25 Frugal & Healthy Dinner Ideas

Eating healthy doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, and to prove it we’ve assembled our collection of frugal and healthy dinners that you can cook for two or for the whole family. For each recipe we’ve tried to calculate an Approximate Cost per Serving so you can get a quick idea of whether or not this is something you want to try. Just keep in mind that anything listed here is going to outrank fast food and delivery on the health-o-meter.

salmon collars

Photo: Use Real Butter

1. Teriyaki Salmon Collars

Salmon is so good for you, but often avoided because of its high cost. The most expensive part of the salmon is the fillet, so this recipe shows you how to cook the collar which can typically be found for far less than salmon fillets. The teriyaki sauce that is used with it is made with cheap ingredients that you might already have in your home, like soy sauce. Overall, this might clock in a bit higher than some of the other frugal recipes on our list, but hey, you can finally have salmon night!

24oz salmon collar = $3.50 (~$2/lb)

2 green onions = $.50

misc ingredients & spices = $2

serves = 2 people

Total Cost of $3/person

2. Lemon, Garlic, and Fresh Herb Roasted Chicken– Roasted chicken is a great go-to, because it can feed two with leftovers for a chicken sandwich the next day, or it can feed a family of four or more with the addition of inexpensive side items like carrots and potatoes. This particular recipe caught our eye because it comes out looking great but only uses a few simple and basic ingredients. We like how they’ve paired this with spinach and mashed potatoes so it’s easy to make, and you can use frozen spinach and make the potatoes from scratch for additional cost savings.

3. Fettuccine with Mussels– The mussels will obviously be the most expensive part of this dish, which is why it’s good to shop around and see which store has the best deal. You can sometimes catch them on sale if your grocer discounts them at the end of the day to make room for tomorrow’s fresh shipment. Once you land them at a decent price, it’s game time. You simply pick up some fettuccine and the additional ingredients and you’re on your way to a beautiful dinner that can impress that special someone. Your frugal secret is safe with us.

4. Mujadara– Here’s a middle eastern dish that will impress your family with its exotic tastes and textures. They’ll probably ask you to make it again, and you’ll have no problem saying yes because this is easy on the budget while tasting great and being good for you. It’s made with lentils. Lentils are a great item to have around because you can buy them in dry form and only cook them up as needed. They keep for a long time when they’re dry, and they don’t cost very much at all. They’re also very good for you and have protein and fiber. Your other ingredients are rice and onions so you know it’s coming in low.

5. Chicken Enchilada Pasta– What can you do when you want the taste of enchiladas but you don’t want the expense of all the ingredients and time that goes into making them? Here’s a dish that shows you how to capture the flavor you want, but in a pasta dish that saves you money and fills up the family for less. They even manage to use chicken breast so you’re getting a high quality protein to balance out the carbohydrates from the pasta. Add a bit of cheese on top and your family will ask for this on a weekly basis, guaranteed.

lentil tacos

Photo: Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes

6. Lentil Tacos

Who said taco night needs to have a meat in order to work? If you love the taste of tacos but don’t like the thought of using chicken or steak to make them, why not give this a try? Lentils are hearty and have a texture almost like ground beef. They also have a subtle taste that gets lost when you add the other taco toppings to it. You can buy them by the bag for a few dollars and make as many as you need. They are also filled with protein and fiber and are super good for you.

lentils = $.70

veggies = $4

misc ingredients & spices = $3

serves = 2-3 people

Total Cost of $1.57/person

7. French Bread Pizza– Getting pizza delivered can be expensive. Buying frozen pizza subjects you to the same loss of control over the ingredients used. Making it yourself can be tricky because you want something that tastes good, and sometimes when it’s all said and done you spend more making it yourself than if you would have just ordered out. Here’s a nifty way to make a delicious pizza without worrying if it will taste good or not, and with simple ingredients you can pick up next time you’re shopping. No tipping the pizza driver = bonus!

8. Sirloin Steak Tips Au Poivre– Who says you can’t cook a recipe with French words in the title just because you’re being cost conscious? Au Poivre just means you’re making a pepper steak here. Before you say you can’t make steak because it’s too expensive, it’s just a matter of getting the right cut of steak that tastes great, cooks up well, and can be found either on sale or for a low regular price at the supermarket. Here they’re using sirloin tips, but you can switch that up with other cuts that still provide a lean protein but don’t cost as much.

9. Creamy Sausage and Tomato Pasta– Here’s a tasty recipe that is using Italian sausage and a hearty amount of pasta to fill you up for less. They’ve also thought about time savings here as well, with most ingredients coming from cans so you can quickly prepare this while making it seem you spent all day in the kitchen. It’s also using onions, as are several other recipes on our list, and those are nice because a bag containing 7 or 8 or more only runs a few dollars. Worried about the creaminess? Sub out the heavy cream for lite cream.

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