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Easy to Make Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Thanksgiving Dinner wouldn’t be complete without all the side dishes. The turkey entree may be the star of the show, but for us, we look forward to piling up our plates with a variety of side dishes. We are including classics such as roasted vegetables, creamy casseroles, and comfort dishes like mac and cheese.

Tomato Mac and Cheese

If you love grilled cheese and tomato soup, this recipe transforms those same delicious flavors into a comforting mac and cheese dish.

mac and cheese

Tomato Mac and Cheese

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • knife
  • cutting board
  • soup pot
  • spatula
  • baking dish
  • oven

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked rotini pasta
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 0.5 cups shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 each roma tomatoes (thinly sliced)

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Grease a baking dish with oil or cooking spray
  • Cook the rotini pasta according to the package directions until tender. Once cooked, drain and set it aside
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour, salt, and pepper and stir until smooth
  • Slowly poor in the half and half and continue to whisk until the sauce has slightly thickened
  • Gradually add the cheddar and parmesan cheese and mix until the sauce is smooth
  • Add the rotini pasta to the cheese sauce and mix it well
  • Layer half of the pasta mixture into the baking dish and layer half of the sliced tomatoes on top
  • Then, add the rest of the pasta. Top it off with the rest of the pasta
  • Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes until hot and bubbly
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with more shredded parmesan cheese if desired

Italian Sausage and Butternut Squash Stuffing

This delicious stuffing is made with green apples and butternut squash. It has all the flavors of traditional Thanksgiving dressing but is gluten-free and dairy-free. It is toasty, sweet, and savory all at the same time.

Italian Sausage & Butternut Squash Stuffing

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • knife
  • cutting board
  • sheet pan
  • saute pan
  • spatula

Ingredients

  • 1 lb italian style turkey sausage
  • 1/4 cup red onions (diced)
  • 2 tbsp green onions (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp garlic (minced)
  • 1 each butternut squash (peeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, about 6 cups)
  • 2 each green apples (cored and diced)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 400F
  • Place the veggies and apples on a sheet pan
  • Sprinkle the seasonings and minced garlic on top. Coat everything with olive oil
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes
  • Meanwhile, add more oil to a saute pan on medium high heat and add the ground turkey
  • Break it up into small pieces and continue to stir it around the pan until it is fully cooked and golden brown (about 7 to 9 minutes). Make sure it cooks to an internal temperature of 165 F
  • Once the veggies and apples finish roasting in the oven, combine the sausage with the veggies in a serving dish

Cheesy Brussels Sprouts Bake

This hot and bubbly brussels sprouts casserole is packed with a creamy cheese sauce and makes for a simple Thanksgiving side dish.

Cheesy Brussels Sprouts Bake

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • saute pan
  • spatula
  • baking dish

Ingredients

  • 20 oz brussels sprouts (shaved)
  • 2 each small shallots (minced)
  • 2 tbsp garlic (minced)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Add oil to a saute pan on medium heat and saute the shallots and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes. Next add the garlic and stir for about 10 seconds.
  • Add the shredded brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Continue to stir until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes
  • Then, pour in the heavy cream and top with both cheese. Mix it all together
  • Transfer the brussels sprouts mixture into a greased baking dish
  • Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes until the cheese is hot and bubbly

Oven Baked Creamed Corn Casserole

This creamed corn casserole includes ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Mix it all together, place it in a baking dish, and let it finish cooking in the oven.

Oven Baked Creamed Corn

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • baking dish
  • oven

Ingredients

  • 5 cups frozen corn
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp green onions (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F
  • In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and mix it all around until the cream cheese and mayonnaise fully coats the corn kernels
  • Grease a baking dish with oil and pour the corn mixture into the dish. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until hot, bubbly, and golden brown

Roasted Green Beans with Bacon and Mandarin Oranges

If you’re looking for a quick and easy roasted veggie dish, then you’ve got to try these roasted green beans. And we know what you’re thinking, oranges and green beans? Yes, it definitely works. The citrus burst of flavor pairs well with the saltiness of the bacon, sweetness of honey, and toastiness of the roasted green beans. And it takes less than 20 minutes to whip up this recipe!

Roasted Green Beans with Bacon and Mandarin Oranges

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • knife
  • cutting board
  • sheet pan
  • oven

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs Fresh Green Beans (washed & trimmed)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 5 slices bacon (uncooked, and chopped)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup mandarin oranges (drained)

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425F
  • Place the green beans on a sheet pan and drizzle it with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss it around making sure it is fully coated with the oil
  • Top it off with the chopped bacon pieces
  • Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove it from the oven and flip the green beans ,and bake for another 10 minutes until the green beans are tender and the bacon is crispy
  • After it has finished baking, top it off with mandarain orange bits, and drizzle with honey

Oven Roasted Acorn Squash Slices

Brushed with olive oil and seasoned with simple seasoning, this roasted acorn squash recipe is a simple, cozy thanksgiving fare at its finest. Cutting the squash is really the only “work” this recipe calls for because it’s already tasty on its own and it really doesn’t need any other extra ingredients. Minimal effort, maximum yumminess.

acon squash

Oven Roasted Acorn Squash Slices

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time21 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • knife
  • cutting board
  • sheet pan

Ingredients

  • 2 each acorn squash
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400F
  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Then, cut them into 3/4 inch slices
  • Place them on a sheet pan and drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle with the seasonings and toss them around until the squash is evenly coated
  • Roast in the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown and tender

Crispy Smashed Potatoes

These yummy smashed potato bites are easy to make and will be loved by all during your Thanksgiving feast. The potatoes are super crispy on the outside, but absolutely fluffy on the outside. 

