Search: good, cheap, & healthy

Good, Healthy, & Cheap: Turkey Spaghetti

by Katie on August 19, 2015

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before or not, but I love spaghetti.  In fact, about five years ago, I may or may not have driven my family to boycotting spaghetti due to making it so often….ahem!  That being said, after a spaghetti sabbatical and a little coaxing, I’ve reintroduced spaghetti into our family’s meal rotation.

I’ve tweaked my traditional recipe to utilize ground turkey instead of ground beef, which definitely ups its nutritional value.  As an added bonus, this recipe originated from my dad, bringing back fond memories every time I make it :)!  And although we don’t typically use whole grain noodles (my kids really hate them!), they are obviously a healthier choice compared to regular pasta.

This dish pairs nicely with a spinach salad and fresh fruit.

Turkey Spaghetti

2 lbs. ground turkey
1 large jar Prego pasta sauce ( I either use meat or mushroom)
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons basil
1/4 cup low fat Parmesan cheese

Brown the ground turkey.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.  Serve over noodles with a fresh salad and fruit.

And the cost breakdown?

ground turkey – $1.79 each at Meijer (total cost of $3.58)
pasta sauce – $3.05 at Meijer
oregano – $0.10 at Aldi
basil – $0.10 at Aldi
Parmesan cheese – $0.40 at Meijer
pasta – $1 at Meijer

The total cost for this dish is $8.23, and it serves 8 people – so just $1.03 per serving.

Are you looking for good, healthy, and cheap meals?  You can find more recipes from this series here.

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Summertime is a great time to grill, and burgers are our family’s favorite grill out entree.  Over the past several weeks, I’ve been tweaking with different recipes to incorporate ground turkey into our burgers as opposed to ground beef.

Not only is ground turkey a healthier option than beef, but it’s significantly less expensive than ground beef as well.  Last week I put together a recipe for ground turkey burgers that the whole family loved – including my picky kids!

Paired with a whole wheat buns, fresh grilled veggies, and fresh fruit, these burgers are a healthy option for a summertime grill out.

Grilled Turkey Burgers

2 lbs. ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons Weber Gourmet Burger seasoning
1 teaspoon parsley

Beat egg in a medium-sized bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.  Grill on medium-high heat for 10 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

We topped our burgers with low-fat cheese as well as fresh spinach and tomato slices.  Instead of ketchup or mustard, I have a slight obsession love of Caesar dressing that I typically use.

And the cost breakdown?

ground turkey – $1.79 each at Meijer (total cost of $3.58)
egg – $0.18 at Meijer
breadcrumbs – $0.29 at Meijer
soy sauce – $0.12 at Aldi
Weber seasoning – $0.12 at Meijer
parsley – $0.05 at Aldi

The total cost for this dish is $4.34, and it serves 6 people – so just $0.72 per serving.

Are you looking for more good, healthy, and cheap meals?  You can find more recipes from this series here.

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When planning out a menu, a lot of time and attention tends to be focused on the main dish as opposed to the side dishes.  I personally love side dishes as much (if not more!) than any meat-driven main dish.

With all the fresh produce options available in the summertime, I thrive on cooking with fresh ingredients, especially a variety of vegetables.  One of my absolute favorite dishes is roasted vegetables.

Depending on your personal preferences, the options for this dish are virtually endless.  It’s a dish that pairs nicely with marinated chicken, a pork roast, or even burgers fresh off the grill.

Fresh Roasted Vegetables

1-1/2 lbs. zucchini
1-1/2 lbs. yellow squash
1 lb. asparagus
1 lb. fresh green beans
1 medium onion
1 sweet bell pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

Rinse and drain all veggies.  Cut zucchini and squash into thin slices.  Trim ends of asparagus and green beans.  Chop onion and bell pepper into medium-sized chunks.

Place all veggies into a 9×13 pan.  Drizzle olive oil over the veggies and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until tender crisp.

And the cost breakdown?

zucchini – $0.88/lb. at Meijer (total cost of $1.32)
yellow squash – $0.88/lb. at Meijer (total cost of $1.32)
asparagus – $1.99/lb. at Meijer
green beans – $0.88/lb. at Meijer
onion – $0.50 at Meijer
bell pepper – $1 at Meijer
olive oil – $0.24 at Aldi
Italian seasoning – $0.10 at Kroger

The total cost of this dish is $7.35 and it serves 8 people – for a cost of $0.92 per serving.

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I love chili…maybe almost to an obsession!  There are so many different varieties of chili recipes, and each one has it’s own great line-up of ingredients.  And it’s an easy way to breathe new life into leftovers and create a unique dish.

