How to cook a healthy meal on the cheap

When you're strapped for cash or stuck for time, a tasty meal might feel out of reach, but bulk cooking a healthy meal might be easier and tastier than you think. Rachel shares some top tips with Josh to help him buy, prep and cook a tasty meal for date night with his girlfriend, with enough left over to save for future meals.

Takeaway tips:

  • See what you have in the fridge before you go shopping - you might be able to make use of what you already have. It’s a great starting point to figure out what you can make and what you need to buy in order to make a full meal. You’ll also avoid wasting what you’ve previously bought
  • Shop at a market or somewhere local (using your reusable bag!) that sells fresh fruit and vegetables – it’s often more affordable, and healthier. You can also buy single vegetables rather than multi-packs so you only buy what you need and it’s tastier than using frozen bags of veg – plus there are less plastics involved
  • Vegetables are cheaper than meat – so, if you’re low on cash remember: a veggy option can be just as delicious and is often healthier
  • Cooking more than you need and freezing leftover portions means you can have tasty pre-made meals to heat up and eat when you get home and don’t know what to cook or are short on time or cash in the future.

The full recipe – vegan spaghetti Bolognese (Serves 4)

You will need:

  • A large frying pan with a lid
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely sliced
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • A pinch of dried parsley
  • A pinch of dried basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • A dash of red wine
  • 500g tomato passata
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 400g cooked lentils
  • 500g pasta (thick strips)
  • A handful of fresh parsley


Add some olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the celery, carrots and garlic.

Follow by adding dried parsley and basil, then mix before placing the lid on top of the pan.

Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally until the carrots begin to soften.

Pour in a dash of a red wine and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the wine reduces to half the volume.

Add in passata, lentils, vegetable stock, then mix well. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Cover with the lid and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and continue to cook for another 10 minutes until the carrots and celery are soft and the sauce has thickened.

Cook the pasta following the package instructions.

Serve the pasta with the sauce, adding a sprinkle of fresh parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

For more healthy and budget friendly meals check out BBC Food

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