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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 November 12, 2020

                                          Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

                                          Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

                                          If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

                                          If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

                                          In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

                                          What Happens When You’re Too Tired

                                          If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

                                          Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

                                          • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
                                          • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
                                          • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
                                          • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
                                          • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
                                          • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
                                          • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

                                          Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

                                          Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

                                          Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

                                          1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
                                          2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
                                          3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

                                          The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

                                          Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

                                          You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

                                          Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

                                          If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

                                          Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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                                          Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

                                          Symptoms of fatigue include:

                                          • Difficulty concentrating
                                          • Low stamina
                                          • Difficulty sleeping
                                          • Anxiety
                                          • Low motivation

                                          These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

                                          Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

                                          How Much Sleep Is Enough?

                                          The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

                                          Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

                                          Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

                                            The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

                                            Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

                                            Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

                                            If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

                                            It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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                                            4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

                                            Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

                                            1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
                                            2. Exercising regularly
                                            3. Using stressbusters
                                            4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

                                            After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

                                            I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

                                            Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

                                            • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
                                            • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
                                            • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
                                            • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

                                            The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

                                            Living Healthy

                                            Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

                                            In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

                                            As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

                                            Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

                                            1. Unplug

                                            Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

                                            Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

                                            2. Unwind

                                            Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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                                            3. Get Comfortable

                                            Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

                                            Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

                                            Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

                                            This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

                                            Exercise

                                            Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

                                            That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

                                            I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

                                            If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

                                            Attitude

                                            Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

                                            When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

                                            But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

                                            Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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                                            1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
                                            2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
                                            3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
                                            4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
                                            5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
                                            6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

                                            This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

                                            When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

                                            Nutrition

                                            Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

                                            If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

                                            Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

                                            Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

                                            1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
                                            2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
                                            3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
                                            4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
                                            5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
                                            6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
                                            7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
                                            8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
                                            9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

                                            Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

                                            That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

                                            Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

                                            The Bottom Line

                                            If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

                                            If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

                                            Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

                                            More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

                                            Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

                                            Reference

                                            [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
                                            [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
                                            [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
                                            [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
                                            [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
                                            [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
                                            [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
                                            [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
                                            [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
                                            [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
                                            [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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