Jun 01, 2024

Eat well, spend less – five affordable recipes every candidate should try

If you’re working in regional Australia and take-out options aren’t always available, or you’re navigating a tight budget, it’s essential to find ways to save money on your weekday meals. But eating healthily without breaking the bank doesn’t have to be a struggle – here are five delicious and affordable recipes that are perfect for busy workers looking to save money and fuel their workday. If you’ve already mastered some cheap and quick recipes of your own, add these to your weekly schedule!

  1. Vegetable quesadillas
  2. Spaghetti aglio e olio
  3. Chickpea salad
  4. Vegetable stir-fry
  5. One-pot chicken and rice

Vegetable quesadillas


Cost-effective ingredients that are versatile, promote portion control and allow for quick and easy preparation.

  • Tortillas
  • Cheese
  • Mixed vegetables (such as capsicum, onions and mushrooms)
  • Salsa (optional)
  1. Heat a tortilla in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Sprinkle shredded cheese on one half of the tortilla.
  3. Add sautéed mixed vegetables on top of the cheese.
  4. Fold the tortilla in half to cover the filling.
  5. Cook until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy, flipping once.
  6. Serve hot with salsa on the side, if desired.

Spaghetti aglio e olio


Basic pantry staples like garlic, olive oil, and pasta form the base, with optional additions like red pepper flakes and parsley.

  • Spaghetti
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Parsley
  1. Cook spaghetti according to package instructions.
  2. In a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes, sauté until garlic is golden.
  4. Toss cooked spaghetti in the garlic oil until evenly coated.
  5. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot.

Chickpea salad


Canned chickpeas are economical, and the salad is dressed simply with lemon juice and olive oil.

  • Canned chickpeas
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Red onion
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Herbs (such as parsley or coriander)
  1. Rinse and drain canned chickpeas, mix with diced cucumber, tomato and red onion.
  2. Dress with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Garnish with chopped herbs before serving.

Vegetable stir-fry


Vegetables are generally inexpensive, and stir-frying requires minimal cooking time and oil.

  • Mixed vegetables (such as capsicum, broccoli, carrots and sugar snap peas)
  • Soy sauce
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Vegetable oil
  • Rice
  1. Heat vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add minced garlic and ginger, sauté until fragrant.
  3. Add chopped vegetables and stir-fry until tender-crisp.
  4. Pour in soy sauce and stir until everything is evenly coated.
  5. Serve hot over cooked rice.

One-pot chicken and rice


Cook everything in only one pot.

  • Chicken thighs or breasts, bone-in and skin-on
  • Rice
  • Chicken broth
  • Onion, diced
  • Garlic, minced
  • Mixed vegetables (such as carrots, peas and corn)
  • Paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Season chicken thighs or breasts with paprika, salt and pepper.
  2. In a large pot, sear chicken on both sides until golden brown, then remove and set aside.
  3. Sauté diced onion and minced garlic in the same pot until softened.
  4. Add rice, mixed vegetables and chicken broth to the pot.
  5. Nestle seared chicken back into the pot.
  6. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender.
  7. Serve hot.

Bonus tips for eating well and saving money at work

  • Cook large batches on the weekends and portion them out for weekday meals.
  • Pack a reusable water bottle and ditch sugary drinks to save money and stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • By incorporating these delicious and affordable recipes into your routine, you can enjoy healthy, satisfying meals all week long.
  • Remember, eating well doesn’t have to break the bank!
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