Feed a family of four from Monday through Friday, all for about $75. 
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Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Healthy eating has a reputation for being costly, but that’s definitely not the case. Once you find the right meals, feeding the family on a budget can be stress-free and satisfying — especially with tools like the Cooking Light Diet.

The Cooking Light Diet has tons of easy and delicious recipes that won’t break the bank and can feed the entire family. We’ve used recipes from the program to put together a shopping list (minus pantry staples like olive oil, cooking spray, salt, and pepper) that can provide five healthy dinners for a family of four at about $75 total.

The Shopping List

  • 1 pound broccoli rabe
  • 1 tomato
  • 3 yellow onions
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 2 ½ pounds broccoli florets
  • 1 (9-oz.) bag fresh spinach
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 3 ounces (about 3/4 cup) pre-shredded, reduced-fat Italian-blend cheese
  • 1 1-pound pork tenderloin
  • 3 ounces hot chicken Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 ½ pounds peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 small bottle balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 small bottle dry red cooking wine
  • 1 small bottle organic ketchup
  • 1 14.5-ounce can unsalted petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 small package ground flaxseed
  • 8 ounces uncooked whole-grain spaghetti
  • 1 loaf sourdough bread
  • Frozen sweet potato fries
  • Sugar
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Eggs

Dinner #1: Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Blistered Broccoli Rabe

Credit: Photo: Jason Varney

Broiling broccoli rabe makes it nice and crisp while imparting a great charred flavor. Sub chopped broccoli, if you wish, and serve with lemon wedges.

Ingredients:

2 bunches broccoli rabe (about 1 pound), trimmed
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, cut into 8 slices
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

How to Make It:

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Arrange broccoli rabe in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan; coat with cooking spray. Broil 8 minutes, carefully turning after 5 minutes.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add pork to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove pork from pan. Remove pan from heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and vinegar to pan, stirring to loosen browned bits. Drizzle sauce over pork and broccoli rabe.

SERVES 4

Calories 225; Fat 9.3g (sat 1.7g, unsat 6.9g); Protein 28g; Carb 7g; Fiber 0g; Sugars 3g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 455mg

Dinner #2: Sausage and Spinach Spaghetti Pie

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Meet your new favorite casserole recipe. This budget-friendly dish (costing under $10) allows you to stretch a small amount of meat over several servings. It's family friendly, filling, and loaded with flavor — the perfect weeknight meal. The high heat on this recipe allows it to cook quickly, crisping the spaghetti slightly on the outside to make the perfect "pie crust" for this dish. You can use crumbled sausage, or start with Italian sausage and remove the casing, which is what the recipe calls for. Remove the casing by cutting up the side with a knife or kitchen shears, then crumble the sausage using a spoon in the skillet as it cooks.

Ingredients:

8 ounces uncooked whole-grain spaghetti
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 ounces hot chicken Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cups chopped tomato
1 cup prechopped onion
1 (9-oz.) bag fresh spinach
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces pre-shredded, reduced-fat Italian-blend cheese (about 3/4 cup), divided

Cooking spray

How to Make It:

  1. Place an 8-inch round cake pan in oven. Preheat oven to 500°F (leave pan in oven as it preheats).
  2. Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta; cook 8 minutes or until almost done; drain. Place eggs in a large bowl. Add hot pasta; toss to coat.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage; cook 2 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add tomato, onion, and spinach; cook 7 minutes or until liquid has almost evaporated, stirring occasionally. Add sausage mixture to pasta mixture. Stir in pepper, salt, and 2 ounces cheese.
  4. Carefully remove cake pan from oven; coat pan with cooking spray. Add pasta mixture to cake pan; sprinkle with remaining 1 ounce cheese. Bake at 500°F for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven; cut spaghetti pie into 4 wedges.

SERVES 4

Calories 401; Fat 10.4g (sat 5.2g; unsat 5g); Protein 24g; Carb 58g; Fiber 12g; Sodium 571mg; Sugars 6g (added sugars 0g)

Dinner #3: Flax-Boosted Meatloaf with Sweet Potato Fries

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Instead of traditional breadcrumbs, we use ground flaxseeds as the binder for this easy meatloaf. The flavors are kept straightforward — just onion, a little garlic, ketchup, and a nutty hit from the flaxseed. Feel free to toss in some chopped parsley, oregano, or basil for more depth. We call for organic ketchup because it is usually sweetened with sugar, not high fructose corn syrup; some organic brands are also lower in sodium than standard ketchup.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup grated onion
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound 90% lean ground sirloin
1 garlic clove, grated
1 large egg
1/3 cup organic ketchup
3 ounces (12 pieces) frozen sweet potato fries (such as Alexia Sweet Potato Fries with Sea Salt), baked according to package directions

How to Make It:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine grated onion, ground flaxseed, salt, pepper, sirloin, garlic, and egg in a large bowl.
  3. Shape into an 8 x 4-inch loaf on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Spread ketchup over loaf.
  4. Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°F. Cut meatloaf into 8 slices.

SERVES 4

Calories 291; Fat 21g (sat 5g; unsat 14g); Protein 27g; Carbohydrate 35g; Sugars 12g (added sugars 5g); Fiber 5g; Sodium 729mg

Dinner #4: Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce with Garlic Cheese Toasts

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Who says eggs can't be for dinner? We cook them in a simple tomato sauce for a shakshuka-inspired meal. We really liked this dish with the fruity heat of Turkish Aleppo pepper, but you can substitute crushed red pepper.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can unsalted petite diced tomatoes
4 large eggs
4 (1-ounce) slices sourdough bread
1 garlic clove, halved
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

How to Make It:

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and minced garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates. Add sugar, salt, peppers, and tomatoes. Cover and reduce heat to medium; simmer 2 minutes. Crack eggs, one at a time, on top of tomato mixture. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until whites are set and yolks are soft.
  3. Place bread slices on a baking sheet; broil 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until toasted. Rub bread with halved garlic clove. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese on each bread slice; broil 1 1/2 minutes or until cheese melts. Divide tomato mixture and eggs evenly among 4 shallow bowls. Serve with garlic toasts.

SERVES 4

Calories 286; Fat 11g (sat 3.6g; unsat 6.6g); Protein 15g; Carbohydrate 29g; Fiber 3g; Sugars 9g (added sugars 1g); Sodium 598mg

Dinner #5: Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli

Credit: Photo: Iain Bagwell

Sometimes simple and easy is best. Lemon brightens up everything it touches; here, they add a fresh boost to roasted shrimp. A side of broccoli rounds out this easy sheet pan dinner. 

Ingredients:

5 cups broccoli florets
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

How to Make It:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Cook broccoli in boiling water 1 minute. Drain and plunge into ice water; drain.
  3. Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons rind, juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl. Add shrimp; toss to combine. Arrange broccoli and shrimp in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 8 minutes or until shrimp are done.
  4. Combine oil, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons rind, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and crushed red pepper in a large bowl. Add broccoli; toss to combine.

SERVES 4

Calories 268; Fat 10g (sat 1.5g; unsat 7.4g); Protein 37.3g; Carbohydrate 7g; Fiber 2.9g; Sugars 2g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 571mg

Want daily recipes and meal plans tailored to your dietary needs and weight loss goals? Check out Cooking Light Diet and answer a few quick questions to get started.