At some point in life, you are bound to be tight on money, low on motivation, or both. If you are like me, that is the consistent sum of my existence.

While the drive-thru is a much more appealing option than going grocery shopping and cooking, eating out can often do some damage to both wallet and waistline over time.

So what is the formula for one to make cheap, quick, and relatively healthy meals while living as a college student, busy executive, or single mom? We’ve got one you can apply going forward that will help you eat well despite stress, time-constraints, or lack of cash flow.

Healthy On-The-Go Meal Template for the Tired and Broke Human

Healthy On-The-Go Meal Template for the Tired and Broke Human

Here’s the secret template for healthy meals made easy: frozen steamable vegetable mix + microwaveable frozen meat/meat substitute + microwave/stovetop.

That’s it!

How To Make Fast, Easy Meals

One Monday morning as I was getting ready for work, I realized I had forgotten to make my lunch the day before so I used the following steps to quickly execute this recipe:

Step 1: Pop a Green Giant Seasoned Mediterranean Steamers (about $2 per bag depending on the store) in the microwave for 5 minutes.

Step 2: While the veggies are steaming in the microwave, sautée some ground meat or meat alternative (my go to is 99% lean ground turkey, about $4 for a pound depending on the store).

Step 3: Dump the veggie mix into a plastic container for portability (lid optional, if you can ever find the damn thing), and add the cooked meat on top.

If you aren’t a fan of using the microwave, don’t have access to one, or just want to maximize efficiency, skip step 2 and sautée your veggies and meat/meat alternatives at the same time in the skillet. It will only add about five minutes to your prep time.

If you want, jazz up your meal with spices and/or sauces (I personally use the Onnit Pink Himalayan Salt—so flavorful!) Poultry seasoning, salsa, and hot sauce are other low/no-calories options.

You’re done! Your lunch is made in 10 minutes for $5-6.

Tips For Fast Meals

  • Have fun with the process! Try different types of mixes and meats or meat alternatives. Some steamable vegetable mixes also include rice, giving you the ability to have a variety of textures and tastes in your meals. Also, experiment with seasonings. Eating healthy on a budget doesn’t have to be boring.
  • Be sure to read all instructions. Not all frozen goods are microwaveable.
  • Read the ingredients! Choose frozen produce that are as unrefined and natural as possible. We also like the HEB Brand as well as the Birds Eye brand!

Use this template in busy and budgeted times to stay on track with your goals rather than succumbing to fast food.