Mmm, delicious and healthy!

For young women on a budget, sometimes eating cheaply is more important than eating nutritiously.  This is a problem, since fueling your body for the busy life you live is essential to keeping up with school, work, and yes, even a little fun!  Often times, the drive-through is much more convenient than whipping up a meal on your own, and good food is so expense.  But thanks to a new initiative by Slow Food USA, there is hope for healthy girls to live, and eat, within their means.

We’ve all been there – you get done with a long day of classes or work and you just want something quick, easy, and cheap to eat.  You pull through one of the various fast food chains on your way home and order yourself something for around $5, only to find yourself dissatisfied and starving an hour later.  Wouldn’t it be easier and, not to mention, healthier if there were meals that could be made quick and nutritious all for the cost of a fast food value meal?  If you take the $5 Challenge this year, there is a way to do just that!

Slow Food USA is a global, grassroots movement that promotes a healthier way of living through nutritious eating and a commitment to community and the environment.  The movement has created a new initiative this year called The $5 Challenge.  The concept is simple, they want people everywhere to “take back the ‘value meal’” by cooking a healthy meal all for $5 or less.

The Challenge not only encourages healthier eating, but a better way of living while keeping a nutritious diet.  They want you to take the pledge to cook a slow food meal for a few dollars and actually take the time to sit down and enjoy the food with family or friends.  After all, what sounds better: stuffing a side of fries into your mouth while driving down the freeway, or sitting at a table with people you enjoy while eating a satisfying meal?

Of course, we are busy women and it isn’t always easy to take the time to make an elaborate meal.  But this is why the challenge is so great for young, independent, busy women – it only takes minutes to create some of the most delicious meals for the price of a gallon of gas to drive to your usual fast food joint.  Even if you don’t have a group of friends around to eat with you, still take the time to sit at the dinner table or desk (tables are expensive!) and enjoy the food you are eating.  After all, what is the fun in eating when you don’t even have time to taste it?

Feel free to take the pledge on Slow Food USA’s website for The $5 Challenge, or take the pledge internally to challenge yourself to eat better on a budget.  Here are a few recipes to get started!

Smoky Corn and Black Bean Pizza: This recipe calls for prepared whole wheat pizza dough, but to keep it the perfect size and price for one, use a whole wheat wrap instead.  To keep the price down even more, feel free to use canned corn instead of fresh (you won’t even notice once the pizza is cooked) and enjoy the perfectly portioned and priced pizza.

Chicken Alfredo Potatoes: This recipe might sound like comfort food, but stays healthier with light Alfredo sauce, lean meat, and is filling enough to be the only thing you need for your meal.  The recipe makes four servings, but since you are on a one-person, budget-friendly diet, it is easy to cut it down to just one.

Linguine with Asparagus:  Rachael Ray has some great 5-ingredient recipes that can easily be made into $5 recipes like this one – just use frozen asparagus and minced garlic instead of fresh (or garlic powder will do the trick if that is laying around!) you won’t even notice a difference.  Just remember to keep it nutritious by using whole wheat noodles – it might be a little more expensive, but with everything else being so cheap, it’s worth it!

These are just a few to start you off and get your gears going.  Once you think about it, making healthy, cheap  dinners is easy and even fun to come up with.  Let your creativity flow – it’s amazing how far your mind and dollar can stretch to make a great meal.