When it comes to deciding what to cook, our guidelines are usually pretty simple. Obviously we want a meal that's as tasty as possible, but we also want food that's kinda healthy and makes us feel good — all without costing a fortune.
And while we all have own whole idea of what healthy looks like, these are the go-to meals our editors rely on when they want to eat well without killing their food budget for the week. Maybe you'll pick up an idea or two from the mix!
1. Sautéed Greens + Canned Beans + Poached Egg
I can always count on having some hearty greens like kale or chard in the fridge, or a bag of frozen chopped collards in the freezer. I'll sauté them up with plenty of garlic, red pepper flakes, and a squeeze of lemon if I have it; toss in whatever kind of beans I have in the pantry; and then top the whole mess with a poached egg. It's one of my favorites when I'm not cobbling together a mix of leftover grains and shredded chicken with roasted and raw veggies for a quick Buddha bowl.
Kelli Foster, Associate Food Editor, @kellimfoster
2. Smoked Trout + Avocado + Arugula + Lemon Juice + Hot Sauce
I love this because it's low-carb, which always leaves me feeling less sluggish. Plus it's super flavorful — there's no ignoring what smoked trout brings to the equation! It's a bonus that it requires no cooking. It's cheap and healthy and requires just five minutes of my time to pull together.
Hali Ramdene, Food Director, @halibey
3. Any Roasted Veggies + Barley + Lemony Garlic Tahini
I'll eat any vegetable, as long as it's been roasted. And this is great when I have a bunch of, say, broccoli but not enough to make it a full side dish. Along with barley (or sometimes brown rice), I'll throw in some feta and whatever nuts I have, top it with a drizzle of lemony garlic tahini, and serve it up in a bowl, which we already know is better than a plate.
Lisa Freedman, Lifestyle Editor, @itsmelisabeth
4. Bean Tacos + Avocado + Greek Yogurt
Bean tacos are on the menu for us at least once a week. I always start with Trader Joe's white corn tortillas; they're very soft and pliable, and affordable (because Trader Joe's!). I just quickly warm the tortillas on the stovetop, then fill them with canned pinto or black beans, mashed avocado (with salt and lime), and a dollop of whole-milk Greek yogurt. And if I've got my act together, there'll be some pickled radishes or red onions in the fridge to add too. This meal has everything I'm looking for — protein, starch, and fat — and it's so fast to pull together!
Lauren Kodiak, Managing Editor, @laurenkodiak
5. Chickpeas + Garlicky Greens + Pasta
My go-to lately has been chickpeas (canned, drained) and garlic sautéed with whatever greens we have on hand. When those are cooked down I'll add a cube of tomato paste from the freezer and add cooked pasta with a little pasta water to thin the paste. I know pasta doesn't have a reputation for being "healthy," but my kids love it and will even eat the greens partnered with it, it's more chickpeas and greens than pasta, and we buy quality pasta that's typically made with just one ingredient. I eat mine over more greens, but I cannot say the same for my husband.
Meghan Splawn, Associate Food Editor, @stirandscribble
6. 8-Minute Egg + Greens + Vinaigrette + Sourdough
For me, it's always an eight-minute egg, halved on a bed of whatever greens I have (usually some arugula situation), dressed with a vinaigrette of mashed anchovy + Dijon + lemon or rice wine vinegar + extra-virgin olive oil. Usually with whatever nub of sourdough or whole-wheat bread I have in the freezer.
Sheela Prakash, Assistant Food Editor, @sheelsfiorenzo
7. Ranch Chicken Thighs + Greens
I toss boneless, skinless chicken thighs with ranch dressing or something sexy from the spice drawer, then roast them on high heat until tender and a little blistered. I slice them and serve over a big mess of greens or slaw. (My greens these days are the best kind of budget-friendly: fresh and free from my in-laws' suburban garden!).
Faith Durand, Editor-in-Chief, @faithdurand
8. Frittata with Random Veggies + Cheese
A frittata is the ultimate scrappy weeknight meal, because as long as I've got a carton of eggs and some dairy, I have dinner in 20 minutes. I like to cook any vegetables I have on hand; whisk together 10 eggs plus 1/2 cup plain yogurt/sour cream/whole milk/heavy cream/crème fraîche, salt and pepper, and any scraps from the cheese drawer; pour it over the veggies; and bake until just set. If I'm feeling fancy, I'll top it with more cheese and stick it under the broiler for a cheesy, golden crust.
Grace Elkus, Senior Food Editor, @graceelkus
8. Leftover Sautéed Veggies + Fried Egg
I sauté up whatever veggies are lingering in the drawer (onion, garlic, bell pepper, sweet potato, corn) and pop a fried egg on top. Sometimes a slice of seedy bread to serve. Serving a variety of vegetables at one time is much more appealing to me than, say, a side of broccoli. I also usually have a few containers of chopped veggies already in the fridge lingering from other recipes during the week.
Patty Catalano, Contributor, @pattycatalano
9. Rice + Beans + Roasted Sweet Potatoes + Greens
Not very inspired, but it's incredibly cheap and kinda healthy-ish.
Ariel Knutson, News & Culture Editor, @arielknutson
Your turn! We want to know your favorite cheap and healthy meals — tell us in the comments below!