, making sure that no large pieces of tomato or pepper are in the middle.
Break an egg onto the middle of the tortilla and bake in the oven again for 10 minutes. Top with a big handful of rocket and slices of onion.
Herby Halloumi Rice – Serves 4, 50 minutes
- 1 ½ cup brown rice
- 1 ¼ cup halloumi, cut into chunks
- 2 red onions, cut into chunky wedges
- 3 peppers, sliced
- 3 courgettes, cut into batons
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- Handful of parsley
- ¾ cup cashew nuts
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 ⅕ cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Preheat the oven to 200C. In a large roasting tin, place the peppers, red onions, and courgettes and toss with 2 tbsp olive oil. Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes – the veg should be tender.
Cook the rice following the instructions on the back. Blitz the cashews, parsley, leftover oil, and garlic in a food processor to make a pesto. Add the chickpeas and halloumi into the roasting tin and cook for another 10 minutes.
Fold some pesto through the rice and spoon it into bowls. Serve the roasted vegetables over the rice with the leftover pesto for drizzling.
Grilled Basil Chicken – Serves 4, 25 minutes
- 0.8 cup balsamic vinegar
- ⅕ cup basil leaves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 plum tomatoes
- 4 skinless chicken breast halves
Add the vinegar, basil, olive oil, garlic, and salt to a blender. Cut 4 of the tomatoes into quarters and also put them in the blender before pulsing until smooth. Halve the rest of the tomatoes.
Place the chicken in a bowl and pour over ⅔ of the marinade. Refrigerate for an hour, turning now and then. After an hour drain the chicken and discard the marinade. Grill the chicken until it reaches 165 degrees. This should take about 6 minutes on each side.
Grill the tomatoes until browned and serve the chicken with the tomatoes and the leftover marinade.
Smoky Chickpea Soup – Serves 4, 40 minutes
- 2 ⅕ cups chopped tomatoes
- 2 ⅕ cups chickpeas, drained
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- ½ red pepper, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 chili and tomato stockpot
- 4 tbsp yogurt
- Small bunch of mint leaves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Heat the oil into a saucepan and fry the onion, pepper, and carrot for five minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and fry for another 30 seconds. Introduce the tomatoes and fill the can with water, adding this to the pan as well. Mix in the stockpot and 2 ⅕ cups more water.
Allow simmering for 10 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve immediately with some yogurt on top and a sprig of mint.
Mixed Bean Chilli with Wedges – Serves 4, 50 minutes
- 4 medium baking potatoes, cut into 8 wedges each
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 4 ⅖ cups of mixed pulses, rinsed and drained
- 2 ⅕ cups chopped tomatoes
- 0.7 cup vegetable stock
- 4tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp cajun spice mix
- 4 tbsp low-fat sour cream
- 1 tbsp dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 220C. Toss the wedges with tsp oil and spread evenly onto a baking tray. Cook for 30 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, put the rest of the oil into a casserole dish and fry the pepper and onion for 5 minutes. Introduce the cajun spice, tomatoes, pulses, and stock.
Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted. Serve in bowls with a tbsp sour cream on top alongside the wedges.
Sumac Chicken and Green Bean Salad – Serves 2, 20 minutes
- 2 skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp sumac
- 1 ¼ cup green beans, trimmed
- ½ red onion, sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ small bunch dill, chopped
- 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
- Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 22C. Rub the chicken with olive oil and season accordingly. Mix the sumac with cumin and rub it over the chicken evenly. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
Make the dressing by whisking together lemon, dill, and pomegranate molasses with 1 tsp of oil. Blanch the green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes, add the red onion for 5 seconds before cooling all in iced water. Pat dry with paper towels.
Toss the blanched vegetables with the dressing and introduce the carrots. Serve between two plates. Slice the chicken breast and lay on top. Cover with the rest of the dressing and enjoy.
Chickpea and Coriander Burgers – Serves 4, 25 minutes
- 2 ⅕ cups chickpeas, drained
- 1 lemon zest, plus ½ the juice
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- A small handful of coriander
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 medium red onion, ½ sliced and ½ diced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 wholemeal buns
- 1 large tomato, sliced
- ½ cucumber, sliced
- Chilli sauce, to serve
Place the chickpeas, lemon zest, juice, cumin, egg, and half the coriander into a food processor. Blend until combined before transferring to a bowl. Mix with breadcrumbs and diced onions.
Get your hands dirty and form 4 burgers. Press the rest of the breadcrumbs onto both sides of the burgers and leave to chill for 10 minutes. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the burgers for 4 minutes on each side.
Slice the buns and put a slice of tomato on the bottom layer. Stack with a burger, slices of red onion, cucumber, and as much chili sauce as you desire.
Quick Chicken Roast – Serves 4, 1 hour 10 minutes
- 8 chicken thighs
- 4 ½ cups baby potatoes, halved
- ½ cup bacon, chopped
- 1 ½ cup cherry tomatoes
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 4 anchovies in oil, drained and chopped
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- One lemon, zested
Preheat the oven to 200C. Combine the anchovies, chili, garlic, oil, thyme, oregano, and lemon zest in a medium-sized bowl. Introduce the chicken, one thigh at a time, and toss to coat.
Do the same with the potatoes until they’re all coated as well. Place the chicken and potatoes onto a large baking tray and sprinkle the bacon over.
Cut the lemon into wedges and add them to the baking tray. Roast for 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the tomatoes over the chicken and potatoes before returning to the oven for another 15 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice over everything and serve.
