The interest so many of you have shared with me for quick, simple, and healthy meals has been so exciting. I personally am not a lover of cooking, however as a homemaker, mother, and wife to a husband who has no idea how to boil an egg let alone cook a meal it’s kind of up to me to feed our family, haha. While I may not “love” the act of cooking I am passionate about providing healthy meals for my family and it seems as if so many of you share that same desire. With my husband providing the only income for our family of four, like many of you we also try to follow a budget and save money where we can. I’ve rounded up some tips, ideas, and recipes that I hope you find helpful!
Simple ways to stretch your budget:
Keep things simple. Simple meals using simple whole foods without a bunch of crazy ingredients can not only stretch your budget but they can be healthy and delicious! A meal doesn’t have to be perfect or elaborate to be good.
Eat out less often! On average our family (if we would eat out) would eat out once, maybe twice in a week. Avoiding this saves us anywhere between $30-$50 a week. In one month alone thats $200 added to your budget. Thats crazy-town! Not only can eating at home save you money, if done right it can save you time and more often than not it’s healthier for you + you can totally find your favorite take out or restaurant recipes on Pinterest to try to make at home! The best part is you’re in charge of ingredients and you know what’s in your food!
Buy whole chickens and use all the meat + you can then use the bones to make your own broth to use in other recipes! Save those veggie scraps too, they all add mega flavor to a homemade bone broth. If you’d rather skip making it yourself then try buying your broths from Aldi or Walmart. If, like me, you try to buy organic meats I highly recommend shopping at Aldi. This is where I get all of my organic meat and where I like to get my chicken breasts from. Set aside money in your budget to stock up on meats. I do a meat stock up about once a month. You can either season and cook your meat ahead of time or just separate all the raw meat and freeze. I also usually buy frozen veggies in the winter. Walmart has organic frozen veggies and they are super affordable. It saves time and money. In the summer I tend to buy more fresh vegetable produce from the market. But, it’s really just about preference and what works best for your family, budget and time. When I do buy fresh I like to cook it ahead of time.
One pot meals are your friend! Stews, Soups, Casseroles, Crockpot Meals etc. Adding a whole bunch of different things to one pot makes meals feel hearty and filling…use some toasted bread for dipping and you have a simple and filling meal that will likely last a couple of days.
Plan and Prep ahead of time. I am loving Walmart Grocery pickup for this reason. I can plan what I want to make for that week, or at least have a general idea and then stick to my list. Then I’m not tempted as I wander the store to grab extra things I don’t need.
When prepping, I like to do this on the day I grocery shop. I usually go on Mondays so whatever I can prep ahead I do when I come home. There are certain meals I’ll make ahead of time so that I can just pull them out that week and reheat them. But, another great way to sort of prep ahead is using all of/most of your produce in one shot. For instance, if I buy a big ole’ bag of potatoes chances are if I only use them for one meal that week by the time I get around to using them again they will have gone bad. So when I buy things like fresh veggies I try to use what I have for that week and incorporate them in all of our meals. So lets say I picked up a bunch of potatoes, I’ll make a big batch of stew and maybe slice the rest and sauté them up to eat with chicken for dinner or even eggs one morning. Whatever is cooked and not used right away, I’ll make sure to use another day that week. I also do this with fresh veggies. I’ll load them all up on a giant baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper and bake in the oven. It’s an easy prep and then my veggies are beautifully roasted and ready to heat and eat!
Use your leftovers. Don’t waste.
Breakfast here is simple and we are sort of creatures of habit. My youngest usually eats greek yogurt and granola each morning. My other son and I love toast with peanut butter or some type of nut butter and my husband typically eats frozen waffles that I make ahead and freeze in batches. For a special treat I’ll make Homemade Blueberry Baked Oatmeal. Another easy on the go option is make ahead egg muffins.
Homemade Gluten Free Waffle
- 1 cup gluten free flour – I like Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur
- 1/2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
- 1 tsp raw organic sugar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup almond milk or I like to use organic 1/2 + 1/2
- 1 large organic egg
Pour your batter into your waffle iron and make like you normally would. You can use this same recipe for pancakes. I use 3/4 milk instead and remove the baking powder.
Homemade Blueberry Baked Oatmeal Recipe – I like this one best
Easy Egg Muffins – Literally its just scrambled eggs and any omelet topping combos you love, baked in the oven in muffin tins. Simple and a great make ahead meal.
Kid Favorite – Peanut Butter Toast with Sliced Banana or Sliced Strawberries
Chicken Salad – I’ll use up some of that whole chicken meat to make Chicken Salad – I really like this fun recipe…but If I’m looking for something simple I literally just add mayo, salt, pepper to taste and call it a day..throw in some hardboiled egg and its pure deliciousness!
Soup – leftover from whatever soup I made that week.
I love Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, Homemade Autumn Vegetable Soup (recipe) and Homemade Broccoli and Cheese Soup.
Broccoli and Cheese Soup Recipe + Ingredients:
- 1 tbsp melted butter + 1 chopped onion – saute
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup gluten free flour
- 2 cups of 1/2+1/2
- 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup of broccoli florets
- 1 cup of shredded carrots
- 8 oz. of extra sharp cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste + 1/4 tsp nutmeg [optional]
- Saute your butter and onion and set aside
- Whisk together your butter and flour in a large pot on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes be careful not to burn this
- Slowly whisk in stock and 1/2+1/2 – simmer for about 20 minutes
- Add broccoli, carrots and onion and simmer for another 25 minutes
- Add seasonings and cheese until melted
- For a smoother pour you can puree half and then add it back to your pot.
