Budget-Friendly Low-Fat Meals

Low-Fat Spinach and Ricotta Pasta

The Spruce 

While it might seem tricky to follow a low-fat diet and stick to a food budget, there are plenty of delicious options. Going easy on meat, cheese, and fried food are a few easy ways to lower your fat intake and save your wallet, but that doesn't mean your meals should lack in flavor.

Think of filling beans, tasty salads, wraps, and even tacos. Low-fat doesn't have to be boring or plain, and our recipes will prove that you can have both a healthy approach to your nutrition and money saved in your bank. Our breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes are low-fat and affordable, but delicious and satisfying.

  • 01 of 14

    Vegetarian Chili

    Vegetarian Chili

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    You won't miss the meat in this flavorful vegetarian chili. With tender beans and tomatoes cooked with plenty of spices, it's a low-fat lunch or dinner that's even better reheated the next day. This chili also has textured vegetable protein (TVP) which adds a great bite to the chili and packs a lot of protein and nutrition. Our recipe uses canned ingredients, as these are convenient but also affordable. For extra savings, buy your beans in bulk and cook them beforehand in salt and water.

  • 02 of 14

    Whole Wheat Pancakes

    whole wheat pancakes recipe

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    White whole wheat flour adds healthy fiber to these pancakes while keeping them fluffy. It's slightly more expensive than regular flour, but each serving is still a fraction of what you'd pay at a diner. With no added fat in sight, these flavorful pancakes are a great option for breakfast or brunch, and they freeze easily so you can just reheat and eat whenever you want. Top with fresh fruit for a tasty meal.

  • 03 of 14

    Tofu and Vegetable Stir-Fry

    Vegan tofu and vegetable stir fry recipe

    The Spruce 

    Stir-fries are quick and easy dinners and a great way to enjoy lots of healthy veggies. This stir-fry recipe features tofu and a rainbow of crisp produce topped by a ginger-soy sauce. Tofu is a soy protein that is affordable and delicious, and one block can easily feed 4 to 5 people. For an extra-quick meal, use a bag of frozen stir fry veggies and leftover rice. To make it even lower in fat, skip the small amount of oil in the recipe and simply spray a non-stick pan with cooking oil.

  • 04 of 14

    Thai Chicken Larb Gai Salad

    Larb gai thai salad recipe

    ​The Spruce

    Fresh veggies and herbs and a flavorful sauce make this Thai chicken salad really extraordinary. Although there are many ingredients on the list, most are affordable and easy-to-find vegetables and pantry staples, and the only protein you'd require is half a pound of chicken or turkey. Fish sauce is the only non-traditional ingredient, but once you buy it, it will come in handy to enhance the flavors of soups, stews, and other stirred-fried meals, so it's an investment in flavor. These amounts yield 2 servings and make a delightful lunch or hot weather dinner.

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  • 05 of 14

    Vegan Mushroom Bean Burger

    Vegan Mushroom Bean Burger recipe

    The Spruce

    Swap the traditional ground beef for healthy mushrooms and beans to make an incredibly tasty vegetarian burger. In vegan and vegetarian cooking, mushrooms are used in place of meat to give dishes texture, volume, and flavor. Beyond their nutritional qualities, mushrooms are flavorful additions to salads, pasta, or rice dishes, and they won't make a dent in your wallet as they're affordable. If you don't have the egg replacer the recipe calls for and do eat eggs, simply use an egg instead to bind the patties together.

  • 06 of 14

    Vegan Broccoli Quiche

    Vegan Broccoli Quiche recipe

    The Spruce

    Affordable and filling tofu stands in for eggs in this easy quiche recipe. Although vegan, this dish will make all carnivores ask for seconds, as the flaky crust and silky filling are irresistible. Use a pre-made pie crust to save time, or mix your own if you want to save some more. Broccoli and mushrooms make for a tasty filling, but they can be swapped for seasonal vegetables to increase your savings.

  • 07 of 14

    Barley Vegetable Soup With Lentils

    Barley vegetable soup with lentils recipe

    The Spruce

    Lentils and barley add delicious heft and nutrition to this vegetarian soup, while garlic, mushrooms, and spices add flavor. It's even better the next day, making it a good on-the-go lunch. Without any added oil, this soup is the perfect dish for a weekly meal prep afternoon, as it requires little attention and most ingredients can be used in other low-fat recipes. Buy your lentils and barley in bulk and keep the extra for other recipes to save extra money.

  • 08 of 14

    Spinach and Ricotta Pasta

    Low-Fat Spinach and Ricotta Pasta recipe

    The Spruce 

    This creamy, low-fat pasta dish only requires a few affordable ingredients and is ready in just 20 minutes. Low-fat ricotta adds cheesy creaminess without all of the fat and the spinach adds flavor, nutrition, and color. To skip the fat in Parmesan cheese, use nutritional yeast to add a touch of tang to your dish.

    Continue to 9 of 14 below.
  • 09 of 14

    Vegan Gluten-Free Quinoa Salad

    Quinoa Salad recipe

     The Spruce

    Make this quinoa salad for a quick lunch that's packed with protein and nutrients. While quinoa is more expensive than grains like white rice, it provides lots of healthy protein, allowing you to avoid adding high-priced meat. One cup of cooked quinoa has 220 calories, over 8 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fiber. Mix the quinoa with cucumber, peppers, broccoli, onion, tomatoes, and a tangy vinaigrette. To make it even lower in fat, halve the amount of olive oil in the dressing and replace it with lemon juice.

  • 10 of 14

    Black Bean and Hummus Wrap

    Black bean hummus wrap recipe

    ​The Spruce

    With high-protein black beans, red pepper hummus, fresh veggies, and whole-grain tortillas, these wraps are a healthy and delicious lunch option. Easy to wrap in tin foil and transport to your school or office, our healthy wraps need no added fats or meat to be filling and flavorful. This affordable vegan recipe shows that you don't need fancy, expensive ingredients, or fat, to make a wonderful meal. Use any other vegetables of your liking.

  • 11 of 14

    Vegan Curried Tofu Scramble With Spinach

    vegan curried tofu scramble recipe

    The Spruce

    If you're watching your cholesterol, try replacing your morning eggs with a healthy tofu scramble. The soy product is easy on the waistline, easy on the pocketbook, and takes on whatever flavor you feel like adding. Turmeric adds flavor and an egg-like yellow hue.

  • 12 of 14

    Israeli Couscous Salad

    Perfect Israeli Couscous

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

    With fresh cucumber, tomato, and bell pepper, this colorful summer salad is a packable lunch. Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous, adds a lovely texture. Don't skimp on the fresh parsley.

    Continue to 13 of 14 below.
  • 13 of 14

    Quick and Easy Canned Tuna Fish Tacos

    Quick tuna taco recipe

    The Spruce 

    Canned tuna fish is ultra-convenient and affordable, making it a nice option for a quick and easy meal. Use light tuna fish to keep the fish tacos low-fat, and swap the sour cream and cream for plain yogurt. These tacos are tasty with a topping of crunchy shredded cabbage.

  • 14 of 14

    Indian Palak "Paneer"

    Indian palak paneer spinach and tofu recipe

    The Spruce / Anastasiia Tretiak

    Palak paneer is a popular Indian dish that is typically made with a firm cheese called paneer. This healthier, cheaper version swaps the paneer for firm tofu. Serve it with steamed rice for a simple but satisfying dinner.

Article Sources
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  1. Quinoa, Cooked. FoodData Central. United Stated Department of Agriculture.