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5 Quick and Simple Budget Family Meals

Updated on August 6, 2015

Getting the time to feed the family during a busy working week can be a difficult task, particularly if you have young mouths to feed. We have created a list of five, delicious quick and affordable meals that you can easily create so you don’t spend too much of your valued free-time slaving over a hot stove. So here are some meals that are cost effective and always popular – one for every day of the working week! A lot of people make these using ready-made, shop bought sauces, but, as you will see, they are really easy to make yourself.

1. Chilli Con Carne

Chilli con carne is an all-time favourite and it is so quick and easy to make yourself from scratch. All you need is:

500g beef mince

200g of rice

1 medium onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 red chilli

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tin of kidney beans

1 flat tablespoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper

Half a lemon

Roughly chop the onion, garlic and chilli and fry in a pan for a two or three minutes. Add the mince and continue to fry until brown. While frying, drain the kidney beans and quickly rinse them before adding them to the pan. Cook for another three or so minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and the cumin, squeeze the lemon juice in and season with salt and pepper to taste.

While you let that simmer for twenty minutes, wash the rice and boil until soft. And there you have it! An inexpensive, wholesome and popular meal created from scratch in 20 minutes, with very little washing up!

photo credit: Sting In Its Tail! via photopin (license)
photo credit: Sting In Its Tail! via photopin (license)

2. Chicken Curry

Making a curry is actually a very similar process to making a chilli con carne, and just as quick and simple. There are lots of flavours you can add in, such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and lemon, so you can experiment away, but for now we’ll just take you through a very simple, but delicious chicken curry recipe. You’ll need:

500g of diced chicken

200g of rice

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves

1 red chilli

1 tablespoon of ground turmeric

1 tablespoon of ground cumin

1 heaped teaspoon of ground coriander

Salt and pepper

Once again, you need to roughly chop the onion, garlic and chilli and fry with a little extra oil for a two to three minutes. Add the chicken and cook until sealed. Add the cumin, turmeric and coriander and cook for a minute or so, stirring until all the chicken is coated in the spices. Add the chopped tomatoes and the salt and pepper to taste. While that simmers for 20 minutes, wash and boil the rice. Serve up and enjoy a very tasty homemade delight!

photo credit:  via photopin (license)
photo credit: via photopin (license)

3. Mushroom Risotto

Risottos are often avoided by those in a rush, but in actual fact the can be very quick and simple to make. They have a wonderful flavour and are always really popular with the family. So if you want to impress at a midweek dinner time, this one could be for you! You will need:

Knob of butter

350g risotto rice

1 Litre of Vegetable stock

100g of chestnut mushrooms

200ml milk

1 lemon for grating

Salt and pepper

In a heavy-bottomed, non-stick frying pan, heat the butter until melted. Add in the risotto rice and cook while stirring for 4-5 minutes, making sure all the rice is coated in the butter. Chop the mushrooms and add them to the rice. Pour in some of the vegetable stock until it just about covers all of the rice and allow it to simmer. The stock will reduce, so you need to keep adding in the stock liquid until the rice is cooked through. You might not need to use all of the stock to achieve this. While the risotto is simmering, grate the lemon zest into the pan and gently mix through. Once the rice is almost cooked add in the milk and allow it to simmer down one more time. Once this is done, salt and pepper to taste and you’re finished. You have a fantastically creamy mushroom risotto!

4. Spaghetti Bolognese

Here is another classic dish, perfect for a busy family. You can make this one even tastier by adding in balsamic vinegar to the sauce pan at the beginning, or combining it with garlic bread. For now though, we’ll just take you through making the quickest, simplest form of this delicious dish. You will need:

1 pack of spaghetti

500g of mince

1 medium onion

2 cloves of garlic

1-2 teaspoons of mixed herbs

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 lemon

50g grated cheese

Salt and pepper

First of all fry off the roughly chopped onion and garlic before adding the mince and cooking until brown. Add in the mixed herbs and fry for a further 2 minutes. At this point put the chopped tomatoes into the pan and stir for a further 2-3 minutes. Squeeze the lemon into the Bolognese, salt and pepper to taste and allow to simmer for twenty minutes. Meanwhile, put the spaghetti into a pan (break it in half if necessary) and boil. Move the spaghetti around with a fork as it begins to boil so that it doesn’t stick together. Once the pasta is cooked, serve and sprinkle a little bit of the grated cheese onto each serving. You have now finished a lovely spaghetti dish that your family will love!

photo credit: Spaghetti Worlds via photopin (license)
photo credit: Spaghetti Worlds via photopin (license)

5. Pork Belly Stir Fry

Come the end of the week everyone wants a little treat, and what better than a lovely oriental dinner? This one creates the flavour out of natural ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about any additives. Pork belly is great for a stir fry because it crisps up nicely, and it’s good and cheap too! All you will need for this one is:

250g of pork belly

½ teaspoon of ground Szechuan pepper

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves

1 lime

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

Salt and Pepper

50g of mushrooms

20g cashew nuts

50g of chopped cabbage

20g of chopped courgette

30g beansprouts

100g dry noodles

For this dish you need to chop the onions and garlic and fry with a little oil in a wok until soft. Add in the pork belly and fry until the fat starts to become crisp. At this point add in the soy sauce. Fry for a couple of minutes before squeezing the juice of the lime and adding the Szechuan pepper into the wok. At this point quickly put the noodles on to boil for 4-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cashew nuts, cabbage and courgettes to the wok and stir constantly until the noodles are ready. Drain the noodles and add them to the wok too, and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and there you have it! Another fantastic meal for the family in a matter of minutes!

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