High Protein Low Price: $3 Parmesan Crusted Greek Yogurt Meatloaf.

It seems that everything you read wants you to start eating organic greens, chia juice and free-range chicken. Unless I wake up tomorrow winning the lottery, that is just not realistic for my family. Now, I might spend $3 on a fancy chocolate bar every now and then, but I really try to stick to a budget when I am doing my weekly shopping.

But eating on a budget does not have to mean ramen noodles and frozen pizza. With a little planning and definitely more cooking at home, healthy eating can be affordable. Your shopping list may not include designer health foods, but choosing nutrient-rich items, like low-fat dairy, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and fresh whole grains will ensure that your diet is healthful and your budget is not broken. Here’s a delicious, healthy meal that was inexpensive and left me with leftovers – Parmesan Crusted Greek Yogurt Meatloaf. It only costs $2.57 per person! The entire recipe comes to $10.28, and fed my entire family for two dinners, plus one lunch for me. Low fat, but high protein, this recipe is a winner.

Step 1: Gather your ingredients and preheat the oven. You might notice that I have more name brand items in this recipe. I was able to take advantage of a wonderful sale at a local grocery store. Checking out the local ads can help when you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. Also, notice that my parmesan cheese is a block of cheese. You pay extra for pre-shredded cheese. Shredding the cheese yourself may take a minute longer, but will save you a couple bucks.

Step 2: Chop the onion, garlic and green pepper. I also used fresh basil from my backyard. Fresh herbs are really easy to grow and can save a bundle when cooking at home. I purchased my basil plant for less than $5 in May and have had a constant supply of fresh basil. Typically, fresh herbs at the store will cost $3-4 for a handful of leaves.

Step 3: Combine the first nine ingredients (ground meat through the herbs).

Step 4: The recipe tells you to form the meat mixture into a loaf on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Genius here didn’t read all the directions before she started cooking and just decided to bake the meatloaf in a loaf pan. Once I got towards the delicious topping, I realized why you should form your own loaf. So … don’t use a loaf pan, just follow the directions!

Step 5: Melt the butter and mix in the parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.

Step 6: Here’s where I should have listened. This topping is delicious and really makes the meatloaf wonderful if it is spread on all sides. There is no added salt in this recipe, so it needs the flavor of the parmesan crust on all sides to really enhance the meatloaf. If you follow the directions, you are spreading the topping on the top and sides of the meatloaf.

Step 7: Bake for 40 minutes and then serve with pasta sauce for dipping. The pasta sauce is also crucial to the final product. Kids will eat it if they can dip it, and it adds a nice burst of flavor. Here’s a suggestion: On the second night, make meatloaf sandwiches on fresh bread with dipping sauce!

Happy, healthy eating!

By Caroline Sullivan, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

I am a sports dietitian and mom. My family loves being outside, being active and eating good food. My goal is to teach others that healthy can be easy.

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