4 great and easy dinner ideas to prepare on a budget

Let’s face it, food prep can be a pain. Between work, school, socialising and all the other curveballs that life can throw at us, something as simple as deciding on your next meal shouldn’t be so complicated. And that’s before you take price into consideration! So, we here at Babylon want to help by providing some quick tips and snazzy recommendations on some fun and easy dinner ideas that you can prepare with cheap ingredients and a little know-how.

Most of these meals can be made from ingredients found at local supermarkets like Tesco, The Asian Market, Lidl or Aldi.

Enjoy!

Spicy jerky potato and pineapple hash

easy dinner ideas

Ingredients: 700g of potatoes, 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of vegetable oil, rashers x 4, 40g unsalted butter, 0.5 tbsp of jerk seasoning, 200g pineapple, 4 large eggs, 15g of small coriander, half a red chilli pepper.

Cost: €10-15

Steps: Start by preparing the rashers, pineapple and potatoes.. Cut the rashers into smaller bite-sized pieces and cut the pineapple into cubes. Here’s a handy video on cubing a pineapple. Finally, cut the potatoes into chunks.

Fill a pan with water, add just a pinch of salt, and bring that to boil. Add the potatoes and let them boil for 7 minutes, drain out the water and then let them dry for 5 minutes.

While the potatoes are drying, heat up the oil in a frying pan and fry up the rashers until they’re nice and crispy. Should take about 5 minutes.

Now, add some butter, the potatoes and some of that jerk seasoning to the pan and let them all fry together for 12 minutes. Occasionally give them a turn-over in the pan.

Lump in the pineapple cubes and cook for another 3 minutes.

Finally, crack the eggs over the potatoes, cover the pan with a  lid/plate and cook on medium heat until the egg whites just set in but the yolks are still runny.

Garnish with a sprinkle of coriander and chilli, and you’re good to eat!

Spicy oven-baked chicken and chips

Ingredients: 1 tbsp of cajun seasoning, 2 tbsp of vegetable oil, 1 lime, 750g of potatoes (preferably large but not necessary), 1 kg of chicken wings, green salad/coleslaw/ketchup (your choice)

Cost: €10-13

Steps: Sart by zesting and juicing your lime. If those are new terms for you don’t worry, here’s a video running you through it. Then cut your potatoes into chips.

Pre-heat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Whisk together the line zest and juice, cajun seasoning and vegetable oil together in a bowl. Toss in the chips and chicken wings. You can do it in smaller batches to make sure everything gets well coated.

Cover a large baking sheet in foil and then arrange the food. Chips around the edges and chicken in the middle. Bake for 20 minutes, stop to add some more seasoning and turn everything over, then bake again for another 20 minutes. Stop when everything is a nice, crispy brown.

Add some ketchup/salad/and coleslaw and you’re ready!

Sardine pasta with parsley

Ingredients: 1 tbsp of olive oil, 50g of dried breadcrumbs, 3 garlic cloves, 1 rosemary sprig, 120g of sardine x 2, 500g of passata, 50g of black olives, 350g of linguini, small black parsley, 25g of parmesan.

Cost: €10-14

Steps: Rip up some bread for the breadcrumbs, chop up the garlic, drain the water from the sardine cans, chop up the rosemary and parsley.

Add 1 teaspoon (tsp) of olive oil to a frying pan (non-stick) and put on low heat. Add the breadcrumbs and stir until they turn golden. Add another tsp of olive oil and the garlic. Cook for a moment and then pour it on a plate to be set aside for later.

Pour some water on a frying pan, add some salt and let it boil. Meanwhile, add one more tsp of olive oil with the rosemary and sardines to the original pan. Coom for 2-3 minutes, using a wooden spoon to stir. Add the passata and olives, and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

Put the pasta in the now boiling water and cook following the instructions on its packet.

Add the breadcrumbs to the parsley and stir them together. Drain the water from the pasta, add in any remaining parmesan.

Prepare the pasta and breadcrumbs on a plate and they’re ready to be served!

Udon noodle soup

Ingredients: 1 vegetable stock cube, 50 ml teriyaki sauce, t tbsp vegetable oil, 140g chestnut mushroom,  half a bunch of spring onions, 140g udon noodle, 200g spinach

Cost: €8-10

Steps: Slice the chestnut mushrooms and spring onions. 

Fill a large pan with 1 litre of water and then dissolve the stock cube in it. Add the teriyaki sauce and stir well. Bring this to a boil.

Pour the oil into a frying pan and cook the mushrooms for 2-3 minutes on a high heat. When they turn golden add the spring onions, cook for 1 minute and then set them aside.

When the large pan comes to a boil and the noodles and cook for 4 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for a further 1 minute. Stir in the mushrooms/onions and add some seasoning.

It’s now ready to serve!

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Ross Farrell

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