It can be frustrating to face the expense and time involved with preparing a healthy meal for your family if you're on a limited budget and tight schedule. Simple habits such as always shopping with a list, watching for sales, shopping seasonal items and never shopping when hungry can certainly help with budgeting. Having specific meal ideas that are healthy, quick and cheap can further help you keep your family meals on the right track.
Serve inexpensive beans rather than meat as protein. Watch the sales and buy canned or dried beans in bulk. Though dried beans take longer to cook, they are much cheaper and can be cooked in a slow cooker while you tend to other work. Serve beans in an inexpensive soup, rice casserole or plain. Accompany the bean dish with a quick salad made from seasonal vegetables and topped with a creamy dressing.
Whole-grain pasta offers a healthy, inexpensive and quick start to a meal. Toss some sliced, seasonal vegetables with the cooked pasta along with creamy dressing. To save money, purchase whole, seasonal vegetables and cut them yourself rather than buying pre-cut ones. Add beans or ground meat to the pasta and vegetables to complete the main dish.
Use baked potatoes as an inexpensive, healthy and quick meal start. Cook baked potatoes in a microwave to speed up preparation time. Top potatoes with protein in the form of cheese, beans or ground meat. Add steamed seasonal vegetables on the side or as a topping. Alternatively, make a side salad with Ceasar or other creamy dressing to provide your family with vegetables. Give baked potatoes a quick, healthy pizza twist by topping with pizza sauce, cheese and pepperoni.
Skillet meals of stir-fry or enchilada filling offer a versatile main dish. Purchase meat on sale or use leftover meat. Add any vegetables, leftovers or those found on sale to the skillet with the meat. Flavor with a dry dip mix for a quick seasoning blend. Add bean sprouts and baby corn to a stir-fry or beans and cheese to an enchilada skillet. Serve stir-fry over rice, or place enchilada mix in enchilada shells to complete a quick, healthy, budget-friendly meal.
Kids may like the novelty of having breakfast for dinner, but eggs provide a quick, cheap, easy and healthy serving of protein. Scramble eggs with leftover vegetables, meat and savory seasonings for a quick, tasty dinner. Make a family-sized frittata in a frying pan using several eggs, meat, diced tomatoes and cheese. Serve the egg dish with whole grain bread or rolls.