Smashed Potatoes

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • boiling pot
  • masher
  • sheet pan

Ingredients

  • 12 each small red baby potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  • Place the potatoes in a large soup pot and fill the pot with water until the potatoes are fully submerged under water. Add 1 tbsp of salt and turn the heat up to high until the water starts boiling
  • After the water boils, bring the water to medium and cook for about 20 minutes until they are tender and they are easily pierced with a fork
  • Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 425F and grease a sheet pan with olive oil. Spread the oil until it completely covers the pan
  • When the potates finish cooking, drain them and let them cool for a few minutes. Safely transfer them to a baking sheet
  • Spread the potatoes apart and use either a potato masher or the bottom of a cup to gently smash each potato to a thickness of 1/2 inches
  • Evenly drizzle olive oil over the mashed potatoes and sprinkle the seasonings on top
  • Bake the ptoatoes for about 25 minutes until they are golden brown and crispy

If you are looking for entrees to pair up with these thanksgiving side dishes, check out our quick and easy Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner Entree Recipes.

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Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes

pot roast

Turkey, Ham, and Prime Rib normally steal the show when it comes to holiday feasts, but what about changing it up a bit and trying something a little different and a bit easier. These non-traditional entrees are a great alternative if you are wanting to try something new and also cut down time in the kitchen. Here are some secrets to a stress-free Thanksgiving!

Air Fryer BBQ Pork Ribs

These Air Fryer Pork Ribs are so quick to prepare, you’ll be amazed by how tender they are and crispy they can get on the outside. All it requires is a simple dry rub and your favorite bottled bbq sauce. And it cooks in less than 30 minutes. Serve it with a side of green beans or seasoned corn.

pork ribs

Air Fryer BBQ Pork Ribs

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • knife
  • cutting board
  • Air Fryer

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs baby back pork ribs
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 cup barbecue sauce

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, mix together the dry rub ingredients (paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper)
  • Pat the ribs dry and rub the seasonings all over the ribs, making sure it is fully coated
  • Place the ribs in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook at 375F for 20 minutes
  • Remove the basket from the air fryer and brush the top of the ribs with the barbecue sauce
  • Place the basket in the air fryer and cook for another 5 minutes (or until the pork has reached an internal temperature of 145F)
  • Remove the ribs from the basket and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing into individual ribs

Instant Pot Turkey Loin

While whole roasted turkey is usually the star of the show during Thanksgiving dinners, this tender turkey loin is sure to be a show stopper. No need to worry about the long hours of cooking meat to perfect tenderness, the Instant Pot will do the job for you. You can still pair this with your favorite homemade stuffing.

turkey loin

Instant Pot Turkey Tenderloin

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • knife
  • cutting board
  • Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs turkey breast tenderloin
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp rosemary (fresh, chopped)
  • 1/4 cup white onions (chopped)
  • 2 each garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp worchestershire sauce

Instructions

  • Turn the instant pot on the saute setting and add oil to the instant pot
  • Place the tenderloin in the bottom and sear on all sides until golden brown (about 2 to 3 minutes on each side)
  • Next, pour in the broth, add onions and garlic cloves
  • Sprinkle in the rosemary, salt, and pepper, and worchestershire sauce
  • Cover the Instant Pot with the lid and set the manual setting to 20 minutes on high pressure, making sure the pressure valve is in the sealed position
  • When done, follow the manufacturer's instructions to carefully release the pressure
  • Remove the tenderloin from the pot and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing into 1/2 inch thick slices. Serve with the extra broth

Oven Baked Mini Meatloafs

These beef patties may be mini, but they are full of flavor and can be made in portion sizes with half the baking time. They are perfect for an entree option or appetizer while your guests arrive. These go perfect with creamy mashed potatoes.

Oven Baked Mini Meatloafs

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • knife
  • cutting board
  • muffin tins
  • oven

Ingredients

Meatloaf patty

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 each egg
  • 2/3 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup white onions (diced)
  • 2 tbsp garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Meatloaf sauce

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F
  • In a large mixing bowl, add all of the meatloaf ingredients (beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, ketchup, seasonings)
  • Use your hands or large spoon to mix it all together really well
  • Divide them into 12 equal portions. Grease the wells of the muffin pans with oil and place each portion into the bottom of the well. Be sure to press down to fill the cup
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes
  • Meanwhile, heat a sauce pan on medium heat and add the ingredients for the meatloaf sauce and mix it well until it reaches a smooth consistency
  • After the meatloaf has baked for 15 minutes, remove it from the pan (if needed, use a paper towel, carefully soak any excess liquid or grease from the muffin wells)
  • Evenly pour the meatloaf sauce onto each meatloaf patty and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the meat is cooked through an internal temperature of 165F

Oven Baked Tomato Basil Salmon

This baked salmon makes for a great Thanksgiving main course option and only requires simple ingredients that can be baked in less than 20 minutes. Serve this entree on top of rice pilaf, fluffy couscous, or pan-fried polenta cakes.

