When we take a break from some of the fabulous games and gadgets we get to tell you about, we try to sneak in a recipe or two. We always try to incorporate some of our diet goals in our meal planning. Among the common misconceptions about dieting is that it is more expensive, but I’m going to show you it isn’t. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. In fact a budget friendly meal can be made for well under $20 for a family of four thanks to the great Rollback prices at Walmart, AND be healthy at the same time! As an additional bonus, they aren’t complicated either – they can be rather simple dinners.
I’ve found my best weight-loss success when I limit my caloric intake to 1,500 calories (male) and my wife sticks with 1,200. This still allows for three full meals a day with two snacks in-between to keep the hunger pains at bay. For me I use the 2-4-6 rule (invented by ME), which stands for 200 calories for breakfast, 400 for lunch and 600 for dinner. That leaves 300 calories for miscellaneous snacking/cheating! Here’s an example of how I make our dinners.
I always start with the protein, making sure we have enough for at least four 3 oz. servings. Fortunately the chicken breasts we purchased are enormous, and at a pound each, one is more than plenty for our family of four. Instead of adding salt and spice, I usually choose to marinate it. Rather than using a typical (and more expensive) marinade, I find it is just as good to use a salad dressing. In this case I chose Kraft’s Zesty Italian Dressing. We’ll grill up this breast using our favorite kitchen appliance, our T-Fal OptiGrill. Total cost of the protein? Just under $4 with a little bit of chicken and nearly the whole bottle of dressing left over. Total calories per 3 oz. serving is approximately 120.
Next we’ll need some vegetables, and one of our favorite things to do is to pan-roast something fresh. Spray on a little bit of oil and add kosher salt. That’s it! Cost for four servings is less than $2 and rings in at well under 40 calories.
Roasted red potatoes with kosher salt and Velveeta Shredded Cheese represents our starch. Again, a little bit of spray-on oil to keep them from sticking is necessary, without adding many calories to the meal. Because the cheese is an accent and not the main portion of the dish, only a half-serving each is needed. Figure $3 for a little over a pound of potatoes and the bag of cheese (which you will have most leftover for later) and around 190 calories for a serving. For that many calories, it’s a good thing they are yummy!
Which brings me to the fruit (and dessert at the same time) portion of the meal. This is a special recipe in our family, one which I remember my father making for my brother and I when we were in grade school. I don’t know if it was his invention (he was a HUGE Elvis fan and always attributed this salad to him) or whether he read it somewhere, but either way it is one of those side dishes that I will always associate with him. It’s super-simple to make, full of flavor and really a winner with my kids as well.
Jerry’s Elvis-Inspired Peanut Butter & Honey Banana Salad
One banana, sliced
1/4 cup Kraft Mayonnaise
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp honey
Mix mayonnaise, peanut butter and honey in a bowl until combined.
Toss in banana slices and gently stir until well-covered.
Serve or chill. Makes four small servings.
The total cost is around $9 if you have to buy all the ingredients new, but you really don’t use very much. Per serving this is expensive calorie-wise at 156 in each portion, but well worth it even if I have to use some cheat-calories!
Thee total monetary cost of this meal for a family of four tallies up to approximately $18 (we drink water with our meals). How did we do on our diet? This entire meal is only 506 calories!
Sometimes we’ll leave out the starchy side dish and replace it with a second vegetable (a salad perhaps) which allows us to have larger portions of everything else. As you can see, these types of budget recipes can not only save you money, especially around those tougher mid- and end-of-month tight times, but they can be good for your waistline as well.