5 Meal Ideas for Under $4

cheap recipes

How to Cook Cheap and Healthy

Cooking at home really is the key to saving money and eating healthier. It may take a little bit of planning and some determination, but I promise it will pay off in the long run! The key is to find some staple food items that are diverse and nutritious that can be used for multiple recipes throughout your week. Just because you’re shopping cheap doesn’t mean your food can’t be delicious! I like to think of it in grocery store groups:

Produce: Pick your favorite fruits and vegetables that you know you will eat. I love tomatoes, avocado, brussels sprouts, garlic, bananas, apples, lemons, lettuce and red potatoes.

Dairy: Dairy is important but remember dairy has quite a bit of fat. I choose low fat cottage cheese, cheese, eggs, Greek yogurt and milk (almond, rice, soy, cow’s).

Meat and Fish: My go-to is a big bag of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts. This will keep a long time and there are so many ways to cook it! I also love frozen fish–my favorite is tilapia.

Grains: Go whole-wheat! This will cut down on your sugar intake and increase your fiber consumption. Whole wheat bread, tortillas, rice and pasta are good staples and usually not more expensive than white.

Random: Canned beans, hummus, nuts, etc. These are good for snacking!

Now to put your groceries to good use! Here are some simple, healthy, and cheap meal ideas.

Meals for $4 (for 2 people) *

Chicken, veggies and potatoes
10 oz. Boneless Chicken Breast ($3/lb.) = $1.87
2 Cups Frozen Veggies = $1.00
2 Potatoes ($.56/lb) = $.50

Total = $3.37

Grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup
4-6 Slices Wheat Bread = $.50
1 Cup Cheese = $1.00
Tomato Soup = $2.50

Total = $4.00

Chicken quesadilla with salsa
6 oz. Boneless Chicken Breast ($3/lb.) = $1.13
4 Uncooked Flour Tortillas = $ .75
½ Cup Salsa = $1
Sour Cream = $.50

Total = $3.38

Salad with avocado, tomato, and cheese
½ Head Lettuce = $1
½ Avocado = $1
1 Roma Tomato = $.50
½ Cup Cheese = $.50
½ Cup Dressing = $.50

Total = $3.50

Pasta with chicken and veggies on the side
3 Cups Pasta = $.50
8 oz. Boneless Chicken Breast ($3/lb.) = $1.50
2 Cups Frozen Veggies = $1.00
1 Cup Pasta Sauce = $.75

Total = $3.75

Need a side? Try an easy bread recipe. You can make delicious, affordable artisan-style bread with flour, salt, yeast and water. It should cost under $1 to make a loaf of this kind.

*Prices will vary a bit based on where you are, and what store you’re shopping at.

3 Keys to Cheaper Meals

#1 Plan your meals at the beginning of the week
Pick recipes that are diverse, but use some of the same ingredients. This way you don’t have to waste food that you can only use in one recipe.

#2 Sometimes it’s better to go frozen
Buying frozen chicken, fish and veggies will save you money and they still pack the needed nutrients.

#3 Change up your cooking style
To create variety, get creative! I like to trade off using my crock-pot, stovetop, and oven. Each will change the tastes and style of your meals, and the consistent change allows greater creativity in the kitchen.

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