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Easy, Cheap, Healthy One-Pot Meals and Dinner Recipes

Updated on November 15, 2016
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John applies his scientific & research skills (PhD) to develop recipes, food guides, reviews of healthy whole foods, ingredients & cooking

Increasingly, families, couples and singles are looking for quick, cheap, home cooked meals that are easy to prepare in a single pot. Home cooked is better than fast food. Busy people want to be able to quickly prepare nutritious meals that they can leave bubbling away cooking, while other things are done around the house.

But, choosing simple and inexpensive meals need not sacrifice taste and good health if the recipes are carefully chosen.

One trap that many people succumb to, is to look for cheaper cuts of meat. The trouble with this approach is that cheap meat cuts are tough and take hours and hours of cooking.

Many cheap meat cuts are also laden with fat. It is better to choose smaller quantities of expensive meat cuts that are tender, cook quickly and are full of flavor.

Below are a collection of the best cheap one-pot meals that are quick and easy to prepare and nutritious.

Cheap one-pot meals do not have to be unhealthy, hard to make or time consuming. See the solutions here with fabulous recipes
Cheap one-pot meals do not have to be unhealthy, hard to make or time consuming. See the solutions here with fabulous recipes | Source
many Asian dishes can be prepared as one-pot meals, quickly and easily
many Asian dishes can be prepared as one-pot meals, quickly and easily | Source
One-pot meals can be prepared once and served over several days. This justifies the extra time required to make excellent dishes. See the recipes here.
One-pot meals can be prepared once and served over several days. This justifies the extra time required to make excellent dishes. See the recipes here. | Source
One-pot meals make an excellent base for healthy tacos and flat-bread dishes served as main meals or snacks. See the recipes here.
One-pot meals make an excellent base for healthy tacos and flat-bread dishes served as main meals or snacks. See the recipes here. | Source

Moroccan-Style One-Pot Chicken Recipe with Couscous


For the chicken

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 lb (500 g) chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and finely, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of butter for frying and for the couscous

For the couscous

  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of icing sugar
  • 400 g ( 14 oz) instant couscous
  • 4 tablespoons flaked almonds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons sultanas soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes

Place the spices in a bowl with one of the cinnamon sticks. Add the salt and oil and mix to form a rub. Add the chicken pieces and mix well to coat all surfaces with the spice-mix rub. Heat a large pot, Dutch oven or deep frying pan to medium hot. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and once melted add the chicken pieces and fry for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Cook until the chicken pieces have started to brown a little. Add the carrots, and pour in enough water to almost cover the chicken. Cook slowly for 30 minutes with the pot covered, and another 15 minutes with the cover removed to thicken the sauce. Make sure the chicken is cooked properly and is tender. Prepare the couscous according to the instructions on the pack. After about 5 minutes add a teaspoon of butter and fluff up the cooked grains with a fork. Add the sultanas, almonds and a teaspoon of the ground cinnamon to the couscous and mix through. Serve the chicken on a bed of couscous and top with fresh herbs such as coriander or parsley. Sprinkle with extra almond slivers and a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Pork Sausage and Lentils One-Pot Recipe


  • salt to taste
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1/2 dried chillies
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 300 g (4 oz) lentils
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • Dijon mustard to serve
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 900 ml ( 1 quart) water
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 good quality pork sausages
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of flat-leaf parsley


Using a deep fry pan with a lid or a Dutch Oven, fry the sausages in a small amount of oil until cooked in the center. Remove the sausages and wash the pan. Cook the chopped onion and garlic until transparent. Add the carrots and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the lentils, chilies, water and the crushed stock cube. Added the crushed chilies, lentils and water, then crumble in the stock cube. Bring to the boil, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook covered for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are just tender. Most of the liquid should have been absorbed. Season with slat of freshly ground black pepper and add half of the flat-leaf parsley. Next, slice the sausages diagonally and add to the lentils. Reheat the pan to warm the sausages and blend the tastes. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes and then serve with a wedge of lemon and topped with parsley and other fresh herbs.

Spicy Sliced Omelette with Flat Noodles, Leeks, Chillies and Mixed Vegetables Recipe


  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 large leek, sliced, with rings separated
  • 2 red chillies, chopped with seeds removed
  • 800 g (1 1/2 lb) flat noodles
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup coriander, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of grape seed or rice bran oil (high smoke point for frying)
  • 3 large eggs (free-range)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 100 g (4 oz) frozen peas


Using a large deep, heavy frying pan or Dutch oven, fry the shallots and leeks in a little oil over a medium heat for about 1 minute. Then add the chilli, half of the noodles, and half the oyster sauce. Stir fry while stirring for 2 minutes. Then add the rest of the noodles and oyster sauce. Keep stir-frying the noodles until they soften and the sauce starts to thickens. Meanwhile, beat the eggs, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and cook as a firm omelette. Slice the omelette into strips and add to the pan with the noodles. Add the carrots and peas, and cook while stirring for 5 minutes until the carrots have softened. Mix well and serve topped with drizzles of oyster sauce, topped with fresh coriander, parsley or other herbs.

Simple One-Pot Lamb Curry Recipe


  • 1 lb (500 g) lean lamb cut into medium size cubes
  • 2 teaspoons Curry powder
  • 1 large large potato, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 large courgette, sliced
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 2/3 cups coconut milk
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 small lime


Fry the lamb and curry powder in a deep frying pan or pot until the lamb starts to brown on the outside. Add the cut and diced vegetables and pour in the coconut milk. Bring the mixture to the boil while stirring frequently. Cover the pan and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for an additional 20 minutes to thicken the sauce. Add salt to taste and serve when the lamb is cooked and tender. Garnish with coriander and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve with steamed rice or couscous.

