Eating healthy seems like it can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. It might seem like it’s difficult to eat healthy, but there are a variety of healthy meals you can serve for less than $15 that will feed your whole family. Yes, it takes some detective work to find affordable, healthy meals, but the options are out there.

Affordable Healthy Meals

The meals listed here cover a variety of taste preferences and contain both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. Here are ten of our family’s favorite healthy meals that won’t break a budget.

Feel free to modify each one to fit your lifestyle, tastes or family size.

1. Black Bean Chili

I’m a pretty good cook, but for some reason I used to be terrible at making chili. My meals usually always get compliments but my chili was just plain sad.

After doing some research I concocted this little recipe. The great thing about it is that you can modify as you wish.

As an example, you can either use all kidney beans or you can use only black beans. And you can add whichever veggies you like. Play around with the recipe if desired and make it your own.

Black Bean Chili Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef (you can use turkey or chicken as well)
  • 1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 fresh green pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 – 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 – 15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 t. pepper
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • ½ t. chili powder
  • ½ t. Chipotle chili powder
  • 2 t. ground cumin
  • 1 c. water


In a large pot, cook ground beef with diced pepper and onions. When thoroughly cooked, add all spices and blend well. Carefully add all other ingredients, mix well and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Pour in more water if necessary to get the consistency you like.

Spices can also be adjusted to your preference. Note: Chipotle chili powder is a bit on the spicy side; do a taste test before adding more. Serve with toppings such as shredded cheddar or sour cream if you’d like. Homemade corn bread or homemade biscuits make a nice accompaniment as well.

2. Lemon Chicken and Chipotle Rice

This is another family favorite at our house. The Chipotle rice is a knockoff from the well-known restaurant.

Lemon Chicken Ingredients

  • 4 medium sized chicken breasts
  • 1 whole lemon, cut in half and juiced
  • 1 t. pepper
  • 1 t. salt
  • ½ stick real butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and spread it in the bottom of a 8×11 glass pan or similar. Place chicken breasts in pan. Sprinkle lemon juice evenly over chicken. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over chicken.

Place chicken in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Open oven, remove pan and flip chicken to other side. Bake for 15 more minutes or until thoroughly cooked.

Chipotle Rice Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked Jasmine rice (Basmati works well too, as does brown rice)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ large red onion, diced small
  • 2 fresh lemons, juiced
  • ½ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ c. water
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a large bowl or in the pot you cooked the rice in, add the onion and cilantro. Mix thoroughly and set aside. Blend water, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil well in a small bowl. Toss over rice/cilantro/onion mixture and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste (I usually add 2 t. salt and 1 t. pepper). Enjoy!

3. Chicken or Fish Tacos

We make tacos at least once a week at our house. There are many different accompaniments you can add to tacos to mix things up. Note: we always make homemade tortillas from Taste of Home with our tacos using organic flour.

This makes the tacos healthier as you avoid the chemicals used to preserve the store bought tortilla shells. We use a tortilla press from Amazon to make the job super easy and fun.

Chicken or Fish Tacos Ingredients

  • 1 lb. chopped chicken or fresh/frozen fish such as walleye
  • 4 fresh Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 bag romaine lettuce, diced or shredded
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Homemade Taco Seasoning Ingredients

I also add homemade taco seasoning to our taco meat choice to avoid chemical preservatives such as MSG. Here’s how I make it:

  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 2 t. chili powder
  • 2 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. pepper


After you’ve thoroughly cooked the meat (fry the chicken in a pan, bake the fish in the oven), set it aside. Toss with homemade taco seasoning or use the store-bought stuff. Coat the meat thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, combine the diced fresh tomatoes, the diced onion and the chopped cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This is your homemade Pico de Gallo.

Serve the tacos on your homemade shells and top the meat with the Pico de Gallo and lettuce. If you’d like, you can also add other toppings such as sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa or guacamole.

4. Avocado Egg Toast

This simple meal is a great healthy choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Avocado Egg Toast Ingredients

  • 1 fresh avocado, mashed (scoop out of the skin and mash with a fork in a small bowl)
  • 2 pieces whole wheat bread, toasted
  • 1 fried egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Putting this together is easy; just lay the toast on a plate, spread with mashed avocado and top with the fried egg. This recipe makes one serving; just multiply by how many people you’ll be eating with if you are feeding more.

Note: if you want to spice it up, you can add spices such as garlic powder, salt, pepper and lemon juice to the avocado. For a Mexican flair, add ground cumin and chili powder to taste as well.

5. Chicken Noodle Soup

I’m not talking the stuff in the can here. Once you have homemade chicken noodle soup you’ll never go back to the canned stuff.

Chicken Noodle Soup Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts (or one whole chicken)
  • 8 carrots, sliced
  • 6 celery sticks, sliced
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 8 ounces of noodles (any variety), prepared as directed
  • 1 T. salt
  • 2 t. pepper
  • 1 T. dried parsley


Boil chicken in a large pot filled with water. If you use the chicken breasts this will take about 20 minutes. If you use the whole chicken it will take about two hours. Remove the chicken and set aside. If you’ve used chicken breasts, simply dice the cooked chicken (after it’s cooled a bit) and put back in the pan. Discard any fat.

