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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 December 2, 2019

                                          10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

                                          10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

                                          Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

                                          In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

                                          These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

                                          1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

                                          Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

                                          But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

                                          Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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                                          2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

                                          You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

                                          The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

                                          3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

                                          If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

                                          Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

                                          If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

                                          4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

                                          Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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                                          To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

                                          In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

                                          5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

                                          We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

                                          If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

                                          Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

                                          “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

                                          6. Give for the Joy of Giving

                                          When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

                                          One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

                                          So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

                                          7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

                                          Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

                                          Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

                                          8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

                                          When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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                                          So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

                                          9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

                                          Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

                                          It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

                                          It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

                                          10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

                                          There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

                                          But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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                                          Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

                                          More About Living a Fulfilling Life

                                          Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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