Nutrition for Women

The Price Is Right 2-Week Meal Plan

These budget-friendly clean recipes and two-week meal plan can help you break through those plateaus — without breaking the bank.

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Whether you’re grocery shopping for one or trying to nourish a family, food bills can add up fast — especially if you’re consistent with your healthy get-lean diet. After all, wild salmon, grass-fed beef and microgreens aren’t cheap. What’s more, food prices have increased by more than 3 percent overall in the past year. (Thanks, pandemic.)

But you don’t have to spend a fortune to eat like a champ. You just need to seek out and buy foods with a big nutritional bang for your buck. There are plenty of frugal-minded superfoods, so even if you’re pinching pennies, you don’t need to pass on nutrition.

Harvard researchers found that the price disparity between healthier eating habits (i.e., more fruits, vegetables and lean meats) and lousy ones (i.e., more sodas and snack foods) is only about $1.50 a day.

Superfoods for Super Cheap

Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy is possible on a budget. Check out these stealth health foods that won’t bust the bank.

Lentils | Average Price: $2.79 (16-ounce bag)

Lentils deliver big-time nutrition on the cheap. A ¼ cup of (dry) lentils has 13 grams of protein, a ton of fiber and phosphorus, which helps your muscles contract and promotes postworkout muscle recovery.

Red Cabbage | Average Price: $2.50 (per head)

A head of cabbage can be used for several meals and lasts for weeks in the fridge. It contains plenty of vitamins C and K, and the red variety contains anthocyanins, the same anti-inflammatory antioxidants found in berries.

Cottage Cheese | Average Price: $3 (16-ounce tub)

Ounce for ounce, cottage cheese is a less pricey source of protein than Greek yogurt and contains plenty of casein, which has been shown to promote satiety and help with weight control.

Sunflower Seeds | Average Price: $2 (8-ounce bag)

These humble seeds deliver heart-healthy unsaturated fats and a range of vitamins and minerals, including thiamin, magnesium and selenium, which promotes thyroid health and function.

Millet | Average Price: $3.79 (28-ounce bag)

Gluten-free millet has a great corny flavor as well as plenty of B vitamins and magnesium, which helps move blood sugar into your muscles while disposing of lactic acid, which can cause fatigue.

Cooked chicken thighs.

Chicken Thighs | Average Price: $2.50 (per pound)

Bone-in chicken thighs are cheaper than breast meat and contain a ton of vitamin B6, which helps with premenstrual syndrome and reduces depressive symptoms.

Sardines | Average Price: $2 (3.75-ounce tin)

Sardines contain plenty of omega-3 fats and hard-to-get vitamin D, which, according to the British Journal of Nutrition, can suppress appetite and help you lose weight.

Frozen Berries | Average Price: $4 (12-ounce bag)

Frozen produce is less expensive than fresh and won’t go fuzzy in the veggie drawer. Berries contain plenty of antioxidants to prevent free-radical damage and may improve insulin response, according to research published in The Journal of Nutrition.

Eggs | Average Price: $3.50 (per dozen — large)

Eggs are one of the most economical sources of protein around. They contain choline for brain health, vitamin B12, selenium and riboflavin, which, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, helps your body process iron.

Tofu | Average Price: $2.65 (16-ounce block)

Tofu is a complete protein, making it a cost-effective staple for vegetarians and carnivores alike. It also contains manganese, which promotes brain function, helps regulate blood sugar and activates enzymes in your body that play a role in metabolism.

Asian Cabbage Slaw
Asian Cabbage Slaw

Asian Cabbage Slaw

Makes: 4 Servings

Use this slaw in tacos made with corn tortillas and strips of top sirloin steak.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 4 scallions (green onions), chopped
  • ⅓ cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp canola or peanut oil
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrots, green onions and sunflower seeds. In a separate bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, ginger and salt until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in canola/peanut and sesame oils and pour over slaw. Toss to combine.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 218 calories, fat 15 g, carbs 21 g, fiber 6 g, sugar 10 g, protein 5 g, sodium 353 mg

Rainbow Millet Scramble

Makes: 4 Servings

Riff on this recipe with brown rice instead of millet.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup millet
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 scallions (green onions), chopped
  • 1½ cups black beans, cooked or canned
  • 3 cups spinach
  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese, optional
  • 1 cup salsa

DIRECTIONS

Cook millet according to package directions. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, thyme, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Heat oil in a skillet over medium. Add tomatoes, bell peppers, scallions and black beans and cook 2 minutes. Add spinach and cook until slightly wilted. Reduce heat and pour in eggs. Cook, stirring gently, until small, creamy egg curds form. Stir in millet and cheese (if using). Serve topped with salsa.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 294, fat 10 g, carbs 34 g, fiber 8 g, sugar 6 g, protein 19 g, sodium 558 mg

