My 5 Favorite Healthy Meals That Keep Me on Budget

published Jan 19, 2018
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My health is my greatest priority. Putting in the effort to cook my meals, exercise, meditate, practice self-care, and reduce stress is not always easy, but it’s always worth it. Feeling great has created spillover in all facets of my life, and now that I’ve felt the vibrancy I experience daily because of my health, any other way of living isn’t an option.

I believe cooking is the ultimate act of self-care. Choosing to feed ourselves delicious and healthy food is nourishing and impactful for body, mind, and soul. After years of cooking for myself and others, here’s what I’ve determined to be essential: a plan, practical tools, and a well-stocked pantry and spice cabinet. Add in quality ingredients, and you can create tasty, unfussy cost-effective meals quickly.

These are the recipes and techniques that I turn to when I want to save some cash. I usually have these recipes (or a version of them) a couple times per week sprinkled in amongst other meals, but flavor is never sacrificed for either option.

I must mention that you should always strive to shop locally and seasonally. When ingredients are in season, there’s often an abundance of them, which makes them cheaper and tastier. Be sure to shop for local and seasonal fish as well to reduce costs.

(Image credit: Ashley Pardo)

Is there anything more quintessentially budget-friendly than tuna salad? It’s easy and versatile, and I guarantee you have most of the ingredients on hand to make a super-tasty meal. It’s a fabulous source of protein and fat, and works in lettuce wraps, in a sandwich, or on sweet potato toast (trust me — it’s good). You can always go down the mayo, celery seed, and mustard route, but when I want something a little more elevated, I opt for this sesame and lime tuna salad. It’s a refreshing and interesting take on a classic, with tons of flavor and texture.

2. Reverse-Sear Tri-Tip Steak

Few things are better than a perfectly cooked steak, but the steep price of a filet mignon, rib-eye, or New York strip can often deter even the most adamant steak-lover. That’s where the tri-tip comes in. For a third of the price, you can still get your dreamy steak. I love doing a reverse sear on tri-tips. I season it liberally with salt and pepper (or a spice blend), then bake it in the oven first until it reaches 120°F, and then sear it in a cast iron skillet until it gets that swoon-worthy crust only steaks can achieve. I know searing can be intimidating; if you need help, I wrote a blog post about it here.

(Image credit: Jerrelle Guy)

Sometimes I just want a soup, and chances are I have everything I need in my pantry and fridge to make it happen. I particularly love this tomato soup, and generally love roasting vegetables before putting them into soup, because it allows us to use less-than-stellar, on-their-way-out vegetables and turn them into something spectacular.

Ground meat is a stellar budget-friendly option, but most of the time I can’t stand to look at another meatball or burger. I’m half Cuban, so picadillo, a sweet and savory ground beef stew, has always been a great option when I need to get out of a ground meat rut. It’s an intense flavor bomb with each bite. I love this version, even though it’s not traditional, because it creates extra texture with pumpkin seeds and cauliflower rice. Add your ground meat to some pantry staples and vegetables (that you probably already have) and you’re in for a great meal.

(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

Is there anything simpler or more practical than a frittata? Elevate literally any leftover you have by pouring six to eight whisked eggs over them in a cast iron skillet and baking at 400°F until it’s cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the frittata.

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