Healthy Meals for $10 (or Less!)

You can feast on nutritious, delicious dishes without breaking the bank. Our experts show you how.


We demand a lot from our dinners: They need to be tasty, easy to make, and packed with important nutrients for a growing belly. Oh, and they to fit within a tight grocery budget. Sound like an impossible order? Not if you choose the right ingredients, says Sharon Richter, R.D., a nutritionist in New York City. By building meals around wallet-friendly ingredients, like beans and ground turkey, you can whip up a dinner that's nutritious, delicious, and convenient, too.

We challenged Richter and other culinary experts for dishes that meet these criteria—and cost less than $10. Read on for their mouthwatering recipes that are right on the money:

Barley Jambalaya

This flavorful meal from chef Sarah McKay of Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters is made simple by barley, a quick-cooking whole grain that’s high in fiber. The vegetables and lean turkey will keep you full for hours.

Serves 6


1 cup instant pearl barley

2 whole bay leaves

3 onions, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon canola oil

4 ounces ground turkey

2 (14½-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, no salt added

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1½ teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground black pepper


1. In a colander, rinse barley under cold water.

2. In a medium pot over high heat, bring barley, bay leaves, and 4 cups of water to a boil. Reduce to low and cover. Cook until barley is tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, pepper and garlic. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

4. Add turkey and cook until meat is brown, about 5 more minutes. Mix in tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a simmer.

5. Stir in spices. Cover and reduce heat. Cook at a low simmer for 15 minutes.

6. Add cooked barley and stir to combine. Add more water or broth if needed. Cook over low heat for another 5 to 10 minutes.

7. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Keep Reading: Eggplant Tomato Casserole >>

Eggplant Tomato Casserole

This vegetarian-friendly dish, created by Richter, is packed with important nutrients. The cheese also serves up a dose of bone-building calcium. To save even more, make your own breadcrumbs by pulsing stale bread in the food processor.

Serves 6


1 large eggplant (about 1.5 pounds)

1½ tablespoons salt

2 egg whites, beaten

3 tablespoons chopped onion

½ tablespoon oregano

½ tsp black pepper

½ cup breadcrumbs

2 large tomatoes sliced thin

2 ounces reduced-fat cheddar cheese, grated

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Paprika, to taste

Cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.

2. Peel and slice eggplant. Place eggplant in a pan and fill with salt and 1 inch of boiling water. Cover tightly. Let sit for 10 minutes, and then drain.

3. Mash eggplant. Mix in eggs, pepper, onion, oregano and breadcrumbs.

4. Spray the bottom of a shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Cover with half of the tomato slices.

5. Spoon in eggplant mixture and spread evenly. Arrange the rest of the tomato slices on top.

6. Mix together Parmesan and cheddar cheese, and sprinkle on top. Add paprika to taste. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve with a simple green salad—and enjoy!

Keep Reading: Black Bean Tostadas With Avocado Salsa >>

Black Bean Tostadas With Avocado Salsa

Melissa Lanz, the found of the meal planning company The Fresh 20, lightens up a Mexican favorite with reduced-fat cheese and homemade tostadas. Avocado is a top source of healthy fats, while black beans contain as many antioxidants as many fruits and vegetables, reports a study from Canada’s University of Guelph.

Serves 8


For the tostadas:

8 (6-inch) organic corn tortillas

2 tablespoons grape seed oil

Kosher salt

1 (14.5-ounce) can organic black beans

1 garlic clove

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ head of iceberg or Romaine lettuce, shredded

1 cup (about 3 ounces) reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese, shredded

For the salsa:

1 medium tomato, diced

¼ medium red onion, diced

1 ripe (but firm) avocado, diced

¼ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1 lime, juiced

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Pinch of black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lay out tortillas. Brush with oil on both sides, and bake for 5 to 8 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.

2. Drain black beans; reserve half of the liquid.

3. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine black beans, liquid, garlic, cumin and cayenne pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree mixture; set aside. Allow beans to cool and thicken.

5. In a small bowl, combine avocado salsa ingredients.

6. Assemble tostadas by spreading a layer of black beans. Then add lettuce, avocado salsa and a sprinkle of cheese.

Keep Reading: Budget grocery shopping tips for pregnancy >>