How To

Healthy New Year’s Resolution Meals on the Cheap

We are just a few days into January and the clock is ticking on all those resolutions to eat healthier.

Frugal Foodie, like plenty of other people this time of year, has set her sights on losing a few pounds and fostering healthier eating habits. Such resolutions can be tough to stick to when the workday stress mounts up and calling in for a pizza seems much easier than spending an hour or two at the stove. Buying branded diet meals isn’t necessarily the answer, either. They can be expensive (especially those with three squares delivered daily) and they may not taste great.

We asked chefs, food bloggers and other foodies for their best cheap and healthy fare. Here are six dishes that will help you have a healthier and wealthier 2012:

Orange Chicken

Pamela Braun of mymansbelly.com came up with a healthier version of this Chinese dish after her favorite takeout go-to closed. Lighter breading, a scaled-back sauce and a broccoli side make her dish a better option than one you’d get at a restaurant.

Naked Fitness Tortilla Soup

“Naked Fitness” author, Andrea Metcalf, makes this cheap, healthy soup in lieu of calorie-heavy versions. To prepare, put a soup pot on the stove and lightly oil with either cooking spray or small drops of olive oil and wipe with paper towel to coat. Add a cup each of chopped carrots and onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Next, add eight cups chicken stock and the pieces of eight chopped tortillas. Bring to a boil and let cook for 20 minutes or until tortillas dissolve in the soup. While the soup is cooking, grill two chicken breasts in a separate pan. Let cool. Add to the soup a 12-ounce jar of salsa, a 15-ounce can of rinsed black beans, a fajita seasoning packet, and a half-cup chopped cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste and two cups of the chopped grilled chicken breast. Makes five servings.

Mango and Black Bean Salad

“Mom Made Foods” founder, Heather Stouffer, decribes this tangy salad as spa-healthy, but substantial. Serve it with cilantro and spicy salsa for extra kick.

Smokey Salmon Kebabs

This smokey salmon kebab recipe, from Abra Pappa of “Nutritious America” is good enough that it might be worth firing up the grill this winter. Or, at the very least, it’s a good idea to bookmark the link for a summertime resolution renewal.

Crock-Pot Rotisserie Chicken

This crock-pot chicken recipe has a neat trick: Foil balls placed beneath the body keep the chicken from sitting in its own oil and fat throughout the cooking process. Amanda Yates of “Food on the Table” promises a fast three-minute prep time, too.

Lentils and Rice Mudarada

This lentil, rice and caramelized onion mix from ‘Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen’ tastes delicious, and its cheap ingredients put the total cost of the dish at well under $10,” says food blogger Edgard Sammour.

Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.