12 Cheap and Easy Recipes to Make Today

Cooking is a fun, easy (well, sometimes) activity that can keep you active and healthy. If you find yourself eating out a lot and/or gaining some weight, cooking at home can be an effective way of watching your weight and saving some money. Whether you are a beginner or have some advanced cooking skills, here are some fun recipes to inspire your next meal. For all recipes mentioned, the links are available to see quantities and full method of instruction.

1. Roasted red pepper hummus

A quick and easy snack, there’s nothing like hummus to hit the spot when you’re looking for something healthy to munch on. You can either buy roasted red peppers in a jar or roast them yourself in the oven using the broiler if you’re feeling adventurous. Either with a food processor or a blender, mix and process chickpeas, lemon juice, and tahini and some spices like cayenne and pepper. Add in roasted peppers and continue to blend until you have a smooth, creamy texture.

2. Smashed chickpea salad sandwich

Continuing with the chickpea trend, this is another fast and nutritious lunch or snack that gives you a great serving of protein without costing too much. In a bowl, add in a can of chickpeas, black olives, red onion, lemon zest, and juice as well as some salt, pepper and other assorted spices (for a spicy kick, throw in some cayenne or chipotle). Mix together the ingredients well and then smash with a fork or potato masher. Add some dashes of olive oil, mix, and spread on to a tasty bread -- sourdough is always a great choice.

3. Sunshine lentil bowls with garlic olive oil dressing

A lot of times people overlook lentils for other legumes and grains without realizing how powerful they are for your health. Cheap, easy to cook and incredibly versatile, these lentil bowls can be a great choice for a light lunch or dinner. Cook lentils and potatoes separately, and any other vegetables you might want to add. In a blender, add olive oil, white vinegar, salt, black pepper, garlic, dry herbs, and some sugar. You can add some eggs in it for more protein, or add other vegetables to use with the lentils and dressing.

4. Grilled Asian chicken

For this recipe, all you need is some basic pantry and fridge options: ginger, garlic, soy sauce, honey plus sesame oil and chicken. You can mix together these options, heat in the microwave for a minute and then use this sauce as a meat marinade (for 15 minutes minimum, or max overnight). You can either grill the chicken after marinating or cut into smaller pieces to cook in a wok. With some vegetables like broccoli and snow peas, you have a great stir fry going.

5. Baked cayenne-rubbed chicken with avocado salsa

For those that like a bit of spice in their food, this is the perfect recipe for a lunchtime meal or even dinner. You can mix together salt, pepper, and cayenne with some lime or lemon juice and rub it into the chicken. Spray a baking dish with some cooking spray and bake the chicken for at least 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. For the salsa, all you’ll need to do is dice an avocado, add in some lemon juice, salt, pepper, red onion and maybe a dash of cilantro (depending on taste) for the side -- or you can cover the chicken with the salsa after it has baked for a zesty kick.

6. Chinese sweet and sour chicken

A bit on the sweet side, this is another chicken that comes out better if it is marinated before cooking. For the sauce, you will need soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, cornstarch, black pepper, ginger, garlic and a dash of cold water. Combine these ingredients into a bowl, mix well and spread as a marinade on the chicken. You can either bake it for about 40 minutes or chop it up to use as a stir fry (it goes great with some lo mein noodles).

7. Spinach and Parmesan pasta

A delicious and easy vegetarian option, this is a good choice for those who like their pasta cheesy. After boiling the pasta, melt butter into the same pot on medium heat and mix some garlic cloves. Add the pasta back in, as well as spinach and cook until the spinach leaves melt. Stir in parmesan cheese, and mix well with some a pinch of salt and pepper and serve. Easy and quick.

8. One-pan pasta

Cooking without clean up is the best, and with this one-pot recipe, the mess will be minimal. There’s no need to boil the pasta first in this recipe. Add pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and water into a skillet with the pasta laying flat. Boil the mixture and stir frequently until the water has evaporated -- the whole process takes about 9 minutes. Serve with some extra black pepper, salt, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Voila! Easy and quick.

9. Easy Parmesan buttered noodles

A great comfort food, there’s nothing like some buttered noodles after a long day as a decadent treat. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling water with some salt until al dente. Keep about half a cup of pasta water, and drain the rest. Add butter to the same pasta pot and let it melt. Add noodles and some cheese as well as some of the pasta water (measure as you go, as you likely won’t need all of it). Add some salt and pepper for finishing touches, with some parsley and other herbs if available when serving.

10. Savory sweet potato fries

A healthy treat that won’t make you feel as guilty, sweet potato fries make the perfect snack.  To bake these sweet potato fries, chop up a sweet potato, add some olive oil, melted butter, salt, pepper, and some chipotle peppers. Toss to coat well, spray a cooking pan for the oven and place them into the oven for 10-15 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool and serve.

11. Baked kale chips

Kale has become an increasingly popular choice in meals and it is easy to see why. Simple to cook, versatile, and packed with nutrients, kale makes a great snack by itself or as an addition to a meal. To bake the perfect kale chips, all you’ll need is some olive oil and salt. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the leaves from the stem, and tear into bite-sized chunks. Coat with olive and oil, sprinkle with salt and place them into the oven for at least 10-15 minutes until they seem browned.

12. Scrambled eggs with kale and mozzarella

Lastly, this list would be incomplete without a yummy breakfast recipe to get you excited about your morning meal. The simple combo of kale and mozzarella make this a decadent, yet yummy treat without the guilt-inducing calories. Beat some eggs, and set aside. Heat up a pan with some olive oil, add in chopped onion and red pepper flakes and cook for at least a minute. Add in thin slices of kale, and cook until wilted. Lower the heat, add the beaten eggs to the pan. When the eggs seem less runny, add in the mozzarella cheese and cook until the cheese has melted and the eggs are done. These are just some quick and easy recipes to inspire your next cooking adventure. Whether you want to whip up a simple breakfast or cook an elaborate dinner, these recipes may help you in thinking about different cuisines, methods, and give you some ideas for your next culinary endeavor.