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Budget meals that can just be thrown together and yet look impressive

(24 Posts)
Margaritte Tue 19-May-15 11:33:28

Just that really. Am always shattered come the evening, and am tired of either throwing oven food in, or cooking from scratch with 3 dc constantly hovering around.

Would like to free up the evenings a bit, yet still eat nice food ( dislike oven food really, and feel guilty doing it)

bangbangprettypretty Tue 19-May-15 12:05:18

Smoked salmon pasta: Cook pasta, stir in cream cheese, smoked salmon trimmings (about 88p), peas and black pepper - done in the time it takes to boil the pasta.

Chicken with white wine and bacon - fry the bacon, remove it then in the same pan put the chicken breast. At the same time steam some frozen spinach. Brown on both sides then pour a glass of white wine over and stir (good if you have a cover as it spits). Chop up the bacon and plate everything up with the spinach underneath.

Pad Thai- chop up broccoli and fry in a wok, remove it and put in onions and peppers. Boil noodles. In a bowl, mix equal amounts peanut butter, tomato purée, miso soup mix (in the Chinese aisle in Tesco) and soy sauce. Then stir fry veg in the pan. Add the mix, then plate it up and top with chopped peanuts, a lime wedge and fresh coriander if you have it. Max, 10 mins.

pregnantpause Tue 19-May-15 18:51:53

I know it's much maligned now- but a cooked chicken is IMO the best tool for quick easy weekday meals. With a chicken you can make a mushroom and chicken casserole on one day with the breast and a teriyaki chicken noodle stir fry with the legs the next. Because the meat is already cooked both take less than thirty mins. Equally you could make chicken and broccoli pie on one day, chicken risotto the next. Or chicken stroganoff one day, chicken fried rice the next.

I can't do the magic mn chicken- I usually cook an extra whole chicken on a Sunday - I couldn't possibly get two meals from roast leftovers. And there's the theoretical third meal of soup which I'm sure can be done- but doesn't actually happen in this house.

. I do the same with a ham/ gammon- cook the joint on a Sunday and cut into two or three- ham and cheese pie, ham carbonara, ham fried rice, ham hash ( like corned beef hash but with ham) ham risotto all follow in the week ahead and take under thirty minutes.

If I have no leftovers to work with my quick homemade meals are

- boiled new potatoes crushed with fried chorizo, red onion, and red peppers with a fried egg on top.

- veg frittata

- stir fry

But tbh while cheap and easy not any of my meals are impressivewink

BlossomTang Tue 19-May-15 19:03:25

Stir fried noodles with prawns: dunk a packet of dried noodles in hot water for ten minutes then drain. In a wok or large pan heat some oil and brown a teaspoon each of purée garlic and ginger. Thrown in some ready sliced veg and beansprouts and a packet of prawns and stir fry for a few minutes. Then add the noodles and again stir fry until they are warmed through. Stir in a Tablespoon of soy sauce and another of oyster sauce. Enjoy!

MyCatIsAGit Wed 20-May-15 09:54:07

Do a big pot of roasted vegetables one day (chuck in oven while you are eating dinner) they reheat really well and mix into couscous or have on the side with some grilled chicken or fish. It'll last a couple of days.

Marinate some chicken pieces in lemon and herbs and garlic before you leave the house, leave in fridge and grill when you get home.

Microwave rice with peas and beans mixed through as a side.

Do chicken or fish tray bakes - so before you leave for work (or doesn't take long when you get in) chuck veg/potatoes/herbs and tomatoes in a tray with chicken thighs (or cook and put fish on top to cook through nearer the end) and cook for 30/40 minutes. Add some chorizo at the beginning for more flavour.

Stir fry - prawns are really quick and cook from frozen.

Wrap salmon in foil and cook in oven - then have with veg and pots.

TinklyLittleLaugh Wed 20-May-15 12:23:29

Lot's of these suggestions are lovely; but maybe not very budget. I think if you are using cheap ingredients, then you only get impressive results if you have plenty of time; things like stews using cheap cuts or homemade pies and quiches, pastry is pennies really.

WherewherewhereisWally Wed 20-May-15 18:45:00

My kind of food thread!smile
I never spend longer than about half an hour cooking on weekdays.
We eat lots of:

roast chicken with rice and peas
chicken wraps done with leftovers
chicken curry from leftovers
jacket potatoes with various toppings
pesto pasta with things mixed in- eg olives, bit of ham
pasta with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil
pasta with tomato and bacon sauce
tuna pasta
stir fries
sausages with salad and rice
pork chops
lentil dahl
lentil soup

All quick easy and fairly cheap. Not exactly impressive though grin

lastqueenofscotland Wed 20-May-15 19:37:40

courgette and ricotta lasage -
fry onion, garlic, grated courgette. Add ricotta cheese.
lightly cook (so they are half way there) lasagne sheets, layer up with the courgette, tomato pasata and herbs or just pasta sauce on top with a bit of parmesan. bake.
Prep honestly takes 15 mins then cn be left in oven.

Stir fry
Falafel are SUPER quick and cheap from scratch, nice with pitta and humous to dip
Quesdilas/fajita/enchilada all super easy

Margaritte Fri 22-May-15 08:37:16

These are all great. Please keep them coming wine

loveareadingthanks Fri 22-May-15 10:55:48

Sometimes it's the way you cook and present cheaper things.