Sweet Potato Egg Cakes

Makes: 4 Servings

These single-serving egg cakes make a great breakfast and a tasty economical lunch.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onions
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 F and lightly grease an 8-cup muffin tin. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onions and salt and sauté 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and garlic and cook until potatoes are tender. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cheese, thyme and pepper. Add veggies and stir to combine. Divide among muffin cups. Bake until eggs are set, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before unmolding.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 cakes): calories 325, fat 16 g, carbs 23 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 6 g, protein 22 g, sodium 613 mg

Lentil Minestrone Soup
Lentil Minestrone Soup

Lentil Minestrone Soup

Makes: 4 Servings

This soup has a ton of fiber to satisfy you at both lunch and dinner.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes
  • 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ⅓ cup flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onions and salt and heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots, celery and garlic and cook 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, Italian seasoning, black pepper and chili flakes and heat 1 minute. Add broth, lentils and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Stir in chickpeas, kale and balsamic vinegar and cook until kale has wilted. Divide among serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 329, fat 5 g, carbs 61 g, fiber 23 g, sugar 7 g, protein 20 g, sodium 617 mg

Tofu Satay Steak

Makes: 2 Servings

Squeezing out the excess moisture from tofu is the key to giving it a delicious sear.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 block extra-firm tofu
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp rice or cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Sriracha
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • ⅔ cup cooked shelled edamame
  • 2 cups chopped red cabbage

DIRECTIONS

Line a cutting board with 2 to 3 paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Place tofu in the center and top with 2 to 3 more paper towels or another kitchen towel. Press firmly to extract excess liquid, then remove towels. Slice tofu widthwise into 2 slabs and season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add tofu and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and Sriracha. If mixture is too thick, stir in warm water 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Divide rice, edamame and cabbage among serving plates and top with tofu steaks. Drizzle on sauce.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 471, fat 29 g, carbs 38 g, fiber 7 g, sugar 7 g, protein 23 g, sodium 381 mg

Chicken Vegetable Medley Sheet Pan

Makes: 4 Servings

Adapt this recipe to feature your favorite budget-friendly proteins and vegetables.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • ¾ tsp salt, divided
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into
  • 1-inch cubes
  • 3 medium beets, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 tsp canola oil, divided
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ tsp chili pepper flakes
  • 1 (10-oz) bag frozen broccoli florets
  • juice of ½ lemon

DIRECTIONS

Place oven rack in middle position and set a lightly greased rimmed baking sheet on rack. Preheat oven to 400 F. Season chicken with 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper. Toss potatoes and beets with 2 teaspoons oil and . teaspoon salt. Place chicken in a single layer skin-side down onto hot baking sheet. Arrange potatoes and beets around chicken and roast 25 minutes. In a bowl, whisk together remaining oil, lemon zest, chili flakes and remaining salt. Add broccoli and toss to coat. Flip chicken, stir potatoes and arrange broccoli on baking sheet. Roast 10 to 15 minutes more, or until broccoli has darkened and chicken is cooked through to a temperature of 165 F. Let stand 5 minutes, then drizzle with lemon juice.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 340, fat 23 g, carbs 20 g, fiber 4 g, sugar 4 g, protein 33 g, sodium 413 mg

Bone-in chicken is almost always priced lower — about a buck less per pound — because less processing is needed to get it onto store shelves. Bonus: The bone actually adds flavor during cooking, meaning chicken thighs are more likely to stay moist than breast meat.

Taco Stuffed Potato

Makes: 4 Servings

The quality protein and carbs in this dish makes it the perfect recovery meal after a spirited workout.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 tsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ lb lean ground pork
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp fajita or Cajun seasoning mix
  • 1 cup canned black beans
  • 1 avocado
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 pinches salt
  • 1 cup salsa
  • ¼ cup unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 F. Poke holes in potatoes and brush with 1 teaspoon oil. Bake 40 minutes, or until very tender. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onions and salt and sauté until onions soften and begin to brown, about 6 minutes. Add pork and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add water and stir in seasoning mix. Heat 1 minute, then stir in black beans. In a small bowl, mash together avocado, lime juice, garlic and salt. Slice open potatoes and fill each with pork mixture. Top with avocado, salsa, pumpkin seeds and cilantro.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 514, fat 29 g, carbs 46 g, fiber 11 g, sugar 11 g, protein 22 g, sodium 570 mg

Week 1: The Price is Right Meal Plan
Week 2: The Price is Right Meal Plan