Contrary to popular belief, even in tough economic times you can still lose weight and eat right. Sometimes the most expensive food options can be the highest in calories. Eating healthy isn't about expensive prepared foods or organic products. Here are some tips of how to save money and calories while at the grocery store, as well as delicious and healthy dinners for just $3 or less.

• Frozen vegetables and fruits are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables because they are flash frozen at the peak of ripeness, studies show that frozen fruits and vegetables contain more vitamins and nutrients than their fresh counterparts. Also, buying frozen bags allows you to eat them when you want. You don't have to worry about spoilage and wasting money, like you usually do when fruits or veggies have gone bad before you've had a chance to eat them

• Save a load of money and drink water from the tap or buy a reusable water bottle. If you're city water happens to be undrinkable for a period of time, then buy water in bulk gallons and refill the jugs when you're out.

• Portion-controlled snacks are the newest trend. But paying for packaging and labeling is definitely not cheap. Save money by purchasing full-size bags of snacks and portioning them out and storing them in plastic bags or containers. The same goes for fruits and vegetables.

Beef Fajitas

Lean sirloin has far less fat than high end meats such as Prime Rib, without the price tag. Prime Rib, can cost up to $25 dollars per pound, and contains about 97 grams of fat per pound! 90 percent Lean Sirloin, costs 4.99 per pound, and contains about 30 grams of fat per pound!

Ingredients:

• 1 pound lean steak • 1 garlic clove, minced • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed • 4 whole wheat tortillas • 1 medium onion (skinned and sliced into 1/2 inch strips) • 1/2 medium green pepper, cut into thin strips • 1/2 cup chopped tomato • 1/4 cup salsa • 1/2 cup shredded lettuce • 1/4 cup non-fat as a sour cream

Cooking instructions: 1. Slice beef into thin strips. Toss with garlic, chili powder, and oregano. 2. Wrap tortillas in foil. Heat oven to 350 F and place tortillas in oven. 3. Spray a non- stick cooking spray. Add onion and pepper and cook for 1 1/2 minutes more. Remove vegetables from skillet. 4. Add the beef strips and cook until desired doneness. Drain off any fat. Add, tomato, and cooked onion and pepper. 5. Fill warm tortillas with beef mixture and top with salsa, lettuce, and sour cream. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 Nutrition content Per serving: 370calories, 12 g fat, 48 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 21g protein, 326 mg sodium

Salmon Burgers:Price per serving:$2.13

Canned salmon costs less per serving than fresh and there is usually no waste in the canned product. The American heart association recommends eating fish 3 times a week to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. Not only is salmon a great source of omega three fatty acids but, one 3.5 ounce serving with bones contains two thirds as much calcium as a cup of milk, making this product one of the most calcium-rich, non-dairy foods.

Ingredients: • 1 14.75 - ounce can salmon • 3-4 tablespoons Dijon mustard • 1/4 cup reduced- fat mayonnaise • 3 tablespoons parsley • 1/2 cup sliced green onions • 2-3 tablespoons minced garlic • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1/2 teaspoon pepper • Pam nonstick cooking spray • 4 Whole-wheat sandwich rolls • lettuce • tomato • onion

Directions: 1. Blend salmon, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and parsley in a mixer. 2. Pour mixture into a bowl and add green onions, garlic, salt and pepper. 3. Form into four 1/2 - inch-thick burgers and chill for 2- 3 hours. 4. Spray skillet with nonstick cooking spray over medium heat and saute salmon burgers for 3 minutes per side or until cooked through. 5. Serve on tasted whole-wheat hamburger buns and top with lettuce, tomato and onion.

Serves 4 Nutrition Content: Per Serving: 310 calories, 11g fat, 26g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 27g protein, 1014mg sodium

Turkey Chili

Splitting the recipe between lean ground turkey and beans will not only save you many calories, but many dollars as well. Also lean ground turkey will yield more meat then regular ground meat when cooked.

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground turkey 1 small onion, chopped 3 15- ounce cans red kidney beans, drained 3 14.5- ounce cans chopped tomatoes 1 cup water 2 celery stalks, chopped 1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons chili powder 2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried parsley 1 teaspoon dried basil

Optional Toppings: Low- fat sour cream Reduced- fat shredded cheddar cheese Diced onions

Directions:

1. Heat a large stockpot over medium- high heat until hot. Add ground turkey and chopped onion and cook until browned. 2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low heat for 2 hours. 3. Garnish with optional topping if desired.

