5 Healthy Meals on a Budget

Finding healthy, affordable meals can prove to be a difficult balancing act. Healthy food is often viewed as more expensive while unhealthy processed food comes cheap. Thankfully, it’s possible to make healthy meals at home on a budget with the following five ideas from TLC Cooking.

Healthy Salad

Taco salad

This dinner idea is inexpensive and healthier than traditional tacos. Swap out ground beef for lean ground turkey, a lower-fat alternative with the same amount of protein. Trade full-fat sour cream for the fat-free version, and add tomatoes, shredded lettuce, corn and black beans to increase the meal’s vegetable content. Crumble baked tortilla chips onto the salad for a pleasant crunch. Finally, top the taco salad with reduced-fat cheese and your favorite spices and hot sauce.

Barbecue pizza

In this take on everyone’s favorite food, spread barbecue sauce on a homemade or store-bought pizza crust. Then, skip the traditional fattening pizza toppings (pepperoni, sausage and extra cheese) and top your crust with diced tomatoes, corn, black beans and other creative, healthy toppings. Sprinkle reduced-fat mozzarella cheese over the pizza and bake until the cheese melts and the crust becomes crispy.

Tortellini and spinach soup

Soup is a filling, cost-effective meal because you can make it in bulk and put in a variety of meat, noodles and vegetables based on what you currently have in the cupboard. To make tortellini and spinach soup, start by sautéing onion, red bell pepper and garlic in olive oil. Sprinkle it with your favorite spices, such as basil, oregano and crushed red pepper. Add diced tomatoes, chicken broth and spinach. Bring it to a boil and add a frozen package of cheese tortellini. Boil for a few more minutes and you have a healthy, filling, one-dish meal to serve for dinner.

Lettuce wraps

Make a healthier version of this popular appetizer at home. Start by sautéing your favorite ingredients, such as celery, onion, bell pepper, garlic, ginger, water chestnuts and cilantro in low-sodium soy sauce. Add ground chicken to the mix and cook until browned. Divvy out the mixture between several Boston lettuce leaves and top with crunchy rice noodles for a nice finishing touch.

Stuffed peppers

This fun, colorful meal involves stuffing your favorite ingredients inside red or green bell peppers. Start by browning ground turkey and chopped onion in a skillet. Add tomato sauce, water, garlic and seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir in instant brown rice. Remove the skillet from the heat and let it stand for five minutes so the rice can cook. Meanwhile, rinse the bell peppers, cut off their tops and remove the seeds. Place the peppers in an oven-safe dish and spoon the meat mixture into them. Cover the dish with foil, place in the oven and bake until tender.

Clearly, all you need to make amazing, healthy meals on a budget is a little time and creativity.