Joy Bauer Weight Loss

Cut Calories, Save Cash: 3 Easy Weeknight Meals


You might think most of your money is going towards clothing and vacations, but food is actually eating up a surprisingly large portion of your budget. Whether dining out or buying groceries, Americans spend a ton of money on meals. Good news: If you’re looking to save cash and calories, cooking at home is the way to go. 

 The first step towards making low-calorie, budget-friendly meals is just that—making your meals versus ordering takeout or dining out. Restaurants not only hike up the price, but they also overdo it on the butter, oil, salt, starch and fatty toppings, typically resulting in calorific cuisine. By cooking the majority of your meals at home you’ll have much more control over specific ingredients (and their amounts)…and you’ll slash both calories and cost substantially. 

To help get you started, I’ve slimmed down three decadent dinners that are currently trending on Grubhub: Lobster Mac & Cheese, Fried Chicken and Mashed Potatoes, and Barbecue Brisket. Each one weighs in at less than 500 calories—and costs less than $5.00 per person to cook. Plus, my taste testers will vouch that these lightened-up renditions are insanely satisfying. Add ‘em to your dinner rotation and you’ll be slimming down your waistline and fattening up your wallet. Double win!


Lobster Mac & Cheese

It’s pretty hard to improve upon classic Mac & Cheese, but the addition of frozen lobster helps fancy it up and bolster protein. One hearty serving provides a whopping 36 grams of satiating protein for only 480 calories. I also elevate the deliciousness and nutrition by adding a little extra goodness on top with my Broccoli-Parm “breadcrumbs.” And, thanks to Jean Chatzky’s math skills, we now know that it costs about $2.95 per serving to make (on average, that’s 84 percet less than what it would cost at a restaurant!)  Get the recipe!

Not-So-Fried Chicken and Mashed “Potatoes”

Between the crispy coating and deliciously juicy meat, this beloved dish is an irresistible comfort food. But let’s face it, we could all benefit from a little less fried fare. Satisfy the urge instead with this baked version—it provides the same tasty satisfaction without any guilty aftermath. It’s finger-licking good…and good for you, too. And, while the average restaurant charges about $15 for a fried chicken entrée, my version costs approximately $2.66 per person. Cook it up, dig in, and think about all the extra cash you just saved. Get the recipe!

Slow Cooker BBQ Brisket

Where’s the beef? In the slow cooker! This cut of red meat is delicious when it’s cooked low and slow. That way, all the yummy flavors from the veggies and sauces seep in and the meat becomes really tender. Simply dump all the ingredients into your slow cooker in the morning and then enjoy a home cooked meal when you walk through the door in the evening. It’s like having your own personal (and affordable) chef. Compare to ordering barbecue brisket at an average restaurant, and you’ll end up with an extra $13.72 (per serving) in your pocket. This dish is truly a one-pot-wonder and a triple threat—it will save you time, calories, and cash. Get the recipe!