10 cheap, easy & healthy meals you can whip up anywhere
1. Burrito bowl
You need: 440gm can of black beans, two tomatoes, one red onion, one avocado, grated cheese, sauce (free food shelf) and rice. Total cost: $11.15
Upgrade your boring old rice and beans by adding diced tomatoes, browned onions and cheese, as well as avocado if you can afford one, coriander if you can stand the taste, and chilli sauce if you can find some on the YHA kitchen share shelf.
2. Couscous salad
Image: Sandie Clark via Flickr
You need: 500gm packet of couscous, one packet of fetta cheese, one continental cucumber, one lemon. Total cost: $7.95
You know a recipe’s easy when the hardest step is boiling couscous for five minutes. Toss it in a big bowl with crumbled feta, diced cucumber and a squeeze of lemon for a filling no-frills feed. Feeling adventurous? Add pumpkin, chickpeas and/or tomato plus your choice of spices depending on what you can get your hands on.
3. Chicken stir fry
You need: 500gm of chicken thigh fillet, stir fry sauce, 200gm bunch of broccoli, 100gm of mushrooms, one brown onion. Total cost: $11.45
Gotta love a meal you can just toss together in a pan, especially if you can save a few bucks on the sauce by cobbling together a mixture of soy sauce, peanut oil and some spices (if you're lucky) off the share shelf. Add whatever veggies you like, but mum will be happy if you’re eating your broccoli.
4. Baked eggs
Image: cyclonebill via Flickr
You need: Six eggs, 400gm can of crushed tomatoes, one brown onion, garlic, chopped parsley. Total cost: $8.10
Whip up a sauce out of the crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic and whatever paprika, chilli flakes or other spices you can find on the share shelf. Pop it in a ceramic bowl or baking dish with the cracked eggs on top, and leave your meal in an 180°C oven for about 15 minutes until the egg white sets. Add chickpeas, spinach or coriander if you’re feeling fancy.
5. Salad wraps
You need: Eight-pack of tortillas, tub of hommus, head of iceberg lettuce, two tomatoes, one green capsicum, one Lebanese cucumber. Total cost: $10.51
Add all this to your shopping trolley and you’ll have easily enough food to fill up two people (well, vegetarians at least) for both lunch and dinner – not bad for a tick over ten bucks. Throw in tuna and mayonnaise, or chicken, or ham or whatever else floats your boat (and fits into your budget), and even the carnivores will be satisfied.
6. San choy bau
You need: 500gm of pork mince, two heads of butter lettuce, one white onion, a clove of garlic, anything else you can pilfer off the free food shelf. Total cost: $10.95
The lettuce becomes the wrap in this Chinese favourite, which is another zero-effort dish. Just fry up the pork mince, chopped onions and garlic with peanut oil, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, peanuts or whatever else you can find on the free food shelf; then spoon it into the lettuce leaves and enjoy.
7. Baked sweet potatoes
You need: One kilo of gold sweet potatoes, salt, pepper and butter, topped with whatever tickles your fancy. Total cost: $7.09
Freestyle this one. The fluffy orange goodness of a sweet potato baked to a caramelised state in a 200°C oven for around 45 minutes is delicious enough with only some salt, pepper and butter on top – or you can get creative by topping it with sour cream and beans, or caramelised onions, or pulled pork, or toasted nuts, or wherever else your stomach leads you.
8. Chilli con carne
You need: 500gm beef mince, 440gm can of black beans, beef stock, 400gm can of whole peeled tomatoes, one brown onion, rice and spices (free food shelf). Total cost: $12.81
Another one-pot wonder that doesn’t take an Iron Chef to prepare. Toss all the ingredients into a frying pan with whatever spices (chilli flakes, paprika, cumin) or tomato paste you can find on the share shelf, then plonk the lot on top of some rice for a big dinner that leaves leftovers for days. Vegetarians and vegans can sub mince for lentils for a meat-free version.
Image: Chris Pople via Flickr
You need: 500gm beef mince, six eggs, 250gm of bean sprouts, 200gm of baby spinach, 200gm of mushrooms, Lebanese cucumber, two carrots, rice. Total price: $20.54
Shove all this is in your shopping trolley and you could serve this Korean favourite to at least four hungry diners… or keep it all for yourself the next day. Just whack the fried mince, blanched spinach, sliced cucumber, julienned carrots, sautéed mushrooms and raw bean sprouts on top of a bed of rice with a fried egg on top and voila.
10. Peanut butter sandwich
You need: Loaf of bread, jar of peanut butter. Total cost: $5:10
Come on, we couldn’t end this list without mentioning the budget backpacker meal par excellence. The nutritional value of the humble peanut butter sandwich is dubious but, hey, it never hurt the generations of penny-pinching globetrotters it’s fuelled before.
Travelling on a tight budget? Check out these 10 genius travel hacks that'll save you money
Sign up to YHA Australia
Get monthly inspiration for your next adventure in Australia.
Book direct and save
By booking direct with MyYHA you'll receive our exclusive discounted rates. Sign up or login to get 10% off at select properties.