Who knew that such a big part of being an adult would be trying to decide what to eat for dinner each night? Here are some cheap meal ideas to help you out.
It can be so tough working all day, coming home exhausted only to have to make a meal from scratch. It can make those delivery services seem oh, so tempting. However, did you know that Australians spend on average $528 a year on delivery? I usually find that after ordering delivery, the lukewarm, overpriced food often leaves me feeling disappointed. They’re usually not the best for you, either.
Cheap Meal Ideas
Here are some cheap meal ideas that I, a self-professed lazy girl loves making. Some of these cheap meals are healthy, especially if you throw in veggies and go easy on the oil. There are no exact measurements because truthfully, I eyeball everything. It somehow always works out. Also, here’s how to save money on your next grocery shop.
Cheap Meal Idea #1: Fried Rice
This is one of my favourite meals to throw together in literally five minutes. I stir-fry whatever veggies are in my fridge which could be anything from mushrooms to carrots. I then will add leftover rice and prepare the seasoning. I usually will mix soy sauce with fresh garlic, brown sugar and vinegar as a “sauce”. Throw in an egg for extra protein and you have an awesome meal ready in no time.
Cheap Meal Idea #2: Omelettes
Who says omelettes are a breakfast-only food? I regularly make them for dinner as they are so damn easy. You can add pretty much anything from cheese, meat, veggies, and it turns into a wholesome meal. I love throwing in feta and tomatoes…or whatever is in my fridge. Spring onion is always great. You can eat them with toast or salad to turn it into a more substantial meal.
Cheap Meal Idea #3: Soup
Soup can seem like an intimidating meal to make if you’re a beginner cook but it is so easy!
I like to use stock cubes and throw in tofu, zucchini, and some noodles for a quick noodle soup. Throwing in some frozen dumplings and you have what I call “struggle wonton soup” which is decent (surprisingly).
Another great one is pumpkin soup. I simply boil some pumpkin in chicken stock, add butter, cumin, black pepper and blend it together with a hand mixer. Another bonus of soup is that it lasts forever in the fridge. I love toasting some crusty bread in butter to have with it.
If you enjoy miso soup, I recommend grabbing a pack from your local Asian grocery. It takes a minute to prepare and is a great addition to many meals. I love having miso soup with a stir fry or with some rice, it adds a lot to the meal while being cheap and easy.
Cheap Meal Idea #4: Roast chicken
If you spend an extra minute or so marinating, you can create a great roast chicken meal. I like to throw a chicken breast in some olive oil, paprika, garlic and oregano and let it marinate (for only around ten minutes as I am usually unprepared). I then throw it into the oven and add some cheese on top for the last few minutes of cooking. Eat it with a side salad and you have a quick and easy meal. I’ve been experimenting with this a lot lately and have learned in order to make this a delicious meal rather than a dry mess is to not overcook it. At all.
Cheap Meal Idea #5: Vegetable muffins
This is my go-to recipe when I have not been grocery shopping in a while. To make vegetable muffins, I usually change the recipe based on what I have at the time. The basic ingredients are flour and milk – I then add any veggies on hand such as frozen peas, corn or red capsicum, carrot and make it into a dough. Cheddar is also a great addition to this. I’ll then throw in oregano, red chilli flakes and separate the dough into a muffin tray. I make this “recipe” differently every time and it always comes together at the end.
Cheap Meal Idea #6: Upgraded instant noodles
We all love instant noodles – migoreng, anyone? So delicious, cheap and fast. The problem is that they often aren’t great for you and aren’t quite enough for a main meal. This is where “upgrading” comes in by adding extra ingredients.
My favourite method is to throw a fried egg on top but I also like adding bok choy, sliced beef or onions. It adds much more substance to the meal as well as extra nutrition. This is also a great way to use instant noodles that you don’t like. Just throw out the seasoning and add your own ingredients and flavourings.
I recently bought these noodles that were far too spicy – no delicious flavour, just numbing chilli. I used the noodles themselves to make stir-fried noodles, noodle soups it and turned out great!
Cheap Meal Idea #7: Salad
I know what you’re thinking but hear me out. Salad is the best lazy meal. I like getting a bag of greens such as spinach and rocket and adding in some olives, cucumber, tomatoes and smoked salmon (when I’m feeling fancy). Tofu or canned tuna are also great suggestions for a “I need protein but am too lazy to cook” option. You don’t have to cook anything, only a couple of dishes get dirty and can be ready in five minutes. I love adding some balsamic vinegar or squeezing some lemon on top.
Plus, you can also binge on dessert later because you were healthy and had a salad…
Not only are these meal ideas easy and perfect for the lazy cook but a lot of them are also affordable. If you always have pantry staples on hand, you can often make multiple meals and won’t order delivery just because you didn’t grocery shop. Some pantry staples to always have on hand are:
- Olive oil
- Stock cubes (chicken/beef/vegetable)
I would also recommend having lots of seasonings, here are my recommendations:
- Black pepper
- Red chilli flakes
- Soy sauce
These staples last a long time and can be used to make meals in their own right – I personally prefer adding vegetables or meat as I like to enjoy my life.
No idea what to make?
Let’s say none of my cheap meal ideas took your fancy. If you have a handful of ingredients but no ideas to make them into an actual meal, check out Supercook. It is a free tool that I have been using regularly for years when I am stuck for ideas. You input the ingredients you have and it spits out recipes after scouring the internet. This is also a great way to try new recipes. With the help of Supercook, I made potato croquettes the other day – something I would never think of making and it turned out delicious.
That’s all from me! What are some lazy meal ideas that you like cooking? Let me know as I am always looking for new ideas!