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10 Cheap, Healthy Meals to Try This Month

Cheap, healthy meals? We know what you might be thinking: Is that even possible? (Not-so-subtle hint: It actually is!)

Hang with us here.

We all know the easiest place to go over budget is your grocery bill—especially if you’re trying to take the healthy route. It’s tough!

Even if you try to stick to your list in the store, meal prep for the week, and only buy generic brands, it can still be tricky to find cheap, healthy recipes that don’t bust your budget.

But guess what? It’s totally doable. We promise. All you need are some staple recipes, a dash of creativity, and a good pinch of “I can do this!” Then—voilà. You’ve done it. Cheap and healthy meals that you’ll love (and so will your budget).

Here are some of our favorites to get you started—in no particular order of yumminess.

1. Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken Tacos

Serves 4

Approximate cost per serving: $3.50

You don’t have to wait for Taco Tuesday to make these beauties. They work any night of the week—and even better? They taste amazing as lunch leftovers the next day.

These are great plain, but they’re also easy to dress up if you have company coming over or you have some almost-gone-bad food lingering in your fridge or pantry. (We’re looking at you, avocados.)


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 jar salsa
  • Corn tortillas
  • Optional toppings: a sprinkle of cheese, avocado slices, diced red onion, chopped romaine lettuce or toasted pumpkin seeds


  1. Rub both sides of the chicken with the taco seasoning, then place the chicken in the slow cooker.
  2. Pour the salsa on top, covering all the chicken.
  3. Cook on low for 6–8 hours.
  4. When the chicken is fully cooked to at least 165 degrees F, pull it apart using two forks.
  5. Over medium heat, warm up tortillas in a skillet, about 1 minute per side.
  6. Serve with desired toppings!

Pro tip: When it comes to tortillas, not all are created equal. Corn tortillas usually have less yucky ingredients and are naturally gluten-free for folks who need to avoid gluten. Plus, they’re typically cheaper than flour tortillas.

When buying, look for options—whether corn or flour—that have a small list of ingredients (try to keep it under five).

2. Easy Marinara Sauce With Spaghetti Squash Noodles

Serves 4

Approximate cost per serving: $3.25

Shh . . . We’ve got a secret. When it comes to marinara, doctoring up jarred sauce is the new “simmer for hours.” Even Grandma’s timeless recipe will approve.

Seriously, with jars of marinara sauce and a few pantry staples, you can serve up cheap meals that are simple, easy and tasty. Don’t have jarred sauce? Crushed tomatoes will do the trick too. Just up the fresh basil and throw in whatever dried Italian spices you have in your spice cabinet.


  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 3–4 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 2 jars marinara sauce
  • Handful of fresh basil, cut in strips
  • Leftover ground meat or sausage, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop the seeds out.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake cut-side down for 30–40 minutes.
  4. While the squash is doing its thing, drizzle olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 4–5 minutes. Pour in jarred sauce and fresh basil and stir to combine. Simmer for 15 minutes. Then taste and add more seasonings if needed.
  6. Once the squash is done cooking (you’ll know it’s ready when you can easily pierce the flesh with a fork), remove it from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.
  7. Make the spaghetti squash noodles by scraping the inside of the squash with a fork. (Kids love this part!)
  8. Top the noodles with sauce (and any leftover meat you want to add). Sprinkle with cheese and more fresh basil!

Pro tip: The kids will totally know the spaghetti squash noodles aren’t really noodles. But if you want them to try something new without the fuss, let them help you in the kitchen (get them to pull the noodles out of the squash and watch the magic come alive!).

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Kids are more willing to eat something they’ve had a hand in making. But if not, no worries. You’ve probably got half a box of noodles somewhere in your pantry you can cook up fast. (Because—hey, keeping stress low is part of being healthy too!)

3. Rotisserie Chicken Salad With Homemade Balsamic Dressing

Serves 4

Approximate cost per serving: $3.50

Salad often gets a bad rap. But there’s nothing a rotisserie chicken and homemade dressing can’t fix. Seriously, this is a simple way to pack in flavor—and to use ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Win-win, right?

And if you haven’t been making your own salad dressing, this tip is about to change your life. (Yes, really.)


For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • Lettuce or spring mix
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Whatever veggies you have on hand: carrots, cucumber, sweet or bell peppers, etc.
  • Whatever pantry staples you want to add: craisins, nuts, seeds, etc.


  1. Put all the dressing ingredients in a jar. Screw the lid on tightly and shake until mixed well.
  2. Pull chicken from the bone.
  3. Now it’s time to assemble the salad. Add lettuce, chicken, feta cheese and any desired toppings to a bowl.
  4. Drizzle with dressing, toss and enjoy! (See, we were right! Life. Changed.)