Oven Baked Tomato Basil Salmon

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: lunch
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • knife
  • cutting board
  • sheet pan
  • oven

Ingredients

Salmon and seasonings

  • 1.5 lbs salmon
  • 2 each roma tomato (thinly sliced)
  • 6 each fresh basil leaves (thinly sliced)
  • 2 tbsp garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F
  • Place the salmon on a sheet pan. Season with salt and pepper
  • Sprinkle the minced garlic on top. Layer the tomato leaves and basil leaves evenly all over the salmon.
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Bake everything in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes until the salmon is fully cooked to an internal temperature of 145F

Honey Balsamic Baked Chicken

Here’s an Easy One Pan Baked Balsamic Chicken recipe that is easy to prepare, baked to perfection in the oven, and will make your tastebuds happy. They will go great with a winter salad or any roasted vegetable side dish.

balsamic chicken

Honey Balsamic Baked Chicken

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • mixing bowl
  • sheet pan
  • oven

Ingredients

  • 4 each bone in chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup balsamic dressing
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp rosemary (fresh, finley chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425F degrees
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic dressing, honey, garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary
  • Place the chicken thighs in a baking dish and pour half of the balsamic marinade over the chicken and make sure it is fully coated
  • Cook the chicken for 20 minutes
  • After 20 minutes, pour the rest of the balsamic marinade on top and cook for another 10 minutes until the chicken is golden brown and fully cooked to an internal temperature of 165
  • Remove from the oven and place it on a serving dish and enjoy! Serve with a side salad or roasted veggies

Delicata Squash Lasagna

This low-carb lasagna is rich and delicious and layered with slices of delicata squash topped with savory meat sauce and shredded cheese. It may be low in carbs, but it definitely still brings that comfort we all crave in lasagna.

delicata lasagna

Delicata Squash Lasagna

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • knife
  • cutting board
  • spatula
  • saute pan
  • baking dish
  • oven

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/4 cup red onions (diced)
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 each delicata squash
  • 1.5 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F
  • Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a saute pan on medium high heat. Saute the onions until they soften (about 2 to 3 minutes)
  • Next, add the ground beef and seasonings and saute until it is fully cooked and golden brown (about 7 to 8 minutes)
  • Then, add the marinara sauce and stir it all together
  • Slice the delicata squash in half, lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and seeds from the middle. Slice it into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • Grease a baking dish and add 1/3 of the meatsauce at the bottom. Layer it with 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella and delicata squash slices. Repeat this process two more times, until all ingredients have been used up
  • Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes

Instant Pot Beef Pot Roast

This delicious and hearty pot roast with savory gravy is tender and is perfect for a family feast. Serve with roasted potatoes or on top of cauliflower rice if you are trying to keep it low carb friendly.

pot roast

Savory Instant Pot Beef Pot Roast

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • knife
  • cutting board
  • spatula
  • Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs boneless beef chuck roast
  • 4 each garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup red onion (diced)
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp rosemary (fresh, finely chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Place the Instant Pot on the saute setting on high heat
  • Season the beef with salt and pepper and add oil to the Instant Pot
  • Add the beef and cook on all sides until evenly browned (about 3 to 4 minutes). Repeat until all sides are browned
  • Next, add the onions, garlic, and thyme. Stir it all around for 2 minutes
  • Pour in the broth and Worcestershire sauce and scrape any of the browned bits from the bottom of the pot
  • Turn off the saute setting and select the manual setting to adjust the pressure to high and set the time for 30 minutes. Make sure the valve is in the sealed position
  • After it has finished cooking, follow the manufacturer's directions for quick-release of the pressure
  • Remove the beef from the Instant Pot. Set the instant pot to the soup setting and add the baby carrots.
  • Mix together the water and corn starch until it makes a slurry. Once the broth is boiling, stir in the corn starch mixture until the sauce thickens
  • Slice the roast into 1/2 inch slices. Serve with gravy and add salt and pepper to taste, garnish with fresh thyme if desired

If you are looking for side dishes to pair up with these thanksgiving entrees, check out our recommendations for Easy to Make Thanksgiving Side Dishes.

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Choosing Healthy Fats: Know the Different Types of Fat

salmon kebab

Fats are a vital energy source for the human body that helps give our body energy and support cell growth. Fat also protects our organs and keeps our bodies warm. They help us absorb minerals and vitamins, build cell membranes, support nerve health, aid muscle movement, make blood clotting possible, and contribute to the process of inflammation to protect the body from contaminants.

Eating foods with fat can be part of a healthy diet, however, it is important to learn which foods to choose that provide good fats and balance the right amount of calories with all the foods you eat and calories you burn. 

What are the main differences between saturated and unsaturated fats?

Saturated fats are fat molecules that are tightly packed with no double bonds between the carbon molecules. Their chemical structures contain many hydrogen atoms, hence they are “saturated” with hydrogen. Unsaturated fats contain less double bonds and fewer hydrogen atoms.

What foods have saturated fats?

Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature and naturally occur in many foods. The majority come from animal sources including meat and dairy products, and some plant oils. 

Examples  include:

  • Fatty beef, pork, poultry with skin 
  • lard and cream, butter, cheese, and other dairy products made from whole or reduced-fat milk. 
  • Baked goods (pastries, pizza dough, cookies) and fried foods can also have saturated fat
  • There are some plant-based oils such as palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil that include saturated fats.

What foods have unsaturated fats?

Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and are considered healthy fats. They contain one or more double bonds. There are two types of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats contain only one double bond in their chemical structure while polyunsaturated fats contain two or more double bonds in their chemical structure.

Examples include:

  • Nuts such as almonds
  • Plant oils such as canola or vegetable oil
  • Avocados
  • Olives, olive oil
  • Certain fish such as salmon and tuna, which contain omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids

What are the health risks/benefits of each fat?

