Healthy eating on a budget (£5 for 500 calories)

I was asked to join in with a Most Wanted campaign to come up with a recipe that was under 500 calories and under £5 per portion.

With the warmer weather approaching, I felt like a salad would be a good idea, but I wanted to create an evening meal. My favourite meal at the moment is the black bean taco/wrap things– I love the combination of the avocado and  beans. But that was not really a salad, and probably is not under 500 calories- especially with the cheese added in.

So I came up with a slight variation- Black Bean Quinoa salad.

This made 3 servings:

100g (dry weight) quinoa

1 tsp paprika (or chilli flakes if you like it very spicy)

200g cherry tomatoes

1 tin black beans

1 medium sweet potato (120g ish)

1 avocado

Lime juice

First up, preheat the oven, halve the cherry tomatoes and roast them.

Then prepare the quinoa- some dry quinoa needs to be rinsed before cooking so check your pack. Put it in a pan, cover with water, and gently heat until the seeds burst and they go all squiggly (technical term there). Add in a tsp paprika.

While this was cooking I baked the sweet potato in the microwave (just pierce it lots!) but if you are a potato purist you may prefer to cube it and then bake it in the oven.

Drain the beans and stir them into the quinoa to heat them through, then add in the sweet potato and tomatoes.

Add a squirt of lime juice, and then top with sliced avocado.

I now have 2 salads for lunches for the next couple of days too!

This turned out to be filling, but not stodgy- it was perfect after my 5 mile run today, and will be lovely cold once the flavours have had a chance to mingle together a bit more. One serving ended up being 350 calories, 13g protein, 7g fibre and 12g fat (mostly from the avocado I imagine)- I used the recipe section on Weight Loss Resources to calculate.

It also ended up being pretty cheap to make- I was meant to have one serving costing under £5, but the entire recipe came to £4.80 (using Ocado prices).  It would be lovely with a little salsa on the side, or a little fresh guacamole on top. I keep seeing recipes for cashew cream/ cheese (and have bought cashews to make it with)- I imagine that this would taste wonderful with it too, and still fit under the 500 calorie mark 🙂

A note of caution- treat cooked quinoa a little like cooked rice- it is not good to heat and cool it over and over, so once cooled keep it refrigerated and if you re-heat it, only do that once and make sure it is piping hot. 

Do you have a favourite salad or summer meal? Quinoa is one of my favourite summery foods as I find it filling but not really heavy, plus it is so versatile- I had a lovely salad with cranberries and dried coconuts before which I sometimes re-create at lunch times.

How do you manage sticking to a budget with your shopping? On-line shopping has been a revelation for me because I can see the total I have spent, so if it is too much I just go back through and delete items, plus I don’t get tempted by offers as I don’t see them. If I actually go into a shop I will spend loads more as I am easily persuaded to add things to my basket!

I was compensated for the cost of ingredients for this post, but of course all opinions are my own. 

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8 thoughts on “Healthy eating on a budget (£5 for 500 calories)”

  1. I’m actually awful at shopping, I spend way too much, I log it all on an excel spreadsheet and the last few months have been totally out of control so I’ve been trying to rein it in a bit this month! Nice sounding salad, I’ve been having quinoa for breakfast a lot lately- really filling.

    1. I spend way less online- I think it is a great help with budgeting (plus I can check in the cupboards while I shop instead of buying things because I can’t remember if we need them).

    1. Can you roast them? I added these ones cold to the salad after (with a little lime)- I keep meaning to try them in a smoothie but not yet!

  2. I don’t eat quinoa enough I think. It’s so versatile and pretty much goes with anything, I should eat it more often. I think paprika is potentially my favourite spice as well. The meal sounds lovely! I must give it a try 🙂

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