I heard an ad on the radio the other day from a grocery chain advertising that they have family meals for under $40 – hence “affordable”. I am not sure who is doing the grocery shopping for these families but I am pretty sure that most people would agree that a meal at home should not cost $40. In addition, I highly doubt that these meals are nutritious. I decided to challenge this $40 meal with making my meals for my family for under $20. This, of course, requires me to do all of the planning, preparation and cooking. However, I would argue that most of us have to do some level of planning, preparation and cooking when eating at home.
I have come up with my week-long “healthy under $20” meals that I am sure will meet the nutritional needs and taste buds of even the most picky of family members. I have tried to keep the meals fun and interesting and sight a bit of what makes each meal healthy.
Monday – Chicken Dinner:
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts – chicken is packed with protein, phosphorus to keep bones healthy, niacin to help lower cholesterol and amino acids to help kids grow stronger and taller.
- Steamed broccoli/brussel sprouts/cauliflower – anti-aging and cancer fighting superheroes! They are packed with antioxidants and selenium, immune boosting phytonutrients, vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium, iron and folic acid
- Baked potatoes – Potatoes, if cooked healthily, are good for you! They are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Potatoes and sweet potatoes fight cancer, control diabetes and help you maintain bone health.
Tuesday – Taco Tuesday:
- Ground turkey or chicken – choose one of these two options instead of the traditional beef variety. Add low sodium taco season and it will be just a yummy as beef and a lot better for you.
- Shredded choice of dark leafy green lettuce (instead of iceberg) as these high in iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids and B, C, E and K.
- Diced red or orange peppers – great sources of potassium, manganese (collagen production, blood sugar control, and bone production supporter), fiber and vitamins A, B, C and K. They also happen to have twice the vitamin C content of oranges and are packed with antioxidants.
- Tomatoes and salsa – tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that may reduce cholesterol and protect against advanced-stage prostate cancer.
- Whole grain wraps or hard shell tacos and shredded cheddar cheese.
Wednesday – Spaghetti Dinner:
Whole grain spaghetti or spaghettini with tomato sauce – choose a tomato based pasta sauce instead of cream-based. Not only will this be better for your waste-line but also for your health. When tomatoes are cooked, their antioxidant power is increased as it increases the amount of phytochemicals they contain. Add a side salad with choice of colourful toppings.
Thursday – Breakfast for dinner:
Eggs and ancient grain toast, grilled tomatoes and orange juice or a veggie packed omelet.
Eggs have been given a bad rap but they are really an amazing food – they are loaded with nutrients – you can even get omega enriched eggs now. They contain vitamin A, folate, vitamin B5, B12, B2, D, E, K, calcium, phosphorus and selenium.
Ancient grain breads have more protein, folate, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, fibre, and calcium than wheat.
Friday – Fish & Chips:
Your choice of fish and preparation – you can even do homemade and healthy “battered” fish. Fish is loaded with important nutrients such as omegas, protein, vitamin D and iodine.
Serve with baked yam fries. – very rich in carotenoids, vitamins A, B6, C (helps heal wounds, cancer prevention, prevent cataracts, reduce blood pressure, regulate blood sugar and even treat Parkinson’s disease!), potassium, iron and fiber.
Saturday – Pita Pizzas:
- Start with whole wheat pita bread – The “whole wheat” label means the wheat in that product hasn’t been refined so healthy components like endosperm and bran are left intact. Unrefined products also have many more nutrients like B vitamins and trace metals like iron, zinc, and copper.
- Top with tomato/pasta sauce, mushrooms (contain selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more), chicken, peppers, tomatoes, pineapple (contains a natural enzyme called bromelain, which helps digestion and may also help prevent blood clots, inhibit growth of cancer cells and speed wound healing), ham etc…and top with your favorite cheese.
Sunday – Stir fry:
Boneless skinless chicken breasts, frozen stir fry veggies – frozen veggies are just as healthy as the fresh variety as they are flash frozen and all of the nutrients are preserved. Serve over and rice noodles or brown rice
Other ideas include roast chicken dinners, homemade soups, salads topped with chicken and baked whole wheat garlic toast. There are so many options. You are only limited by your imagination and, of course your family’s preferences.
So this week, challenge yourself to take the time to prepare some or all of these healthy meals for your family. You will be giving so much more than your gift of time, but the gift of health.