Both fats can have different effects on cholesterol levels in our body. Saturated fats tend to raise levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.  When eaten in moderation, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can improve blood cholesterol when used in place of saturated fats as part of a healthy diet. Unsaturated fats help lower a person’s level of LDL, reduce inflammation, and can contribute to building stronger cell membranes in the body. 

Fats are a vital energy source for the human body that helps give our body energy and support cell growth. However, a diet with too much of either fat can increase body weight along which could also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. In terms of calories, both saturated and unsaturated fats contribute nine calories to every gram of fat. They are more energy-dense than carbohydrates and proteins, therefore, consuming high amounts can lead to weight gain or being overweight.  

What are ways to incorporate healthy fat?

For the most part, try choosing foods that provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. When possible, swap out saturated and trans fat for unsaturated fats. However, there are situations when you can’t avoid saturated fats completely since many foods have a combination of both.

Other ways you can lower your intake of saturated fats is by:

  • Maintaining a diet with a variety of fo fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts
  • Minimize processed foods and fried foods made with unhydrogenated oil

It’s all about practicing intentional choices and balancing the number of calories from all the foods consumed with the number of calories you burn daily. Aim for a diet that emphasizes on including a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods can also help ensure a healthy intake of fat.

Here are some recipes with healthy fats:

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Daily Habits That Could Increase Risk for Heart Disease

heart icon

Heart disease is known as the “silent” killer and people don’t know they are at risk until they experience signs or symptoms of heart failure or heart attacks. Certain habits over time can increase the risk for heart disease and we don’t even know it.

It is well known that foods with high amounts of salt, sugar, saturated fat, and refined carbs raise your risk for heart disease. Intaking high amounts of saturated fat can lead to high levels of cholesterol, consuming too much sodium (the main portion of salt) can increase high blood pressure, and sugar and refined carbs can lead to weight gain and obesity. All these things contribute to a higher risk of heart disease. It is easy to identify what foods to avoid and try to limit them, but here are common habits that most people do that contribute to the risk of heart that can easily be changed and avoided.

Portion Control 

We tend to overload our plates. How much we eat is just as important as what we eat. Overeating can lead to unwanted calories which could lead to weight gain and obesity. Individuals who are obese require more blood to supply oxygen and nutrients which causes an increase in blood pressure to move the blood around. You can avoid overeating by using small plates or a small bowl to help control your portion size. Tracking servings when you eat is also recommended. Use measuring cups or spoons to portion out your food. This will be helpful until you can learn to eyeball the correct portions. 

Unhealthy Snacking

When we are hungry, we might have the tendency to snack on high-calorie foods such as meat and cheese, or sugary snacks. These items are full of saturated fat, high sodium, and added sugar. Instead of eating those snacks, it would be better to get good sources of vegetables and fruits. They are low in calories and rich in dietary fiber which will keep you full longer. They are also full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can combat chronic inflammation that contributes to heart disease. 

Deli Sandwiches

Many consume sandwiches every day for lunch because it is budget-friendly and convenient. However, most deli meats are high in sodium. The portion size for one meal alone can contribute to most of your daily allowance for sodium in one sitting. Excess sodium increases blood pressure because it holds excess fluid in the body which creates an added burden to the heart. Instead of deli meats, swap it out with shredded rotisserie chicken, a hard-boiled egg salad with avocado. Include a spread of hummus and load up the sandwich with roasted or fresh veggies. 

Fruit Juice

Some people also consume 100 percent fruit juice to replace their soda or other sugary drinks as a healthier option, however, the portion size for many bottled fruit juice may be too large which could double the calories and sugar you need in one sitting. It would be important to read the label to know how many servings are in a bottle. It is also better to consume fruit juices that did not filter the skin because you would be missing out on the fiber that can help with normalizing elevated blood lipids which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Frozen Dinners

Frozen dinners may also be quick and convenient options for busy lifestyles. Even those that are labeled low fat and low carb may appear as if they are a healthier choice. However, these servings may contain high amounts of sodium. We always recommend cooking from scratch and batch cook meals so that you can freeze them and save them for later use.

Condiments

It’s also the little things that add up such as condiments and coffee creamer. Although the serving size for these items may appear small, many of us use them throughout the day in all of our meals. Many of these condiments can pack a large amount of sodium and sugar in a small serving size. 

Unbalanced Meals and Last-Minute Meals

Last but not least, adequate and appropriate nutrition is required for all cells to function optimally and this includes the cells in the immune system which are essential in combating the complications of heart disease. Many stick to foods that they are familiar with and do not get enough variety, let alone enough vegetables and fruit which have essential vitamins and minerals that support the immune system. Incorporating foods with antioxidants can help protect molecules from oxidative stress.

Eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties in your diet helps boost your immunity system and fight disease and help you reduce your risk of illness. Unbalanced meals usually result from last-minute food decisions. Therefore, planning your meals in advance and knowing what you will eat during the week will help ensure that you are incorporating plenty of nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean poultry, and fish. It will also help you limit foods with saturated fats, trans fats, and excess sodium and sugar. 

If you need help planning your meals in advance, Sign up for our Free Trial and get access to weekly meal plans.

You can also try some of our heart-healthy recipes:

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Types of water: Which water is best for health?

water with fruit

Food is important for nutrition, however, staying hydrated is also essential to our health. Water helps transport nutrients throughout the body and also helps flush out toxins out of our system. There is a wide variety of water to choose from, with certain waters being more expensive or providing some nutrients more than others. Here the most common types of water with their pros and cons.

