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20 Delicious and Cheap Dinners For Two

20 Delicious and Cheap Dinners For Two

Eating well doesn’t have to break the bank: here are 20 dinners for two that are inexpensive, but delicious.

1. Mujadarah

Mujadara

    Hearty and unbelievably tasty, this dish costs just a few cents per serving. Sautee thinly-sliced onions in oil with some cumin, salt, and pepper until they’re well-browned and caramelized. Combine equal amounts of cooked rice and cooked lentils, and then blend in the onions. Adjust seasonings, add a dollop of yoghurt if you like, and enjoy.

    2. “Bean Thing”

    sauteed veggies

      A term coined by my husband and I, this is a simple dish that’s made with stuff that’s usually on hand. Chopped onions and sweet potatoes are sauteed in olive oil, and to that is added a can of un-drained black beans, some tomato paste (or drained canned tomatoes), along with whatever spiced we have at hand—normally just chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and a dash of chipotle. This is simmered until everything’s mushy and delicious, and then it’s either served with tortilla chips, bread, cornbread, leftover rice, or whatever other carbs are on hand.

      3. Colcannon

      colcannon

        An Irish dish made with potatoes, onions, and either cabbage or kale, this is a hearty, filling dish that’s quick to prepare, and is inexpensive comfort food. To make it, just boil several potatoes and then mash them well—feel free to leave the skins on them if you like the taste and texture. Add in minced green onions or chives, and finely shredded cabbage or kale while the pot’s still on the stove so the greens will wild. Mix in salt, pepper, and butter to taste.

        If you have any colcannon left over, you can fry it into boxty for breakfast.

        4. Arros Rojo

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        rojo

          Mexican-style red rice: sautee onions and garlic in oil until they soften, and then add rice and toast until it’s slightly translucent and golden. Add stock, chopped tomatoes, and herbs/spices (like cilantro, parsley, salt, pepper, chili powder) cover, and simmer until the rice is fork-tender. Take off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes or so before serving.

          If you’d like other vegetables such as celery, peppers, peas, etc. in this dish, add them with the tomatoes and stock.

          5. Stuffed Peppers

          stuffed-peppers

            Slice the tops off yellow, red, or green peppers, hollow out the insides, and stuff the with a pre-cooked mixture of whatever you have on hand: rice, tofu, vegetables, pasta, beans… the sky’s the limit. Then pop the tops back on and bake for half an hour or so until the peppers are fork-tender.

            6. Fried Rice

            fried rice

              A perfect way to use leftover rice, this is a Chinese-inspired version of “fridge supper”: you take whatever veg and protein you may have in the fridge, and fry it up to mix with the rice. Start by frying ginger, garlic, and green onion in some oil in your skillet or wok, and add in chopped veg, meat or tofu, and a hearty slog of soy sauce. Once the vegetables have softened, add in the rice. Blend in a beaten egg and toss it all together until the egg bits and rice have browned a little, adjust seasonings to taste, and devour.

              7. Frittata

              Frittata

                Just about anything can go into a frittata. If zucchini’s on special when you go shopping, excellent! Shred it finely, chop some onions, and sautee them in a pan with butter or oil until they soften. Beat a few eggs with a spoonful of flour, add salt and pepper and a pinch of baking powder, then add that mixture to the vegetables. Stir to combine, and either cover it and turn down the heat to let it cook through, or pop it in the oven at 350F until it’s golden brown.

                8. Beef and Barley Soup

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                Beef and Barley Soup

                  Stewing beef is basically a very cheap cut of meat that can be put to excellent use in soups such as this one. Sautee 1 cup each of onion, celery and carrot in a soup pot until they’ve softened, then 2 cups of chopped meat to sear it. Deglaze your pot with a splash of wine or beer, add in about 6 cups of beef or vegetable stock and 4 cups of water, along with the contents of a large can of diced tomatoes. Add in 1 1/2 cups dry pearl barley, and simmer for about 45 minutes until the barley is tender. Adjust liquid and add salt and pepper as needed.

                  9. Shakshuka

                  Shakshuka

                    This is a simple, comforting Israeli dish of eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce. To make it, I sautee onions, garlic, and peppers in olive oil with cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper, ’til softened, and then add a large can of whole plum tomatoes (undrained). This is simmered for a while, and then eggs are cracked in to poach in it. This can be served with crumbled feta and chopped parsley on top, or just as it is, with toast or pita bread on the side.

                    10. Black Bean Fritters

                    Black Bean Fritters

                      Basically just a savoury pancake, drained and rinsed black beans are combined with flour, milk, a beaten egg, finely-chopped onions and peppers, and seasonings like cumin, salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder. Fry until golden-brown on both sides, and serve with sour cream.

