One way to ensure a balanced meal is to put the vegetables and the protein in the same dish (just make sure there are more veggies than there is meat). This chili is packed with protein and fiber and has just 3.2 grams of saturated fat and 268 calories.

Ingredients:

1 lb 93% lean ground beef ($2.75)
6 oz frozen onion ($.60)
2 15 oz cans organic black beans ($1.25/each)
2 10 oz cans Rotel ($1.29/each)
1 15 oz can organic tomato sauce ($1.19)
1 tsp Gourmet Garden organic chili paste ($.03)
1 15 oz can of stewed tomatoes with mexican seasoning ($1.25)
2 cans of whole kernel corn ($1.49/each)
shredded mexican blend cheese ($.30/tbs)

How I made it:

In a heavy stock pot, combine the beans, tomatoes, and corn and cook over medium heat.  Be sure to rinse the beans and corn before you add them, to reduce the extra sodium in the dish.  Add the chili paste. Stir to combine well and cover. Let cook while the ground beef and onions finish.

Brown the ground beef in a non-stick skillet. Because this is not the leanest ground beef, there will be a lot of fat in the pan.  Be sure to skim it all off to reduce the fat in the chili.  Add the onions and cook until they are translucent.

Add the meat and onions to the vegetables and stir well.  Cook until bubbly.  If you like it hot, add some more chili paste or some red pepper flakes. Garnish with 1 tbs shredded mexican blend cheese.

Makes 10 one cup servings. Cost: $1.68/serving.

(My favorite taste tester says a one cup serving is not a real serving, but it’s actually quite filling.)

Nutrition information:

Based on the Recommended Daily Intake values (which not everyone follows), this meal has 1/3 your day’s protein and 30% of the fiber.  Based on the new Choose My Plate dietary guidance, this chili is over half fruits and vegetables and uses lean protein and a little dairy.

Smart shopping:

Coupons and store specials are your friend.  One of the reasons I used ground beef with a higher fat content is that it was buy one package get one free. I got 6+ pounds of ground beef for $17.07 (a savings of over 75 cents a pound).  I’m also always on the look out for coupons and sales on things like Rotel, canned tomatoes, and beans. I use these ingredients a lot, so I stock up when I can.

Store brands can also be your friend. Especially Safeway’s O Organics brand. Often, the organic Safeway brand of canned goods is the same — if not a lower — price than regular brands.

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