Have a packet of two-minute noodles in the pantry? Or a supply of zucchini that needs to be eaten?
Being budget-savvy at dinnertime doesn't mean skimping out on incredible-tasting recipes. You can make fantastic dinners with minimal ingredients, time and money. Let the experts show you how…
Turkey mince bolognese
Elle Vernon, Food Editor at Better Homes and Gardens magazine
"Turkey mince spaghetti bolognese topped with lots of basil from my balcony garden. Turkey is cheaper than beef, plus it's better for you. A little bit of bolognese sauce goes a long way when you toss it with spaghetti. Lately I have been serving the bolognese sauce with a combo of half gluten-free spaghetti and half zoodles."
San choy bau
Janelle Bloom, TV cook & presenter, author, food stylist, recipe writer
"San choy bau – by changing up the mince and the lettuce variety (although I do love iceberg), then adding heaps of vegetables, chilli, ginger, garlic and lemongrass from the garden, the recipe tastes different every time I serve it up."
Fancy instant noodles
Dan Hong, head chef at Ms.G's and Mr. Wong
"I like to pimp up instant noodles with whatever is in the fridge or freezer, like leftover kimchi, beef balls, veggies, seafood and even cheese."
Alison Roberts, Food Editor at Diabetic Living magazine
"My favourite budget-friendly dinner recipe would be a version of spaghetti bolognese – I grate lots of vegies to throw into my meat sauce and also add some fresh herbs. Because I don’t use heaps of pasta, I often break the pasta up before cooking, and once cooked, just toss through the meat sauce. I then finish it with some chopped parsley and finely grated parmesan.
Asian minced chicken
Beth Macdonald, Blogger at BabyMac
"Anything with mince that allows me to use what I have in the garden. For me, that's Beth’s chicken. Everyone in the family loves this (including the baby) and I can grab herbs from the garden.
Jody Allen, Author and Blogger at Stay at Home Mum
"My favourite for years had been chicken pot pie – as it is a real comfort food, and I do love a good pie (and pastry is a weakness of mine). But my son who is a fussy eater is going through a curry phase at the moment so we have had curried sausages on high rotation recently. I sneak lots of sweet potato into the sauce and make a double batch so he can have it for lunch the next day. I like quick and easy meals..."
Karen Martini, chef, restaurateur and food writer
"Everyone loves a meatball." Check out Foodiful's meatball stroganoff pasta for a quick and easy dinner idea.
Bolognese with vegies & lentils
Lauren Matheson, Blogger at Create Bake Make
"Aside from toasties, bolognese pasta bake is always a budget family favourite, as I usually can get change from $15. I use just 500g of mince and bulk it up with loads of in-season (so cheap!) vegies. At the moment I'm using pumpkin, sweet potato and zucchini, and have even added cannelloni or chickpeas to it in the past. One batch normally makes enough to feed our family (2 adults and 3 small kids) for 2-3 meals.
Barbara Northwood , Food Director at New Idea magazine
"This simple curry can be made up to three days ahead. Keep it covered, in the fridge. Or divide it into portions, in freezer-proof containers, and freeze for up to two months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating."
Sweet Mild Beef Curry
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 18 mins
Total time: 33 mins
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 500g beef mince
- 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, cut in 2cm pieces
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 ½ cups beef stock
- 1/3 cup fruit chutney
- ½ cup chopped fresh coriander
- Steamed rice and natural yoghurt, to serve (optional)
- Fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
1. Heat an oiled, large frying pan over a medium to high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft. Add mince. Cook, stirring and breaking up mince, for about 5 minutes, or until browned.
2. Add curry powder. Cook, stirring for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add apple, tomatoes, stock and chutney. Bring to boil. Gentle boil, stirring occasionally for about 12 minutes, or until apple is tender and sauce is thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in chopped coriander.
3. Serve curry with steamed rice and yoghurt (optional). Garnish with coriander leaves.