Tap Water 

Water that you can get from the faucet

  • Pros: Most tap waters have to meet government guidelines and are generally safe to drink. It is also convenient and almost always free and therefore very inexpensive. It also has less environmental impact than bottled water.
  • Con: There is a chance that not all treatments performed aren’t up to par, but you can always purchase a home filtration system for further cleansing as a practical and safe solution. It is also recommended to take more precautions if you have weaker immune systems, pregnant, or are elderly.

Seltzer Water

Water that has been infused with carbon dioxide under high pressure to create the bubbles. 

  • Pros: For someone who regularly consumes sodas, drinking seltzer water can be a healthier alternative for the beverage of choice. Plain seltzer water is calorie-free, sugar-free, and chemical-free. However, some flavored enhanced seltzers could cause some health concerns.
  • Cons: Some seltzer water brands include flavor enhancers such as sodium, natural and artificial acids, sweeteners, and other additives. These could have hidden calories and extra sodium which both can contribute to weight gain. Therefore, it is important to read the ingredients on the labels and spot check for additives. 

Mineral Water

Water sourced from springs and enriched with vital minerals such as sulfur, magnesium, and calcium

  • Pros: These minerals provide health benefits since your body can’t produce these on their own. It has been known to aid in the digestive system, promoting better immune health.
  • Cons: The processing of the bottles at the source and distribution is quite expensive, therefore it cost more than tap water. In addition, many minerals are already obtained from a healthy, varied diet.

Spring Water

Water sourced from where the water flows, either a spring or glacier 

  • Pros: It is relatively clean and free of toxins, and readily available in stores. The most known brand is Evian.
  • Cons: It cost more than tap water due to its sourcing, packaging, and distribution. Some of the lesser-known brands have been known to sell without testing. In addition, it is raw and unfiltered, so it could possibly pose health risks depending on what it contains.

Distilled Water

Water that is boiled and steamed, collected, and condensed back into a liquid 

  • Pros: It is one of the safest ways to devoid water of any contaminants and bacteria making it a low risk of contamination.
  • Cons: Since it has no vitamins and minerals, non-mineralized water tends to pull minerals where they can from your body. Therefore, drinking too much can result in a mineral deficiency in your body as well as teeth.

Purified Water

Tap or groundwater which has been treated to remove harmful substances like bacteria, fungi, and parasites

  • Pros: It is very safe to drink.
  • Cons: However, you may miss out on some benefits added to tap water like fluoride to help reduce tooth decay. It is also more costly than tap water.

Alkaline Water

Water that goes through a chemical process called electrolysis that results in a higher pH level than normal tap water

  • Pros: Alkaline water supposedly neutralizes acid in the body, to help slow the aging process, or even prevent cancer, however, there is very little scientific evidence that it could offer these benefits.
  • Cons: It is generally safe to drink, but it could reduce stomach acidity and lower the ability to kill off harmful bacteria that you consume with your food.  Drinking in excess could lead to metabolic alkalosis and cause nausea and vomiting.

So as you can see, there are some advantages and disadvantages to the different types of water, therefore, it would be difficult to choose just one kind of water to drink. It all depends on your lifestyle, how much you’re willing to go on price point, how you want to utilize water to supplement your current nutrition, and what risks you are wanting to take with the “safety” of each water.

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Simple Foods to Boost the Immune System

fruit bowl

Nowadays, we are all looking for ways to boost our immunity. One of the best ways to stay healthy and enhance your immune system is to maintain a nutritious diet. 

Our immune system is your body’s version of an army ready to defend your health. In general, the immune system consists of organs, cells, tissues, and proteins that work together to fight anything that invades the body, and as a result, they create antibodies to fight infections, disease, or any recovery from injury.

Healthy immune systems rely on regular nourishment. However, not one food or supplement can boost an immune system on its own, so it’s a matter of eating a balanced diet and getting a combination and variety of foods to support those organs, cells, tissue, etc so that it can do its job.

So when it comes to incorporating foods to help support the functions of your immune system, you want to incorporate a combination from several food groups such as protein sources, fruit, and vegetable sources that provide large amounts of nutrients such as vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E. 

Now it may seem overwhelming knowing which foods to eat, however, many foods are readily available in many grocery stores. Keep it simple by building a healthy plate with a variety of colors and ingredients. 

bibimbap bowl

Simple Immune-Boosting Foods to Add to Everyday Meals

Foods With Vitamin C

Vitamin C is known to be the biggest immune system booster. It helps with the growth and repair of cells. 

  • Fruit: oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries-adds tangy, acidic, and citrus flavors 
  • Vegetables: bell peppers, spinach, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts-adds crunch (raw version can add crunchy textures we all love in our meals, and roasted veggies bring savory flavors)
citrus salad

Foods With Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is known to support biochemical reactions such as increasing antibody production.

  • Protein: chicken, coldwater fish, such as salmon and tuna, eggs (note fatty fish also have omega 3 which helps enhance immune cells, and also the activity of white blood cells)
  • Vegetables: green vegetables, chickpeas
salmon and kale

Foods With Vitamin E

  • Nuts: almonds, peanuts, hazelnut, 
  • Seeds: sunflower seeds, pinenuts
  • Vegetables: spinach, red sweet pepper, beet greens
  • Fruit: avocado, mango, kiwi, blackberries, pomegranates
spinach

Hydration also helps boost the immune system

Staying hydrated helps eliminate toxins and waste that can cause infection. Water helps distribute nutrients throughout the body and helps flush out toxins. Not staying hydrated can also diminish energy levels which can lead to a weakened immune system. Try hydrating foods such as cucumbers, celery, and watermelon.

watermelon

Spices and herbs also have health benefits

Spices and herbs add flavor to your meals, but they also help contribute to overall immunity.

