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Quick Cook Foods

Not Much Energy

Sometimes, you have only a little available energy for cooking and have to use as little as possible, in order to keep energy for other days. Here are some ideas for a fast nutritious budget meal.

Sometimes, the freezer or fresh section of your local supermarket may have some ready foods on offer that will be quick to cook, such as burgers or fish fingers or even pizza. These will not take much of your cooking energy to heat thoroughly to give you a quick hot meal.

Fast cook budget foods


Stir-fry is a versatile option that can be made with a variety of vegetables and proteins. Simply sauté your choice of vegetables (such as bell peppers, broccoli, carrots) with a protein source (chicken, tofu, shrimp) in a hot pan with some oil and soy sauce. Serve over rice or noodles.

Pasta with Tomato Sauce

Pasta is quite possibly the cheapest meal on 5 continents, especially if you only have pasta available. Try melting some butter or spread on top if you don’t have anything else.
Boil pasta (spaghetti, penne, or any type you prefer) and toss it with canned tomato sauce. Add some sautéed onions, garlic, and a pinch of herbs for added flavor. You can also add vegetables like spinach, bell peppers, or mushrooms.

Omelette or Scrambled Eggs

Eggs are a quick and cheap source of protein. Make an omelette or scrambled eggs with diced vegetables (onions, tomatoes, spinach) and cheese. Serve with whole wheat toast. Very fast and full of nutrition.

Hard boiled Eggs

Boil up a number of eggs at once (hard boil) then shell them and store in the fridge for use over a couple of days.

Rice and Beans

Cook rice and beans (canned or dried, depending on your time) and season them with cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and a bit of hot sauce. This is a simple and filling dish.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Make a classic grilled cheese sandwich by placing cheese between two slices of bread and grilling it in a pan until the cheese is melted and the bread is crispy. Alternatively make a faux pizza by toasting a slice of bread, adding some tomato sauce and sliced or grated cheese and then grilling til the cheese is golden and bubbling.

Vegetable Quesadillas

Fill a tortilla with shredded cheese and your choice of sautéed vegetables. Fold it in half and cook it on a pan until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy.

Instant Noodles with Vegetables

While not the healthiest option, instant noodles can be made more nutritious by adding some chopped vegetables and a boiled egg.

Canned Soup and Crackers

Opt for low-sodium canned soup and pair it with whole grain crackers or a slice of bread.

Pita Bread Pizzas

Top whole wheat pita bread with tomato sauce, shredded cheese, and your choice of toppings. Toast in the oven until the cheese is melted.

Salad with Canned Tuna or Beans

Create a quick salad using lettuce or spinach, canned tuna or beans, chopped vegetables, and a simple vinaigrette dressing.

Microwave “Baked” Potato

Pierce a potato with a fork and microwave it until tender. Top with canned chili, cheese, sour cream, or your favorite toppings.

Homemade Fried Rice

Cook leftover rice with chopped vegetables, scrambled eggs, and soy sauce. Add a protein like diced ham, tofu, or cooked chicken if you have it.

Veggie Wrap

Spread hummus or cream cheese on a tortilla and add sliced vegetables (cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots) and greens. Roll it up for a quick wrap.

Couscous Salad

Prepare couscous according to the package instructions and toss with chopped vegetables, canned beans, and a simple vinaigrette.

One-Pot Pasta

Cook pasta in a single pot with broth, diced tomatoes, and your choice of vegetables and seasonings. It’s a simple way to minimize cleanup.

Black Bean Tacos

Warm canned black beans and season with cumin and chili powder. Serve in tortillas with lettuce, salsa, and cheese.

Frittata or Crustless Quiche

Whisk eggs with milk, add sautéed vegetables and cheese, then bake until set. Enjoy a slice of frittata for multiple meals.

Ramen with Upgraded Ingredients

Enhance instant ramen by adding fresh vegetables, a cracked egg, and some sliced cooked meat.

Pancakes for Dinner

Make pancakes using a simple batter of flour, milk, and egg. Serve with peanut butter, yogurt, or fruit for added nutrients.

Quick Bean Burritos

Fill tortillas with canned refried beans, cheese, and salsa. Microwave or heat in the oven until warm.

Quick Veggie Soup

Simmer canned vegetable broth with chopped vegetables, canned diced tomatoes, and a can of beans for a fast and nutritious soup.

Mini Pizza Bagels

Top halved bagels with tomato sauce, shredded cheese, and your favorite pizza toppings. Toast until the cheese melts.

Open-Faced Tuna Melt

Top whole wheat bread with canned tuna mixed with a bit of mayo and diced celery, then add a slice of cheese and broil until bubbly.

Microwave Steamed Vegetables

Steam frozen vegetables in the microwave and season with herbs, butter, or a sprinkle of cheese.

Oatmeal with Toppings

Prepare instant oats and top with sliced bananas, nuts, dried fruits, or a spoonful of yogurt.

Remember to adjust these ideas to your taste preferences and dietary needs. With a little creativity, you can whip up a variety of tasty and economical meals in no time. Remember, while these meals are quick and budget-friendly, it’s always a good idea to include a variety of foods to ensure you’re getting a balanced diet. You can modify these ideas to suit your preferences and dietary needs.


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