It’s unfortunate that fast food is also one of the cheapest eats. You might have thought about going on a diet before. But have you been deterred by the cost of buying more raw and organic foods? You can end up paying more for food when you start a diet. The excitement can lead you to throw out all your old stuff and buy a couple of weeks worth of new food. If you aren’t careful, you can end up with a hefty price tag.
That’s why we collected three great recipes for weight loss that are also easy on the wallet. These recipes use chicken breast, rice, pasta, beef, and veggies. The great thing about these foods is that they can keep you feeling full for a long time. You can also expand these recipes to make multiple meals for the week in one go.
Curry Chicken in the Crockpot
What’s better than moist chicken simmering in a warm coconut curry sauce? With the crock pot, you can throw in the ingredients and leave it to work its magic. If you’re on a low-fat diet, you can substitute lite coconut milk for the whole fat version below. Also, remember that you can save money by going to an Asian market for specialty ingredients. Asian ingredients in a regular grocery store are often overpriced (unless there is a store-brand version).
This recipe has three parts: the brown rice, the crockpot chicken, and some sauteed peppers to go on top. This recipe makes four servings.
To make the rice, you’ll need:
- 1 cup of brown rice
- 2 cups of water
Here’s the list of what you’ll need for the crock pot:
- 16 oz. lean chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 15-oz. can full-fat (or low fat) coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons of green curry paste
- 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil (regular or Thai)
- salt and pepper to taste
And for the pepper sautee:
- 1 large red pepper
- 1 large green pepper, sliced
- 1/2 red onion, sliced
- 1–2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- salt and pepper, too taste
Start off with the chicken and minced garlic in your crockpot. If you have the time, leave it on low for 6-8 hours. But if you’re short on time you can put it on high for 2-4 hours. After this time is up, shred the chicken with a couple of forks. Now add the chicken back in along with all the other crockpot ingredients. Let it simmer for 45 more minutes so the sauce can reduce down.
For the brown rice, just bring your two cups of water to a boil, add in the rice, and simmer covered for 20 to 25 minutes (depending on the brand of rice).
The last step is sauteeing the pepper garnish. For this, add a little of coconut oil to a pan. Wait until the pan is hot before you add the sliced peppers and onion. If you put the peppers in too early, they’ll get soggy with oil. And now you get to eat! You should be able to get all of these ingredients for under $20, so that makes each serving under $5. Plus, you can use certain things again like the curry paste.
Diet-approved Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
Now, this recipe might become one of your favorites for a hot summer day. You can prep the pasta, dressing, and chicken a day ahead and mix the greens in when you’re ready to eat. All these ingredients can be had for under $20 if you use a premade caesar dressing. For 6 servings, that’s a pretty good price. If you want to make your own dressing, you’ll spend a little more on ingredients (but it will be that much tastier).
Here are the ingredients for the homemade dressing:
- 1 cup of light mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup of sour cream
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons of anchovy paste
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
And the salad ingredients:
- 12 ounces of pasta
- 2 cups of cooked chicken, chopped
- 1 to 2 hearts Romaine, chopped
- 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup croutons (optional)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Creating the Caesar salad
If you’re going to use the homemade dressing recipe, make sure you get all the ingredients. Don’t be afraid of anchovies! They just add a mild savory flavor to the dressing. To make the dressing, just whisk together all the ingredients and let it chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
For the salad, start off by preparing the pasta the chicken. You can season the chicken if you like. Make sure the pasta is al dente (not too soft) and then run cold water on it to chill. After you chop up your chicken, you should chill it in the fridge as well. Then just slice up the tomatoes and mix all the ingredients together. It’s ready to enjoy.
This recipe is perfect for going out on a picnic or to the lake. If you’re using a storebought dressing, you can substitute a light dressing to save on the calories. This chicken pasta salad also doesn’t have to be a Caesar. You could make it with a raspberry vinaigrette or a light ranch as well.
Crockpot Beef and Broccoli
This might be one of the most popular take-out dishes there is. And for good reason. It’s tasty, includes some good veggies, and is affordable (to eat and to make). The homemade version is even more affordable, too. The main expense in this dish is going to be the beef, of course. The recipe recommends using flank steak, but you can experiment with more affordable cuts, too. You’ll save the most if you buy a whole piece instead of pre-cut slices meant for stir-fry.
This is another crockpot recipe. If you haven’t had the chance to use a crockpot yet, it will be a treat when you do. You can try this recipe using your stove top, but the beef won’t get as tender or melt-in-your-mouth. Also, if you were to make this on the stove, you’d need multiple pans to do the sauce, broccoli, and beef. But it’s all taken care of in the crockpot. Again, for this recipe, there are a couple of specialty ingredients—but you can get multiple meals out of these.
Here’s what you’ll need for the sauce:
1 cup beef broth, low-sodium
1/4 cup soy sauce, low-sodium
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Sriracha (or other garlic-chili sauce)
2 teaspoons of minced garlic
And the rest of the ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs flank steak, thinly sliced (across the grain)
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
5 cups of broccoli florets
Brown rice (one cup rice to two cups water)
Green onions — chopped
Instructions for the chef
Start out by lightly greasing the bottom of your crockpot and setting the beef inside. Next, take out a small mixing bowl and whisk together the sauce ingredients (whisking is the best for working with honey). Pour the sauce over the beef and stir it all up. Set the crockpot to low and leave it to cook for 1 1/2 hours.
The next step is to thicken the sauce: combine the cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water into a smooth mixture (by whisking), and add that to the pot. Stir it up. Now, add the broccoli on top, turn the crockpot to high and let it cook for 30 more minutes.
For the rice, bring two cups of water to a boil. Add one cup of brown rice, and let it simmer for 20 to 25 minutes (depending on the brand of rice). Once everything’s ready, serve the beef and broccoli over the rice, and add some green onions on top for garnish. Now you know how to make the classic takeout dish without breaking the bank. And, it’s super easy.
If you’re on a low carb diet, you can substitute cauliflower rice for the brown rice. And if you’re staying away from red meat, this can also work great with chicken. The recipe serves 4 people, but you could double it and keep some in the fridge for later. It might take a little experimentation on the cooking time for the beef, though. Be sure to check it after 1 1/2 hours though you might have to cook it longer.
We hope these recipes spark some creativity in your culinary life. Dieting doesn’t have to be boring or restrictive, and you can enjoy full flavors in a variety of ways.