We all have those months when you feel the pinch in your pocket a little more than others. Whether it’s an unexpected expenditure or a big life change that’s eating up your finances, it’s always good to be able to cut back on other areas of life to be able to adjust for it. One place where cost cutting can have a huge impact is in the kitchen. Being able to plan cost-effective, nutritious meals at home is a great way to prevent accidentally overspending on restaurants and ordering in. 

But even if you’re not feeling the need right now, budget cooking is a great habit to inculcate in your daily life. Not only does it help you manage your finances better, but it adds an extra layer of creativity to every meal. Don’t worry though, when we say budget cooking, it doesn’t mean you’ll be eating packet ramen for every meal (although with some imagination, noodles can be put to really effective use too), these meals just take inexpensive ingredients and turn them into hearty meals to keep you and your bank account happy. 

Also Read: 4 Grandmother-Approved Budget Kitchen Ideas That You’ll Find Handy

Coconut Curry Noodles

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 packet of noodles 
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp curry powder/garam masala

Method

  • Add the frozen vegetables and water to a small saucepot. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat on to high, and bring the water up to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add the noodles. Continue to boil for 2-3 minutes, or until the noodles are soft.
  • Shake the coconut can well to combine the solid fat and liquid before measuring. Add the coconut milk to the saucepot and stir to combine.
  • Finally, add the seasoning packet from the noodles and the curry powder. Stir to combine. Serve hot.

Cauliflower And Chana Masala

Ingredients

Masala Spice Mix

  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp cumin 
  • ½ tsp turmeric 
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika 
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp salt and pepper

Skillet Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion 
  • 3 cloves garlic 
  • ½ tbsp grated fresh ginger 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 300 gms frozen cauliflower florets
  • 400 gms chickpeas, drained
  • 400 ml tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream 
  • Salt to taste

Method

  • In a small bowl, combine the spices for the masala spice mix (garam masala, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper).
  • Finely dice the onion, mince the garlic, and grate the ginger. Add all three to a large skillet along with the olive oil and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the spice mix and continue to sauté for one more minute.
  • Add the frozen cauliflower florets to the skillet with the aromatics and spices, and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes more, or until the cauliflower has thawed through and is completely coated in spices.
  • Add the drained chickpeas, tomato sauce, and ¼ cup water to the skillet. Stir to combine, then allow them to simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. This will help mellow the acidity of the tomato sauce and allow the spices to blend. If the mixture becomes too dry as it simmers, add a couple more tablespoons of water.
  • After the sauce has simmered for 15 minutes, turn off the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Give the masala a taste and add salt as needed. Serve in a bowl either over rice or with a piece of bread for dipping.