7 Cheap Meal Ideas From a Lazy Girl

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.

We spend an average of $528 a year on delivery food

While getting food delivered is so fun, it can be pricey. Did you know that Australians spend on average $528 a year on delivery? Other than the cost, I find that delivery food doesn’t always meet expectations. Food arrives lukewarm, drink has spilled and let’s be honest – it isn’t the most healthy option.

While I love a bit of Ubereats after a long week, I have been making an active effort to cook more at home to save my budget and health.

I find that often I will get delivery food not necessarily because I want it, but because I too tired, lazy or don’t have enough ingredients to cook.

That’s why it is important to have meal ideas ready to go that you can throw together fas, with ingredients you already have and for little money.

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.

Cheap Meal Idea #1: Fried Rice

This is one of my favourite meals to throw together in literally five minutes.

I start by stir-frying literally whatever veggies are in my fridge which could be anything from mushrooms to carrots. Sometimes I have no vegetables so the only thing that gets stir-fried is garlic, which totally works.

I then will add leftover rice with some soy sauce, black pepper chilli flakes. Throw in an egg for extra protein and you have an awesome meal ready in no time.

The best part about fried rice is that you only really need rice and oil, everything else is extra.

I’ve made it without soy sauce when I ran out, with twiggy sticks as a protein instead of eggs and other odd variations – and it has always worked! But seriously, try my twiggy sticks fried rice sometime, it is really good.

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.

Like fried rice, omelettes only really have one essential ingredient, eggs.

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

All these people who make stock from scratch make soup seem intimidating, but I promise you it can be made easy. My hack? Stock cubes. Yes, they are high in sodium but soup is so easy when you use them.

Soup can be easy. Add some stock cubes to boiling water, add some vegetables with seasoning and you have a delicious, wholesome meal within 10 minutes.

What I also love about soup is that you can add anything to it, just like fried rice and omelettes. You can add tofu, noodles, pasta or even meat which makes it so versatile and easy. I added noodles, bok choy and wontons to chicken broth to make a “struggle wonton soup” which honestly, was really good!

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I present to you…my struggle wonton soup…

Another great one is pumpkin soup, a bit more work but still pretty simple. 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.

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My homemade pumpkin soup

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. A bonus cheap meal idea which I have often is miso soup with leftover rice, so easy and fast.

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), then throw it in the air fryer.

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.

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Doesn’t that look like an actual meal?

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 or throwing in some cooked pasta for extra substance.

Plus, you can also binge on dessert later because you were healthy and had a salad…

Pantry staples

As mentioned earlier, I used to often get delivery because I didn’t have the ingredients to cook – here is where pantry staples come in.

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:

  • Rice
  • Onions
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Olive oil
  • Noodles
  • Stock cubes (chicken/beef/vegetable)

I would also recommend having lots of seasonings, here are my recommendations:

  • Garlic
  • Black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • 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.

I’ve also written an article on how you can save money when grocery shopping:

Do you still have 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!

Published by Ruba Khan

Hi, I'm Ruba! The Money Marketer is a financial discussion space to discuss all things money and investment, with a touch of food and lifestyle.

3 thoughts on “7 Cheap Meal Ideas From a Lazy Girl

  1. I like to do upgraded instant noodles too. I like to throw in a handful of coleslaw mix right at the end so the cabbage and carrot or still crunchy but not quite raw.

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