                      11. BLT Wraps

                      BLT-wrap

                        Simple, but scrumptious: fry bacon, drain it, fold it into wraps with shredded lettuce and chopped tomato, then toast the wrap slightly. You can add scrambled egg, avocado, mayo; whatever makes you happy. Any way you make these, they’re good.

                        12. Pasta Primavera

                        Pasta Primavera

                          Sautee onions and mushrooms in olive oil with a bit of Italian seasoning, or fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, and thyme if you have them. Once softened a bit, add in pureed tomatoes, a bit of tomato paste, a splash of wine, salt, and pepper, and let simmer until it’s thickened. Turn the heat down very low as you cook your pasta. Just as the noodles are approaching al dente, add some finely-chopped spinach to the sauce, stir briefly, and turn the heat off. Ladle the sauce over drained pasta, and serve. (You can garnish with a tiny bit of cheese, if you have it on hand.)

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                          13. “Brinner”

                          brinner

                            Breakfast for dinner: pancakes, eggs (however you like them), fried potatoes, and either a bit of fruit, or a small salad. Easy to make, inexpensive, and so good.

                            14. Split Pea Soup with Sausage

                            Split Pea Soup with Sausage

                              This pea soup is cheap and easy to make—it just takes time to simmer, so be sure to start it early. Onion, carrot, garlic, and celery are sauteed in oil until soft, not browned. Add in your split peas and toss them around with the other ingredients, then add your stock and let simmer for an hour or so until it’s a delicious, sludgy consistency. You may have to add more stock as the peas can thicken things up a lot. You can either cut the sausage into 1/2-inch slices and drop them into the pot to cook in the soup, or you can fry the slices separately and add them to each dish before serving.

                              15. Quesadillas

                              Quesadillas

                                Amazingly simple, and so good. Sprinkle shredded cheese such as cheddar or pepper Jack on tortillas, along with chopped green onions and mashed beans (if desired). Toast until the tortillas are golden-brown and the cheese is melty, and serve with salsa and sliced avocado.

                                16. Chicken, Leek, and Lemon Pie

                                Chicken, Leek, and Lemon Pie

                                  Assemble a pie crust and bake the lower portion for 10 min, or until firm. In a skillet, sautee onions, thinly-sliced leeks (white and light green portions only), and sliced chicken (breast, thighs… whatever you have on hand) until the chicken is cooked through and the leeks soften. Add a tiny bit of chicken stock, the juice and rind of 1 small lemon, and a generous handful of peas. Mix well, and add a tablespoon or so of heavy cream. Pour that mixture into the pie shell, top with the other crust, and bake until golden-brown.

                                  17. Potato and Corn Chowder

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                                  Potato and Corn Chowder

                                    Sautee onion and garlic, add vegetable or chicken stock, diced potatoes, whole-kernel corn, some parsley, salt, pepper, and a splash of liquid smoke. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, puree 1/3 of it to thicken, add a bit of cream (if desired), and serve hot, garnished with cracked black pepper and chopped green onions. Cornbread makes a great side dish.

                                    18. Chili

                                    chili

                                      Simple, cheap, and filling, this can be made with whichever beans you have around. Just sautee onions, garlic, and peppers until softened, add in a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, a couple of cans of your favourite beans, some beer, cumin, chili powder, molasses or brown sugar, salt, and pepper, and simmer for an hour or so until all the flavours have blended. For chili con carne, sautee ground beef with your onions and garlic.

                                      19. Cheesy Pasta

                                      Cheesy Pasta

                                        Unlike lasagna, which takes a fair bit of prep work and a million ingredients, cheesy pasta is more like a casserole than anything else. Cook your pasta of choice (seriously, anything from macaroni or penne to farfalle or spaghetti) until it’s al dente, then drain it and pour it into a greased casserole dish. Follow it with an undrained can of diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, spices of your choosing, and grated cheese. Mix together, top with more grated cheese and some breadcrumbs, and bake until bubbly.

                                        20. Pancakes

                                        pancakes

                                          Who doesn’t love pancakes? These can be made with whatever you have on hand: bananas, blueberries, apples, an almost-expired pack of M&Ms…  anything you like. Sometimes it’s fun to be a kid for an hour or two and spend dinnertime as a sticky mess while watching cartoons.

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                                          Catherine Winter

                                          Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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                                          Last Updated on January 3, 2020

                                          The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

                                          The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

                                          Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

                                          The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

                                          1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

                                          Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

                                           I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

                                          To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

                                          And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

                                           2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

                                          Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

                                          3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

                                          Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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                                          4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

                                          The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

                                          5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

                                          Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

                                          6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

                                          Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

                                          7. Positive people smile a lot!

                                          When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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                                          8. People who are positive are great communicators.

                                          They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

                                          9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

                                          One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

                                          10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

                                          Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

                                          How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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                                          I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

                                          Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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