  • Garlic-it can act as antiseptic and antifungal to fight infections
  • Ginger, turmeric, and paprika can act as antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties

Our immune system is highly dependent on the nutrients in our bodies. Incorporating a variety of foods is the key to proper nutrition. Keep in mind that you can’t just eat one strawberry and expect a quick burst of Vitamin C to prevent a cold. Eating just one of these ingredients won’t be enough to help fight off infections. There are also many other vitamins and minerals that can contribute to a healthy system, however, these are simple ingredients that you can start incorporating today.

Building a healthy immune system depends on a balanced healthy diet over time. However, many of these food items can not only enhance the flavor of your meals, but when used in combination and variety, and consumed consistently, it could definitely help boost the immune system over time. 

Here are some ways you can incorporate these foods into your meals:

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Meal Prep Benefits of Air Fryers and Instant Pots

menu

When it comes to eating healthy, convenience and budget are always something to consider. Nowadays, more and more people are looking to incorporate home cooked meals to help achieve their health goals. As with any new change in lifestyle, most people naturally will try to find ways that will be feasible for them.

Here at PrepYoSelf, we often create recipes utilizing air fryers and instant pots because of their ability to provide cooking methods that are more stress-free and hands-off in the kitchen.

Some people may forget to do their prep before cooking. For example, they forget to defrost their protein. Or they don’t want to deal with large pieces of equipment. Therefore, both of these kitchen tools solve those problems. Both are manageable sizes for a piece of equipment and both will allow you to cook frozen items directly and skip the whole defrost/thaw stage which could take hours. In essence, people save time.

What is an air fryer?

The air fryer essentially is like an amped-up oven. The difference is that it has a fan and it utilizes a more compact space to facilitate fast cooking. The fan circulates the air around making food items crisp which is similar to what you could get from deep frying, minus the extra added fat. With normal baking ovens, there is a lot of humidity, so it’s difficult for an outer crisp to occur. 

baked chicken

Why are air fryers worth buying?

Air fryers come with preset settings so it takes out the guesswork for someone who is not familiar with different internal cooking times for different proteins. Also, you do not need to pre-heat the air fryer like you would a normal oven, therefore, saving more time.

What are some creative ways to use an air fryer?

The Air Fryer is great for meal prep. It is the perfect size for roasting veggies and cooks large portions of protein. Therefore, you can batch cook multiple food items without having to pre-heat the oven and waste all that oven space. You can make all sorts of items in the air fryer from veggie chips to fruit chips and even bake muffins and mini cakes. You can also use it as a toaster to toast bread or even boil eggs.

What are the benefits of having an Instant Pot?

Instant pots have similar benefits to air fryers in the sense that you can take food from a frozen state to a cooked state and skip out on the thawing process. It also has settings and eliminates some of the guesswork on how long to cook a food item. 

What are the advantages of an Instant Pot?

Instant Pots are great for cooking the “cheaper” tougher cuts of meat and cooking them using the pressure cooker setting. This breaks down the connective tissues and leaves you with really tender meat. Add herbs, onions, garlic, and spices to the broth, and you have delicious infused meat. They also can cook rice, or you can use the saute option and utilize it like a skillet. Therefore, it is a versatile “stovetop” kitchen tool.

instant pot ingredients

What are the common mistakes that people make with Instant Pots?

The biggest mistake people make with Instant Pots is not reading the manual. The Instant Pot has specific presets for power. The manual specifies how long it would cook certain pieces of meat. It also specifies how much liquid when using the pressure cooker. Adding too much may make your dish too soggy and overcook it. It is a very powerful piece of equipment that cooks fast. 

How can people avoid overcooking foods?

When it comes to overcooking foods, it is best to cut down cooking times by half with a pressure cooker because it gets to such a high temperature that even if you remove it from the pot, it will continue to cook due to the residual heat. If it is still not as tender as you desire, then you could always cook it longer for a few minutes under the warming setting. 

You also want to consider how your meat or food items are cut. If it’s a larger whole piece of meat, it is less likely to overcook versus sliced or cubed beef. So in general, the smaller the size of the food item, whether it’s meat or beans, the less time you want to cook it in the instant pot.

Overall both these items are great for a  “set it and forget it” way of cooking food without taking up too much counter space. We recommend investing in these two kitchen tools because there are so many ways to utilize these tools to help save time in the kitchen and still produce tasty food. Considering how much you would save on electricity, save time, and eliminate food waste, you would have a quick return on your investment. 

Try out some of our air fryer and instant pot recipes:

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Easy Thanksgiving Recipes

menu spread

This year’s Thanksgiving festivities might look a bit different this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, and you’re probably trying to figure out what to make on Thanksgiving. Maybe instead of cooking in large meals for a packed house, you’re only with your immediate family or close friends that you’ve been cooped up with for the past few months. Well, it’s still a season for gratitude, and we can still enjoy some easy Thanksgiving recipes that bring some comfort and satisfy those appetites that we look forward to on this holiday. So here are some main dish options and side dishes for thanksgiving that you can whip up real quick and enjoy in the next couple of days.

Roasted Chicken with Green Bean Casserole

Instead of roasting the traditional turkey bird, you can still enjoy a juicy roasted chicken. The leftovers can also make for amazing chicken salad the days after. Chicken goes great with any side, but for this holiday, pair it with a Thanksgiving casserole like green beans. Green bean casserole is the quintessential Thanksgiving side dish.

