Like I mentioned in my Ham ‘n’ Beans post, I get asked pretty frequently for recipes that are both economical and healthy. I totally get it! When it is time to crunch the budget, the grocery bill is one of the first places we always look to shave off a few dollars.

While I generally believe people don’t spend enough money on food (seriously, you get what you pay for, kids), I do think it’s possible to eat real, healthy food and not empty out your retirement account. Here are my favorite Wholefully dinner recipes that won’t break the bank.


White Bean Chicken Chili

Vegan Red Beans and Rice

Green Beans and Potatoes

Slow Cooker Ham ‘n’ Beans
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Cheesy “Refried” Beans

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Black Bean Burgers

Baked Coconut Chicken Strips

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Bacon and Egg Hash

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Broccoli Cheddar and Potato Soup


What is your go to dish for a cheap dinner?


  1. A whole chicken.

    The chicken is usually less than $1 a pound and we get at least 3-4 meals out of a 4-5 pound chicken, not to mention the homemade broth that I’ll make from the carcass. These are meals I usually make:

    1. Roasted chicken

    Then with the leftovers:

    2. Chicken Enchiladas
    3. Chicken soup
    4. Chicken salad sandwiches
    5. BBQ Chicken sandwiches
    6. Chicken quesadillas

    You get the idea. For a few $ extra, you can add potatoes, rice, beans, bag of mixed veggies etc. For less than $10 I can feed my entire family supper for almost a week not repeating a single meal.

  2. We’re also on a budget since G is currently between jobs and I’m a graduate student. I have a similar style to Shauna – dry staples (beans, rice, paper towels, toilet paper) at the cheap store, and eggs, meat and fruit/veggies at the store that sells organic. We buy very little that’s pre-cooked or pre-packaged, very little that’s sweet or has flour in it, and that’s saved a lot of money right there.

    Thank goodness G likes beans!

  3. The most annoying thing ever is that Doug hates beans. I still cook with them, because it’s HEALTHY and CHEAP but ugh at my husband for not liking them! Boooo hissss.

    It’s kind of funny that when we cut our budget, we DIDN’T cut the grocery budget, but we did change where we shopped and what we ate. Our food budget is the second highest bill (next to rent). We feel it’s more important to eat healthy than it is to skimp on the grocery bill and eat junk. I could probably spend half what I do now if I ate Chef Boyardee every day, but… ew.

    We spend less on groceries now because we buy staples at the cheap store (like dried goods), some things at the dollar store (plastic bags and foil and stuff like that), and produce/meat at the expensive store (half our produce is organic, and most of our meat is free-range. We also eat meatless meals a couple times a week, but are increasing it to 3-4 times per week. Tonight I’m making black bean burgers. I really want to try the ham and beans. One of my MOST FAVORITEST fall/winter meals that my mom used to make was ham hock soup. It has white beans and ham hock and bacon and it sits on the stove all day and you serve it with corn bread and Mmmmm.

    I think I need to go find a ham hock, brb. 😉

    1. I can’t even fathom not liking beans. I mean, they barely have any flavor. Is it a texture thing?

      What a shame…

      And we try not to cut from our grocery budget, either. Cheap food is not good food!

      1. It’s definitely a texture thing. Doug has issues with certain foods and texture.

        Beans mostly soak up the flavor of whatever you cook with them, so it’s weird to me that he doesn’t like them. I don’t cook with them often, but Ty likes them, and I like them, so… majority rules. 🙂

  4. Chili spaghetti
    * big can dark red kidneys
    * big can light red kindeys
    * 2 big cans diced tomatoes
    *chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, cocoa, paprika etc (I tend to lean toward Cincinnati chili spices)
    * 1 pound of spaghetti

    I had enough chili for 12 meals AND enough to be the base (added veggies and cheese) for a dozen chili cheese burritos. It is insane how much of this we have in the freezer…and how excited I get when it is on the menu!

    1. You like Skyline, dontcha? I’m not sure we can be friends anymore. YUCK. Although Babyface has never had Skyline, and I bet he will LOVE it.

      Chili Spaghetti sounds awesome (minus the cocoa and cinnamon). 🙂

  5. “Eat beans and rice!” That’s what my dad always told me when I whined about not having money in college. We are definitely a spoiled nation with all our choices of food, but the basics are sometimes the healthiest and most natural choices.

    1. I totally agree (and that’s why seven of those recipes are bean-based). If you have a well-stocked spice rack, and a bag each of dried beans and brown rice, you’ve got a great meal!

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