Double the number of servings in your favorite recipes with this budget friendly meal hack


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Photo: Unsplash/Mariana Medvedeva

Whether you’re cooking dinner for a family of five or meal prepping for one, it’s easy to create budget friendly meals with the addition of a few sneaky ingredients. This hack won’t compromise the flavor of your favorite recipes, but it will increase the nutritional benefits.

In a recent Reddit thread, a number of at-home chefs shared the all-star ingredients you can add to recipes to get more servings out of their meals and make them healthier. When you want to increase the number of servings in from four to six (or more), for example, add these wholesome and versatile ingredients to your favorite recipes.

14 healthy ingredients to help you create budget friendly meals

1. Black beans

If you’re a taco or burrito bowl fan (who isn’t?), mix one can of black beans in with every pound of your protein of choice for an even heartier mix.

2. Cauliflower rice

Cauliflower rice is currently gracing every freezer aisle. To put the time-saving staple to good use, add it to casseroles, soups, and blend it into sauces.

3. Spinach

Spinach is such an underrated ingredient in warm dishes. Mix a bag into casseroles, soups, or any sautéed recipe.

4. Mushrooms

Mushrooms add a meaty texture to any dish, no meat required. Make your dishes more filling by adding blended mushrooms to pasta sauces and whole or chopped mushrooms to casseroles and stir-fries.

5. Carrots

Put that bag of unused carrots in your refrigerator to good use by finely chopping them and adding them into a tomato sauce for your pasta nights.

6. Tofu

Buy a block of tofu and crumble it up to add into anything you’d typically use ground beef. Because it has very little taste on its own, it quickly soaks up flavors.

7. Oats

Old-fashioned rolled oats can thicken your sauces and increase the fiber in chili and stews. You can also grind them up to use in meatballs and burgers.

8. Cabbage

Redditors call cabbage the ultimate filler ingredient. With a neutral taste, you can sneak it into practically anything. Try adding a few handfuls to your favorite soup or casserole.

Twelve vegetables you need to buy organic—and 15 you don’t:

9. Lentils

Lentils make for a high-fiber, super-filling meat replacement in most dishes, giving you a healthier—and longer-lasting—option for things like sloppy joes and taco meat. You can also add them into soups and stews.

10. Sweet potatoes

Love sweet potatoes? Add them into curries, chili, burritos, and other dishes you love to create budget friendly meals.

11. Broccoli slaw

The next time you’re at the grocery store, add a bag of broccoli slaw to your cart. You can use it in any cooked dish for added texture and a whole lot more fiber—especially casseroles.

12. Zucchini

There are so many reasons to have zucchini on hand at all times. You can dice it up and add it into soups, spiralize it to mix into pasta dishes, soups, etc.

13. Quinoa

Just a cup of dry quinoa adds significant volume to soups. You can also use it to create meatloaf and meatballs or mix it into a salad.

14. Frozen corn

Frozen corn—one of the most affordable vegetables you can buy (I’m talkin’ like $1 a bag!)—adds a subtle sweetness to any dish you add it into, including casseroles and soups.

Want more tips for creating healthy budget friendly meals? Stock up on these affordable nutrient-dense foods, then grab some priceless tips from dietitians.

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