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Cheap and Healthy Family Recipes for Kids and Crowds

Updated on August 4, 2012
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A few simple recipes can be easily mixed and matched to serve your friends and family great-tasting, affordable food that you'll feel good about putting on the table time and again.

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It starts with a sauce...

This thick, guacamole-like sauce is a healthy, flavorful, and easy-to-make accent to a variety of quick, wallet-friendly dishes.

The sauce can be as spicy as you like.

If some members of the family prefer more heat than others, blend the sauce without the serrano or jalapeno pepper and transfer some of the sauce to a bowl marked "mild." Add the reserved pepper (or a portion of it) to the remaining sauce, blend, and transfer to a bowl marked "hot."

Awesome Avocados!

  • Avocados are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, making fat-soluble nutrients such as beta-carotene more available to your body when eaten eaten with a slice or two of this creamy, green fruit.
  • Avocados are also a good source of folic acid, potassium, fiber, and Vitamin E.
  • With a creamy texture and delicate flavor, the avocado is a versatile fruit that can be used in place of many less nutrient-rich fats.

Spicy Avocado Sauce

  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cubanelle pepper, rinsed
  • 1 shallot, peeled
  • 1 serrano pepper (or jalapeno, if preferred), rinsed
  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, skinned and pitted
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch cilantro, rinsed, with the stems trimmed off
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Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a heavy-duty blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. If your blender is less heavy-duty, you may need to pre-chop the shallot and peppers.
  2. Transfer to a bowl, press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the sauce so that it is exposed to as little air as possible, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. The sauce will keep stored this way for up to 1 week. Makes about 2 cups of delicious and versatile avocado sauce/spread.

Now that you've made your sauce...

Here are a few of the things you can do with it:

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"Incredible-Edible Hulk" Chicken Salad Pitas

If your kids love comics, or the blockbusters based on them, there's a good chance they'll go for these easy pitas. Shredded poached chicken is mixed with Spicy (or non-spicy) Avocado Sauce instead of mayonnaise, making it green like one of their favorite action icons--and healthier, too!

Encourage kids to stuff their own pitas as full as they want with chicken salad and any additional toppings, making the pockets bulge like the Hulk's muscles. Getting kids involved in the process gives them ownership of their creation and elicits them to try new foods.

Poaching Chicken

Poaching chicken in water requires no fat and, unlike grilling, it creates no harmful carcinogens in the process.

Start with fresh chicken, or buy a big bag of individually ice-glazed, frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. These tend to be affordable and are convenient to have on hand.

Add 2 T salt to a large pot of water and bring to a rapid boil. Add the thawed chicken, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (cut into the center of the largest breast to check for doneness). Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, and allow to rest for 5 minutes before shredding.

You will need...

  • Spicy Avocado Sauce
  • shredded poached chicken
  • whole wheat pitas
  • any optional toppings (diced tomato and feta are pictured)

To Assemble:

  1. Combine the chicken with approximately 1/4 cup avocado sauce per breast. Note: Though not-at-all necessary, grilled corn and diced red bell peppers would be excellent add-ins to this salad.
  2. Stuff salad into pita pockets, garnishing with any desired optional toppings.


Green Chicken Enchiladas Variation: Coat the bottom of a casserole dish with enchilada sauce. Spread chicken salad in corn tortillas, roll up, and arrange the rolls in an even layer on top of the sauce. Cover with more enchilada sauce and sprinkle with cheddar cheese (reduced fat if desired). Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Crumble a bit of cotija cheese over the top just before serving if desired. A great make-ahead dish, this can be frozen after it is assembled and defrosted before baking. If freezing or refrigerating in a glass dish, be sure to bring the dish up to room temperature before putting it in the hot oven to avoid cracking the dish.

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Turkey Wraps

Use over-sized wraps if you can find them. Giant tortillas or rectangular lavash-cracker-bread-style wraps will work equally well.

