March Blog Posts

Healthy Eating on a Budget: Sheet Pan Sides for about $1 per serving

March is National Nutrition Month, so consider honoring your inner nutritionist by taking THIS nutritionist's favorite tip: “Make half your plate produce.” In order to help you achieve this goal (and save money), we need to set our sights on seasonal produce like root vegetables, squash, and Brussels sprouts.

While there are so many ways to cook winter vegetables, roasting them in the oven is number one in my book. They all taste amazing once they have been roasted to caramelized perfection. As a bonus, it's a super easy method of cooking—all you need is a sheet pan, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Of course, you can just grab your favorite veggies in the produce section and roast away OR you can take your sides up a notch with some of my ideas below (and still keep it to around $1 per serving). To make it easier to enjoy your "half plate produce," I’ve also offered options to make these sides into a complete meal at minimal cost.

First: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are delicious when slow-roasted all by themselves, but add black beans and you’ve got a hash! Although it’s a hearty side, it’s perfect as a main course for any meal of the day. Best of all, you can substitute any root vegetable (like potatoes, parsnips, beets, or carrots) for sweet potatoes or use a mixture of root vegetables. Have leftover veggies? Throw those in too!

Sweet Potato Hash with Black Beans (Serves 4)

+ 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
+ 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
+ One 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
+ ½ teaspoon ground cumin
+ ½ teaspoon chili powder
+ 1 tablespoon lime juice
+ 2 tablespoons olive oil
+ Salt and pepper to taste

How to: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss potatoes and shallots in olive oil and spread out on a lined sheet pan. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes, tossing once during cook time. When soft and lightly browned, add the drained black beans, cumin, and chili powder. Toss and bake 10 minutes more. Drizzle with lime juice.

Cost per serving: $1.04

Tip: Make it a Meal for $1.38
Add eggs for easy protein (+$0.17 for each egg): Crack 1-2 eggs per person right on the sheet pan when adding black beans. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until yolk is your version of perfect. Serve immediately. Hot sauce optional!

Savory Inspiration:

Veggie Sweet Potato Hash Inspiration

Roasted Sweet Potatoes


Next: Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash

Brussels sprouts alone make a great side but adding a winter squash to the mix makes a sweet and savory blend that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Even people who typically don’t care for Brussels sprouts find themselves going back for seconds when they are charred to perfection.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash with Balsamic Glaze (Serves 6)

+ 1-pound Brussels sprouts, washed, stems and outer leaves removed, cut in half
+ 1 Medium butternut squash (about 2lbs) peeled and cut into ½ in cubes, seeds removed
+ 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
+ 2 tablespoons olive oil
+ 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
+ Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss Brussels sprouts and squash in olive oil and spread out on a lined sheet pan. Roast for about 40 minutes, tossing once during cook time. While vegetables are in the oven, heat balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan over medium heat until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Drizzle reduced vinegar over the vegetables, toss and return to the oven for another 10 minutes or until tender and crisp.

Cost per serving: $1.15

Tip: Make it a meal for $2.65-$3.39/per person
Top with uncooked boneless chicken thighs (+$1.50 per person) or breasts (+$2.24 per person) seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast chicken for 30-40 minutes until juices run clear and your meat thermometer shows an internal temperature of 165 degrees. (If you’re making them, be mindful of chicken breasts—they dry out if roasted for too long.) Double balsamic vinegar if desired (+$0.82) Drizzle reduced balsamic vinegar over chicken and veg.

Savory Inspiration:

Raosted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Brussels Sproouts and Butternut Squash with Pecans

Curry Roasted Veggies


Then: Peppers and Onions

At least once a month I see peppers go on sale for 5 for $5. When this happens I snatch them up and grab my sheet pan! That's because peppers are easily the most versatile sides around. And if I'm lucky, there are leftovers for my eggs in the morning!

Roasted Peppers and Onions (Serves 4)

+ 2 medium onions, sliced thin
+ 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
+ 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
+ 1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
+ 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss peppers and onions in olive oil and spread out on a lined sheet pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, tossing once during cook time.

Cost per serving: $1.08

Tips: Make it a meal for $1.59-$3.38/per person
Italian: Add Chicken Sausage (+$0.70/pp). Make it a sandwich (+$0.37/pp) or a pasta topper with sauce (+$0.51/pp) Fajitas: Add tortillas, sour cream, avocado, seasoning (+$0.80/pp). Add chicken or shrimp (+$1.50/pp)

Savory Inspiration:

Pan Grilled Italian Vegetables

Roasted Baby Potatoes with Sour Cream

Lemon Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Savory Magazine and its recipe database at is a great resource for other sheet pan sides and meals. Remember to buy store brands instead of name brands to save even more per person.

Mandy is a registered dietitian and in-store nutritionist for Giant Food who is passionate about showing people how to eat healthy (and deliciously) on a budget. As a mom of two teenage boys she knows firsthand how difficult it can be to stay on budget, keep it interesting, AND keep it healthy-ish. Let Mandy check the prices and create a plan that will satisfy your taste buds, wallet, and schedule. In her Healthy on a Budget series, she will convince you that it’s NOT “too expensive” to eat healthy.

Mindful Eating

Have you ever eaten something while driving your car, ate lunch at your work desk, or enjoyed popcorn at the movie theaters? Have you ever grabbed a meal on the run and quickly gobbled it down? It’s likely that you may have answered yes to at least one of these questions. If so, you’re not alone. We mindlessly eat on a regular basis, and it may be impacting our waistlines and overall health. You may have heard the term mindful eating on the news or seen bits of it on social media. There is a movement to move from mindless to mindful eating, but what does it mean? Is mindful eating a fad, or can it make a difference in your life and for your health?

Mindful eating is the practice of moving away from restrictive eating patterns that suggest eliminating certain foods or food groups. Mindful eating encourages people to listen to internal cues for hunger and to make conscious eating decisions. When we are aware, we pay attention to our reasons for eating and notice our behaviors and tendencies. Hunger is just one of many reasons why people eat. We also eat because people around us are eating. We may feel tired, emotional, bored, or believe a treat was earned due to hard work. We tend to eat mindlessly due to cues around us, and we aren't paying full attention to what and how much we eat. When you eat mindfully, you are more aware of how and why we are eating.

Does mindfulness make a difference?

Incorporating mindful eating techniques into your lifestyle can lead to health benefits. Conscious practices have been shown to improve eating behaviors such as binge eating and emotional eating, decrease cravings, aid weight loss and maintenance plus improve cholesterol and fasting glucose levels. Mindfulness isn't a trend; it's a long-term lifestyle habit that can help people develop a positive relationship with food.

How to move from a mindless to a mindful eater

  • The next time you eat a meal, ask yourself what’s driving you to eat and if you are truly hungry.
  • Use the 1-10 scale to assess your hunger and fullness. The idea is that we never want to get to a one before we eat, and we don't want to get to a 10 and be overstuffed. Using this scale can help increase self-awareness of why you're eating, how you feel before, during, and after eating and help prevent overeating.
  • When eating, turn off all distractions like your cell phone and tv.
  • Sit down at a table to savor and eat your meal slowly and chew thoroughly. It’s likely that you’ll enjoy it more, notice more flavors, and eat less overall.
  • Time yourself. How long does it take to eat your meal? See if you can enjoy a meal for 20 minutes or more.

Want to learn more? Check out our March podcast with in-store nutritionist, Marissa Donovan. She'll provide an in-depth discussion regarding mindful eating.