Asian-Style Pork with Ginger and Vegetables


  • 2 star anise
  • 1-3 red chillies
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 4 cloves of garlic , sliced
  • 4 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 small carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 small parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 4 tablespoons strong English mustard
  • 1 1/4 lb (600 g) pork belly, or similar cut
  • 6 cups of chicken stock (homemade preferred)
  • 1 large piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped


Place the pork in a deep pot or heavy, deep frying pan. Just cover the pork with hot water. Bring the pot to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Then, drain the pork and discard the water. Pour the chicken stock over the pork and add the remaining ingredients with the exception of the mustard. Bring the mixture to the boil and then cover and simmer for about 60 minutes, with the lid removed for the last 15 minutes. Check that the pork is cooked through and is tender. Then, serve with extra coriander and a little mustard.

Italian-Style Tiella Recipe with Fresh Mussels and Risotto Rice


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, cut into very thin strips
  • 1 large courgette, cut into thin slices
  • 100 g (3 1/2 oz) risotto rice or similar
  • 1 large onion, sliced into thin rings, separated
  • About 200 g (7 oz) fresh mussels, with outside of shells cleaned
  • 2 cups of fresh tomatoes, quartered or one can of whole tomatoes, drained

Note: Thinly slicing the vegetables ensured that they will cook quickly.


Fry the onions and garlic in a deep heavy frying pan, pot or Dutch oven, with a little oil until the onions have softened a little. Add the mussels and 1/2 cup of water. Cover the pan and allow the mussels to open. Remove the meat from the mussels and discard the shells (or you can leave the whole mussels in the dish, removing and discarding any mussels that did not open. Add the slices of potatoes, courgette and red pepper to the pan. Sprinkle the rice on top, add the tomatoes and 2/3 cup of cold water. Cover the pan and cook very slowly for 40 minutes , stirring regularly. Add more hot water, as required, and cook until the rice has reached the 'al dente' stage. Rest the dish for 15 minutes and then serve topped with fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese.

Mexican-Style Chilli Beef with Tomatoes and Beans


  • 3 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 white onions, finely sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 kg good quality, lean stewing beef
  • 4 tablespoons chipotle paste (or similar)
  • 2 litres (2 quarts) beef stock (homemade preferred)
  • 1 large piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 5 cans (400 g size; 4 oz) pinto or kidney beans, well drained


Heat a tablespoon of oil in a deep frying pan or Dutch oven. Brown the meat on the outside in several batches, adding a little more oil each time. Remove the meat from the dish and set aside. Using the same dish, fry the onions, stirring regularly until they soften and start to caramelise (about 8-10 minutes). Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, chipotle paste, cinnamon and flour, and fry for 1-2 minutes. Gradually pour in the stock, stirring constantly. Then, add the oregano and tomatoes, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and simmer gently for 7-10 minutes. Next, add the beef, reduce the heat setting to very low and cover the pan. Simmer gently for 60 minutes until the meat is tender. Add the beans, remove the lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes to thicken the sauce. Serve hot with rice, corn chips, yogurt and flatbread.

One-Pot Fish Recipe with Tomatoes, Onions, Ginger and Black Olives


  • 4 lemon wedges (to serve)
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 parsley, chopped (to serve)
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 can (400 g; 14 oz )chopped tomatoes
  • 175 g (6 oz) black olives, seeds removed
  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 750 g (1 1/2 lb) firm, boneless white fish fillets


Fry the onions, garlic and ginger in a little oil for 2 minutes in a deep heavy frying pan or Dutch oven. Add the olives, tomatoes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring the mixture to the boil and then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Add the fish and turn once to cover with the sauce. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the fish is just cooked, turning once. Serve with chopped parsley sprinkled on top and the lemon wedges.

One Pot Skillet Chicken With Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Pancetta


  • 2-4 anchovy fillets
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 basil sprigs, chopped
  • 5 ounces (140 g) pancetta, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28 ounce; 800 g) can whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon race bran oil or grape seed oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or dried chilli
  • 3 1/2 pound (1.75 kg) free-range chicken cut into 8 pieces
  • 8 ounces (250 g) bocconcini, halved (or mozzarella cut into small cubes


Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Pat the chicken pieces dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and fry, stirring frequently, until starting to brown. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the cooked pancetta to a plate covered in paper towels to drain off the excess oil. Add chicken pieces to the skillet and sear, turning only once, until well browned on all sides (generally about 10 minutes). Transfer the cooked chicken to a large plate. Add the anchovies, garlic and red pepper flakes to he skillet and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and basil and cook until the sauce thickens (about 10 minutes). Return the cooked chicken pieces to the pan. Place the skillet or Dutch oven in the preheated oven and cook, uncovered for about 30-45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked inside (check with a fork). Scatter the mozzarella or bocconcini pieces over the chicken pieces in the pan. Return the pan to the oven and broil until cheese is melted and bubbling (about 2 to 3 minutes). Serve while hot, garnished with chopped basil and extra pancetta.

© 2015 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment

  • mary615 profile image

    Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

    I'm always searching for easy one pot meals. Thanks for these ideas. I have bookmarked this Hub.

  • Tamirogers profile image

    Tami Rogers 2 years ago from Seattle, Washington

    Awesome!! Definitely trying the moroccan chicken..right up my alley..I am a huge foodie and I love one pot meals! Less dishes to do...thanks!

  • peachpurple profile image

    peachy 16 months ago from Home Sweet Home

    i love those one pot meal that includes veggies, tubers and chicken with thick sauces

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