Avocado Fusilli Pasta – Serves 4, 25 minutes
- 2 ⅓ cups wholewheat fusilli pasta
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- ⅞ cup baby spinach
- 2 small avocados, halved and stoned
- ⅕ cup roasted cashews, chopped
- A handful of coriander, chopped
- Olive oil for drizzling
- 2 limes
- ⅓ cup feta cheese (optional)
Boil the fusilli pasta according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, blend the spinach and garlic with the avocados. Add a small amount of oil and seasoning. Pulse a few times, add some of the pasta water, and pulse again until smooth.
Introduce the cashews, coriander, and almonds to a bowl and squeeze the juice of one lime over it. Drizzle with oil and season.
Cut the other lime into wedges. Drain the pasta aside from a cup of cooking water and pour the avocado sauce over it. Mix it all and season to taste. Serve in bowls and drizzle some of the nut and lime dressing over the dish.
Serve with feta and lime wedges to squeeze over.
Healthy Snack Ideas
Strawberry Green Smoothie – Serves 2, 5 minutes
- ¾ cup strawberries
- 5 ⅓ cups baby spinach
- 1 small avocado, halved and scooped
- ⅔ cup bio yogurt
- 2 small oranges, juiced
- ½ tsp orange zest
Add all of the ingredients straight into a blender and blitz until smooth. If it’s too thick add a drop of water and blitz again. Serve in glasses and drink right away.
Frozen Fruit Sticks – Serves 8, 20 minutes + freezing
- ⅓ cup strawberries, halved
- 8 seedless grapes
- ¾ cup mango chunks
- ¾ cup melon chunks
- 2 kiwi, peeled and cut into chunks
- ¾ cup pineapple chunks
- 2 limes, juiced
- 4 passion fruits, halved and seeded
- 1tsp icing sugar
Mix the lime juice, passion fruit seeds, and icing sugar until the sugar dissolves. You can either sieve the seeds out or leave them in. this is the drizzle.
Place pieces of fruit on wooden skewers in a pattern and drizzle the mixture over the top. Leave to freeze for 45 minutes and serve.
Nutty Chicken Satay Strips – Serves 2, 10 minutes
- 2 chicken breast fillets without skin, cut into strips
- 2 tbsp natural chunky peanut butter
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 tsp madras curry powder
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 10cm cucumber, sliced into fingers
- Sweet chili sauce
Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with nonstick cooking spray. Mix the peanut butter with garlic, curry powder, and lime juice. Mix to form a coating. If the peanut butter is too thick, add a splash of boiling water to get the right consistency.
Coat the chicken strips and place them on the baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with cucumber fingers and sweet chili sauce.
Watermelon Salsa – Serves 4 to 6, 10 minutes
- 1 ¼ cup watermelon chunks
- 2 small shallots
- ½ lime juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Handful of coriander
- Wholewheat nachos
Chop the watermelon into tiny pieces, similar to how small pieces of tomato would be in normal salsa. Chop the shallots and coriander as small as you’d like as well. Mix the lime juice with olive oil.
Fold the oily mixture into a bowl with the watermelon, shallots, and coriander. Season to taste and serve with nachos. Option to add more toppings as you’d like.
Harissa Sweet Potato Wedges – Serves 4, 50 minutes
- 5 ½ cups sweet potatoes, washed and chopped into wedges
- 1 tbsp harissa paste
- Sour cream (optional)
- A handful of chives (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200C. Toss the sweet potato wedges with the harissa paste in a bowl. Bake in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the wedges are soft in the center and crispy around the sides.
Mix the sour cream and chives to whip up a quick dipping sauce. Serve and enjoy.
How Planning Your Meals Ahead Can Save You Money & Time
As you might have seen from the 30 recipes above, there can be a lot of overlap when it comes to the ingredients lists.
For example, avocados, olive oil, and chicken breast were common in a lot of the recipes that we looked at.
Planning and knowing what meals you’re going to have for an entire week can prevent you from buying too much at the grocery store.
Without planning, you might pick up 4 types of meats and 10 bags of fruit and vegetables.
However, with planning, you might see that you only need to purchase 2 types of meats and 5 bags of fruits and vegetables.
Without planning the food might have gone bad before you had the chance to eat it, while proper planning assures you that no food will be wasted.
Crockpots can also be a great way to save prep time. If you are looking to add some slow cooker recipes to your meal plan, these 75 Dirt-Cheap Crockpot Recipes will give you plenty of ideas.
How to Eat Healthy on a Budget – FAQ
What is the cheapest most nutritious food?
There are a bunch of nutritious foods that are budget-friendly. Some of my favorites include brown rice, oats, beans, potatoes, and whole-grain pasta which are all less than $1 per serving.
Is it cheaper to cook or eat out?
Eating in, without a doubt! It’s easy to cook up a nutritious meal for under $2 at home, which is unheard of in restaurants. If you need a couple of ideas check out these 54 Healthy Meal Prep Ideas (All less than $3 per serving!).
How can I eat clean on a budget and lose weight?
The best way is to avoid as many processed foods, refined sugars, and saturated fats as possible. Stick to a healthy meal planner that includes lots of whole grains, vegetables, and lean protein.
Conclusion: Let’s make some healthy food!
We hope that you’ve enjoyed our full guide on how to eat healthily on a budget, and you’ve learned some things about your new lifestyle. While healthy and cheap meals are achievable, you do need to put some work into it and be prepared for the major change between ready meals and fresh produce.
Having said that, your body and mental wellbeing will undoubtedly thank you for your hard work in the long run. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and find your new healthy and cheap obsession!
For more healthy, budget-friendly meal prep ideas take a look at these 54 healthy meal prep recipes.