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Healthy eating on a budget: 5 vegetarian dinners for under $50

Do you find yourself thinking you want to eat healthier, but think it’s too expensive, or you’re simply not sure where to start?

Our dietitians have created 5 vegetarian meals using just 10 ingredients, which will feed a family of four for dinner all week, for less than $50. They’ve also shared their insights for getting the most out of your shop - more food, more nutrients, and more healthy dinners.

More Food: Spread Your Budget Further Planning ahead - Planning can make a huge difference to your overall shopping costs. To make it simple we have a shopping list for our vegetarian meals to make it easy. When planning your dinner meals look for ways to minimise waste and use up everything you buy, so you don’t end up with a rouge half broccoli or one or two carrots you can’t use.

Stock up with specials - Look out for specials when stocking up on more expensive pantry items like olive oil, nuts and seeds.

Buy seasonal - In season fruit and veggies - usually the fresh produce on special out the front of the grocery section - not only helps to keep your grocery bills within budget, but it is fresher, better for your wellbeing and the planet’s health too.

More Nutrients: Make Each Mouthful Count

Power pairings - Some foods work together to help your body to better access the nutrients they contain. For example in our Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Tomato and Bean Stew recipe, the vitamin C in a tomato helps your body absorb more of the iron from the kale and beans.

Another power combo is good fats with foods that contain fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E or K. So how does that play out in the pan? Drizzle olive oil on your orange veggies, like sweet potatoes, before baking for more immunity-strengthening vitamin A. Or add avocado to your nourish bowl with some broccoli, spinach or kale to absorb more of those fat-soluble vitamins - great for dry winter skin.

Swap don’t skip - If you’re missing an ingredient don’t cut the veggie out of the recipe, simply swap it up. Generally, with a recipe calling for beans you can use kidney beans, chickpeas or lentils. A sweet potato can often be swapped for white potato or pumpkin. Most of your leafy greens are interchangeable and often cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, Bok Choy and cabbage) can be swapped around. This way your veggie count stays up and so do the nutrients you’re getting.

Frozen is ok too - Fruit and veggies don’t have to be fresh to be healthy and packed with nutrients. Often for convenience and price, frozen veggies win out. Thankfully, the nutrient quality is similar to fresh veggies, because in many cases the vegetables are snap frozen within hours of picking. So, if frozen is easier for you, and it means you’re eating more veg, then go for it.

Peel is unreal - For many fruit and veggies a lot of the fibre and powerful plant compounds are actually found in or near the skin. So whenever possible, give your fruit and veggies a good wash and eat them with the skin on. It’s less time, less waste and much better for you than throwing away all those nutrients. There are a few exemptions when the skin is too hard and unpalatable like avocados, melons, bananas, oranges, etc.

More Meals: Cook Once, Eat Twice 

Loving leftovers - Leftovers have been proven to taste better - you’re not imagining it. This is because over time, flavours marinate and mature in a similar way to slow cooking. Extra tasty leftovers make an ideal lunch (we can vouch for the Caramelised Onion Rice in the meal plan) or can be reinvented into a new meal. Think about turning leftover roast veggies into a soup, adding them to a salad or sandwich, omelette or even using them as topping on a pizza.

Make friends with your freezer - Many dishes freeze incredibly well, so consider doubling recipes such as lasagnes, soups and casseroles and freeze leftovers. It’s an instant healthy meal to reheat especially on nights you need a no fuss dinner.

To get started check out our nifty video which shows how you can create 5 delicious, healthy and vegetarian meals to feed a family of four for less than $50, using these 10 simple ingredients:
  1. Broccoli
  2. Kale
  3. Sweet potato
  4. Red onion
  5. Tinned diced tomatoes
  6. Tinned cannellini beans
  7. Lemon
  8. Brown rice
  9. Parmesan
  10. ​Eggs 
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