Food creator shares 5 healthy meal recipes for 2 on a $75 budget

Food creator shares 5 healthy meal recipes for 2 on a $75 budget

Cooking healthy meals under a certain budget may seem daunting, but one food creator is sharing grocery lists, tips and recipes to make it a bit easier.

With $75 in hand for a trip to Trader Joe’s and five recipes at the ready, recipe developer and food blogger Jenn Lueke cooked up a new series on social media to help show home cooks how to make a handful of healthy meals for two people.

The food content creator of five years shared her full shopping list, additional best practices for your next trip to the store, plus five healthy recipe ideas with “Good Morning America,” below.

PHOTO: Jenn Lueke prepares recipes in her kitchen.

Jenn Lueke prepares recipes in her kitchen.

@jenneatsgoood

Lueke regularly concocts original recipes for her website goodeats and posts them on Instagram along with “little hacks” and more of her own personal health journey.

“I do a lot of like grocery haul type videos,” she said citing her trips to retailers that are familiar to home cooks, including Costco, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and more to show the prices of approachable products that are more accessible than niche influencer-backed wellness trends or products.

“Trying to show people how to eat healthy on a budget is kind of my main goal on my TikTok,” she continued. “It’s expensive to eat healthy. I think the reason people are really attracted to [my content] is they want to eat healthy, but they see a lot of influencers promoting such expensive products — and it’s really overwhelming. That’s kind of what prompted all of my healthy grocery hauls and then this series.”

She added, “I just love meal prep. It’s helped me a lot with getting healthier — being able to combine something that’s budget friendly, that you can like do with a busy schedule, you can reduce food waste, all those things check the boxes.”

For her latest series, Lueke chose to shop at Trader Joe’s because she said she finds their options to be “relatively budget friendly” especially for “produce and proteins.”

“You can shop anywhere you know you like, there’s nothing that’s brand specific,” she explained.

Best grocery tips from a recipe expert

PHOTO: Meal prepped vegetables for a week of healthy meals.

Meal prepped vegetables for a week of healthy meals.

@jenneatsgoood

Plan ahead

“I like to pick four or five meals that I’m going to cook for the week and then I make my list from there and try to see what I can use for multiple things,” Lueke suggested.

For example with produce, Lueke will look to use recipes that “use the same produce every day” or one ingredient in multiple ways. 

“If you really wanted to make a unique dinner every night and you didn’t plan it, you could easily spend $200 plus at the grocery store,” she said. “If you don’t plan it and you’re not having that overlap of spices and [condiments] and the proteins, you can easily rack up a huge grocery bill. It’s really about planning.”

Powerhouse ingredients that go a long way

Despite not using them in this recipe series, Lueke hailed eggs as a workhorse ingredient that can stretch to work in many meals and recipes.

Additionally, she said, “I always get chickpeas, coconut milk — it’s like a good paleo vegan option. I always get some kind of greens every week because you can freeze them and then add them to smoothies if you don’t use them — that kind of goes for all produce honestly, I always chop everything up, but if I don’t use it, I freeze it.”

Easy and versatile proteins for weeknight dinners

“I like to do like a ground chicken or ground turkey when I can. I like to do chicken thighs because they’re a little bit cheaper than chicken breasts,” she said. “[Opt] for those more affordable things [instead of] pre-cooked or pre-portioned things that just make it more expensive, because if you take a little bit of time to prep it, you’ll save like 50{d2b09b03d44633acb673e8080360919f91e60962656af8ade0305d5d8b7e4889}.”

