5 Healthy Meals on a Budget (Around $10 & under)

by The Cooperative
We have pulled together 5 of our favorite recipes for when you're feeling crunched for time and money. These cheap easy meals on a budget are packed with vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.  These healthy meals on a budget are so delicious that they will satisfy anyone at your table.

Quick Tips
  1. Buy produce that is in season or frozen: you will get a better deal on in-season produce and frozen options are almost always low cost. Plus, frozen options can be kept in your freezer for awhile without going bad which saves money from food waste.
  2. Use the grocery store ads to meal plan: take a look at the ads each week and see if you can plan some healthy meals around the sales. For example, if there is a certain brand of chicken breast on sale, buy one for the week and maybe an extra for the freezer. If the frozen vegetables are 4 for $5, stock up!
  3. Use one protein for a couple different meals: I like to use my slow cooker or Instant Pot to cook chicken. I make the whole amount of chicken with little seasonings so that I can use the chicken for multiple different recipes. Once it’s cooked, I can use it for chicken Alfredo, chicken tacos, and shredded chicken for a salad.
Search for a basic chicken recipe based on the type of kitchen appliance you are using. Whether it’s a slow cooker or Instant Pot, you can make it work!

1. Slow Cooker Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken

Cost: approx. $10
Servings: 5
  • 1 – 20oz. can pineapple chunks in juice
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 5 skinless chicken thighs
  • 1.5 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli or fresh broccoli (chopped)
  • 5 cups brown rice
  1. Separate the juice from the pineapple chunks. You should have approximately 3/4 cup juice. The juice will go into the sauce and the pineapple chunks will be added later.
  2. To make the pineapple teriyaki sauce, stir together the pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic, and grated ginger. 
  3. Place the chicken thighs in the slow cooker and pour the pineapple teriyaki sauce over top. Close the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours. Flip the chicken 3/4 of the way through cooking to make sure all the meat is exposed to the marinade if possible.
  4. After cooking, carefully lift the chicken out of the slow cooker (it will be fall-apart tender). In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch with 2 Tbsp water, then whisk it into the remaining liquid in the slow cooker.
  5. Replace the lid and let it simmer for 5 minutes on high, or until thickened.
  6. Once the sauce is thickened, add the pineapple chunks, and stir to combine. Finally, add the cooked chicken back to the pot and coat with sauce.
  7. Sprinkle sliced green onions over top and serve over a bed of brown rice with broccoli on the side.

2. Turkey Sausage and Vegetable Skillet

Cost: approx. $8
Servings: 4

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 14 oz. turkey sausage – choose your preference of flavor such as Italian or Andouille
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • Optional vegetables to swap if you dislike the ones above: mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cabbage, green beans, Brussels sprouts
**If you want a whole grain to add as a side, choose some brown rice.

  1. Slice the zucchini and yellow squash into half-rounds. Slice the red bell pepper and red onion into strips. Add all of the vegetables to a large bowl.
  2. Slice the sausage. Add the sausage and 1 Tbsp cooking oil to a large skillet. Cook the sausage over medium heat until well browned.
  3. Sprinkle the smoked paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper over top. Toss the vegetables to coat them in oil and spices.
  4. Place the same skillet back over the heat and turn the heat under the skillet up to medium-high. Once very hot, add the vegetables and sauté just until they are slightly tender.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the cooked sausage and chopped parsley to the vegetables. Toss to combine with the vegetables.
  6. Serve with brown rice for a whole grain option.

3. Simple Burrito Bowls

Cost: approx. $10
Servings: 6

  • 4 cups brown rice
  • ​3 chicken breasts
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 – 15oz. cans of black beans
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 – 16oz. jar salsa
  • 6oz. of low-fat shredded cheese
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped

**Low sodium taco seasoning can be used instead of spices


  1. Cut chicken breast into bite size pieces
  2. ​Add to a medium sized bowl and add seasonings to the bowl. Mix well.
  3. Cook chicken over medium heat until cooked thoroughly.
  4. Prepare the add-ons (black beans, cheese, spinach, onion)
  5. Add everything to the bowl over brown rice

4. Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

Cost: approx. $10
Servings: 4

  • 4 medium chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1-½ cups chopped bell pepper
  • ½ chopped onion
  • 1 chopped zucchini
  • 2 cups broccoli florets – fresh or frozen
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1-½ tsp. Italian seasoning


  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F
  2. Chop all vegetables. On another cutting board, chop the chicken into cubes.
  3. Place chicken and vegetables on a sheet pan.
  4. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Then, toss to combine.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until veggies are charred and chicken is fully cooked.
  6. Enjoy with brown rice, pasta, or a salad.


5. Oven Baked Cod with Tomatoes

Cost: approx. $8
Servings: 4

  • 1 – 15oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • ½ tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1lb. or four 4 oz. fillets of cod or any white fish
  • Side of vegetables, pairs well with a salad, green beans, or any vegetable preferred – fresh or frozen


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Drain the liquid from the can of diced tomatoes, combine diced tomatoes in a bowl with garlic, olive oil, oregano, salt, freshly cracked pepper, and lemon juice.
  3. Spread about 1/3 of the tomato mixture on the bottom of a casserole dish.
  4. Lay the fish fillets over the tomato mixture, then spoon the rest of the tomato mixture over top, completely covering the fish.
  5. Bake the fish for about 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F.
  6. Serve with a side of vegetables of your choice and a whole grain such as brown rice or whole wheat garlic toast.

Share this article:

Related Posts