New Year….New Healthier Meals

The New Year can be a challenging time. Many folks resolve to eat healthier, maybe lose some weight and get more physical activity. Notice how crowded the gyms are after the holidays? It doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, the simpler you keep it, the more likely you will be to stick with new habits and maintain a more positive attitude about the changes being made.

In addition, most folks are a bit short of money after the holidays, so it makes sense to plan budget-friendly meals. Over the coming weeks we will post tips and recipes to help you fix balanced meals that include lean meats, fish or meat substitutes (think beans, tofu, nuts, etc.), fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

The key to success is in the planning. It’s a good idea to set aside a bit of time once a week (Saturday or Sunday) to plan the meals for the week. Get the family involved and write out menus for each meal of the week. Then create your shopping list after checking to see what’s already on-hand. Try to involve the whole family in meal preparation as much as possible. Children will eat what they prepare. Assign tasks to each child that are appropriate to their ages.

For more ideas for inexpensive tasty and healthy meals, check out Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day. You will find many tips and suggestions for stocking your pantry. If you are new to the kitchen, it’s a great place to start.  Try the easy, inexpensive, high-fiber recipe below. Add a green salad for a complete meal.

Baked Lentils Casserole

Makes:  5 servings

Total cost:  $3.40Cost per serving:  $.68


1 cup lentils (rinsed)

3/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper (optional)

1/2 cup onion (chopped)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

1 can tomatoes, diced (16 ounces)

2 carrots (thinly sliced)

1/2 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)


  1. Combine lentils, water, seasonings, onion, and tomatoes.
  2. Place in 2-quart casserole dish.
  3. Cover tightly with lid or foil.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and add carrots. Stir.
  6. Cover and bake 30 minutes longer.
  7. Remove cover and sprinkle cheese on top.
  8. Bake, uncovered 5 minutes, until cheese melts.

Nutrition Information:

Key Nutrients                      Amount            

Total Calories                         200

Total Fat                                  4 g                          

Protein                                      14 g

Carbohydrates                        29 g                         

Dietary Fiber                           11 g                         

Saturated Fat                         2 g                         

Sodium                                  418 mg