If you’ve used a whole chicken, discard any skin and fat and pull the meat apart into small pieces. Put the meat back into the pan and discard the bones. Add the carrots, celery and onions. Put the salt, pepper and parsley in and simmer on medium heat until the veggies are tender. Sprinkle the peas in and simmer for 3-5 more minutes.

Add the noodles, stir and simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve.

Note: you may need to add more water and salt as everything cooks. Add water to your desired consistency.

6. Vegetable Kabobs

Veggie kabobs are a great way to have a meal from the grill without having to use meat.

Vegetable Kabobs Ingredients

You can choose what you’d like here: be creative! Here’s what we use.

  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 red onion, diced into large square pieces
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 green pepper, diced into large square pieces
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Put the veggies onto skewers in alternating order. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Blend in other spices if desired. Grill on medium heat for roughly 10 minutes (until desired tenderness), rotating regularly.

Serve with rice or baked potato.

7. Chicken and Grilled Veggies over Whole Wheat Pasta

This is another recipe knockoff I created after a visit to a popular restaurant in our area. It’s flavorful and quick to make.

Chicken and Grilled Veggies over Whole Wheat Pasta Ingredients

  • 1 – 16 oz. box of whole wheat thin spaghetti pasta (we use DeBoles), prepared
  • 2 chicken breasts, diced and cooked
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 1 c. grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
  • ½ c. extra virgin olive oil


In large stir fry pan or large frying pan, add olive oil, chicken and all veggies. Sprinkle in seasonings to taste. Fry until tender but not mushy.  Add prepared noodles to pan and mix well, adding more spices if necessary. Serve.

8. Vegetable Stir Fry

Stir fry is another one of those healthy dishes you can modify any way you like. If you don’t have a stir fry pan, a large frying pan will work just fine. The frozen stir fry veggies we use are available at Costco.

If you don’t have them in your area or wish to use fresh, simply make your own. You can use a combination of pea pods, water chestnuts, carrots, bell peppers, onion, broccoli, mushroom, etc.

Vegetable Stir Fry Ingredients

  • Frozen organic stir fry vegetables, as many servings as you need
  • Extra virgin olive oil for frying with
  • Stir fry sauce (we use Kikkoman brand)
  • Brown, Jasmine or Basmati rice, prepared, as many servings as you need
  • Optional: cashew nut halves, salted


Prepare rice as directed in large pot. As rice is cooking, add olive oil to pan on medium to medium high heat. Put vegetables in pan, stirring regularly until tender but not mushy.

When vegetables are finished cooking, add stir fry sauce and coat well. Use as much or as little as you desire. On each plate put a scoop of rice and cover with vegetables. Sprinkle cashew nut halves on top if desired. Serve.

9. Southwestern Quinoa

This is a modification of a dish I found online that has surprisingly turned out to be a family favorite. To be honest, I was never a big fan of quinoa before I found this dish. Now I love it – usually. I had to play around with quinoa types first in order to get the right flavor.

Consequently, I’ve found the type of quinoa you use makes a difference in the flavor. While white quinoa has a mild, bland taste, red quinoa has a rich, nutty flavor that makes it more palatable. Because of that I always use the red quinoa when cooking.

Southwestern Quinoa Ingredients

  • 4 servings of red quinoa
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 8 oz. black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • Optional: ½ c. corn
  • Extra virgin olive oil for frying
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 2 t. salt
  • ½ t. ground pepper


Prepare quinoa as directed and set aside. While quinoa cooks, saute’ onion and green pepper in large frying pan over medium heat.

Then, after the onion and pepper are tender (but not mushy), add quinoa to pan and mix thoroughly. Add tomatoes, corn, avocado, cilantro and all spices next. Remove pan from heat.

Blend thoroughly, tossing the mixture in the pan until the everything is well-coated. Serve as is – nothing more is needed!  Note: If you love meat, feel free to add diced steak or chicken to this mixture. Just be sure to cook it separately and thoroughly before adding to the salad.

10. Chef Salad

Chef salad makes a tasty and filling lunch or dinner for a whole crowd. We set ours up kind of like a buffet, letting everyone choose their ingredients.

Chef Salad Ingredients

  • 1 bag of prepared lettuce salad (we use a Romaine mix, however there are many options)
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 2 avocadoes, skinned, de-pitted and diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 container grape tomatoes, sliced the long way
  • ½ lb. sliced turkey breast, chopped
  • ½ lb. sliced ham, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 c. sliced black olives
  • ½ c. sunflower nuts
  • Salad dressing flavors as desired


Put each prepared item in a separate bowl and set up buffet style. Or, place some of each ingredient on top of a plate of lettuce salad. Serve with desired salad dressing. Note: you can mix this up with different meats such as chicken, bacon or steak. You can also add any other vegetables you desire.

Keys to Cooking for Less

In conclusion, there are so many options for healthy meals that don’t cost too terribly much. One of the keys to eating for less is to find the stores with the best prices.

We do a lot of our grocery shopping at Aldi and at Walmart. I know what the prices are at each store so I know what to buy where so I can get the best value. Another key is to menu plan around what’s on sale.

For instance, if chicken is on sale, either eat a lot of chicken that week or stock up for later. With a little creativity and effort, you can feed your family well for less.

What are your favorite affordable, healthy meals? Share in the comments below.