Sausage, mash, and veg with gravy, very tasty, but looks very plain and a bit dull. Cube up root veg (potatoes, carrots, onions, anything else you've got) and roast in oven for 15 mins then balance the sausages on top. If you want to push the boat out put a dab of honey and a dab of mustard on each sausage. Back in the oven for 30 mins. The sausages drip down on the veg and flavour them (along with honey and mustard), the veg caramelise, it tastes fantastic. Same thing essentially, and less work than making mash, but it looks more interesting as it's a 'dish' (invent a name) rather than a collection of food.

If you want to use up leftovers in an omelette, instead of making omelettes make a fritatta. Same stuff, but put your veg/meat/stuff in oiled baking tray and pour over beaten eggs (with a bit of milk beaten in). In oven, pull it out when set and portion up. Less effort and looks great. Better than my disasters of omelettes, anyway.

Cook whole chickens and joints of meat instead of portions/chops and you will have meat left over for another meal at least, unless you have a million kids. Without going the whole ridiculous stretch everything so everybody gets a thimbleful of meat per meal. Even if you hand out the chicken legs and 3/4s of the breasts, there's plenty then left on the rest of breast, wings and round the carcass for a stir fry.

loveareadingthanks Fri 22-May-15 10:58:06

I think fajitas are great for stretching ingredients without being mean about it. And they look like a lot of work, but aren't.

A little bit of meat (leftovers from roast is fine) goes a long way sliced up and fried with onions/peppers and stuffed in a wrap with a bit of grated cheese. It's nice to have the guac and sour cream and salad etc if budget allows but not essential. Serve with rice.

abc73 Fri 22-May-15 14:29:55

Favourite here is pasta with bacon and onion fried together, then mix with plenty of red pesto and fresh rocket.

TinklyLittleLaugh Fri 22-May-15 14:43:10

I like that sausage and root veg idea.

I like chicken legs, chorizo, new potatoes, chopped onion and pepper baked on a tray. Tastes really good for the amount of effort it takes.

FeelingSmurfy Fri 22-May-15 14:59:18

Google jack Monroe - she has a blog with all her recipes and also two recipe books, all of her recipes are quick, cheap, easy to cook and require no fancy equipment. Most of her meals would impress people if you told them you had made it from scratch and they wouldn't know it had been quick, simple or cheap!

Damnautocorrect Fri 22-May-15 15:28:12

Bubble and squeak / root veg rosti with a poached egg on top. You can add a bit of ham or corned beef.

I did corned beef hash with a poached egg last night. chopped tinned potatoes (15p a tin) corned beef, curly kale, onion. I think it cost about £2.30 for two portions.

loveareadingthanks Fri 22-May-15 17:16:17

Corned beef hash...mmmm. I found one of the local poundland/world/shop places has large packs of slightly odd shaped slices of corned beef in their chiller section sometimes. Perfect for hash and makes it very cheap.

loveareadingthanks Fri 22-May-15 17:20:48

OP - I'm a huge fan of doing everything in the oven in one tray/pot. comes out looking lovely and you can use the same ingredients you'd fiddle about with, but with better results.

ie my sausage thing. Or other meat (chicken pork chop, really don't care what) in tray with veg and tin of tomatoes stirred in and left to simmer away in oven. Add a few flavourings (different herbs, splash of worcester sauce, splash of poncy vinegar, splash of tabasco, garlic, whatever you've got - ring the changes with using different ones different nights) and no-one really notices you're doing the same thing over and over, grin.

Margaritte Sat 23-May-15 18:45:04

lovereadingthanks - I have your sausage & root veg for dinner tonight. Butternut squash / red onion / carrots / new potato / unpeeled garlic cloves. I threw some rosemary on, put it in the oven & now the sausages are waiting to go on. I basted them in honey & wholegrain mustard (wish I used Dijon instead though) how ever very easy to prep, using what we had in smile Will report back how it went down.

Am wanting to try a lot of recipes on here, so will work my way through them

Margaritte Sat 23-May-15 20:03:27

It went down a treat... my dh wanted me to pass his thanks to you,loveareadingthanks he said it was superb wine

DC wolfed it down apart from ds2 who is a veg phobic So thanks again for a delicious dinner.

loveareadingthanks Sun 24-May-15 18:25:53

Margaritte glad you all enjoyed it. The rosemary was a good idea; I'll have to try that.

Fingeronthebutton Tue 26-May-15 15:52:03

Not much to add, girls as I don't do the cooking. But my OH always crumbles an oxo cube into chopped toms. Just adds to it a bit.

MERLYPUSSEDOFF Tue 26-May-15 18:20:09

Most pasta is quick. We really like courgette pasta here but I only do it when courgettes are on offer or in the garden (if you grow them you'll know what I mean, they take over).
Strip the courgettes with a vegetable peeler. Fry onion and garlic and add a tin of anchovies and their oil. Mix in the pasta (linguine is good as the kids can't pick the bits out) and courgettes. Add parmesan and pepper also lemon if you have it.

GemmeFatale Fri 12-Jun-15 16:26:19

Couscous/bulgar wheat/quinoa/pearl barley, chuck some finely chopped veg/salad through if you want to up the interest. Top with tinned sardines in spicy tomato sauce or similar/creamy garlic mushrooms (mushrooms, garlic, creme fraiche/cream cheese, finely chopped herbs if on hand), or ratatouille, or use as an accompaniment for stews/casseroles/tagines/etc.

Stuffed jacket potatoes.

Rice based dishes like paella or risotto or maybe a savoury rice pudding.

sashh Sat 13-Jun-15 10:57:24

Pasta in one pan.

In another streaky bacon, mushrooms and seasoning. Cook in olive oil for 10 mins then throw in some cream cheese.

Drain the pasta and mix together - done in less than 15 mins including the chopping.

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