20 Healthy Dinner Recipes Under $3

Minding a budget doesn't have to mean losing flavor. These 20 heart-healthy low-cost meals pack vital nutrients while nourishing you in good taste. Plus, at less than $3 per serving, they're easy on the wallet as well as the waistline.

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Fajita-Ranch Chicken Wraps
Fajita-Ranch Chicken Wraps

    Enjoy a light supper with this simple meal; loaded with protein and veggies, you'll feel satisfied even with smaller portions. And you'll definitely save over dinner at a Mexican hot spot.

    Budget dinner price: $2.05 per serving

Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Shrimp

    Despite the often-high cost of seafood, this classic meal can be enjoyed by penny pinchers, too. Opt for frozen shrimp for an even nicer bottom line.

    Budget dinner price: $2.58 per serving

Pork Medallions with Cranberry Chutney

    Festive and fast (only 20 minutes prep), this luscious meal is fancy enough for guests but casual enough for the budget. You'll be glad to know it's low-fat, too.

    Budget dinner price: $1.70 (with rice); $1.40 (without rice)

Apple-Glazed Turkey

    Juicy turkey with a sweet sauce is reason enough to cook this cheap dinner, but a 10-minute prep time makes it a prime choice for a busy weeknight.

    Budget dinner price: $2.39 per serving

Blackened Chicken with Avocado Salsa

    The best part about this dish is the fruity papaya salsa that dresses spicy chicken. (And when you make it from scratch, you save money!) Not only is the salsa sweet and juicy, the papaya in it contains carpain, an enzyme essential to heart health.

    Budget dinner price: $2.89 per serving

    Tip: Papaya is available year-round. Buy fruit that is orangey-red (no yellow spots) and soft to the touch. Eat as soon as possible.

Farfalle with Mushrooms and Spinach

    Two pans, 20 minutes, and a serving of this tasty low-sodium dish later, you'll fulfill 20 percent of your daily iron requirement. Bonus: Most of the ingredients you likely already have at home -- saving you gas money for a grocery trip.

    Budget dinner price: $1.48 per serving

    Tip: Grab pre-washed, packaged spinach to make meal prep even faster. Even though the package says "washed," be sure to rinse the spinach in a colander before using.

Eggs and Canadian Bacon in Pita Pockets

    Who says you can't have breakfast for dinner? This incredibly cheap whole wheat pita (the cheapest recipe on our site) includes inexpensive eggs and bacon that you can buy in bulk.

    Budget dinner price: $0.95 per serving

    Tip: Spread a layer of Dijon for extra kick and add dark leafy greens to boost your iron and other heart-essential nutrients.

Chicken with Orzo

    Three simple ingredients, one roasted take-out chicken, and dinner is served lickety-split. Round it out with a tossed salad and you'll be set on a well-balanced dinner.

    Budget dinner price: $2.06 per serving

Mama's Amazing Ziti

    A low-cholesterol casserole recipe can be hard to find. This one is a treasure, with down-home flavor that's still easy on the pocketbook. Whip up this delicious dish in 30 minutes.

    Budget dinner price: $2.08 per serving

    Tip: Use dry herbs rather than fresh, as they retain their flavor better under extended high heat in casserole cooking.

Tuna and White Bean Panini

    Here's a fun twist on your favorite diner's overpriced tuna melt--with fresh basil and a high dose of heart-healthy fiber, too.

    Budget dinner price: $2.28 per sandwich

Stuffed Peppers

    Loaded with five of the Cleveland Clinic's top veggie and grain picks, this low-cholesterol, vegetarian dinner is a top-rate cheap meal.

    Budget dinner price: $2.19 per serving (with 4 green and 4 red/yellow peppers)

Bull's-Eye Onion Burgers

    The juicy beef in this hearty burger will fill you up without costing you a bundle. To save even more money, make the patties less thick and pile on the veggies.

    Budget dinner price: $2.62 per burger

Spaghetti Squash with Chili

    Rich in vitamin C, creamy squash tempers spicy beef chili for a satisfying, heart-healthy meal. You'll get lots for your money with this dinner favorite.

    Budget dinner price: $2.44 per serving

Grilled Fish Tacos

    Chunks of flaky white cod, tortillas, and a few spices pack this simple, low-fat dinner with lots of flavor. Cleanup is a snap, too.

    Budget dinner price: $1.38 per serving

Southwestern Black Bean Cakes with Guacamole

    Southwestern pizzazz takes the cake in these spicy bean patties (and beans are always on sale--watch your local ads). Chock-full of heart-healthy fiber, you'll get a kick out of all the fresh toppings, too.

    Budget dinner price: $1.56 per serving

    Tip: Freeze these bean cakes for up to 3 weeks and enjoy even faster dinner prep on a busy night.

Pepper-Corn Chowder

    Prepared ingredients (like cheap frozen veggies) make this soup quick and easy to pull together; and you only use two pans in the process. Plus, one serving contains more than 60 percent your daily requirement of vitamin C.

    Budget dinner price: $1.86 per serving

Garlic Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

    Buying and cooking a whole chicken saves you money over select cuts. Loaded with three heads of pungent garlic, this recipe will attract your family to a tasty-smelling dinner table.

    Budget dinner price: $1.88 (per 4 servings); $1.26 (per 6 servings)

Egg-and-Bacon Wrap

    Get loads of flavor and 12 grams of protein in one wrap--better yet, this simple supper takes less than 15 minutes to prepare and is one of the cheapest fulfilling dinners you could make.

    Budget dinner price: $1.66 per serving

Chicken Supreme Casserole

    Frozen stir-fry veggies and chicken make this a quick dish to prepare (and frozen veggies are usually cheaper than fresh). Sweet peppers also make it high in vitamin C.

    Budget dinner price: $1.62 per serving

Pasta Primavera

    Various flavor profiles--from tangy balsamic dressing to salty prosciutto and peppery arugula--keep your taste buds fascinated in this heart-healthy dish. One serving provides a whopping 120 percent of the daily vitamin C requirement, plus you won't max out your grocery budget making it.

    Budget dinner price: $2.98 per serving

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