If you’re looking for dishes that look beautiful on Instagram, will impress your dinner guests and are healthy AF then look away. These cheap and easy dinners are none of those things BUT they require minimal effort and cost next to nothing. Great for those times when it’s a week out from payday, inspiration is at an all time low and the thought of spending hours in the kitchen prepping veges makes you want to throw in the towel and get takeaways… well, stop right there friend. Sometimes we get so excited by the latest food trends that we forget just how comforting good old simple fare can be…

 

Enchiladas

Seriously, when did these not become a thing? Mexican assemble-at-home kits were big when I was a kid but have certainly lost their cool factor these days. We still need to work on creating our own sauce as the Old El Paso stuff is loaded with sugar but we used wholemeal wraps, free range chicken thighs and Edam cheese so we’re not complete monsters. Also a great way to cram in veges – we cook up spinach, peppers, onion and tomatoes with kidney beans so it’s essentially your 5 + smothered in cheese. Balance people.

 

Chicken drumsticks

The cheapest of meats. Takes me back to my student days where the boys I flatted with would chuck them in the oven or frypan straight from the freezer and cook them to an unacceptably pink state. We had them recently with kumara chips and garlicky buttery spinach and they were the bomb. Season (and bake) the shit out of them…obvs. We use this herb mix that we picked up in Greece – no big deal – it’s for souvlaki but is so great on any form of chicken. Essentially it’s a mix of dried oregano, parsley, cayenne pepper and garlic powder if you want to try make it at home.

 

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Mince on toast

Let’s be clear, this needs to be good old savoury mince with the little bits of pea and carrot all held together with delicious gravy. We use the recipe below from Tom’s Mum and it’s fail-safe. There is no way you can do this properly with chilli style mine as some cafe’s seem to think. The stodgier the better we reckon. Top off with a poached egg for bonus points.

Want to cook your own savoury mine? Brown 500g beef mince with 1 finely chopped onion. When brown add a tablespoon of flour, salt and pepper, 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce plus a beef stock cube dissolved in a cup of boiling water and simmer till thickened (about 30 to 40 mins). If too thick add more water, if too runny add more flour. We add peas and chopped carrots but I can understand if that’s not your jam.

Omelettes

Brinner (breakfast for dinner) is the actual best. Tom’s grandparents used to have these for tea and it reminded me how delish they are. Also great if you’re on the low carbs past 5pm buzz. We tend to fill these suckers full of red onion, spinach and salmon but you can’t go wrong with a classic ham, cheese and tomato combo. Compulsory to use free range eggs for this – they taste and look so much better (and your soul will thank you for it).

 

Soup

Well Nana Anne’s vege soup to be specific. This is a gem of a recipe and yes it takes a while to actually cook but prep wise all that’s required is chopping and chucking (and let’s face it, prep is the worst!). All you need is the cheapest cut of ham – like a hock, some barley and whatever seasonal veg is around. Serve with thickly buttered warm white bread. NOM.

5 cheap and easy dinner options we forgot were awesome