Cheap Healthy Recipes: 5 Meals Under $5

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$5 Meals

Preparing tasty, healthy meals on a budget can be tricky when, for many, the thought of “budget eating” brings to mind ramen noodles and hot dogs. With these five simple meal ideas, you’ll be able to whip up a week’s worth of delicious dinners with ingredients costing less than $5 a night.

Black Bean Hotdish

This simple Mexican-style hot dish is packed with protein and fiber and is sure to satisfy even a seemingly bottomless stomach. This low-fat meal also provides most of the B vitamins and vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K.

You will need:

2 cups of cooked brown rice

1 clove fresh garlic

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1 can of black or kidney beans, drained

3/4 lb. shredded chicken breast (sautéed or roasted)

1 cup of salsa (homemade or your favorite brand)

1/2 cup chopped spinach

3/4 cup of shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese

Cook rice thoroughly and season with garlic, chili powder and cumin. Place all other ingredients in a large serving bowl, and toss thoroughly. This dish is delicious served hot or cold.

Broccoli Stir Fry

This simple stir-fry is quick and easy to prepare and is loaded with vitamin K, a nutrient deficient in many diets. This meal is also a great source of lean protein, fiber and vitamin C.

1 lb chicken breast, sliced into 1/2" strips

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 cups broccoli, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp freshly minced ginger (or 1 tsp powder)

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 cups of cooked brown rice

Sauté chicken strips in a large frying pan until cooked through completely. Add chopped vegetables, garlic, ginger and soy sauce and fry for about 4 minutes, stirring often. Serve over rice.

Tomato Basil Pasta

With whole wheat pasta and fresh tasting sauce, this is another meal that’s quick to get to the table. This dish is full of fiber, protein, vitamin A and vitamin C.

You’ll need:

2 cups of whole wheat rotini, cooked and drained.

1 lb lean ground beef

1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes

2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Brown the beef until it’s cooked through completely. Drain any excess grease, and put it back on the stove, adding the drained tomatoes and basil. Let simmer for at least 15 minutes. Pour the sauce over the pasta in a large serving bowl and blend thoroughly.

Quick Quesadillas

These crowd-pleasing quesadillas are flexible enough to make with things you have on hand. This dish provides fiber and protein, and other nutrients depending on vegetables used.

You will need:

8 corn tortillas

2 cups of chopped vegetables - peppers, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes and onions are all delicious options (Spinach and tomatoes are loaded with B vitamins and vitamin C, and are the most nutritious of these.)

3/4 lb of lean ground beef -or- 8 oz boneless chicken breast, shredded

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 clove of garlic, minced

Salt to taste

3/4 cup of grated cheese

Brown meat, adding cumin, chili powder, garlic and salt. Meanwhile, saute vegetables until tender and mix with meat. Place 4 tortillas on an oiled baking sheet and sprinkle a small amount of cheese on each. Spread meat and veggie filling on each and top with another layer of cheese. Cover each with a second corn tortilla and brush with oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, flipping the quesadillas halfway through cooking time. Cut in thirds with a kitchen shears and serve with salsa or light sour cream.

Black Bean Burgers

Black bean burgers are a vegetarian alternative to traditional beef patties, packed with fiber and low in fat. The onions in these burgers also make them a moderate source of vitamin C.

You’ll need:

2 cans of black beans

1/2 of a medium onion, chopped finely

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tbsp salt

1 egg

1/4 cup sifted flour

Cook the beans until they’re soft enough to crush one between your fingers and drain. In a large bowl, mash them with a fork or potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend thoroughly. Form into patties about 1/2" thick. These burgers are great on the grill or cooked on the stove with olive oil. Serve on whole wheat buns with your choice of condiments.


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