Chicken Fried Chicken With Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

We always think of comfort food recipes for Thanksgiving, so there’s no better way to celebrate Thanksgiving dinners than biting into a juicy, crispy piece of fried chicken. But if you’re worried about all the calories of a classic deep fat fried chicken, then try this lighter version of Chicken Pan-Fried Chicken. Pair it with traditional thanksgiving sides such as easy mashed potatoes and gravy.

One-Pot Chicken Spaghetti

Who loves a good bowl of spaghetti? I know I do! So here’s a twist on the classic spaghetti using chicken breasts instead of ground meat. And the good news is that you can make it all in one pot. So yay for fewer dishes! So if you’re looking for Thanksgiving dishes that are quick and hearty, try out this simple One-Pot Chicken Spaghetti.

Pan-Fried Eggplant with Meat Sauce

If you love lasagna but could do without the carbs since you’re probably already grazing through desserts and other carb-loaded sides for Thanksgiving, then this is a great alternative that still brings all the great marinara flavors and cheesy goodness that we all enjoy in lasagna.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Sausage

You can’t have a Thanksgiving meal if there aren’t sweet potatoes on the menu. This recipe is such a simple and easy to prep ahead meal. You’ve got the sweetness of the sweet potatoes combined with the savory and spiciness of the sausage. These are freezer friendly and great for making them in advance if you don’t want to spend all day cooking Thanksgiving meals.

Sheet Pan Chicken Sausage Meatballs with Balsamic Brussel Sprouts

For those that don’t want to deal with cooking with raw meat, don’t forget about pre-cooked frozen meat options. They taste just as good if you cooked them yourselves and they will cut your cook time in half. Try Aidell’s Chicken sausage meatballs and roast them in the oven with balsamic Brussel sprouts. This will allow you to get a good roast on the veggies and heat through the frozen meat options. Serve with your choice of grains such as barley, rice pilaf, orzo pasta, or low carb options such as cauliflower rice.

Balsamic Steak with Roasted Delicata Squash 

Here’s a Healthy thanksgiving recipe for beef lovers. Enjoy an easy sheet pan steak meal marinated with the tangy and savory flavors of balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Pair it with the seasonal delicata squash vegetable. 

Turkey and Vegetable Couscous

If you must have turkey on Thanksgiving, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of cooking a large turkey, then use ground turkey. This easy skillet dish combines healthy and seasonal vegetables such as kale and butternut squash with yummy golden brown ground turkey.

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Keto Food List

chicken stuffed peppers

Starting the keto diet can be a little overwhelming, but no worries, we’ve put together some basic information about the Keto diet and listed out some keto-friendly ingredients to help you take out the guesswork of grocery shopping.

What foods to avoid on a Keto diet?

Since this is a high-fat diet that limits carbs, here are some foods that the Keto Diet Limits:

  • Grains and starches such as rice, pasta, and cereal
  • Most fruit: While fruit is healthy and offers many vitamins and minerals, the diet restricts most fruits due to the number of carbs. 
  • Beans and legumes such as peas, lentils, chickpeas
  • Starchy root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips
  • Sugary foods such as fruit juice, pastries, cakes, ice cream, and soda

So as you can see, this may require saying goodbye to some pantry friendly items that you’re used to having at your fingertips. But before we start with what you should add to your shopping list, let’s learn a little bit about the Keto Diet and how it works.

What is the Keto diet?

The ketogenic (keto) diet is primarily a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. It requires drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake and increasing your fat intake. If done correctly, the reduction in carbs will put your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. Instead of the body burning carbohydrates as the primary source of energy, it resorts to burning fat for energy. It results in the body releasing ketones into the bloodstream.

How many carbs can I eat on the Keto diet?

Most of our cells in the body prefer to use blood sugar, which comes primarily from carbohydrates, as the main source of energy. In the absence of blood sugar circulating from food, we start to break down the stored fat in the molecules. This shift from using blood glucose to stored fat as a source of energy typically starts occurring over two to four days if eating fewer than 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. However, it is important to note that everyone’s body has individualized metabolic processes and may impact ketosis. 

The two most studied Keto diet is the Standard Ketogenic Diet which typically contains 5% carbs (which is generally about 20-50 grams per day), 20% protein, and 75% fat. High-Protein Ketogenic diet is similar but includes more protein with 5% carbs, 35% protein, and 75% fat.

What are some of the health benefits of the Keto diet?

Some studies claim that health benefits can include:

  • Weight loss without hunger
  • Reduction in blood sugar and Improved insulin sensitivity for those that are diabetic or prediabetic
  • Reduction in abdominal fat
  • Decrease in triglycerides

So now that you have learned what not to eat on a keto diet, here are some ingredients that you can stock up on when you’re following a keto diet.

chicken stir fry

What are foods you can eat on a Keto Diet?:

Protein:

  • red meat, pork, chicken, and turkey
  • Fatty fish: such as salmon, tuna, and halibut
  • Shellfish: crab, shrimp, lobster, mussels
  • Deli meat: ham, turkey, roast beef
  • Sausage, Turkey Bacon
  • Eggs

Dairy:

whole cheese, greek yogurt

Nuts and seeds:

almonds, walnuts, chia seeds

Healthy Oils:

olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil

Fruits:

Avocado, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries

Beverages:

Sweetened Coffee, tea, almond milk, coconut milk

Non-starchy vegetables:

  • most green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, all lettuce
  • cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower
  • tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, cucumber, asparagus, green beans, zucchini, olives

Low carb pasta alternatives:

zucchini noodles, squash noodles, shirataki noodles

Alternative flours:

almond flour, coconut flour

Seasonings and herbs:

  • herbs such as cilantro, thyme, rosemary, spices such as garlic powder, ginger, cinnamon, and oregano
  • Condiments: such as lime and lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, hot sauce, soy sauce, buffalo sauce, sugar-free ketchup, ranch, pestos

Although the keto diet is focused on high fat, you’ll want to ensure that you incorporate healthy fats and a variety of vegetables that will provide maximum vitamins and minerals.

