Spaghetti Squash: This stunning, orange-hued squash can be pulled in spaghetti-like strings and be a perfect stand-in for carb-heavy pasta. Because 1 cup has just 42 calories, you can enjoy a slightly larger portion while still being healthy. Toss with your favorite low-sodium roasted tomato sauce for something that gives you the comfort you crave, but in a more nutrient-rich package.
Bell Peppers, Eggplants or Zucchini: Many food traditions from around the world (where meat is an expensive luxury item) have shown us how to roast a vegetable, hollow it out and fill it with a hearty grain and protein mixture. Rice and lamb-stuffed zucchini from Greece, for instance, stretches the food dollar while also balancing the plate in a nutritious way.
Experiment with any combination of sweet or savory flavors that inspires your family. A general guideline is to take a cooked whole grain (such as quinoa or brown rice), combine with a bit of lean protein (beans, tofu or finely chopped chicken or lean beef) and plenty of seasoning (mint, cumin, cilantro, coriander, cinnamon -- the options are endless), and tuck it into a roasted vegetable. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by a delicious main dish that leaves you feeling incredibly satisfied, is well within your budget and modifies your plate to be more plant-based all at the same time. What’s not to love?