Sometimes it can be really hard to eat healthy, tasty food when money is a bit tight. So I thought I might share some of my favourite cheap and healthy meals that can be made in advance.
1. Pasta sauce
A basic pasta sauce can contain literally anything you would like. As a base I normally use tinned tomatoes or passata (tomato purée), an onion, and some garlic, with salt and black pepper. After that the sky is the limit!
Great additions can be:
- Herbs (basil goes with most things)
- Meat (ground beef and chicken chunks are great but use whatever is fresh and cheap where you are)
Fry off the onion, garlic and any other veg you think warrant it and then add your tomatoes or passata. You can use large chunks of veggies for a more rustic feel or chop small for a smoother sauce. You could even use a stick blender to get a really smooth sauce. Simmer until all the vegetables are tender, and serve over freshly cooked pasta. This sits really nicely in the fridge and freezes really well for later in the week too.
2. Spanish(ish) Omelet
The basic ingredients are eggs, new potatoes (cooked and drained), and onion, after that you can add whatever you fancy. Chorizo is excellent, as is chicken, and most of the vegetables listed above will work great as well. I tend to use about 10 eggs to make a large frying pan worth.
Fry up all of the vegetables and meat ingredients, then pour over the beaten eggs with salt and black pepper, and cook over a low heat. Once the bottom is mostly set put the pan under a grill to cook the top of the omelet, maybe with some grated cheese.
This will keep nicely in the fridge for a couple of days, to re-heat just fry on both sides for a few minutes until hot through.
3. Pesto pasta
This is my ultimate lazy weekday dinner. Cook up some pasta according to the instructions and drain. Add some green pesto (about a teaspoon at a time) to taste, and toss in some left over cooked chicken if you have any.
I know risotto sounds scary but it can be so so simple, all you have to remember is to keep stirring! Again, start with an onion, some risotto rice, and as much vegetable stock as the packet instructions say. Then add tasty ingredients (really great for left overs). My personal favourites are:
- Bacon and frozen peas
- Chicken and mushrooms
- Prawns and scallions (can be a bit pricey depending on where you live)
Fry the onion and any meat, mushrooms until they are appropriately cooked and then add the risotto rice. Fry the rice as well for a minute or so and then add the stock a little at a time, stirring constantly. If you keep stirring the risotto will become beautifully creamy and then add anything like frozen peas right at the end. You can even add a splash of white wine in with the stock if you have any and feel really fancy.
This will keep for a couple of days but isn’t as nice and tends to go a bit dry when re-heating so add a splash more stock if you’re going to microwave it.
As always when making food with leftovers make sure you cover and chill the leftovers as soon as possible and when re-heating make sure they are piping hot all the way through before you eat them, especially if there is any meat or fish involved.
Anyone else got any great ideas for cheap meals?