How to make five different meals with just 10 ingredients

16 Nov 2020
By Hazel M., Freelance writer, journalist and total bookworm. at

Writing a shopping list and planning meals is no-one’s favourite pastime, especially when you’re on a budget and haven’t done much cooking before.

Recipes often have lists of ingredients as long as your arm, with a lot of items only useful for that particular meal. This means that you end up wasting not only food, but also money.

But what if there’s a simpler way? A way that you don’t have to waste money or food and don’t get confused by long lists of ingredients.

Well, there is. With our help, and just 10 ingredients, you can feast on a different dinner five days a week. The best part? They’re also super easy to make, reduce food waste and won’t take you long to make.

Here’s what you’ll need*:

  • 3 chicken breasts (or vegetarian alternative)
  • 300g dried pasta
  • 300g cheese
  • 500g plain fromage frais
  • 3 leeks
  • 3 peppers
  • 2 onions
  • 2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • Italian herbs
  • Smoked paprika

*Aside from store cupboard essentials: salt, pepper and cooking oil.

1) Chicken with creamy leeks

To kick things off, let’s start with one of my all-time favourites – chicken with creamy leeks. This is a soul-warming meal for those cold winter nights, with minimal washing up. You can have it alone, or serve it with pasta. The choice is yours.

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 chicken breast (or vegetarian alternative)
  • 1 leek
  • 150g plain fromage frais
  • 50g cheese
  • Herbs

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C (180C for fan-assisted ovens). Once it’s hot enough, place the chicken (drizzled with oil, pierced and lightly-seasoned) on a baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.

Meanwhile, chop the leek and fry lightly in a frying pan. When turning soft (roughly 1-2 minutes), add fromage frais and then half a cup of water. Season lightly. Wait for the liquid to reduce to a creamy sauce and add grated cheese and herbs.

Spoon the creamy sauce and leeks into a bowl, then top with chicken breast. Enjoy!

2) Mac ‘n’ cheese

I love pasta because it’s so cheap, but you can make so many variations with it. Here’s our take on traditional mac ‘n’ cheese.

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 150g pasta
  • 150g plain fromage frais
  • 100g cheese
  • 1 leek
  • Herbs

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C for fan-assisted ovens). At the same time, start boiling the pasta. Then chop leek and lightly cook in a frying pan. After 1-2 minutes, add fromage frais, herbs and half a cup of water.

After 10 minutes, drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Stir until the pasta is completely covered and then move it to an ovenproof dish.

Cover with grated cheese and herbs, and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Finally, remove from the oven and serve.

3) Stuffed peppers

Perfect for those days when you want something a little lighter, stuffed peppers are a great addition to your weekly menu.

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 2 peppers
  • 50g cheese
  • 1 leek
  • 1 onion
  • 100g plain fromage frais
  • Herbs

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C for fan-assisted ovens). Then, cut off tops of peppers, rub them with oil and season lightly before placing them on a baking tray.

Chop leek and onion, then lightly cook in a frying pan. When turning soft (roughly 1-2 minutes), add the fromage frais and herbs. Stir in and simmer for several minutes.

Once the leek and onion filling is ready, spoon it into the waiting peppers. Top them with grated cheese and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Once the cheese has melted, move them to a plate and serve.

4) Chicken and tomato pasta bake

Who doesn’t love a pasta bake? There’s minimal effort and, if you double the ingredients, you can easily eat it cold for lunch the next day.

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 chicken breast (or vegetarian alternative)
  • 150g dried pasta
  • 100g cheese
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • Herbs

Method

Place the pasta on to boil according to the packet instructions and preheat the oven to 200C (180C for non-fan-assisted ovens).

Dice and lightly season the chicken. Fry on a medium heat until cooked through. Then place the chopped tomatoes in a pan to heat through and add the herbs.

Drain the pasta and place it in an ovenproof bowl before mixing in the chicken and the tomato sauce. Cover the pasta with grated cheese and herbs.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes (or until cheese starts to turn golden). Finally, remove from the oven and serve.

5) One-pot Mexican chicken stew

Love burritos? This might not have the wraps, but this take on the popular Mexican snack is definitely a winner.

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 chicken breast (or vegetarian alternative)
  • 1 pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 200g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

Method

Cut the chicken into large chunks, season and then place in a frying pan. Fry on a high heat until cooked through (5-6 minutes).

Slice the pepper and onion and add to the pan. Season with the smoked paprika and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add chopped tomatoes and 100ml water. Bring to boil and cover. Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once it’s ready, pour it into a bowl and serve hot.

Don’t forget to check out more of our easy-to-make student-friendly recipes for happy and healthy living.

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When not stringing words together, can usually be found on the local beach with her cocker spaniel pup, Huey.