Turkey Meatballs With Sauteed Kale And Pesto Pasta

When my followers gave me a $30/week meal prep challenge, I knew I could rely on ground turkey.

I say that because of all the meat options, ground turkey is one of the most versatile and cheapest.

I was right. There was a 16 oz (425g) package for just $2.00 waiting for me at the store.

It didn’t let me down.

I can’t say that this meal was super easy to make.

It has a few different elements, so if you’re just starting out on your cooking journey either skip this one or carve out extra time.

Let’s break it down.

Turkey MeatBalls

Because I was on a budget, these meatballs were simple but sooooooo good in this prep. I just added a few spices, some chopped onion and voila! Tasty balls. (Sorry not sorry).

What made it difficult: the meatballs required a lot of attention while cooking so they would cook evenly all around. Just keep this in mind! If you’re a fan of baking meatballs, that will work too.

Sauteed Kale

On a budget, kale was my cheapest option. I can buy a huge bunch for just under a dollar, and it lasts me all week. I actually bought two bunches for this budget challenge.

One important suggestion: cook the kale AFTER the meatballs so you get some of that flavor in there. You can use any veggie though with this meal. Broccoli, asparagus, green beans, spinach, brussels sprouts and roasted carrots would be great in this meal too.

Pesto Pasta

When I originally made this meal, I made pesto from scratch with kale, pecorino romano and walnuts. It turned out okay, but I need to perfect my “poor girls pesto” before sharing the recipe.

Click here to see another good, cheap homemade pesto recipe that I’ve used in the past. Or, just buy pre-made pesto. Nothing wrong with that (if you’re not on a $30 budget!).

I don’t love making pesto for meal prep because it’s just an extra step, but it did taste pretty fresh.

To make this meal gluten-free, I used a veggie pasta from a brand called Barilla. It was under $2 for a 12 oz box and it was honestly one of the best kinds of pasta I’ve tried for meal prep!

Notes about this recipe:

  • You can make this vegan by making vegan meatballs, maybe out of my white bean burger recipe here? Also by making a vegan pesto with nutritional yeast instead of cheese.
  • You can use whatever pasta you want, doesn’t have to be gluten-free
  • You can trade the kale for your favorite vegetable
  • This is a freezer friendly meal. Freeze for up to three months in the freezer and let it thaw for a day before reheating on the stove or in the microwave.
  • You can easily double this recipe if cooking for two.

As always, try to eat this within four days of cooking if you’re not freezing it. I actually ate this on day four and it still tasted amazing. This is DEFINITELY one of my winners, so I hope you enjoy it!

Happy prepping 🙂

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Print Recipe
Turkey Meatballs With Sauteed Kale And Pesto Pasta
This satisfying, high protein meal is worth the work. Customize it by trading kale for your favorite vegetable, or make it vegan by making veggie meatballs!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
  1. Prepare pasta according to the package. Save 1/2 cup of the pasta water!
  2. Prepare the meatballs by adding turkey, onion, 1/2 of the garlic and all the spices in a bowl. Mix well and form balls with your hands. I made 9.
  3. Add the oil to a skillet over medium heat. After 2 mins, add the turkey meatballs. Let them cook for about 5 mins before rolling them over. Repeat this step until they're cooked through (about 15 mins) then remove them from the pan and set aside.
  4. Add a little bit more oil, the kale and remaining garlic to the pan. Saute for about 5 mins, until the kale is soft.
  5. To assemble: toss the pasta with the pesto and reserved pasta water then divide into your containers. Add the kale, turkey meatballs and garnishes if using.
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