I also love that most chili recipes can be made in a crockpot which is perfect for hectic evenings.  Plus, many chili recipes include some type of beans, which not only lends added protein to the meal, but it’s an inexpensive ingredient to add to a meal as well.

One of our family’s favorite chili recipes is white chicken chili.  It has a little bit of a kick to it, and can be paired nicely with a fresh spinach salad.

White Chicken Chili

4 boneless chicken breasts
3 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
1 can mild chilies
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 packet taco seasoning mix

Put chicken in the bottom of the crockpot.  Pour beans on top of chicken.  Mix cream of chicken, chilies, chicken broth, and taco seasoning together in a medium-sized bowl.  Pour mixture over beans.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  During the last hour of cooking, shred the chicken and add it back into the crockpot mixture.  Serve with lowfat cheese and/or sour cream.

And the cost breakdown?

chicken breasts – $1.98/lb. at Meijer (total cost of $6.71)
white beans – $0.59 each at Aldi (total cost of $1.77)
cream of chicken – $0.79 at Aldi
chilies – $0.85 at Meijer
chicken broth – $1.39 for a carton at Aldi (used half the carton, so total cost of $0.70)
taco seasoning mix – $0.35 at Aldi

The total cost of the meal is $11.14, and it easily serves 8 – for just $1.39 per serving.

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Good, Healthy, & Cheap….Can It Be Done?

by Katie on July 13, 2015

It’s often argued that meal choices present an impossible dilemma that forces consumers to choose only two of three elements…..good, healthy, and/or cheap.  However, having been on a fairly stringent diet for the past two years, I’ve become convinced that the perfect triad can be achieved for most meals.

This past week, I came up with the idea of posting our family’s meals on a routine basis with not only the “how-to” behind the meal, but a cost breakdown as well.  Since I love to cook and enjoy trying new flavor combinations, I’m hopeful that this series will push me to break out of my comfort zone even more to come up with new meals for our family.

The majority of the meals that I cook feature fresh meats, produce, and a variety of spices.  That being said, the meals are typically easy to prepare with ingredients that you definitely don’t have to buy at a specialty store!  And unlike many recipes, they don’t serve a family of 4….they’re based on a larger scale to feed a family of 6-8 (including several hungry teenage boys!).

So, I’d love it if you follow along as I try out new ingredients and put together recipes that hit all three benchmarks…good, healthy, and cheap!  And if you have an ingredient or two that you’d like to see highlighted in a recipe, leave me a message or send me and e-mail, and I’ll see what I can come up with.

Bon appetit!

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good-cheap

Each week, I visit the local library with our two youngest children.  While they peruse the kids’ section of books and movies, I love taking a few minutes to skim through the library’s selection of cookbooks in search of new recipes.  My favorite recipes are those that are not only healthy and delicious, but are budget-friendly as well.

Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day is a cookbook that embraces all of those factors.  Leanne Brown, the author of the book, set out on a mission to help families eat healthy, nutritious meals that are also affordable.  Knowing that many families in the United States struggle to put food on the table for their families, Leanne created a cookbook that is filled with recipes that are very budget-conscious, but at the same time, are filled with delicious flavor.

The book is broken down into several categories such as breakfast, soup and salad, snacks, dinner, big batches, pantry, drinks, and desserts.  In addition to the recipes, Leanne offers some very practical suggestions for families as well.

For instance, she outlines more than a dozen tips for planning ahead and for grocery shopping in order to help families stretch their budget while creating delicious meals.  She also has a section that helps families repurpose leftovers into a variety of innovative meals as well as foods that are best to keep on hand for basic recipes.

Good and Cheap is definitely not your average cookbook.  Tucked into its pages, you’ll find such recipes as chocolate zucchini muffins, butternut squash soup, Mexican street corn, mashed celery root, pulled pork, lemon hummus, caramelized bananas, and many more.

My favorite part of Good and Cheap is the author’s dedication to those in need.  For every book that is purchased, a book is donated to someone who needs it.  Plus, for those families who cannot afford the book but are still searching for healthy meals on a budget, the recipes are available online as a free download – how awesome is that?!

So, I hope I’ve whet your appetite, because Leanne Brown would like to give one of my readers a free copy of Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day!  You have 5 ways to enter this giveaway:

  1. Leave a comment on this post – which meal is hardest for your family to find creative solutions for?
  2. Follow Cincinnati Cents on Pinterest.  Leave a separate comment letting me know that you’ve done this.
  3. Follow the Cincinnati Cents Twitter page and retweet this giveaway.  Leave a separate comment letting me know that you’ve done this.
  4. Like Cincinnati Cents on Facebook.  Leave a separate comment letting me know that you’ve done so.
  5. Like Good and Cheap on Facebook – let them know that Cincinnati Cents sent you.  Leave a separate comment letting me know that you’ve done this.