Serves 8

Nutrition Content: Per Serving: 282 calories, 6g fat, 39g carbohydrate, 13g fiber, 20g protein, 967mg sodium

Minestrone SoupPrice per Serving: $2.63

Go vegetarian once or twice a week. Beans provide a load of nutritional benefits for well under a dollar per serving. Beans and legumes are a great substitute for meat because they are boosting with protein as well as fiber. This hearty bowl of soup is sure to keep you satisfied.

Ingredients:

• 2 cloves garlic • 1 onion, chopped • 1 cup frozen carrots • 1 cup celery, chopped • 2 zucchini, diced • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced • 1 14.5 ounce can cannellini beans • 1 14.5- ounce can chopped tomatoes • 1/2 cup barley • 5 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth • 1 teaspoon oregano • 1 teaspoon basil • 1 teaspoon kosher salt • 4 teaspoons black pepper • 2 cups frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry • 8 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: 1. Spray a large pot with nonstick cooking spray and heat over high heat. Add garlic and onion and saute until the onion is soft. 2. Add the carrots, celery, zucchini, mushrooms, beans, chopped tomatoes, seasonings, and broth. 3. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 1 hour. Right before serving, add the spinach and stir. 4. Serve and top with a tablespoon of grated Parmesan Cheese.

Serves 8 Nutrition Content Per Serving: 195 calories, 3g fat, 31g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 13g protein, 1259mg sodium

Italian FrittataPrice per Serving: $2.87

Eggs are one of your best bets when you're on a budget. A 16 ounce carton of eggs is less than $3.00. Due to the fact that eggs are so inexpensive, you can allow yourself to eat the whites, and throw the yolks out sometimes. This meal is boosting with fiber and protein, therefore filling you up on very few calories.

Ingredients:

• 3 egg whites • 1/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese • 2 tablespoons cold water • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano • 2 tablespoons diced onion • 1/2 cup frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry • 1 plum tomato, diced • Salt • Pepper

Directions: 1. In a bowl, whisk together egg whites, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, water, basil, and oregano. Set aside 2. Heat a nonstick pan with cooking spray. Add onion and cook for two minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 3. Add the spinach mixture to the egg mixture. 4. Spray the pan with nonstick spray and pour the egg- vegetable mixture back into the pan. Cover and cook for five minutes. Turn over onto a plate and serve.

Nutrition Content Per Serving: 162 calories, 3g fat, 11g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 23 g protein, 551mg sodium.

Roasted Chicken and VegetablesPrice per Serving: $1.22

Choosing a whole chicken is the most economical way to enjoy chicken for many meals. Buying a whole chicken can save you between $1.50 and $4 a pound. This is a real bang for you buck. In addition to getting a delicious meal of chicken and vegetables, you also get a meal worth of leftovers. Use the extra chicken for a sandwich or salad for the next day's lunch or make a big pot of chicken soup.

Ingredients:

• 1 whole chicken, 1 lb • 3 tablespoons olive oil • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1/2 teaspoon pepper • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary • 4 sprigs fresh thyme • 4 large onions, sliced • 2 sweet potatoes, sliced • 2 carrots, chopped

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 375 F 2. Baste chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper. 3. Stuff inside of the chicken with rosemary and thyme. 4. Place chicken in the center of a baking dish. Arrange onions, sweet potatoes, and carrots around the chicken. Sprinkle vegetables with salt and pepper. 5. Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Increase temperature to 400 F and continue baking for 30 minutes or until exterior of chicken is golden brown and juices run clear. 6. Allow chicken to cool about 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 4 Nutrition Content Per Serving: 348 calories, 19g fat, 17g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 17g protein, 449mg sodium

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and founder of

www.Skinnyandthecity.com

. She is also the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto

www.FFactorDiet.com

.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.

Subscribe to Tanya’s FREE Weekly Newsletter and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. To learn more about Tanya’s private nutrition counseling services visit www.ffactor.com.