Eat Healthy All Week for Just $60
Unless you're the kind of home cook who's into pork belly and foie gras, it's almost always cheaper and easier to eat healthy if you're preparing your own food. But at lunchtime-when you're miles away from your kitchen, starving at your desk-pretty much everyone feels the gravitational pull of the nearest food truck.
So we asked dietician Beth Saltz for a fix: One night of simple cooking that'll yield five different healthy meals. It's basically a playbook for anyone interested in losing weight while keeping money in his pocket. Sound like you?
Your Shopping List
• 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 5-8 ounces each (just keep all three the same size). ($7.00)
• 1-2 pounds seasoned ground turkey . Or use half ground beef or bison. ($7.00)
• Refrigerated pesto ($3.00)
• Green salsa ($4.00)
• Brown rice or white rice (Frozen rice bowls are an extremely convenient option. Some stores carry shelf-stable rice bowls you can heat in the microwave.) Option: use quinoa instead of brown rice ($3-6.00)
• Pasta of choice ($3.00)
• Large tortillas of choice ($3.00)
• Jarred or fresh refrigerated marinara sauce (look for a short ingredients list) ($3.00)
• 1 small can black beans ($1.30)
• 1 small can cannellini beans ($1.50)
• 1 small frozen bag of roasted corn ($3.00)
• 1 bunch fresh asparagus ($4.00)
• 1 container plain Greek yogurt ($1.50)
• 1 bottle barbeque sauce ($2.50)
• Shredded coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage (get the colorful kind including purple cabbage) ($2.00)
• Shredded cheddar cheese (optional) ($3.00)
• Sundried tomatoes (optional) ($3.00)
Total: $55-60 (prices based on Trader Joe's and Fresh Direct)
Sunday Night Cooking
1. To poach the chicken breasts, place the chicken in a pot and add water-enough to cover the chicken by at least 2 inches. Add 1 tsp. salt to water. Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer. Chicken will be done when it reaches 165 degrees-about 12 to 17 minutes depending on size of chicken breasts. When chicken cools, cube 2 of the breasts and shred the remaining 1 breast (use 2 forks to shred).
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium. After a minute, add 1 tbsp oil to pan. When oil is shimmering, add 1 lb seasoned ground turkey in skillet. Stir and break up any clumps. Continue cooking until turkey has no pink spots left. Season with Italian seasoning blend/salt/pepper/any dried herbs of choice.
3. Cook ½ cup of the frozen roasted corn according to package directions.
4. Cook the brown rice or quinoa according to package directors. (you should have 1 ½ to 2 cups total).
5. Cook the pasta according to package directions. You will want 2 cups total.
6. Steam or roast asparagus, season with salt/pepper.
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BBQ Chicken Wrap
Prep: In small bowl, mix together 2 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt with 1-2 Tbsp. tangy barbeque sauce. Set aside.
In medium bowl mix together:
• 1 of the cooked, cubed chicken breasts
• ½ cup cooked roasted corn
• ½ cup black beans
• 3-4 Tbsp. of the yogurt-bbq sauce you just made
Put this chicken mixture in a Tupperware container. Add container to large ziptop plastic bag. Throw in ½ cup of shredded coleslaw mixture and 1 large tortilla. Refrigerate all.
Assembly: Add coleslaw mix to bowl of chicken and toss. Heat tortilla in microwave 20 seconds to soften. Fill center of tortilla with chicken mixture, roll tightly and cut into 2 halves.
Turkey Rice Bowl
Prep: Mix together in your lunch container: Half the cooked ground turkey, 1 cup brown rice, cooked asparagus. Add more salt/pepper/herbs of choice. You may also need a few extra drizzles olive oil. Taste for seasonings. Refrigerate in covered container.
Assembly: Heat the turkey/rice/asparagus mixture in microwave for 1-2 minutes, until hot.
Prep: Mix together in your lunch container: 1 cup cooked pasta, 1 cubed cooked chicken breast, 2-3 Tbsp. refrigerated pesto sauce. Add 2 Tbsp. sundried tomatoes if desired. Refrigerate in covered container.
Assembly: Heat the pasta/chicken/pesto mixture in microwave for 1-2 minutes, until hot.
Prep: Mix together in your lunch container: 1 cup cooked pasta, half the cooked ground turkey, ½ to ¾ cup jarred marinara sauce. Let cool to room temperature and then freeze in covered container.
Assembly: On Weds. night, move the container from the freezer to the refrigerator. At work, heat the turkey/pasta/marinara mixture in microwave for 1-2 minutes, until hot.
Prep: Mix together in your lunch container: the shredded cooked chicken breast, ½ cup refrigerated (fresh) salsa or salsa of choice, ½ cup black beans, ¼ cup cooked roasted corn. Freeze in covered container. Throw 2 Tbsp. shredded cheese and 1 large tortilla into a ziptop bag and refrigerate.
Assembly: On Thursday night, move the container from the freezer to the refrigerator. Friday morning, grab your chicken along with the bag of tortilla/coleslaw/cheese. At work, heat the chicken mixture in microwave for 1-2 minutes, until hot. Then heat tortilla up for 30 seconds. Put chicken mixture in center of tortilla, add cheese; tightly roll up. Enjoy with optional side of guacamole.