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42 Healthy Meals Under $100 Your Man Will Love

  October 24, 2019  |    #Live Fabulously

I want healthy meals that are just right

I want Goldilocks’ dinner but not her porridge. By that, I mean, I want healthy meals that are fast to make, aren’t expensive but taste it. Do healthy meals like this even exist? Y.E.S.!

Less is more with budget-friendly, healthy meals

One of the wisest women in the history of forever once boastfully sang, “There’s nothing better than more.” Calories and spending money were probably exceptions.

In this day and age of go, go, go because we gotta get, get, get, it can be hard to find the time and resources to cook healthy meals. Suddenly, we find ourselves in the drive-thru more than we care to admit.

The convenience of fast and quick-casual foods can’t be beat, for sure, but the costs in both calories and cents eventually catch up. That’s why especially when paying off our $51,000 in credit card debt, we practice(d) a less-is-more strategy with cooking healthy meals at home.

Pssst! This strategy helped save us $30,000 a year.

Use fewer ingredients per healthy meal

We love “reading” ourselves a good cookbook chock full of pictures. We can spend hours avoiding work by perusing the internet for recipes, and nothing makes the checkout line go faster than flipping through our favorite mag of delectable delights.

But most of those recipes call for an Outback wagon load of ingredients that requires too much time and money. We stick with recipes that range between five to 10 ingredients with our regular, week-to-week, healthy meals.

We’ll make exceptions when we’re cooking a special meal. But literally, zero of our meals will ever be critiqued by Gordon Ramsay.

Here are a few pointers.

Simply cook less

“Cooking less, guys, is exactly why I grab and go my meals,” you’re saying.

We hear ya! What we mean is to cook for yourself but cook less frequently. These four steps will help you reach this culinary goal:

1. Cook your healthy meals in large quantities

When you’re cooking anything, cook as if you’re feeding a small band of gladiators – picturing a room full of Russell Crowes in leather studded belts.

It doesn’t take much more time to cook a fully segmented chicken – protein-rich for building muscle – as it does to cook one or two chicken breasts. If you’re steaming one pound of broccoli, which is full of vitamins K and C, a good source of folate (folic acid) and also provides potassium and fiber, cook 4X that and now you have 4X servings of broccoli.

Cooking your healthy meals in large quantities means that by cooking once, you could have two to four lunches or dinners already cooked when you least want to cook.

2. Batch your cooking

Batching is a strategy we apply to many areas of our personal and professional lives, and studies have shown batching is one of the most efficient ways of getting shit done.

When it’s time to wash the cars, we wash both because all the equipment’s out and we’re already a mess. When we must run errands, we hit everywhere we have to go on one trip. When a new season of Schitt’s Creek is released, we watch the whole season in one sitting (that’s not really what we’re talking about).

When you’re cooking, cook it all.

We mean, pick a day of the week or month and prep as many healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners as possible. Especially when we’re not working from home, we like to pack a week’s worth of Tupperware with dried oatmeal (full of antioxidants) raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg (both great for your complexion).

We do the same thing with our daily salads or David’s amazing, homemade chicken soup (cooked in large quantities) for lunch.

Get this! Batching your cooking also means fewer times cleaning your kitchen.

3. Properly package and store your large quantities of batched healthy meals

The same people who look down our eating leftovers eat low-quality hamburgers that sit under a heat lamp for 23 minutes. If you’ve ever grabbed a wrap or precut crudité at Trader Joe’s, you’ve eaten leftovers – just ‘new to you’ leftovers.

With today’s technology and product innovation, food tastes as fresh as freshly made with proper food storage.

Don’t mix pre-cooked foods, such as green beans and hamburgers, in the same storage container. Use muffin tins to easily manage your portion sizes and, in some cases, store your food.

Depending on how soon you’ll eat your precooked, healthy meals, properly store them in either the back of your fridge for meals you’ll eat within three days or in the freezer for meals you’ll eat three days or more out.

With that, make a worthwhile investment in two or three sets of this glass container set.