Pro tip: After you finish deboning the rotisserie chicken for the salad, keep the bones to make homemade bone broth! Add the bones, any veggies or herbs you have in the fridge (carrots, onion and celery work great!), and salt and pepper to a slow cooker.

Fill with water and turn on low. Cook all day long, and ta-da—homemade chicken stock for more cheap meals! Use for the base of a soup or add veggies, noodles and leftover chicken for an easy, homemade chicken noodle soup.

See? Cheap, healthy meals aren’t as challenging as they seem.

4. Easy Rice and Beans Burrito Bowls

Serves 6

Approximate cost per serving: $1

Beans and rice . . . and rice and beans. We know you’re probably sick of hearing about it, but there’s no denying beans and rice are both cheap and healthy. They’re flexible base ingredients you can jazz up by adding different proteins and spices—or even by swapping out the kind of beans (and rice) you use!

P.S. If Meatless Monday isn’t your thing, take these bean burrito bowls up a notch by adding leftover Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken.


  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 2 15-ounce cans pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (just a sprinkle)


1. Cook the rice in a saucepan according to the directions on the bag or box.

2. While the rice is cooking, empty both cans of beans into another saucepan. Heat over medium and add the cumin, garlic powder and salt. Remove from heat once the mixture has warmed up. If you want a little liquid in the beans, add in some vegetable or chicken broth.

3. Chop up the tomatoes, green onions and jalapeno.

4. Now it’s time to build your bowls! Add 1 cup of rice and 1/2 cup of beans to each bowl. Then top each bowl with some tomatoes, green onions, jalapenos and cheese (to taste).

Pro tip: To save even more money and eat healthy, consider buying some of your ingredients in bulk. Things like rice, beans, cheese and common spices are way cheaper if you buy them in economy sizes at stores like Costco and Sam's Club.

5. Chicken Tortilla Soup

Serves 6

Approximate cost per serving: $2.85

If you’re looking for cheap meals that are low in calories and serve a good amount of people, then keep soup in your weekly meal planning. It really can stretch your budget, especially if you’re looking for something tasty but cheap to cross you over the finish line to next week’s grocery run.

Save even more money by using homemade chicken broth from leftover rotisserie bones (see our Rotisserie Chicken Salad recipe above!).


  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 jar salsa  
  • 1/2 cup water (or broth)
  • 1 small can tomato soup (or tomato sauce)
  • 1 small can chicken broth
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Blue corn tortilla chips for garnish


1. Load up everything (except the tortilla chips) into the slow cooker.

2. Let the soup do its thing for 5–6 hours on low in your slow cooker.

3. Once the chicken breasts are fully cooked to at least 165 degrees F, shred them in the slow cooker before serving.

4. Serve the soup into bowls and top with a few crushed blue corn tortilla chips.

Pro tip: Frozen vegetables often get a bad rap, but don’t count them out too soon. While they may seem like they aren’t as healthy, frozen vegetables are usually picked and packaged when they’re ripe—so they keep most of their nutrients! Plus, they’re typically cheaper than their fresh counterparts.

So, next time mixed veggies are on sale, grab a few bags to make cooking cheap, healthy recipes a breeze.

6. Garbanzo Greek Salad

Serves 8

Approximate cost per serving: $2.85

Nutritionist Jenna Waters shared this super easy Garbanzo Greek Salad on The Rachel Cruze Show, and let us tell you—we’re here for it! It’s hearty. It’s healthy. And it won’t break the bank. And to make it even better, it tastes better with time in the fridge (yay leftovers!).

So, if you’re looking for a protein-packed, easy salad recipe that will give you several cheap meals this week, this one is it!


For the salad:

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 English cucumber, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper and 1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

To serve:

  • greens (spring mix, chopped romaine, etc.), optional
  • whole wheat pita bread, optional


1. In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients.

2. In a separate bowl or mason jar, add dressing ingredients and shake well to combine.

3. Pour dressing over the salad and gently mix to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste if necessary.

4. Refrigerate until ready to eat (or dig in right away!).

5. Serve over a bed of greens (spring mix, chopped romaine, etc.) or whole wheat pita bread.

Pro tip: When planning your healthy meals, try to use as many colors of the rainbow as you can. (This is what we call eating the rainbow.) But slow down. That doesn’t mean you’re eating a bag of skittles for dinner (too bad, right?).

It just means that when you eat different colors of fruits and vegetables during the day, your body gets the essential nutrients it needs!

7. Chicken Sheet Pan Meal

Serves 4

Approximate cost per serving: $4.50

This is one of those cheap recipes you’ll really love because it’s low in calories and price. If that isn’t a match made in heaven, then we don’t know what is.

To keep things interesting, swap out the veggies. Or to cut down on cost, serve up whatever veggies you have lingering in the fridge or pantry. Potatoes, carrots or peppers and onions are usually a safe bet!


