Healthy Meals for Less Than $5

By Lisa Cleary
|  Thursday, Mar 24, 2011  |  Updated 10:45 AM EDT
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Healthy Meals for Less Than $5

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Healthy meals for less than $5.

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When combo meals at fast-food chains cost less than five bucks, it can be tempting to forget about eating healthy.

To help you cinch your waistline and fatten up your wallet, we’ve rounded up local dietitians and nutritionists for meal ideas costing less than $5 each:


BREAKFAST

Toast a 100-calorie, whole-wheat English muffin. Cook one egg and top your sandwich with two-percent cheese and a slice of Canadian bacon. Try adding veggies or a slice of tomato. -- Elana Natker, MS, RD

Smoothie: Blend one cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, a tablespoon of peanut butter and a teaspoon of chocolate syrup. The smoothie provides calcium and fiber, and the banana provides blood pressure-lowering potassium.  -- Lise Gloede, RD, CDE

Oatmeal: It costs around $1.29 per pound of oats -- a few pennies per meal, basically. Cook it with skim or soy milk instead of water for added protein. Throw in one ounce of chopped almonds or maybe a diced apple.  -- Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD

Toast a whole-wheat bagel and spread with almond butter, one of the most reasonably priced natural nut butters. Try topping with a teaspoon of raspberry jam and with blueberries or strawberries.  -- Anu Kaur, MS, RD, RYT

Try seven ounces of fat-free Greek yogurt mixed with two tablespoons of chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup of bran and 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries.  -- Sandra Pinney, MS, RD, LD


LUNCH

Tuna fish salad sandwich on whole wheat bread. Add low-fat mayo or salad dressing to the tuna, and combine with chopped hard-boiled egg, celery and pickle relish. (Note: chunk light tuna is cheaper and has less risk of mercury.) Complete the meal with tomato soup, baby carrots and canned peaches.  -- Kathy B. Glazer, MS, RD, LD

Toss a few ounces of wild canned salmon on mixed greens and throw in some sliced or cubed green apple and a few walnuts. Canned salmon is economical, and one container of mixed greens can last for several lunches.  -- Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, LD

Omelet with one whole egg and two additional egg whites, combined with 1/4 cup of any leftover veggies (tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers, onions) and one ounce of cheese. Sandwich between two slices of 100-percent whole-wheat toast.  -- Sandra Pinney, MS, RD, LD

 

 

DINNER

Quinoa- and veggie-stuffed baked tomato with a baked chicken breast. This meal is high in protein and fiber, and it’s also naturally gluten-free.  -- Danielle Omar, MS, RD

Quesadilla: Combine 1/2 cup frozen corn, 1/2 cup black beans and two ounces of cheese, and spoon between two wheat flour tortillas. Garnish with a tomato salsa and a tablespoon of sour cream. End the meal with a bowl of defrosted berries.  -- Sandra Pinney, MS, RD, LD

Lentil or bean soup, roasted chicken thighs, steamed greens (kale or spinach), brown rice and in-season or canned fruit. Hint: Purchase a whole chicken, which is about $1.16 per pound. Divide the chicken and freeze leftovers for later use.  -- Kathy B. Glazer, MS, RD, LD

Spaghetti and meatballs, the healthy way.  Grab a bag of frozen turkey meatballs (around $2.99), toss with cooked whole grain pasta and tomato sauce. Top with grated cheese. The meat provides high-quality, low-fat protein; the pasta, extra fiber; the tomato sauce, lycopene; and the cheese, calcium.  -- Elana Natker, MS, RD

Beans and greens with brown rice, quinoa. Sautee 1/2 medium onion and two cloves garlic in a teaspoon of olive oil. Add one can cooked red beans and eight cups fresh arugula, beet greens, spinach or whatever greens you like. Then, add two cups cooked quinoa, brown rice or pasta. If you want to pump it up more, add an ounce or two of feta or parmesan cheese.  Also goes well with three ounces of broiled chicken breast. For an Italian spice blend, add basil, oregano and red pepper. For Louisiana-style, add thyme, cumin, cayenne and paprika; for French Moroccan, season with a blend of coriander and fennel. -- Diane Welland, MS, RD
 

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