5 healthy meals for 4 under , plus shopping list and tips

5 healthy meals for 4 under $50, plus shopping list and tips

Tired of spending a ton on groceries only to get home and feel overwhelmed deciding what to cook, or worse, letting ingredients go to waste? “Good Morning America” Food has you covered thanks to one food creator who’s sharing the perfect seasonal shopping list to make five accompanying healthy recipes that will feed a family of four for under $50.

5 healthy meals for 4 under , plus shopping list and tips

Food creator Jenn Lueke holds a bowl of her three bean veggie chili.

Jenn Lueke

Boston-based recipe developer and food blogger Jenn Lueke is best known for her series on social media in which she shares everything people need for a stress-free grocery shop, plus meal plans to make it all come together and taste amazing at various price points.

Lueke, known as jenneatsgoood on Instagram, joined “GMA” on Wednesday with a fresh list of ingredients to shop this month, plus the pantry staples you should have on hand, to help a family of four — or a couple who wants leftovers — make five healthy and hearty dishes at home.

“A great tip for saving money, try some of the plant based proteins if you’re not somebody that would normally reach for it, that’s why I like to do a mix in these meal plans,” Lueke told “GMA.” “It’s all about utilizing pantry staples as well — so you’re making a dish that has a lot of protein and tastes really good.”

March Grocery List

Sticking to a list is always a top tip for staying on budget and this one takes out the guesswork!

While Lueke regularly shops at Trader Joe’s for its low price points, the cost of some ingredients below may vary depending on your location and time of purchase.

1 large yellow onion — $1.20
1 broccoli head — $2.30
5 green bell peppers — $3.45
6 oz baby spinach — $2
1 lb raw carrots — $1
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I use fire roasted) — $3
15 oz can black beans — $0.89
15 oz can kidney beans — $1.09
15 oz can chickpeas — $1.09
32 oz basmati or jasmine rice — $3.30
16 oz gluten-free pasta of choice — $2.50
32 oz veggie or chicken broth — $2
15 oz can artichoke hearts — $3
1 lb raw cashews or cashew pieces— $7
4 oz nutritional yeast — $3.50
1 lb ground turkey — $4.50
1 + 1/2 lbs boneless chicken thighs — $7.53
14 oz firm tofu block — $2

Pantry Staples

Here’s a running list of items you should already have on hand to make Lueke’s recipes below.

Olive oil
Coconut aminos, soy sauce, or tamari
Maple syrup
Sriracha
Lemon juice
Tapioca, arrowroot, or corn starch
Spices
Kosher salt and black pepper
Garlic powder
Chili powder
Smoked paprika
Ground cumin
Dried oregano
Ground ginger
Sesame seeds (optional)
Red pepper flakes (optional)

5 Healthy Recipes for 4 people under $50

Ground turkey and rice stuffed peppers

PHOTO: Homemade stuffed and roasted peppers.

Homemade stuffed and roasted peppers.

Jenn Lueke

For this dish, you’ll be using half a yellow onion, garlic, ground turkey, crushed tomatoes, rice and carrots from the shopping list.

Ingredients
4 green bell peppers, cut in half & seeds removed
1 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp olive oil (separated)
1 lb ground turkey
1 tsp salt + additional to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 + 1/4 cups basmati or jasmine rice, rinsed
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 cups veggie or chicken broth + 1 cup water
16 oz crushed tomatoes (half of a 28oz can)
2 oz baby spinach

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grab a deep baking dish (I recommend a 9×12 or 9×13 size). Slice the bell peppers in half, remove the insides, and cover the outsides with 1 tbsp of olive oil and a few sprinkles of salt. Place the peppers in the baking dish and transfer to the oven for 30-40 minutes to soften.
2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground turkey and brown all over to cook completely, breaking it apart into small pieces. Add the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and red pepper flakes and fully coat.
3. Remove the turkey from the skillet and set aside. In the same pan add in the yellow onion and sauté for about 5 minutes to soften. Add the rice and stir to combine, then mix in the nutritional yeast and a few sprinkles of salt.
4. Pour in the broth, water, and crushed tomatoes, stir to combine and cover the skillet. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through, to fully cook the rice.
5. Stir in the baby spinach and wilt down, then add back the ground turkey.
6. Fill each of the 8 bell pepper halves with the turkey and rice mix. Be sure to stuff as full as possible to use up all of the mix, but you may have some leftover (feel free to enjoy separately!).
7. Transfer back to the oven for 5-10 minutes to reheat everything, top with additional nutritional yeast if desired, then serve immediately for best results.

3 Bean Vegetarian chili

PHOTO: Jenn Lueke's three bean veggie chili.

Jenn Lueke’s three bean veggie chili.

Jenn Lueke

With one yellow onion, a bell pepper, carrots, garlic, crushed tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas and your broth of choice — this meal is about as simple as it gets.

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeds removed & diced
1 tsp salt + additional to taste1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
15 oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
15 oz can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
15 oz can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
16 oz crushed tomatoes (half of a 28oz can)
1 cup veggie or chicken broth (veggie for plant based)
1 cup water + additional as needed

Directions
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion and green bell pepper and sauté for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onion is transparent and peppers are tender.
2. Add the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Mix to combine and sauté for another 2-3 minutes while stirring.
3. Pour in the black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, crushed tomatoes, broth, and water. Mix to combine and add additional water if a thinner chili is desired. Put a lid on the pot and reduce heat to medium low.
4. Simmer for 20-25 minutes to soften the beans, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
5. Remove the pot from heat, salt to taste, and serve immediately for best results.

