Ballin’ on a Budget: How to make healthy and cheap tacos

Greek yogurt, corn tortillas and tilapia will help take your tacos to the next level.

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Mexican food is not only one of my guilty pleasures, but it’s also my go-to when I’m trying to quickly throw something together in the kitchen. I just recently moved into my very first apartment about two weeks ago and have since then consumed a large amount of Mexican-inspired meals. However, I’ve found a few hacks to help transform a Mexican classic, tacos, into a healthy alternative.

I’ve always been health-conscious. I was a vegetarian growing up. Later in my life, I decided to become a pescatarian. Since I eat only fish and try to limit my dairy intake, I’ve had to find some creative solutions when it comes to my diet.

I’ve just recently crowned myself the queen of fish tacos and here’s why: my fish tacos are the perfect mix of savory, spicy and sweet.

When I first decided that I was going to try my hand at making fish tacos, I had to think about what kind of tortilla would hold the filling. Corn tortillas are the best option since they are made up of a whole grain and are also smaller in both size and calories. I bought a pretty large bag of corn tortillas from Walmart for about $2, and you only really need three for a one-person meal.

Next, I had to think about the inside of the taco and how I could make it both filling to eat and good to look at. I’ve recently developed a slight obsession with kale, mostly because it’s extremely healthy, cheap and one of the few vegetables I can genuinely say I enjoy eating. I bought two really big bushels of fresh kale from Walmart for $1.96, but I only used two stalks for the tacos.

I sauteed some green peppers and onions I found in my fridge alongside the kale in a little bit of olive oil and onion powder. It’s best to saute the onions and green peppers first because they take much longer to cook down than kale. Kale cooks relatively fast and you don’t want it to get cold before all of your ingredients are ready. Kale can also get very crunchy if you let it cook for too long, so it’s best to not cook it for more than 4-5 minutes.

To help give my tacos more pizazz, I decided to add some pan-seared tilapia in the mix. I bought a huge bag of tilapia fillets from Walmart for $10.66 that is bound to last me at least three weeks (I eat a lot of fish). I decided to season my tilapia with taco seasoning that I got from Dollar Tree for $1 and I must say that it compliments the fish perfectly as long as you're not too heavy-handed when it comes to seasoning. Pan searing causes the tilapia to really absorb the flavor of the seasoning and makes the fish very moist and flaky. I seared the fish in a little bit of olive oil, making sure that each side was fully cooked.

Last but not least, any taco wouldn’t be complete without sauce delicately drizzled on top. I decided to substitute fatty and unhealthy bases such as sour cream and mayo for plain Greek yogurt. I used about four huge spoonfuls’ of Stonyfield Greek Yogurt, which can be found at Walmart for a cringeworthy $6, and then mixed it with some Sriracha sauce and lime juice. This sauce has become a go-to of mine especially as a topping for my weekend omelets.

I promise, you will not be disappointed by the finished product and might even choose to eat this meal at least three times a week like I did. Just make sure to pair it with a whole grain such as quinoa and slice up some avocado on the side for some extra fiber and potassium.

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