Thaw your frozen food in the refrigerator to keep it fresher tasting and healthy, mean uncontaminated. This means planning ahead of time – enough time – what you want to eat and when. For the occasional quick thaw, submerge frozen items under cold water.

4. Use fewer kitchen tools when cooking

Some people go into their kitchen with a “use everything” strategy. The more you use, the more things get messy and the more you must clean. Cleaning too much every time you cook increases the chance you won’t cook again.

Fail!

There are two great tools for cooking less, one less used than the other. Most people are aware of the amazingness of slow cookers, known to most amateur chefs as Crock Pots – like Kleenex to facial tissues.

In fact, we have another article about five meals that pretty much cook themselves while you’re off doing whatever it is you’d rather be doing.

Cooking large portions of protein-packed pork roast with root vegetables or peppers stuffed with a ground turkey mix while you’re at work, working out or out and about is a great way to use little more than your Crock Pot, a cutting board and a knife.

OK, maybe you’ll use a spoon or fork, but you get the point.

You know another way to cook large quantities of food while you’re doing whatever whatever? The oven.

The oven scares many people. Maybe it’s because the last time they saw one being used was by their grandmother, and that makes it seem as hard as churning butter. But get us, the oven is your easy-to-use friend – not that friend who goes home with every guy every weekend – the other sense of that sentence.

Toss some butternut squash (full of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and more) with cubed potatoes, Brussels sprouts (possibly packed with cancer-fighting agents), white onion and garlic (both great for reducing heart disease) and olive oil on an aluminum foiled lined baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes, and you’ve got yourself a heart-warming side dish or salad perfect for Fall.

Or, mix your favorite and healthy, chicken paella recipe easily found online in a cast-iron skillet and place it in the oven for 40 minutes, and you’ve got dinner and several lunches for the week.

Cook healthy meals with healthy ingredients

This, of course, should be a no-brainer, but we want to make this article complete. We’ll touch on this next.

But what are healthy meals, really

Atkin’s. Paleo. Dash. Whole30. Ovo-Lacto Vegetarianism. Intermittent. Vegan. Lo-So.

“Stop the insanity,” another wise woman once yelled!

We say KISS it! Keep It Simple, Stupid.

We’re not certified dieticians, though John did take Nutrition 101, along with A&P I & II, in college. But we think we’re pretty healthy for our age (mid- to late-40s). We both wear less than a size 32 jeans and think (when we’re not wearing glasses) that we have fewer wrinkles than many people our age and younger.

We’ve exercised and eaten healthy pretty consistently – with occasional gaps and bad judgment – most of our lives. Here’s our easy-to-follow diet:

  • Avoid processed and refined sugars and flours
  • Eat mostly vegetables (the greener and leafier the better) and fish

It hasn’t been intentional, but our diet more or less mirrors a Mediterranean diet, which is loaded with fresh foods, olive oil, avocado, hummus, garlic and, YES, wine.

What’s not to love?

It was recently reported, too, that the Greek city of Ikaria, is kicking the world’s ass in the number of older people. Not only that. It has the most active older people with a high quality of life and lots of sex.

What’s not to love?!

How to find healthy meals faster (like microwave faster)

1. Use Pinterest and Instagram for your healthy meal inspiration

Finding and being inspired by healthy meals has never been easier. These tastes are no longer relegated to the Food Network.

You can literally thumb through amazing dishes on your phone while eating lunch at work. Searching food-related hashtags, such as #healthymeals, #gaymencooking, #lowcaldinners, will keep you from being distracted by men with 6-pack abs (though they’re a good inspiration for eating health). With Pinterest, you can even archive or ‘pin’ your favorite recipes to your board, so you never have to hunt for that family favorite again.

Which brings us to our next point . . . .

2. Archive your favorite healthy meal recipes

We have a manila folder with printouts of our favorite healthy meals. We also have an email folder with copies and links to other favorite healthy meals.

This means healthy inspiration is never further than a couple of clicks away – because sometimes just thinking of what you or the family wants for dinner is the hardest part of meal planning.

