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FEATURES Nov 2 2012 3:56PM
Savory Vegan Fajita

Four Deliciously Healthy Family Dinner Ideas For Under $12

by Jessica Jones of FoodHeavenMadeEasy.com
Eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, it can actually help you save money. A recent Agriculture Department study found that most fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods cost less than foods high in fat, sugar and salt.

If you need more proof, here are four delicious, vegetable-based family dinner ideas for under $12.

Savory Vegan Fajitas
Total cost: $11.00
Shopping Cart:
  • 4 whole-wheat tortillas ($3.00 per pack of 8, $1.50 for 4)
  • 1 avocado ($1.00)
  • 1 large green bell pepper and one red bell pepper ($1.50)
  • 1 onion ($1.00)
  • 4 cloves of garlic ($.50)
  • I box of Seitan ($5.00). You can also use black beans or chicken (which are cheaper options).
Pantry Items:
  • Use whatever spices you have on deck to season this dish. I used chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. If you like your food spicy, add cayenne pepper as well.
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • Cut bell peppers and onions in thin slices and mince garlic
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat
  • Add Seitan (or your choice of protein)
  • Add spices, then add peppers, onions and garlic
  • Cook for 5 minutes
  • Reduce to low heat, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes, stir occasionally
  • Place fajita mix in tortillas, top with slices of avocado
Vegetarian Thai Curry
Total Cost: $8.26
Shopping Cart:
  • 1 small box of frozen peas ($1.00)
  • 1 carton of organic tofu ($2.00)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro ($1.00)
  • 1 Bell Pepper ($.60)
  • 1 white Onion ($.50)
  • 1 can of Reduced Fat Coconut Milk ($2.00)
  • 2 tablespoons of Bragg's Liquid Amino Acids or Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce ($2 per bottle, $.25 per serving)
  • 1 tablespoon Thai Red Curry Paste  ($3.28 per container, $.41 cents per serving, this is optional)
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice (~$1.00)
Pantry items:
  • 2 tablespoons of curry powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Start by cooking the rice according to package directions
  • Chop or slice veggies, tofu and cilantro
  • Pour coconut milk in a pot and warm on medium heat
  • Add 1 tablespoon of the curry paste
  • Add 2 tablespoons of Bragg's Liquid Amino Acids 2 tablespoons of curry powder
  • Add veggies, then tofu and finally cilantro
  • Heat until veggies are tender but not mushy
  • Leave a bit of fresh cilantro to put on top once it is cooked
  • Serve over rice

Mouthwatering Vegetarian Chili
Total Cost: $6.10
Shopping Cart:
  • 1 can of kidney beans ($1.00)
  • 1 can of black beans ($1.00)
  • 1 can of chickpeas ($1.00)
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (15 ounce) ($1.50)
  • 1 green bell pepper ($.60)
  • 4 cloves of garlic ($.50)
  • 1/2 onion ($.50)
  • Your favorite cheese (~$1.00 for the amount of cheese used in this recipe, this is optional)
Pantry items:
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt pepper to taste
  • 1-2 cups of your favorite chopped veggies (I used carrots and zucchini, this is optional)
  • Heat olive oil on medium heat and sauté chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, garlic, (optional carrots and zucchini) until they begin to smell great (about 5 minutes)
  • In a large pot, mix tomatoes and beans. Add sautéed mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Top with a pinch of cheese
Kale and White Bean Sauté with Broiled Rosemary Tilapia
Total Cost: $12.00
Shopping Cart:
  • 1 bunch of Kale ($2.00)
  • 1 can of White Beans ($1.00)
  • 1 small red Onion ($1.00)
  • 4 pieces of fresh or frozen tilapia ($6.50)
  • 1 lemon ($.50)
  • 8 cloves of garlic ($1.00)
Pantry items:
  • 1 tablespoon of Rosemary
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Combine ¼ chopped onion, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of Rosemary and 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil with Tilapia in a piece of foil. Make sure foil is completely sealed
  • Broil for 15 minutes
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil on medium heat, sauté 4 cloves of minced garlic with ½ of chopped onion
  • Add beans, stir for 5 minutes
  • Add chopped Kale and cook until it begins to wilt
And there you have it – four healthy dinner ideas that don’t hurt the wallet. For more inexpensive recipes, make sure to check out www.foodheavenmadeeasy.com.

Jessica Jones, MS, RD, is a Clinical Dietitian at a hospital in Brooklyn and the co-host of Food Heaven Made Easy with Wendy and Jess, a healthy cooking/nutrition web-series:  www.foodheavenmadeeasy.com.


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