These 8 Cheap DASH Diet Recipes Are Winners for Your Body and Your Wallet
With all the different diets out there, your options can begin to sound like alphabet soup. (… Is alphabet soup allowed on your diet?)
But you may have heard chatter about one speedy-sounding plan in particular. The DASH diet is a healthy option that’s often prescribed to those struggling with high blood pressure or to anyone trying to keep healthy and fit.
If you’re hoping to dash your way to a healthier you, read on.
What is the DASH Diet?
DASH is an acronym, which stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. It’s an eating plan that’s rich in healthy carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, but low in saturated and added fats and sugars. It also includes lean meats, beans and low-fat dairy.
Basically, it’s probably what you think of when you think of someone “eating well.”
The DASH diet has been shown in clinical studies to markedly reduce blood pressure when followed consistently, and, true to its name, its effects don’t take too long to start working.
“By following the DASH diet, you may be able to reduce your blood pressure by a few points in just two weeks. Over time, your systolic blood pressure could drop by eight to 14 points, which can make a significant difference in your health risks,” according to Mayo Clinic.
And the DASH diet isn’t just for people who have hypertension. The guidelines sync up with existing dietary recommendations that are thought to prevent diseases like osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
In fact, the DASH diet is considered so healthy, it’s recommended in the 2010 USDA dietary guidelines as an ideal eating plan; it also topped U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 list of “Best Diets Overall.”
But if you’re reading this, you’re probably already well aware and convinced of the DASH diet’s many benefits.
So now that you’re embarking on a healthier lifestyle… how are you planning to afford it?
How to Save Money on the DASH Diet
Ideally, you want to keep your body and your wallet healthy.
And as you’ve doubtlessly noticed, the fresh, unprocessed groceries you need to support your DASH diet eating plan aren’t always the cheapest items in the store.
But there are lots of ways to make the DASH diet affordable. In fact, if you follow these tips, you’ll likely find eating well is actually cheaper than relying on packaged goods, prepared meals or eating out.
Here are a few key ways to save money on the DASH diet.
1. Plan your meals.
Whenever you’re following any kind of specialty diet, it’s helpful to plan your meals as far ahead of time as possible. (Many meal planners make their menus on a weekly, or even monthly, basis.)
Getting organized does double duty: Not only does it help you avoid temptation and stick to your regime, it also makes budgeting for groceries a snap, since you know exactly what you need to have on hand ahead of time.
A DASH diet meal plan will focus on fresh produce, legumes, whole grains, lean meats and dairy products. In other words, there’s a whole lot more on the list of what you can eat than on the list of what you shouldn’t.
So you can definitely have fun and get creative with your meal plan… or save yourself time and fall back on a pre-made menu designed by someone else. There are tons of menu templates and tips available online!
2. Optimize your shopping trip.
Not all grocery stores are created equally. And you can stand to save a ton of money by figuring out where to shop — and how.
The first step is figuring out which ingredients you’ll rely on the most. With the DASH diet, that list might include lean meat like chicken breast or low-fat yogurt and milk.
Once you’ve got your shopping list, it’s worthwhile to check prices at several different stores in your area.
You can either figure out which grocer’s the best overall and make it your go-to… or, if you have the time and patience, make two different grocery store stops. (Yes, it might sound like a pain, but you’d be surprised at how the savings add up. This dad banks $150 a month by making one extra stop each week!)
3. Buy what you can in bulk.
The DASH diet’s focus on whole grains and legumes is totally a tool in your grocery-saving arsenal.
That’s because staples like dried beans and brown rice are prime candidates for buying in bulk — which can save you tons of money over time.
If you’re not already a member of a warehouse club store like Sam’s or Costco, now might be a good time to figure out if it’s worth the investment for you and your family. After all, $50 per year is pretty affordable — and you might be surprised at exactly how many perks you get!
But even if you don’t have a fancy membership, you can optimize your shopping at a regular grocery store. For instance, go ahead and get the family-sized bag of frozen broccoli or quinoa. It’s pretty much always more economical to do so.
4. Use coupons (yes, you can!)
You may think all coupons are for boxed and branded goods that don’t figure prominently in your new diet.
If you’re not already using it, download Ibotta — a rebate app that gets you cash back on everyday purchases from groceries to getaways. Yes, many packaged items are featured here, too — but you can also find rebates for items like fresh produce, a dozen eggs or a gallon of milk!
All you have to do is verify your purchase of listed items by snapping a photo of your receipt. Once you amass $20 in rebates, you can withdraw the cash directly into a Paypal or Venmo account, or cash out with a gift card.
Pretty sweet deal, right?
8 Affordable DASH Diet Recipes You Won’t Get Sick Of
Now that you’re armed with surefire ways to save money on your new diet plan, it’s time for the fun part: Actually eating it!
Here are a few of our favorite DASH diet recipes, no matter what dish you’re in the mood for. And better yet, not one of them costs more than $5 per serving!
(Author’s note: Prices are approximate and were pulled from the writer’s local Walmart and grocery stores. Your exact cost may vary.)
1. Breakfast: Pumpkin Cookies
Cookies… for breakfast? That’s a diet we can get behind.
DASH Diet Oregon offers this recipe for pumpkin breakfast cookies, a great make-ahead option to keep the family fueled for quite a few mornings — it makes 48 servings!