Kid Favorite – Grilled Cheese with Carrots and Ranch Dressing – consider buying a whole bag of whole carrots, peel and chop…this is so much cheaper than buying baby carrots!
I also love eating any leftover veggies we may have had the night before. Reheat on the stove top with a little butter and salt. The perfect simple and healthy lunch.
Snacks are usually scattered throughout the day and include fresh fruit, veggies, pretzels, rice cakes, nuts, granola bars…
I loosely follow recipes…I am sort of a throw it together cooker, haha. So just do what works for you and adjust as you think you need to. I’ll share links to the original recipes below along with the instructions on how I prepare them.
Beef Stew Crockpot Meal
- Boneless Chuck Stew meat, I get mine from Aldi (it comes already cubed up)
- Potatoes – peeled and cubed
- Veggies of choice. I like using frozen mixed veggies or whatever I have on hand. peas, carrots, green beans…literally its all good.
- Vegetable broth, bone broth, beef broth…anything is fine. I use several cups
- Spices, I like salt pepper and a little rosemary in mine.
- Garlic cloves I use a few (whatever your preference is)
- Onions if you prefer…I skip this
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1-2 ish tbsp of butter
- optional – a couple tbsp of flour to thicken at the end
I literally throw this all in the crockpot in the morning and let it do it’s thing.
Turkey and Sweet Potato Skillet Meal
Recipe – this is a good starting point recipe
- 2 tbsp EVOO
- 1 lb ground turkey — (you also can use grass-fed ground beef)
- 1 tsp garlic clove — minced – garlic powder if you’re in a pinch.
- ½ cup onions — diced
- ½ cup yellow or orange pepper — diced
- 1 ½ cups sweet potato — diced or shredded works too…makes it more of a hash – time saver…Buy frozen sweet potato chunks.
- Salt and pepper
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Fresh parsley for garnishing
- In a skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add ground turkey and garlic. Use a wood spoon breaking up the turkey while it cooks. Stir occasionally and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add onions and peppers and cook until onions are soft.
- Add the sweet potato, salt, and pepper.
- Cover the skillet and cook until they are tender. Don’t forget to stir occasionally. If necessary, add more olive oil or a little bit of water to cook the sweet potato faster.
- When the sweet potato is tender, add shredded mozzarella cheese and let it melt
Kid Favorite – Breaded Chicken ( I love this recipe here ) and Parmesan Rice or Noodles with Mixed up Veggies…if my kids are asking for something like Chick-Fil-A I’ll just add a frozen bag of waffle fries to my grocery list that week and use that instead of rice or noodles. It’s not something we eat often, but I think it’s fun for my kiddos to get that little treat from time to time. Believe or not they claim they enjoy this chicken and the frozen fries over Chick-Fil-A – I’ll take it!!
Turkey Sausage with Noodles and Green Beans
This Homemade Apple Turkey Sausage is delicious!
Turkey Sausage Ingredients:
- 1 lb. ground dark-meat turkey
- ½ cup finely minced apples (any variety will work)
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp. paprika
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 1-2 Tbsp EVOO
- Combine turkey (or chicken), diced apple, spices, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon or your hands.
- Using wet hands, form meat mixture into small patties – recipe says about 12.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add oil/fat (about ½ Tbsp. per batch of patties, depending on the size of your pan).
- Add the patties to the pan, being careful not to overcrowd them or it’s difficult to flip them and they won’t brown as well. Cook for about 4-5 minutes per side until browned and no longer pink in the center.
- Remove patties to a plate lined with a paper towel and repeat with remaining oil and turkey mixture.
- Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days – may be frozen for longer storage.
Meatless Favorite – Broccoli Alfredo
Alfredo Sauce Ingredients:
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup of stock, chicken or vegetable both work
- 3 tbsp of flour
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup of milk – I use 1/2+1/2 I’ve also used almond milk
- for a creamy sauce I like to sneak in a tbsp [ish] of cream cheese
Breakfast for Dinner – Gluten Free Waffles or Pancakes with Eggs and bacon/turkey sausage
Waffle Recipe shared above
Gluten Free Meatloaf – Mashed Potatoes and Veggie
I simply follow my normal meatloaf recipe and instead of regular bread crumbs I use gluten free bread crumbs. My local dry goods store also sells chickpea crumbs which I’ve used in exchange for bread crumbs and it turned out perfect. My kids had no idea it was made with chickpeas! I’ve used oatmeal as well.
Homemade Turkey/Beef Barbecue is another favorite. I usually pair it with some homemade mac n’ cheese!
- 1 lb ground beef/ground turkey
- About 1 tbsp butter or olive oil
- Onion salt to taste
- Minced garlic or garlic powder to taste. This is purely preference. Generally I’d say I use about 2 cloves though
- 1/2 cup of tomato paste – you can use ketchup if you prefer
- 1 tsp of yellow mustard
- 2 tbsp brown sugar or honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
- A dash or so of chili powder – or you can use 1 tbsp of chili sauce
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Water to thin it down [you only need to do this if you use the tomato paste]
I’ve linked up my Pinterest Board…I haven’t tried all of these recipes and I can’t guarantee they are all “healthy” but if you need some more ideas I believe most any recipe can be tweaked to fit your families dietary needs!
Thanks for stopping by, Friends!