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5 budget-friendly weeknight meals
Sometimes it's the easy and convenient things to cook that end up being the priciest. But weeknight meals don't have to be expensive – trust us.
We've pulled together five simple and totally delicious recipes that you can make from the ingredients you can pick up affordably at Coles.
No fancy matcha or tapioca flour required.
Soups are some of the most calming and delicious meals at the end of a long day – plus they're super budget-friendly. This recipe is zesty, spicy and surprisingly filling. Even if you're not a "soup person", you'll enjoy this one.
- 1 medium onion , chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3 celery sticks, diced
- 1 small to medium carrot, diced
- 1 litre hot vegetable stock
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 400g tin chickpeas
- 400g can butter beans
- 1 lemon, juice only
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tsp ground cumin
- In a large pot or saucepan, add the oil and fry the onion on medium to high heat until the onion is translucent. Add the celery, carrot, garlic and cumin. Fry for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes partially covered. Turn off the heat. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and beans then add them to the soup along with the lemon juice. Stir and serve.
Easy beef burgers
Burgers seem like a finicky meal to get right, but when you find the right recipe, it's just too easy. After you cook your beef patties, the rest is just slicing and dicing. No need to caramelise onion or reduce a sauce.
- 500g Beef mince
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp oregano
- 4 burger buns
- 1 tomato
- ½ brown onion
- Lettuce, iceberg or cos
- 4 cheese slices
- ½ pickle, finely chopped (optional)
- Tomato sauce
- Mix together the onion powder, garlic powder, beef mince and oregano. Divide the mixture into four burger patties.
- Toast the buns and then slice the tomato, lettuce and onion. Mix the mayonnaise and tomato sauce (and optionally, your pickle) together and then spread it on the top halves of the four burger buns.
- Heat a drizzle of oil in a fry pan until it's lightly smoking. Add the beef patties and cook for two minutes each side for a medium-rare burger.
- Layer the lettuce, tomato and onion on the bottom half of the bun. Place the beef patty on top then add the cheese. Finish with the top half of the burger bun.
This is an old family recipe that I make again and again. It's so simple to make but it hangs on the quality of your ingredients. Using fresh tomatoes will make your kitchen smell just like you're in Napoli.
- 2 kilos of Roma tomatoes
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp vegetable stock powder (optional)
- 1 packet of spaghetti or preferred pasta of your choice.
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup raw sugar
- ¼ cup oil
- Slice open the skin of each tomato and then cover with boiling water. Leave for 10 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the hot water and peel off the skin.
- Crush the garlic and fry in a pot with the oil until fragrant. Add all the tomatoes and basil and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down into a sauce.
- In a separate pot, boil water to cook your pasta. Salt the water once it has come to a boil – it's faster.
- Add the sugar and then the salt to your sauce. Do not add any water. Taste test and if your sauce needs it, add the stock powder. Once your sauce is thick rather than watery, add the pasta to boiling water and following the cooking time on the packet.
- Remove the basil leaves from your sauce and dispose of them. Portion up your pasta and spoon over your sauce.
Teriyaki noodle salad
A bit of a twist on a traditional noodle stir-fry, this one is fun to eat and to make. Sometimes these sorts of salads can take way too long to prepare, but this recipe takes less than half an hour to pull together.
- 500 grams Chinese cabbage
- 2 medium carrots
- 500g stir-fry beef, in thin strips
- 40ml or 2 Australian tbsp teriyaki sauce
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 200-250g vermicelli noodles
- 20ml or an Australian tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- Black pepper to taste
- Slice the cabbage and grate the carrot. Add the vinegar, salt and sugar to a bowl and stir to combine. Pour the mixture over the salad and then add the pepper and toss. Then add the sesame oil.
- Add a drizzle of oil to a pan and turn the heat to high. Stir fry the beef (in batches if necessary) adding garlic and ginger. Once the beef is cooked, add the teriyaki sauce and turn off the heat.
- Pour boiling water over the vermicelli noodles in a heat-proof bowl. Leave for 5-10 minutes or until cooked.
- Divide the noodles across bowls, add the salad and top with the beef.
Lemon and thyme chicken, sweet potato and beans
This particular recipe uses chicken thighs rather than breasts, which are cheaper and easier to cook – it is very easy to overcook breasts. You can also use drumsticks which are even cheaper. Since you cook this whole recipe in the oven, you have the freedom to sit down and relax while dinner is being made, rather than nursing a hot stovetop.
- 1kg or 8 chicken thighs, 2 per person.
- ½ lemon, juice and zest
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp of dried thyme
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 3 cups of green beans, frozen or fresh
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Add the lemon juice, zest, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper and chicken to a bowl. Toss or stir to marinate.
- Peel the sweet potato and cut into thin disks. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the sweet potato into the preheated oven.
- 10 minutes after the sweet potato has been in the oven, put the green beans in a baking tray, place the chicken and marinating liquid on top and drizzle with oil. Put the chicken in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
- Remove everything from the oven, divide evenly over four plates and serve.
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