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
  • Chopped fresh veggies (enough to cover the sheet pan)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh thyme to taste


  1. Coat the chicken in stone-ground mustard.
  2. Chop up the veggies, coat them in olive oil, and place them on a baking sheet. 
  3. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and thyme on the veggie mixture.
  4. Place the chicken on top of the veggies.
  5. Pop the pan into the oven and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Pro tip: For more cheap and healthy recipes like this one, check out Rachel Cruze's Meal Planner & Grocery Savings Guide. She's got some great ideas!

8. Chicken Parmesan Zucchini Boats

Serves 4

Approximate cost per serving: $3.25

We know you might be wondering what the heck a zucchini boat is. Think of it as this beautiful, green boat (packed with nutrients) that will send your delicious dinner sailing into your stomach. This is a great gluten-free and low-carb option to try out when you feel like enjoying delicious chicken parm.


  • 4 zucchini
  • 1 pound ground chicken or ground turkey (whatever you find on sale!)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Then use a small spoon to scoop out the inside of the zucchini to create the “boats.”

3. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and place the zucchini in the dish, with the cut side facing up.

4. On the stovetop, cook the ground chicken or turkey in a pan over medium-high heat for 10 minutes—or until fully cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Turn the heat down to low and add in the garlic and pasta sauce. Cook the mixture for another 5 minutes.

6. Remove the chicken mixture from the heat and add it to the zucchini boats. Be sure to press the mixture down into the boats using a spoon.

7. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese and the mozzarella cheese on top of each zucchini boat.

8. Cover the entire baking dish with foil and cook for 30–35 minutes or until the zucchini is soft and the cheese is melted.

Pro tip: You can always buy meat with a slightly higher fat content (if that’s cheaper) and strain the grease out after it’s done cooking.

9. Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Approximate cost per serving: $2

Not to be confused with its starchy cousin, a sweet potato can be an awesome ingredient to add to your list of cheap, healthy meals. But look out—it’s easy for things to get out of hand (calorie-wise) when it comes to the toppings.

Skip the bacon and sour cream and instead choose things like Greek yogurt and sesame seeds. Oh, we’re serious. And it’s seriously delicious.


  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • Cheddar cheese (just a sprinkle)
  • 1 lime
  • Cayenne pepper to taste, optional
  • Sesame seeds (just a dash)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Poke holes in the sweet potatoes with a fork and place them on a baking sheet.

3. Cook the potatoes 30–40 minutes or until they’re soft (you can poke them again to test). Your cook time will also depend on the size of the sweet potatoes.

4. Take the sweet potatoes out of the oven and slice a small opening in the top of each. Then scoop out a small portion from the top of the potato. But be careful not to remove too much. You just want to create enough space for all your toppings to sit.

5. Top each sweet potato with a combo of black beans, Greek yogurt, sesame seeds and cheese. Add a little squeeze of lime juice and the spices, and you’re good to go!

Pro tip: If you want a meaty version of this meal, toss 1/2 cup of pulled rotisserie chicken (left over from your salad!) with 1–2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce. Heat up on the stove until warmed. Add on top of the potatoes and enjoy!

10. Vegetarian Chili

Serves 6

Approximate cost per serving: $1.50

Need a Meatless Monday option that’s healthy, budget-friendly and feels a lot like comfort food? Then give this vegetarian chili a shot! Don’t let the lack of meat fool you. This dish still has plenty of flavor to sink your teeth into.


  • 2 large cans crushed tomatoes, undrained 
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 6 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Dump everything (the veggies you just diced, the canned ingredients and the spices) into your slow cooker. It’s that easy!

2. Let the chili cook for 5–6 hours on high or 8–9 hours on low in your slow cooker.

Pro tip: For some of us, grocery delivery for multiple-ingredient meals like vegetarian chili is cheaper (especially if you get distracted and tend to over-buy in store). For other shoppers, not so much. Find out if grocery delivery is worth it for your household.

Ready, Set, Start Making Cheap, Healthy Meals!

Next time you need healthy meals on a budget, give a few of these recipes a try! Keep in mind, these prices are all just low-cost estimations based off generic brands at a local superstore here in Franklin, Tennessee. Also, those costs per serving are based on the amount of ingredients you’re actually putting in the recipe. You might find different prices where you live and where you shop, and you might have to stock up on some items that first grocery run, but then you’ll have plenty to use in later recipes. (Like that first bottle of olive oil. But it’s a great investment, and not that expensive anyway!)

If you’re looking for an easy way to keep track of your entire budget—and all the savings you’ll rack up when you try out these meals—that’s EveryDollar. With EveryDollar, you’ll plan how you spend and save money each month, so you never have to wonder where all your money is going.

So, plan your money? Check. Plan your meals? Check. Now, let’s get cooking!

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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