Think healthy eating has to be expensive, or that frugal foods are always going to be boring and a tiny bit bad for you? Think again! Not only have we found THREE easy and healthy recipes that can be adapted for both meat-eaters and vegetarians, each one is totally affordable— at less than $1.00 per serving!
These recipes come to us from one of our favorite healthy-eating experts, Mind Over Munch. She challenged herself to come up with three dinners that cost less than a dollar per serving and WOW, has she delivered with these vegan black bean burgers, healthy chicken skewers, and vegetarian spaghetti pie. While each ingredient might be more than a dollar to buy, she’s sharing her tips and tricks to bring the serving cost down so that you can keep cooking for weeks to come without breaking your budget. Watch her bring them together and explain how she makes them so cheap, then read on for the recipes and our recap of the best budgeting tricks.
3 HEALTHY $1-DOLLAR DINNERS
Black Bean Burger
- ½ cup canned pumpkin
- ¼ cup onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¾ cup oats
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 – 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- Add the pumpkin, onion, garlic, oats, olive oil, paprika, cumin and salt to a food processor. One half at a time, add the black beans and process. (Adding the black beans half a can at a time helps to keep the mixture slightly chunky!)
- Refrigerate the processed mixture for 15 to 20 minutes, until firm.
- Form the mixture into 4 large patties.
- Prep a skillet with nonstick spray.
- Over medium to medium-high heat, cook the patties for 5 to 8 minutes per side, until golden brown on both sides. You can also bake the patties in an oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit (170 degrees Celsius) for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Want to save even more money? You can use dry black beans and re-hydrate them!
- If, like Mind Over Munch, you don’t want to put in the effort to re-hydrate dry beans, you can find canned black beans for $0.60 per can or less if you shop around.
- Canned pumpkin isn’t just a fall staple! It’s available all year-round, adds extra nutrition to your meal, and is relatively cheap.
- Those oats will be much cheaper if you buy them in bulk! Don’t be scared of the bulk bins in your grocery store; just think of all the dollars you’re saving.
- Another thing you can buy in bulk? Spices! Buying in bulk reduces the price per ounce, and as Mind Over Munch says, a little goes a long way!
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 pound chicken thighs, cubed
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 large onion, quartered, layers separated
- 2 zucchinis, sliced
- 2 green bell peppers, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius). Line a sheet pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Mix together the soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Skewer the chicken and the vegetables onto soaked wooden skewers.
- Brush the skewers with the sauce (or marinate in a plastic bag for 1 hour). Transfer to the prepared sheet pan.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked-through.
Money Saving Tips
- Chicken thighs are almost always cheaper than chicken breasts, so don’t forget about them when you’re making some poultry for dinner.
- Did you know that some peppers are less expensive than others? It’s true! Green bell peppers are usually the most affordable.
- Zucchini are usually a great go-to budget-friendly vegetable, especially when in season— and we all know that shopping seasonally helps us save money!
- Cook the spaghetti for about 3 to 4 minutes less than the package instructions recommend, until just al dente.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Spray a springform pan with nonstick spray.
- Sauté the onions in cooking spray until translucent. Add the garlic and black beans, and sauté.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, cottage cheese, parsley, eggs, Parmesan, and salt and pepper. Once combined, add the diced tomatoes and the cooked onion mixture.
- Transfer to sprayed spring form pan. Top with the mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly. Rest for 30 minutes before serving.
- Can’t decide between cottage cheese or ricotta? Both work, but cottage cheese is often the less-expensive option!
- When it comes to cheese, skip the pre-shredded packages! It’s always cheaper to buy a block and shred it at home as you need.
Yum! Delicious, frugal, healthy— it really doesn’t get any better than that, now does it?! What do you think of these healthy, $1-dinner ideas? Have you ever tried any like them before? Be sure to watch Mind Over Munch’s video for even more tips – including ways to add meat to the vegetarian dishes and a vegetarian option for the chicken skewers! – and be sure to tell us if you give them a try!