How to cook cheap but delicious dinners: Four budget-friendly dishes for less than $2 per serve

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Whipping up delicious family dinners doesn’t need to break the bank, as a frugal  food blog has proved with its catalogue of budget-friendly recipes.

British Instagram page Beat the Budget specialises in cheap but tasty dinners which can be made for less than $2 per serve by building dishes around bulk-bought ingredients like frozen vegetables, egg noodles and wholemeal pasta.

Lovers of European cuisine can feast on bowls of Italian-inspired spicy tomato and bacon spaghetti for $1.63, or authentic Spanish paella for even less at just $1.29 per portion.

There’s plenty on offer for plant-based dieters, including a nut-free, dairy-free mac and cheese for a reasonable $1.89 and Asian vegetarian satay for only $1.85 a meal.

Rustle up an Asian-inspired feast of vegetarian satay noodles in just 25 minutes using simple ingredients like noodles, peanut butter, limes, zucchini, spring onion and a tin of coconut milk.

Chop the spring onions in half, separating the green part of the stem from the white and slicing each individual piece down the middle.

Gently fry the spring onion in olive oil for roughly four minutes before adding curry powder and cooking for a further 60 seconds.

Mix the peanut butter, soy sauce and juice of a whole lime into the pan, adding a splash of coconut milk to thin the mixture.

Once combined, stir the remaining coconut milk in and whisk gently to create the satay sauce, slowly adding a cup of water as you go which will eventually reduce.

Leaving the sauce to simmer on a low heat, spiralise the zucchini and cook the noodles in boiling water, mixing into the sauce to finish cooking inside the satay.

Blanch the zucchini for 60 seconds before adding to the satay noodles, seasoning with salt and sprinkling cashews and the leftover green spring onions on top.   

$1.85

One butternut squash, 500grams of macaroni pasta, 300ml of vegetable stock, two ciabatta rolls and a handful of fresh thyme is all you need to make a nut-free, dairy-free take on classic mac and cheese – in less than 30 minutes.

After peeling, de-seeding and chopping the squash into cubes, add to a large pan of water and bring to the boil for eight minutes.

As it simmers, cook the pasta and tear the ciabatta rolls into bite-sized chunks.

Fry the bread in olive oil over a medium heat, sprinkling rock salt and sprigs of thyme on top for flavour.

After draining the pasta, use a handheld blender to combine the squash and vegetable stock, seasoning generously with salt to create a ‘cheese’ style texture.

Stir the ‘cheese’ sauce into the pasta and pour into a baking tray, sprinkling fried breadcrumbs over the top before baking in the oven for 10 minutes.

 $1.89

A taste of authentic Spanish cuisine is only 20 minutes and some spare change away thanks to this ingeniously simple recipe for loaded vegetarian paella, which is made from ready cooked rice, frozen vegetables, a tin of tomatoes and some seasoning.

Finely dice the onion and garlic before adding two generous tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan over a medium heat.

Fry for roughly six minutes until translucent, then increase the heat, pouring a tin of chopped tomatoes on top.

Cook until the liquid has evaporated, which should take about three minutes.

Once the mixture has reduced, season with paprika, salt and pepper before stirring in the rice, frozen vegetables and 400ml of vegetable stock.

Leave to combine and simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes, finishing with the juice of a whole lemon and rock salt to taste. 

$1.29

Pasta doesn’t need to be packed full of calories if you follow this simple recipe for low-carb spaghetti arrabiata, which swaps traditional spaghetti for the wholemeal variety and overflows with vegetables rather than traditional chunks of meat.

After chopping mushrooms, fry in olive oil over a high heat for five minutes before reducing to medium temperature and adding a handful of bacon lardons to cook on top.

Meanwhile, slice the onion and add to the pan, frying gently for roughly six minutes until translucent.

As the onion cooks, spiralise the zucchini. 

Add a tin of chopped tomatoes over the mushrooms, bacon and onion along with a cup of water and leave to simmer for 30 minutes to create an arrabiata style pasta sauce.

As the mixture cooks, boil spaghetti in water and add to the sauce once cooked.

$1.63

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