IMG_1567Have you ever felt that eating healthy is beyond your budget? That all that fresh food, all those fruits and veggies, are too pricey? It may seem that way sometimes, but it’s possible to eat, both simple and fancy, without spending a lot of money.

This is the first in a series of blogs where we will showcase simple, heart healthy recipes that cost under $3.00 a serving to make; sometimes quite a bit under. We will provide a nutritional analysis, total cost, and cost per serving for each recipe. At the end of the series, we will provide a link to a file with all the recipes that we’ve presented.

Each recipe will have no more than 5 grams of saturated fat, at least 5 grams of fiber, and no more than 600 mg of sodium. And, best of all, they’ll be taste-tested and guaranteed delicious!

Each of our recipes will be standardized to serve six.  If you need to buy a larger package of an ingredient than the recipe calls for, freeze or store the rest. Likewise with leftovers: put them away for another meal. Putting leftovers in the refrigerator immediately after serving decreases the temptation to overeat. Out of sight, out of mind!

We will start with a healthy twist on Pasta Bolognese:

Fresh Pasta Bolognese with Turkey

  • 16oz93% lean ground turkey
  • 13 1/2ozwhole wheat penne or rigatoni pasta (one box)
  • 1large onion
  • 4garlic cloves
  • 2large carrots
  • 1can Italian style diced tomatoes
  • 2cans 'no salt added' diced tomatoes
  • 1/2package fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4cupolive oil
  • 1/2tspblack pepper
  • 1/3cupparmesan cheese
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Finely chop the onion and garlic, then add both to the frying pan. Cook until the onion appears clear (about 5 minutes).
  3. Grate the carrots and add to the frying pan. Cook until carrots are tender (about 10 minutes).
  4. Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, cook the turkey on medium heat, stirring occasionally. When cooked through, drain the turkey and add it to the vegetables.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend, stirring often.
  6. Chop up about 4 tablespoons of the fresh basil, and stir it in toward the end of the 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions, except do not salt the water.
  8. Drain the pasta when it is cooked to your liking.
  9. To serve, scoop the sauce over the pasta and add 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese to each serving.
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Nutrition Information

  • Calories 485
  • Total fat 18 g
  • Saturated fat 4 g
  • Protein 29 g
  • Carbohydrate 59 g
  • Fiber 9 g
  • Sodium 317 mg

Cost of this recipe based on local supermarket prices this week:

  • 16 oz 93% lean ground turkey: $4.49
  • 13.5 oz (one box) store brand whole wheat penne pasta: $1.19
  • 1 large onion (1/2 lb @ $1.49/lb): $0.75
  • 4 garlic cloves (1/2 HEAD @ $0.69/head): $0.35
  • 2 large carrots (1/2 lb @ $0.99/lb): $0.50
  • 1 14.5 oz can Italian style diced tomatoes: $0.79
  • 2 14.5 oz cans no salt added diced tomatoes: $1.58
  • 1/2 pkg fresh basil leaves (1/2 @ $2.2.9): $1.15
  • ¼ cup olive oil (2 oz @ $5.49/ 17 oz): $0.65
  • ½ tsp black pepper (0.03 oz @ $1.79/1.5 oz): $0.04
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese (.33 lb @ $2.99/lb): $0.99

Total cost: $12.48

Cost per service: $2.08 

Budget Tip

When shopping, always look at the “unit price,” posted just to the left of the item price. It will tell you the price per the unit that is common to all similar items, like ounce or pound. This allows you to compare “apples to apples” (or ounces to ounces, as the case may be.) While the store brand is often the least expensive, sometimes a brand name may be the cheapest if it is on sale.

Maryann Ludlow, RD, CD, CDE is a registered dietitian at the UVM Medical Center.

Philip A. Ades, MD, is Medical Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at the University of Vermont Medical Center and a Professor at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM.

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