You will Need

  • whole wheat wraps
  • Spicy Avocado Sauce
  • sliced deli turkey
  • optional add-ins (pictured with pickled jalapenos, grilled corn, and feta)

To Assemble:

  1. Spread avocado sauce on a wrap, sprinkle with any desired toppings (black beans, diced tomatoes, and baby spinach are all nice options). Lay slices of turkey over the top of the toppings and roll up the wrap.
  2. Slice the wrap in half at a diagonal angle as pictured here for a wrap to serve 1-2 (as pictured here), or cut vertically into 1-to-2-inch slices to make pinwheels to serve a crowd (as pictured at top of page).

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Easy Turkey Roll-ups

Simply spread Spicy Avocado Sauce on a slice of deli turkey and roll up to make the perfect snack or light lunch for low-carb lovers.

You Will Need:

  • Spicy Avocado Sauce
  • sliced deli turkey

To Assemble:

  1. Spread about 1 T of the sauce on each slice of turkey.
  2. Roll up the turkey slices.

Black Bean Quesadillas

Beans are an excellent source of both protein and fiber. Strained and rinsed canned black beans are affordable and ready to go when you are; dried beans take a little forethought, but they're as cheap a protein source as you can get. The choice is up to you.

You will need...

  • Spicy Avocado Sauce
  • whole wheat tortillas
  • strained and rinsed black beans
  • shredded cheddar cheese (reduced fat if desired)

To Assemble:

  1. Place a tortilla on a griddle or nonstick pan over med-high heat.
  2. Sprinkle the tortilla with shredded cheese and about 2 T black beans. Top with another tortilla. Cook for 1-2 minutes, pressing the top tortilla as it cooks to help it stick. Flip the quesadilla and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
  3. Use a pizza cutter to cut the quesadilla into 8 small wedges. Serve with avocado sauce for dipping.

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Breakfast Tacos

A cheap, quick, and hearty fix, breakfast tacos can be a healthy alternative for a family of "breakfast for dinner" lovers.

A big mess of scrambled eggs forms the "meat" of the dish and can be easily made in whatever quantity is required. Assume 2-3 eggs per person.

Tacos are a great dish for picky eaters because each person can customize his or her tacos with optional toppings.

An eggs-traordinairy Entree

  • Eggs are nutritious: In addition to being an excellent source of protein, eggs contain 13 essential vitamins and minerals, including choline, which is necessary for healthy brain function. Eggs are also one of the only foods that can claim to be a naturally good source of Vitamin D.
  • Eggs are cheap: According to the United States Department of Labor (http://www.bls.gov/ro3/apmw.htm), in May 2012 the average price of lean ground beef was $4.04 per pound. The average price for a dozen large, Grade A eggs was $1.69. Large eggs are approximately 2 ounces each, so 4 ounces of eggs would cost about 28 cents, while an equal portion of lean ground beef would cost $1.01.

You will need:

  • whole-wheat tortillas
  • scrambled eggs seasoned with salt and pepper

Optional Toppings:

  • Spicy Avocado Sauce
  • strained and rinsed canned black beans (or prepared dried beans, which are even cheaper)
  • crumbled cotija cheese
  • feta cheese (low-fat if desired)
  • shredded cheddar cheese (low-fat if desired)
  • finely diced onion (any variety)
  • chopped or shredded poached chicken
  • diced tomatoes
  • sauteed spinach or kale
  • grilled corn

5 stars from 1 rating of Cheap and Healthy Family Recipes

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    • profile image

      Paloma 3 years ago

      I am trying to find a webtise where I may purchase this enamel cookware. I have one skillet that i purchased in spain many years ago and love it! If you know of a webtise that I may go to and purchase more I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you for this site !

    • questiongirl profile image
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      Morgan Crumm 5 years ago

      Thanks so much, Kelley!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      This looks like a fantastic hub! I love the detail and the pictures you added here. Voted up and 5 stars! Kelley

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