Easy meals low in cost, cooking time and calories

Think healthy eating is expensive and time consuming? TODAY nutrition expert Joy Bauer begs to differ. Here, she shares simple recipes that are low in “the three Cs”: cost, cooking time and calories.

The recipes:

*All stats are for one serving

Breakfast smoothie

  • Cost: $1.38
  • Cooking time: 5 minutes
  • Calories: 215


  • 1/2 cup fat free yogurt, plain
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries

The dish

Smoothies are a great way to kick off the day, but you don't have to spend an arm and a leg to buy them. You can whip up an incredible drink with just four ingredients. It's low in calories and low in cost, and something that's simple and easy enough for you to incorporate into your routine every day.

Steel cut oats with apples and cinnamon

  • Cost: $0.55
  • Cooking time: 8 hours (only 3 minutes prep!)
  • Calories: 250


  • 1 cup oats, steel cut
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 apples, diced
  • raisins, for garnish
  • dash of cinnamon


Combine the oats, water and apples in the slow cooker. Cook on low setting overnight for approximately 8 hours. Garnish with raisins and sprinkle with cinnamon before serving.

The dish

We've heard over and over again that oatmeal is a great way to start your day. It’s good for you and especially good for those with diabetes. Steel-cut oats are even better for you than regular oatmeal, but they are a pain to make. use the slow-cooker overnight to prepare you steel cut oats. On the surface, the 8-hour cooking time can seem daunting, it all takes place while you're sleeping.

Additionally, the slow cooker allows for you to prep breakfast for the whole family at once.

Black bean and salsa spud

  • Cost: $1.18
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes
  • Calories: 275


  • 1 medium-sized white potato
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 jar mild/medium salsa
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin


Heat a potato in the microwave. Rinse and drain the black beans and sauté with the salsa, garlic powder, Dijon mustard and cumin. Spoon bean mixture over baked potato.

The dish

This dish provides a lot of power from the health standpoint. It focuses on using more plant-based foods and is a super simple vegetarian meal. It's a great, warm meal option for lunch or dinner. Vegetarian-based meals are great for the environment.

Grilled chicken parmesan with broccoli

  • Cost: $2.00
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes
  • Calories: 300


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6-8 oz each)
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup cheese, part-skim, shredded, mozzarella cheese (4 oz)


Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with oil spray.

Grill the chicken breasts or sauté in a skilled coated with oil spray over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until no longer pink in the center.

Transfer the chicken breasts to the prepared baking sheet. Top each chicken breast with 2 tablespoons marinara sauce and 1/4 cup cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is hot and bubbly (or microwave for 30 to 60 seconds to melt cheese).

The dish

Who doesn't like chicken parm? But a regular order can be over 600 calories. It is usually breaded with white, carby crumbs and drenched in oil. Additionally, it comes with a mound of spaghetti. This healthier version really saves on calories by grilling or pan-frying the chicken and pairing it with broccoli instead of pasta. This is a fattening, favorite comfort food made simple, healthy and inexpensively.

For more healthy, delicious recipes, visit JoyBauer.com and follow Joy on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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