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25 April

Nutritious, Simple, and Cheap: Meal Plans from a Legacy Dietician

Category: Public Health, Social Determinants of Health, Uncategorized

By Barrett White

Cooking for a family—or cooking multiple meals for a single person meal prep—doesn’t have to be difficult, time consuming, or expensive. In fact, stopping for fast food to satisfy the hunger pangs, even just to order off the dollar menu, adds up quick and is easily more expensive in the long run than stopping by the grocery store and purchasing some healthy ingredients in bulk.

Legacy’s Sean Barrett, a Registered Dietician, says that healthy eating can be done simply and inexpensively—and it can taste wonderful, too. He compiled a few of his favorite recipes here—ones that can be prepared for as little as $3 to $4 per person—and can serve up to four people.

When shopping for healthy ingredients while on a budget, remember that store brand items are usually just as good as name brand, and oftentimes are even produced by the same company, but are much less expensive. For inexpensive fresh fruits and veggies, be on the lookout for farmer’s markets over the spring and summer.


Healthy Shrimp & Grits

Serves four


  • 3¾ cups of reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika, divided
  • 1 cup whole grain yellow grits
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2½ cups sliced mushrooms
  • 6 green onions, cut into two-inch pieces
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper


  1. Combine the chicken broth and ½ teaspoon smoked paprika in a medium pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Gradually pour in the grits and stir vigorously. Reduced the heat to medium low, so the grits cook at a low boil. Keep the pot covered except to stir periodically to prevent clumping. Remove from the heat when the grits are at the desired consistency, after about 6 to 8 minutes.

For this recipe, I prefer my grits on the wetter side, but you can continue to cook them until they are the way you prefer them.

  1. While the grits are cooking, toss the shrimp with the salt, crushed garlic and remaining ½ teaspoon smoked paprika.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and swirl to cover the pan. Add the shrimp and cook on each side until just pink, a total of about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the skillet.
  3. In the same skillet, add the mushrooms and green onions. Sauté on medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft. Return the cooked shrimp to the skillet. Sprinkle the thyme and pepper over the shrimp and vegetables and stir.
  4. To serve, scoop up about 1 cup of grits and 1 cup of shrimp and vegetable mixture into each of 4 bowls. If you have leftovers, store the grits separate from the shrimp for easier reheating.


Greek Orzo Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing

Serves four


  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 14.5-ounce can large white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • ¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  • ¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 4 to 5 sprigs dill, rough chopped
  • Mint leaves, torn (optional)


  1. Cook orzo per package directions then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing by adding the lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, plus a pinch each of salt and black pepper to a small jar. Screw on the lid tightly and shake until creamy. Set aside.
  3. Add all ingredients to a medium-size bowl and stir to evenly distribute the dressing. Garnish with extra herbs and lemon wedges.


Southern-Style Collard Greens

Serves six

Note: Reducing the amount of bacon and replacing ham bone with chicken broth allows Southern flavors to shine through while reducing sodium and saturated fat!


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1½ cups diced onion
  • ¾ cup chopped bacon (about 4 slices)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • 10 cups chopped collard greens
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chicken base
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


  1. In a large pot, heat canola oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and bacon and sauté for about 4 minutes, until onion is soft and you can really smell the bacon.
  3. Add garlic and cranberries and sauté another minute.
  4. Add greens, chicken base and water and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes until greens are tender.
  6. Remove from heat, add vinegar and stir.
  7. Serve collards using a slotted spoon to drain excess liquid.