Eating is one of life’s great pleasures, so don’t let a low budget and the desire to maintain a healthy lifestyle spoil your appetite. There are many meal ideas suitable for those who enjoy cooking and eating tasty, healthy food without breaking the bank. Allow the selection of recipes below to inspire you and keep cooking delicious food that’s good for you.
Chicken stir fry
Frying food in lots of fat or oil is notoriously bad for you, but lightly frying food in a small amount of oil that is low in saturates, such as extra virgin olive oil, is a great way to preserve the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals in your ingredients. This meal contains lots of vegetables and protein, is very easy to make, and is enjoyable all year round.
Lightly fry sliced onion, peppers and carrot, diced chicken breast and crushed garlic together in a pan with a spoonful of oil. Meanwhile, boil a pan of water and add the noodles, cooking as per the instructions on the packaging. When the chicken begins to golden, add handfuls of bean sprouts, sliced mushrooms and shredded lettuce, and fry for a further two minutes. Ensure the chicken is cooked through, but the vegetables are still slightly crunchy. Serve the dish immediately, drizzled with a little soy sauce for added flavour.
This meal is high in fibre and carbohydrates that provide a slow energy release, great to see you through the day or a long evening. Pop a large, clean potato in the oven for about one hour at 180 degrees. When it is soft on the inside with a firm skin, slice it open and fill with your choice of baked beans, grated cheese, tuna fish, coleslaw, or any combination of these. Serve with a side salad to boost your vegetable intake.
Heat a spoonful of oil in a pan and gently fry onions and garlic. When the onions begin to soften, add finely chopped peppers and other chopped vegetables of your choice; suggestions include courgette, aubergine, broccoli and mushroom. Pour in a tin of chopped tomatoes and add herbs and seasoning to taste. Bring the sauce to the boil, and then simmer for twenty minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta as per the instructions on the packaging, drain, and then stir in the sauce. Pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle a layer of grated cheese on the top. Bake at 180 degrees for twenty minutes.
This dish has no limit to the number of vegetables that can be added, so it helps you to achieve your five a day. Stir in cooked bacon or sliced sausage for a more meaty meal. For a fishy alternative, add one tin of tuna fish, containing vitamins, including omega 3, and mix in well before baking.
Winter vegetable soup
Great for colder weather, this hearty winter soup is full of vegetables and very low in fat and sugar. Wash and dice a selection of root vegetables: potatoes, carrot, parsnips, swede, turnips, beetroot, sweet potato and butternut squash all make excellent soup. Place in a large pan of boiling water, cover and simmer for at least two hours, stirring regularly. Add stock, seasoning or herbs for extra flavour and mash lightly before serving with fresh bread. Soup can be made in large batches and frozen for future use. To make this recipe stretch further, add rice to the pan twenty minutes before serving.
Freshly made meals are less expensive and tend to be better for your health than ready prepared meals. Cheap food need not be boring, so keep mealtimes interesting with a varied diet.
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