3. Use apps to find healthy recipes for the food you already have

Sometimes you just can’t get to the grocery store and sometimes you have an eclectic mix of foods in your fridge and pantry that seem impossible to use for one dish.

That’s why we’re fans of the Yummly and AllRecipes apps. Download one or both to your phone, type in one or a couple of the ingredients you already have, and each app will show you recipes you may be able to make without a last-minute run to the grocery store and reduces food waste.

Top chef tips for frugal, healthy meals

Hands down, the #1 and #2 ways we cut $30,000 from our grocery shopping and dining out expenses were

  1. Creating a meal plan, using this menu right here
  2. Creating a grocery list using this grocery list template here

Intentionally creating a weekly menu and grocery list and being sure to use the foods we already had, then bought the foods we needed that were either on sale or for which we had coupons greatly reduced our food expenses.

Before using these novel tools, we simply loaded our grocery cart with whatever items caught our attention and then rarely had a combo of food to make decent meals, let alone healthy meals.

To get you started and inspired by all you learned above, below are 42 healthy meals that you can cook mostly all at once for less than $100.

Our healthy meals already planned for you

We’ve created a balanced menu of 42 healthy meals, 3 meals per day for 7 days for 2 adults. We assume you’re living with or are married to someone who also wants to eat healthily and save money.

We’ve also included the menu and a grocery list for these healthy meals. We followed this exact plan for a week, ourselves. If 2 grown men, working and working out 5 days a week can survive on this diet, so can you and your (wo)man.

This particular menu and grocery list may not be sustainable for months on end, but what if you did this one week a month, eliminated dining out and cut your grocery bill to $75 a week? How much more could you put towards your debt or other money goals in that one week? $75? $100? $250?

Give this strategy a try, and start here . . . .

More healthy food, less money menu

Sunday

• Breakfast – Egg, potato & cheese burrito and apple
• Lunch – Pasta with meat sauce, orange, and veggies with ranch dressing
• Dinner – Grilled chicken, rice, and frozen veggie

Monday

• Breakfast – Oatmeal and banana
• Lunch – Rice & bean burrito, apple, and veggies with ranch dressing
• Dinner – Pasta with meat sauce and frozen veggie

Tuesday

• Breakfast – Oatmeal and banana
• Lunch – Grilled chicken, rice, frozen veggie and orange
• Dinner – Grilled turkey burgers, baked potato, and frozen veggies

Wednesday

• Breakfast – Oatmeal and banana
• Lunch – Rice & bean burrito, apple, and veggies with ranch dressing
• Dinner – Pasta with meat sauce and frozen veggie

Thursday

• Breakfast – Oatmeal and banana
• Lunch – Grilled turkey burgers, baked potato, and frozen veggies
• Dinner – Grilled chicken, rice, and frozen veggie

Friday

• Breakfast – Oatmeal and banana
• Lunch – Rice & bean burrito, apple, and veggies with ranch dressing
• Dinner – Grilled turkey burgers, baked potato, and frozen veggies

Saturday

• Breakfast – Egg, potato & cheese burrito and apple
• Lunch – Grilled turkey burgers, baked potato, and frozen veggies
• Dinner – Pasta with meat sauce, frozen veggies, orange and veggies with ranch

Here’s your last chance to get our grocery list template and an extra freebie.

2 responses to “42 Healthy Meals Under $100 Your Man Will Love

  1. Just read your blog about 42 healthy meals under $100. I’m pescetarian, lactose and wheat intolerant. This is all new for me in my adult life. I would be interested in your suggestions. There are surprisingly good options for us but it’s not cheap.

    1. Nina, thanks for the comment. Although we are not dieticians, I would think there are some good options for you. There are plenty of legumes and grains that are fairly cheap that can get you a good boost of protein. It sounds like Asian dishes that focus on veggies would be another way to go. Fish isn’t always the cheapest especially if you don’t live near large bodies of water, but there are cheaper options like cod and tilapia. What have you found that works?

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