- One can pumpkin puree: $1.88
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar: 74 cents
- Two eggs: 26 cents
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil: 16 cents
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour: 30 cents
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour: 51 cents
- One tablespoon baking powder: 9 cents
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice mix: 20 cents
- 1/2 teaspoon salt: 1 cent
- One cup raisins: $1.12
- One cup walnuts or hazelnuts: $3.36 for walnuts; hazelnuts can be much pricier ($1 per ounce)
Total Cost: $8.63 for the batch, or 18 cents per cookie
2. Smoothie: Banana Berry Oatmeal
Smoothies are a delicious and portable way to get going fast, and they’re super customizable. (Use what you’ve got!)
Here’s one recipe to get your creative juices flowing. The frozen banana is genius — a healthy way to make any blended beverage creamier and sweeter.
- 1/2 cup ice: 3 cents
- One banana: 19 cents
- One cup frozen mixed berries: $1.68
- 1/2 cup plain lowfat yogurt: 45 cents
- 1/2 cup rolled oats: 20 cents
- One cup lowfat milk: 14 cents
- Optional sweetener: 4 cents
Total Cost: $2.73
3. Salad: Orange-Sesame Shrimp Salad
Salad doesn’t have to be sad. In fact, if you do it right, it’s anything but ordinary.
Here’s a DASH-friendly version from EatingWell, complete with a homemade dressing you can whip up in a flash — and that you’ll want to put on absolutely everything.
- Two cups romaine lettuce: 80 cents
- 1 1/2 cups red cabbage: 38 cents
- Three ounces shrimp: $1.47
- 1/2 avocado: 75 cents
- 1/4 cup orange juice: 24 cents
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar: 9 cents
- Two tablespoons sugar: 5 cents
- Two tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce: 12 cents
- One teaspoon toasted sesame oil: 12 cents
Total Cost: $4.02
4. Soup: Chicken and Wild Rice
What’s more comforting than chicken soup? (Spoiler: Not much.)
We love this version from the Dash Diet Collection. It’s delicious, healthy, and best of all, crazy easy to make. The recipe doesn’t list how many servings it makes, but with 12 cups of broth and a pound and a half of chicken, it’s safe to say you’ll get at least four meals out of it.
- Two cups onions: $1.24
- Two cups carrots: 68 cents
- Two cups celery: 62 cents
- Four cloves garlic: 21 cents
- One cup green beans: 49 cents
- One cup wild rice: $3.84
- Two bay leaves: 13 cents
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper: 1 cent
- 12 cups organic chicken broth: $5.94
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast: $5.14
- One cup fresh parsley leaves: 98 cents
Total Cost: $19.28, or $4.82 per serving — but you could get it down even further if you bought conventional chicken broth, or switched the wild rice for a cheaper grain or noodles.
5. Dinner: Barbecued Pork Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Kale
Pork is so underrated: More satisfying than chicken but healthier than beef, and super versatile to boot.
This all-inclusive dinner by Katie Webster is cooked in a foil packet, which helps keep the meat nice and moist without additional fats and oils. (It’s also a cinch to clean up!)
- 1 1/2 pounds red or yellow potatoes: $1.24
- Four cups kale: $1.18
- Two tablespoons canola oil: 10 cents
- One teaspoon chili powder: 12 cents
- One teaspoon paprika: 12 cents
- 1/2 teaspoon salt: 1 cent
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder: 2 cents
- 20 ounces boneless pork: $4.48
- Four tablespoons barbecue sauce: 14 cents
- Two tablespoons water: 1 cent
Total Cost: $7.42, or $1.85 per serving (!!)
6. Bread: Honey Whole Wheat
Yes, you can have bread on a diet.
This loaf is filled with healthy additions, like flaxseed, and sweetened with honey and applesauce. It’s the perfect bookend for your favorite sandwich!
- One cup rolled oats: 40 cents
- Three cups water: 3 cents
- Three cups whole wheat flour: $1.02
- 3/4 cup soy flour: $1.36
- 3/4 cup ground flaxseed or flaxseed meal: 96 cents
- Three tablespoons whole flaxseed: 31 cents
- Three tablespoons sesame seeds: 58 cents
- Three tablespoons poppy seeds: 29 cents
- 4 1/4 tablespoons yeast: $2.20
- One tablespoon sea salt: 1 cent
- One cup unsweetened applesauce: 48 cents
- 1/2 cup honey: 78 cents
- 1/4 cup olive oil: 45 cents
- Five cups unbleached white flour: $1.00
Total Cost: $9.87, or about 49 cents per slice. (Yes, that might seem costly for bread, but it’s so much better for you than the storebought stuff in plastic!)
7. Side Dish: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup
If brussels sprouts made your face fall when you were a kid, prepare to be amazed.
Just two teaspoonfuls of sugar — in this case, healthy maple syrup — help this medicinal vegetable go down. In fact, you may want seconds.
- Two cups brussels sprouts: $3.12
- One tablespoon olive oil: 21 cents
- Two teaspoons maple syrup: 18 cents
- Salt and pepper, to taste: 3 cents
Total Cost: $3.54, or 88 cents per half-cup serving
8. Dessert: Grilled Peaches with Honey and Yogurt
If you thought eating healthy meant banishing your sweet tooth forever, think again.
This summery recipe uses heat to increase the peaches’ natural sweetness even more. Feel free to experiment with whatever fruit might be in season where you are!
- Two large ripe peaches: $1.59
- 1/4 cup fat free vanilla Greek yogurt: 23 cents
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon: 2 cents
- 2 tablespoons honey: 19 cents
Total Cost: $2.03, or about 51 cents per serving
Bon appetit, Penny Hoarders!
Disclosure: A toast to savings! Thanks for allowing us to place affiliate links in this post.
Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a freelance writer whose work has been featured at Ms. Magazine, BUST, Roads & Kingdoms, The Write Life, Nashville Review, Word Riot and elsewhere.