Four Quick Meals on the Cheap

Fast food, frozen meals and just-add-water dinners may seem like cheap and easy options, but in reality you can do it better, and cheaper, at home. These cheap healthy meals cost just $3 a head and are ready in 15 minutes.

Speedy ‘baked’ potatoes

 Wash potatoes and prick all over with a fork. Microwave for five minutes, then test to see if they are soft and cooked. If not, microwave them for another minute, then test again. Keep cooking for one minute at a time until ready. While the potatoes are cooking, mix together your desired toppings. When the potatoes are done, scoop out some of the flesh, mash it and mix it in with the toppings. Pile the toppings and mash back into the potato – and voila! Topping ideas for the classic cheap meal that tastes like home:

  • Frozen peas and corn, with fresh onion and tomato.
  • Baked beans and cheese.
  • Flavoured tuna.

Fancy scrambled eggs

Eggs aren’t just for breakfast! Finely chop some veggies, such as onion, tomato, mushrooms and zucchini – or whatever is in season and on special! Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan and fry the vegetables until cooked, then add two eggs and a tablespoon of milk per person. Cook on a low heat, stirring constantly, until about half of the egg is cooked and lumpy, then turn off the heat and keep stirring until eggs are cooked through but still soft and fluffy. Serve with toast for a simple, tasty and cheap meal for two.

Tuna pasta

Put your pasta on to boil. (Tip: small pasta shapes such as macaroni and spaghettini cook quicker than big shapes). While pasta is cooking, chop an onion and a few garlic cloves. Fry garlic and onion for a couple of minutes, then add a can of tomatoes, a drained can of tuna, and a dash of sweet chilli sauce. When the pasta is almost done, add a couple of handfuls of frozen beans and/or spinach to the pot of boiling water. When they’re defrosted, drain the lot and add to the sauce. This is a great, cheap family meal to feed hungry, growing kids.

Curry in a hurry

Start cooking your rice. Fry an onion with some garlic until soft, then add curry powder or your own spice mix and cook for one minute. Add a can of tomatoes, a small can of coconut milk, some frozen mixed veggies, and a (drained) can of chickpeas or lentils. Simmer for five minutes and serve with the rice. Packed full of veg, this recipe ranks high as a cheap, healthy meal. Eating at home can be faster, cheaper and much, much healthier than eating out. With a few pantry staples and a little know-how, you’ll be ditching the takeaway in no time. 

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