Grocery list for five healthy meals on a $75 budget

Ingredients

1 1/2-2 pounds chicken breast

1 package Italian chicken sausage (5 sausages)

1 pound ground chicken

1 pound frozen shrimp

15-ounce can chickpeas

32 ounces chicken broth

1 jar creamy tahini

15-ounce can light coconut milk

1 jar tamari, coconut aminos, or soy sauce

1 package raw cashews

1 pound frozen cauliflower rice

1 large bag chopped kale

1 bag shredded carrots

1 jalapeño pepper

1 large cucumber

4 large sweet potatoes

2 broccoli heads

2 large yellow onions

1 garlic bulb

4-inch piece ginger root (can substitute with ground ginger)

6-8 green onions (1 bunch)

1 package baby bella mushrooms (about 14 mushrooms)

2 red bell peppers

Pantry items: Spices/sauces

Olive or avocado oil

Sesame oil

Rice vinegar

Honey or maple syrup

Salt & pepper

Garlic powder

Italian seasoning

Smoked paprika

Curry powder

Turmeric powder

Cumin

Ground ginger

Red pepper flakes

Once the shopping is complete, Lueke gets to work on prepping ingredients for the following five dishes. Here’s everything you need — and be sure to check out her corresponding Instagram posts for complete cooking instructions.

Meal 1: Ginger, Sweet Potato, & Kale Chicken Soup

PHOTO: Healthy chicken, veggie and ginger soup.

Healthy chicken, veggie and ginger soup.

@jenneatsgoood

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil

1 1/2-2 pounds boneless chicken breast (for a vegetarian option, sub for cannellini beans)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 + 1/2-inch ginger root piece, minced

2 large sweet potatoes, cubed

1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

4 cups chicken broth

3 cups fresh chopped kale

1/2 of one 15-ounce can light coconut milk

Meal 2: Curry Chicken Meatballs

PHOTO: Curry chicken meatballs with veggies.

Curry chicken meatballs with veggies.

@jenneatsgoood

Ingredients

2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil

3/4 large yellow onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 large sweet potato, cubed

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1/2 broccoli head, chopped

4 baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin

3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 of one 15-ounce can light coconut milk

1 pound ground chicken (for a vegetarian option, substitute baked tofu)

1 tablespoon tamari, coconut aminos, or soy sauce

4-6 green onions, chopped

sesame seed, for topping (optional)

Meal 3: Cauliflower Shrimp Fried Rice

PHOTO: Fried cauliflower rice with shrimp and green onions.

Fried cauliflower rice with shrimp and green onions.

@Jenneatsgoood

Ingredients

12-15 frozen shrimp (for a vegetarian option, substitute tofu)

2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1-inch piece ginger root, minced

1/2 broccoli head, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

4 baby bella mushrooms, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and chopped

2/3 cup shredded carrots

2 green onions, chopped

1 pound frozen cauliflower rice

1/4 cup tamari, coconut aminos, or soy sauce

3/4 cup raw cashews

lime juice (optional) for serving

Meal 4: Chicken Sausage & Veggie Sheet Pan Dinner

PHOTO: A sheet pan dinner with chicken sausage and veggies.

A sheet pan dinner with chicken sausage and veggies.

@jenneatsgoood

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, cubed

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced

1 broccoli head, chopped

6 baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1 package Italian chicken sausages (5 sausages) (for a vegetarian option, substitute veggie sausage)

2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon italian seasoning

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Meal 5: Crispy Chickpea Tahini Kale Salad

PHOTO: Kale salad with crispy chickpeas.

Kale salad with crispy chickpeas.

@jenneatsgoood

“I’m not a big salad person — and this one is like amazing,” she said of this dish for day five. “The dressing so good. It’s really simple and it holds up in the fridge for a long time. I absolutely love that and it’s a plant based option which a lot of people were asking about.”

Plus, she shared her secret for actually crispy chickpeas: “Cook them in the air fryer.”

“Wash off the chickpeas, pat them dry with a paper towel, season them with all the seasonings, toss it in some olive oil or avocado oil and then put it in the air fryer” lined with a piece of parchment paper, she suggested, “for 18 to 20 minutes.”

Ingredients

1 large cucumber, thinly sliced

2/3 cup creamy tahini

3 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons tamari, coconut aminos, or soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

Salt, pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes to taste

3 cups fresh chopped kale

2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil

2/3 cup shredded carrots

15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika