I’m not a health freak nor am I a glutten for junk food. I like to strike a healthy balance of both food worlds. As such, my food choices drastically change my budget throughout the year. Why is it that junk food is so cheap and healthy food is absurdly expensive?
Healthy, budget-friendly recipes can weave into your weekly routine as long as you can meal prep and budget for it. And I’m not talking about spending money solely on organic products, either. It amazes me that 20% of millennials buy organic “all the time,” according to a survey from Earth Bound Farm.
Or maybe it doesn’t amaze me. I mean, we do have Whole Foods. I have shopped at Trader Joe’s. But I create healthy budget-friendly recipes just by shopping at good ole fashioned Costco and my local Kroger store. You, too, could cut your grocery bill by picking up these hacks.
I put together some recipes below that I personally use with estimated costs* involved. Whether you have new diet goals or you want to watch your wallet (or both!) there’s something on this list for everyone.
Healthy Budget-Friendly Dinner Recipes
Chicken Pot Pie Stew
Cost – $12, makes 6-8 servings
Plain chicken breasts get transformed into a creamy and thick stew that’s reminiscent of Marie Calendar’s chicken pot pies. Only way healthier. I love this chicken pot pie recipe from Real Food with Jessica. Sub out milk with a can of full-fat coconut milk for a Whole30 spin.
Egg Roll in a Bowl
Cost – $13, makes 6 servings
Who doesn’t love a good egg roll? Egg Roll in a Bowl by 40 Aprons is basically all of the innards of an egg roll sauteed in a pot. This recipe is Whole30, low carb, keto, and paleo-friendly. You can use ground pork if you can find it, but a leaner option would be ground turkey. I found two pounds of Jennie-O ground turkey on sale using my grocer’s app for $3.94 marked down from $12.98. That’s a steal!
Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing and Grilled Shrimp
Cost – $16, makes 4 servings
This is one of my all-time favorite salads to make in the summertime. Grilled shrimp pack in protein while the fresh lemon dressing gives the salad a wake-me-up that tells my body, “I’m feeding you right, baby!”
I start with this recipe by Pinch Me Good and grill up a pound and a half of shrimp. Shelled pistachios might be hard to come by unless you’re into shelling each individually. Opt for a small pack of chopped walnuts you can find in the baking aisle instead.
Budget-Friendly And Healthy Snack Ideas
Kirkland Signature Premium Extra Thick Steak Strips, 12 oz.
Cost – $9.99
It’s gluten-free and only has four grams of sugar which makes Costco’s beef jerky a winner. The cost is more economical than what you would find at your local grocery store. I snagged a package of these savory snacks for $9.99 this past month.
Cottage cheese, 24 oz.
Cost – $2.89
I’m constantly looking for quick snacks that fill me up in between meals and don’t require any prep time. I pick up a big tub of cottage cheese at my local Kroger store for less than $3 bucks. I add black pepper and Tabasco to keep things interesting.
Cost – $6
One of my good friends recently cut out carbs, and she replaced crackers with cucumbers. It’s pretty simple: slice up a few cucumbers and adorn each slice with a wedge of cheese, sliced turkey meat, and a few banana pepper rings. Have a few prepped for the week or create a lunch with ‘em.
Keep Your Food Budget At Bay
One of the ways I was able to keep my grocery budget under $500 each month was by actively meal planning. I use the recipes above and get creative in the kitchen. I also make a list prior to doing a grocery run and buy only what’s on the list. An occasional impulse buy is okay as long as it’s under $10.
Lastly, check your pantry or freezer before trekking off to the store again. You’d be surprised what a bag of quinoa, frozen veggies, and turkey from the freezer could do. It’s a great way to stretch your grocery budget and be a more conscious consumer.
*Costs are based on San Diego prices. If I can make this work in San Diego, you can make this work just about anywhere!
Justine Nelson is the founder of Debt Free Millennials, an online community to help millennials get out of debt. Justine enjoys writing and speaking about all things personal finance. This Midwest millennial paid off $35k in student loan debt and now resides in San Diego with her husband living the DINK life (Dual Income, No Kids).
Feature Image: Twenty20