Please make sure you leave a separate comment for each method of entry on this post.

This giveaway ends at 8:00 p.m. EST on Monday, November 9th , and is open to all U.S. residents, ages 18 years or older.  The winner will be selected randomly, and will be notified by e-mail.  The winner will have 48 hours to respond.  If no response is received by that time, a new winner will be chosen.

Disclaimer: This giveaway was provided by Leanne Brown. All opinions expressed on Cincinnati Cents are (as always!) mine.

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If you missed the first part of this post, you can catch up here.

Although learning to grocery shop for mainly whole foods versus processed foods while sticking to our monthly budget was challenging at first, these strategies helped our family save a tremendous amount of money while sticking to our commitment of eating healthy foods.


Utilize Aldi

To be honest, before I started this blog, I had never stepped foot inside an Aldi Store.  From my perspective, it was a really small grocery store, and I was quite convinced that it was most probably overpriced and couldn’t possible contain the items I needed on my grocery list (good thing I don’t judge a book by it’s cover, right?!).

However, the more I dove into the world of coupons, the more I heard about the great deals at Aldi.  So, I decided to be adventurous (okay…so maybe my idea of adventure is different now than it was before I became a mom!), and stop by my local Aldi store.  It only took me a few visits before Aldi became one of my mainstays for grocery shopping.

I am continually amazed by how much less expensive Aldi is for so many of our family’s weekly staples.  For instance, when we eat sandwiches or burgers, we typically use whole wheat slimwiches as opposed to bread.  While a pack of slimwiches is about $3 at most grocery stores, they are just $1.69 at Aldi.  Plus, we all greatly prefer the taste of Aldi’s bread compared to most other brands that we’ve tried.

There are several other foods that I always buy at Aldi unless there is an amazing sale somewhere else, including cheese sticks, hummus, canned beans, apple juice, spreadable cheese wedges, dried spices, mustard, and fresh produce.  Now, there are times when the produce is not great at Aldi, and I’ll opt to buy it at Meijer or Kroger instead.  However, I almost always purchase my avocados, celery, and some of my fruit from Aldi.


Know When to Go Big & When to Go Home

I know people have mixed feelings about membership warehouse stores such as Sam’s and Costco.  For a long time, we did not have a membership to either.  However, we recently purchased a Sam’s Club Membership, and it’s definitely saved our family quite a bit of money despite the cost of the membership fee.

The trick to shopping at a warehouse store is to be very aware of unit pricing.  Just because there are multiple numbers of an item in one package, does not alone make it a good deal.  In fact, I’ll be the first to say that in my opinion, the majority of items at Sam’s are overpriced compared to the deals that I can get on a weekly basis at other stores.

That being said, there are enough items at Sam’s that are significantly cheaper than other stores, and those items more than justify my membership fees.  For starters, we go through a fair amount of eggs in our household.  If each of us has two eggs in the morning for breakfast, that’s a dozen eggs alone!  Sam’s consistently has their bulk quantity of eggs very inexpensively priced compared to any of the other local stores on a weekly basis.

There are several other items that I typically only buy at Sam’s, such as broccoli, spinach, peanut butter, almonds, water bottles, tilapia, and occasionally, toilet paper.  Of course, there are sometimes random finds that are great deals as well, such as the wheeled cooler I found this week.


Utilize Drug Store Deals to Save Money

Okay, some of you might be scratching your heads on this one.  Naturally, I’m not advocating the idea of searching for whole foods at your local CVS or Walgreens store.  In fact, I think you’d be pretty hard pressed to find any!  However, by taking advantage of the weekly deals at drug stores, I save a fair amount of money that I can then allocate to other purchases.

For instance, there are always inexpensive or free deals on personal care items such as deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair care supplies, cosmetics, and toilet paper.  Plus, each week there are always a handful of freebies at each store whether it’s beverages, gum, or other assorted items.

By purchasing these items and rolling the Register Rewards/ECBs each week, I’m able to free up extra money to put towards the pricier items on my weekly grocery list such as fresh meats, produce, and dairy products.

Stay tuned next week as I’ll be posting more strategies for saving money at the grocery store.

Have you missed the previous posts regarding my weight loss journey?  If so, you can read them here.

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