Here are some low carb/keto-friendly recipes:

What are the risks of the Keto Diet?

Although many claim that the Keto Diet has helped with weight loss and can provide other health benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone. There are also some side effects as somebody adapts to the diet. These symptoms can include:

  • Poor energy and mental function, sleep issues, nausea, and mood swings
  • It can also impact the water and mineral balance of the body
  • Some may lose muscle on the diet
  • Digestive disorders

This diet was also primarily used to manage seizures in children with epilepsy, but the research on its long-term effectiveness in treating obesity or diabetes is still limited. 

Although it could be an alternative to treating certain conditions and may result in a quick fix for weight loss and lowering blood sugars, it may not be the most sustainable diet for all.

Most diets like this is pretty much an all or nothing diet that can be restrictive and may omit a wide variety of other nutritious foods that can be beneficial for your overall health. In addition, if a person is not educated on heart-healthy sources of fat, they may consume an excessive amount of unhealthy fats, such as saturated fat, which has been linked to increased risk for heart disease. 

There are also additional risks for those that are already taking diabetic medication that lowers sugars. They would need to work and consult with their medical practitioners to make adjustments to the medications. 

In addition, the diet is not recommended for those that have medical conditions involving the kidney, pancreas, liver, thyroid, or gall bladder as it could worsen their conditions. 

In general, the Keto Diet may have some benefits in weight loss and lowering blood sugar, however, it is always important to consult with nutritionists, doctors, and specialists to ensure that you are eating a healthy and well-balanced diet

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Cheap Dinner Ideas

quesadillas

Tasty dinners don’t need to be expensive to be delicious. Save money by choosing cheaper proteins like chicken, ground beef, tilapia and pair them with budget-friendly side dishes. All you need is the right cooking method with the right amount of seasonings, spices, and herbs to bring out the best flavors. Here are some cheap and easy dinner ideas that will save you time and money during your weeknight dinners.

1. We love anything stuffed in a tortilla. 

This easy baked salsa chicken only requires 3 ingredients. Chicken breast, salsa, and bell peppers. Place it in the oven to bake and let it do all the work. Shred the chicken and serve with your choice of tortillas. 

Quesadillas are pretty effortless. Add cheese, veggies, and protein in between two tortillas. Warm them on a griddle until the cheese is gooey and the tortilla is golden brown. Here is an easy shrimp quesadilla recipe that is relatively inexpensive and easy to make.

2. Casseroles are a great way to get the biggest bang for your buck with cheap ingredients. 

Use cheap protein such as ground beef and add ingredients such as beans and cheap veggies such as corn, onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers to make them stretch. Serve them in a cornbread casserole dish or mix them in with the rice. 

3. There is nothing more comforting than a warm bowl of pasta for dinner. 

This Chicken spaghetti and fajita beef pasta recipe are complete dinners in one pot using mostly pantry staple items perfect for a busy weeknight. 

4. Sheet pan dinners are famous for their convenience, but they are also good for how budget-friendly they can be. 

This cooking method also brings out great flavors through the roasting process. Using seafood as a protein option is a good option because it cooks fast. 

Take any kind of dressing and glaze your salmon and it will take on all the yummy tart and tangy flavors of the vinaigrette which is super easy and inexpensive. Pair it with roasted asparagus and fluffy couscous which are also low cost ingredients.

Use a similar approach and season tilapia with spices and load up with cheap veggies such as zucchini and squash.

5. Quick and Easy Stir fry is a great meal to use diced up cheaper cuts such as boneless chicken thighs and use leftover vegetables or any kind of veggies you have on hand. 

Chop up the veggies and protein in all the same bit size pieces. Start with a hot pan with oil and add your protein. Once the protein is golden brown, add your veggies at the very end just until they are slightly warm, then add your seasonings such as soy sauce, garlic powder, and sesame oil. Serve them over rice or noodles.

Serve them over rice just like in this pineapple chicken stir fry.

You can also serve them over noodles just like in this soba noodle chicken stir fry.

6. Soups always offer an easy and tasty way to stretch a meal budget. 

Any combination of ingredients with the right amount of seasonings can transform into a slurp worthy soup. Simply combine your choice of protein with aromatics such as garlic, onions, and carrots with broth and add your choice of pasta.

Although short ribs may be a bit pricey, the rest of the cheap ingredients offset the overall cost of the meal and make for a cheap and tasty dinner. All you need is lots of garlic, onions, all spice seasonings, and herbs such as cilantro and basil to flavor this dish up.

Convenient soup options such as ramen can also be turned into a higher quality, but still budget friendly soup by combining it with fresh vegetables such as bok choy and bell peppers.

7. Chicken and rice is incredibly simple but can be a feel-good meal. It is also versatile and can take on many twists. 

This baked chicken is flavored with Carribbean spices served with a golden turmeric rice pilaf.

This Cilantro Chicken is easy to prep, packed with flavor, and served with pantry friendly ingredients such as rice and beans.

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