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Budget-friendly recipes your whole family will love

It seems like life gets increasingly hectic—and more expensive—with the start of each new school year. Homework, carpooling, after school activities, the list goes on and on. It’s easy to skimp on healthy meals in an attempt to save both time and money. Instead, check out these kid-friendly dinner ideas that can help minimize your time in the kitchen while maximizing nutrition.


Perfect Pizza Casserole

Turn pizza night on its head with this veggie-packed casserole. Not only will it crush those pizza cravings, the cauliflower base is rich in potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Plus it’s keto and paleo friendly!

Serves 6


  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ pound ground mild Italian sausage
  • 1½ cups marinara sauce
  • 2 cups low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 ounces uncured pepperoni slices


  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. In a 9×13-inch ovenproof glass baking dish, toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread into a single layer and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown, tossing halfway through the cooking time.
  3. While the cauliflower is baking, brown the Italian sausage. Drain away any excess fat.
  4. Once the cauliflower is golden and tender, stir in the sausage and marinara sauce.
  5. Level the mixture and top with the shredded cheese. Place the pepperoni slices on top of the cheese.
  6. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Per serving: Calories 337; Total Fat 25g; Carbs 9g; Protein 17g; Sodium 908mg; Sugar 5g


Quick Chicken Nuggets with Ranch Dressing

Picky eaters? Try a healthy gluten-free spin on finger food with these baked chicken nuggets. Pair with a side of sweet potato fries for a nutrient-filled alternative to the drive-thru. Bonus? Chicken thighs are a flavorful and budget friendly substitute for pricier chicken breasts.

Serves 4


For the nuggets

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups almond flour
  • 1½ cups coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

For the ranch dressing

  • 1 cup natural mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 400° Grease a baking sheet with a bit of coconut oil. Set aside.
  2. Cut the chicken into nugget-size pieces.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flours and spices with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Crack the eggs into another bowl and whisk until frothy.
  5. Dip each nugget into the eggs, then coat with the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Place on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake the nuggets for 15 minutes, turning over after 7 minutes.
  7. While the nuggets are baking, combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Season to taste. Serve the dipping sauce with the nuggets.

Per serving: Calories 828; Total Fat 52g; Carbs 41g; Protein 49g; Sodium 446mg; Sugar 5g


Taco Time

Who doesn’t love tacos? Toss all the ingredients for this meaty taco base into a crock pot before you dash out the door in the morning and let it work its magic all day. Add toppings and either tortillas or Romaine lettuce leaves and you’ll have a DIY dinner in a flash!

Serves 6


  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (14 oz.)


  1. Cut the pork into four or five pieces. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Mix the spices and salt in a large bowl. Add the pork and toss to coat.
  3. Brown the meat in the heated oil, turning to sear all sides. Remove to the crock pot.
  4. Add the onions, garlic, and tomatoes to the crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  5. Remove the pork and turn the crock pot to high to reduce the sauce. Shred the meat and return to the pot. Stir to mix well.
  6. Serve with tortillas or lettuce leaves and a variety of toppings such as diced avocado, chopped cilantro, and quartered limes.

Per serving: Calories 529; Total Fat 38g; Carbs 6g; Protein 39g; Sodium 272mg; Sugar 3g


Clean Sloppy Joes

Take this kid favorite up a notch by replacing that soggy old bun with a juicy Portobello mushroom. Serve with some lightly steamed broccoli “trees” and a natural ranch dressing (or the leftover ranch from your nuggets!) for a fun yet nutritious meal.

Serves 4


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


  1. Preheat broiler. Remove stems from mushrooms and carefully scrape out the gills with a spoon. Place the mushrooms on a foil-lined baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Crumble the turkey into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, and paprika and stir until the meat is lightly browned. Add the onion, carrot, and bell pepper, stirring to combine. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Broil the mushrooms for 2-3 minutes per side or until slightly tender. Let stand until cool enough to handle and pat dry.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, vinegar, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce to the meat mixture. Reduce to a simmer and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  5. Top each mushroom cap with the Sloppy Joe mixture and serve.

Per serving: Calories 291; Total Fat 13g; Carbs 17g; Protein 27g; Sodium 254mg; Sugar 9g


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