One-pot spinach and artichoke chicken thighs with rice

PHOTO: A plate of spinach and artichoke chicken.

A plate of spinach and artichoke chicken.

Jenn Lueke

Ingredients
1/2 cup raw cashews + 1 cup boiling hot water
1 lb boneless chicken thighs
1 + 1/2 tsp salt + additional to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp + 1 tsp garlic powder (separated)
2 tsp dried oregano + 1 tsp oregano (separated)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 large yellow onion, diced
1 + 1/2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup veggie or chicken broth + 1 + 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 ounces baby spinach
15 oz can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and quartered

Directions
1. Place the cashews in a glass bowl or jar and cover completely with the hot water. Set aside for 20-30 minutes while completing the following steps.
2. Remove the chicken from its packaging and pat it dry with a paper towel. Season on all sides with the 1 + 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp oregano, and red pepper flakes.
3. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the seasoned chicken thighs and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, until brown and crispy on the outsides. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
4. In the same skillet, add the diced onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to soften.
5. While the onion sautés, add the soaked cashews (along with the water) to a food processor or blender. Blend on high speed until it becomes a smooth cashew milk (if needed, add additional water to smooth). You should have about 1 + 1/4 cups of cashew milk. Set aside.
6. Add the rice to the skillet with the onion and mix to cover the rice in oil. Season with the remaining salt, garlic powder, and oregano, along with the nutritional yeast.
7. Mix in the cashew milk (1 + 1/4 cup), broth, water, and lemon juice. Stir in the spinach and add the chopped artichokes on top. Place the chicken back in the skillet. Put on the lid and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked and most of the liquid has been soaked up.
8. Remove from heat and for best results, serve immediately.

Creamy green veggie pasta with vegan cashew parm

PHOTO: A bowl of green veggie pasta from Jenn Lueke.

A bowl of green veggie pasta from Jenn Lueke.

Jenn Lueke

Perhaps one of Lueke’s most viral and vibrant recipes, this dish utilizes a cup of cashews to create a plant-based creamy texture for the sauce that’s jazzed up with other fresh ingredients from the shopping list like lemon, broccoli, parsley, spinach and garlic.

Ingredients
For the pasta
3/4 cup raw cashews + 1 + 1/2 cups boiling water
1/3 broccoli head, cut into florets (~2 cups)
2 oz baby spinach
16 oz pasta of choice
1/2 cup veggie or chicken broth
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 + 1/2 tsp salt + additional to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
3 tbsp nutritional yeast

For the cashew parm
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Directions
1. Place the cashews in a glass bowl or jar and cover completely with the hot water. Set aside for 20-30 minutes while completing the following steps.
2. Chop the broccoli into small florets, then boil a pot of salted water. Once at a roaring boil, add the broccoli and baby spinach. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove from the water.
3. Boil another pot of salted water and cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
4. Drain the soaked cashews but keep the water separate. Add the broccoli, spinach, cashews, broth, lemon juice, and olive oil to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. If needed, slowly pour in the leftover water from the cashews to thin out.
5. Add in the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and nutritional yeast and blend again. Taste and salt accordingly. Pour the sauce all over the cooked pasta until sauced to your liking (you may have leftover sauce) and mix to coat.
6. After cleaning out the blender or processor, add in the cashews, nutritional yeast, oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes and pulse until fine but not blended, similar to the texture of parmesan cheese.
7. Serve the pasta in bowls and top off with the cashew “parm.”

Sticky tofu bowls with crispy carrots and broccoli

“Tofu is a budget friendly plant based protein source, it’s usually about $2 for a block,” Lueke encouraged. “If you haven’t tried tofu, it’s so, so good. A lot of people haven’t tried tofu before and once I get them to try it they love it.”

PHOTO: A tofu and veggie rice bowl from Jenn Lueke's March meal prep.

A tofu and veggie rice bowl from Jenn Lueke’s March meal prep.

Jenn Lueke

Because everything gets baked together, cooking is a breeze, the tofu gets tossed in your sauce and it all gets served in a big bowl — buddha style.

Ingredients
14 oz firm tofu block
2 tbsp arrowroot, tapioca, or corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp olive oil

For the carrots and broccoli
2/3 broccoli head, cut into florets (~3 cups)
1 lb raw carrots, peeled & cut into strips
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp olive oil

For the sticky sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup coconut aminos, tamari, or soy sauce
2 tbsp maple syrup
1-2 tbsp sriracha (depending on preference)
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp garlic powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp arrowroot, tapioca, or corn starch + 2 tbsp water
1/2 cup raw cashews

For serving
1 cup basmati or jasmine rice, cooked
2 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Drain the liquid from the tofu block and use a tofu press or heavy object to press the block for 20-30 minutes to remove moisture.
2. Meanwhile, cut the broccoli and carrots, add them to a mixing bowl, and coat with the oil, salt, and garlic powder. Transfer to one side the sheet pan.
3. Cut the pressed tofu into small even cubes, then add to the same mixing bowl and coat with the starch, salt, garlic powder, and oil. Transfer to the other side of the sheet pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until everything is crispy. Cook rice according to package instructions.
4. While the tofu and veggies cook, add the oil, coconut aminos, maple syrup, and sriracha to a skillet. Whisk occasionally until the sauce is simmering, then mix in the ginger and garlic. Salt to taste. Reduce heat to low.
5. In a small bowl, whisk the starch and 2 tbsp of water to make a slurry. Pour the slurry into the sauce and mix again.
6. When the tofu is done, add it to the sauce along with the cashews and stir to coat. Serve over the cooked rice with the roasted veggies on the side. Top with additional sauce from the skillet and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

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