Affordable meals for the soul

Minute ramen reinvented. Photo Stella Mazurek

Taking it one meal at a time

Minute ramen reinvented 

Every student, whether they still live at home or on their own, has crossed paths with a pack of instant noodles. It could’ve happened on a late night study session or even in-between mid-afternoon classes. Whatever the context, we’ve all been there. Although there’s nothing wrong with a half-seasoned soupy ramen, here’s a recipe that’ll leave you full and content in no time.

You will need:

- instant noodles

- Green onions, plus whatever veggies you have in your fridge

- One onion

- More garlic cloves than you think necessary  

- Soy sauce

- Teriyaki sauce

- Tofu

- As many spices as your little heart desires. This recipe uses paprika, curcuma, cumin, and your regular salt and pepper combo

Step 1

Prepping is key when you want to cook efficiently, so wash and chop all of your vegetables and tofu before actually cooking anything.

Step 2

Take out a pan and turn your stove on medium heat. Let it warm up then pour a generous amount of olive oil in the pan. Add the onion and garlic and wait for them to turn golden brown.

Step 3

Turn the stove on low heat then add in the tofu—which should be cut into little cubes—and mix in all of your spices until the tofu is golden. Add olive oil to the tofu while mixing in the spices so they blend better. You can then add whatever veggies you’d like. Cover for 20 minutes until the tofu is chewy. 

Step 4

While the tofu cooks, boil water to cook the noodles. You can add the seasoning pack that comes with the noodles Keep some of the noodle water for later. 

Step 5

When the tofu is toasty and golden, add the noodles, soy sauce, and teriyaki sauce.  The amount is up to your preference, but the mixture will most likely be thick and highly concentrated in flavour. Add some of the water you kept, until the texture and flavour is to your liking, then let it simmer until it’s no longer watery. Add the green onions, and voilà! You just made yourself a portion of noodles that’ll make your study session a bit less painful, one bite at a time.

Simplest chicken dish ever. Photo Stella Mazurek

Simplest chicken dish ever

One often forgets that cooking meat is not as time consuming as it seems. This recipe should take less than 30 minutes to make—which is perfect for when you're hungry and can’t be bothered to prep extensively. 

You will need:

- Whatever cut of chicken that was on sale that day

- One tomato

- One onion and once again, more garlic cloves you’d expect

- Curcuma, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper

- Green onions

- Half a cup of rice

Step one

Like the ramen recipe, take out a pan and turn your stovetop to medium heat. Let it warm up, then pour a generous amount of olive oil in the pan. Add your onion and garlic—leave a small amount to the side—and wait for them to turn golden brown.

Step two

While the onion and garlic fry, prep the chicken with all of the spices. It’s a process I prefer to do by hand on the cutting board, since it’s easier to blend the spices with the chicken. Dice the tomato and green onions and set aside. Lower the stove heat, place the chicken in the pan, and oil it up! Add the tomato and green onions when you feel like it, depending on how cooked you want them.  

Step three

Take out a pot and turn on the stove to high heat. Add a bit of olive oil and the garlic and onion leftovers you left on the side earlier, green onions can also be incorporated. You’ll have to be quick because the ingredients will cook rapidly. Before the onion and garlic darken completely, pour one cup of water and half a cup of rice in the pot. Let simmer until the water evaporates completely. Add a bit of olive oil so the rice doesn’t ball-up. 

Step four

Be mindful of the cooking process of both the chicken and rice. The rice should be fully cooked before the chicken, and don’t forget to turn the meat over so it cooks evenly. Eat up!

Oven-baked sweet potatoes. Photo Stella Mazurek

Oven-baked sweet potatoes

You will need:

- Two sweet potatoes or more, depending on how hungry you are

- Olive oil

- Any spices you may have, plus salt and pepper. Curcuma and paprika were used in this recipe

Step one

Preheat the oven to 350°F . Take out a pan and parchment paper sheet. While the oven is heating, wash your sweet potatoes and start cutting them up french fry style. You can choose to peel them or not.

Step two

For this next stage of the recipe, you’ll have to get down and dirty with the spices, so make sure you’re not wearing any type of clothing you actually like. It will stain, and that’s a promise. Pour a generous amount of olive oil on the sweet potatoes, then sprinkle the curcuma and paprika over the orange vegetable. Add some salt and pepper, and mix with your hands until you see that there is no sweet potato skin left uncovered. Add olive oil if necessary.  

Step 3

Put into the oven for 30 minutes, or until crispy. If you like extra crispy potatoes, you can choose to broil them, then serve!

Not a Caesar salad. Photo Stella Mazurek

Not a Caesar salad

Salads are an everyday staple. They’re easy to make, and quite savory when pushed further than the iceberg lettuce-cucumber-tomato combo. Here’s my own personal recipe, which never fails to put a smile on my face.

You will need:

- Any mix of greens you like. 

- A whole avocado, two if it’s too ripe or small

- Half a cucumber

- A whole tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes

- Any fruits you might have laying around. The ones I use the most are mangoes, apples, and raspberries. This recipe uses half an apple

- Red wine vinegar

- Salt and pepper

If you’re feeling a little extra, and your weekly budget hasn’t run out yet, here’s how I usually elevate this already banging salad.  


- Balsamic vinegar

- Herbed sea salt (instead of regular salt) and pepper

- Any seeds and nuts. This recipe uses sunflower seeds and finely chopped almonds

- A handful of bocconcinis

Step 1

The only arduous step to this recipe is the chopping, which should take less than 10 minutes. Coarsely chop and dice everything. Everything goes into a medium bowl.

Step 2

When you’re done playing vegan butcher, pour a generous amount of olive oil, both vinegars, and salt and pepper into the bowls. Add the seeds, and mix. I’m pleased to say that you’re done.  

A salad this size is usually enough to satisfy an empty stomach but if you’re still hungry, this sweet potato recipe will make sure that you feel full and happy after its consumption. 

This article originally appeared in The Money Issue, published November 2, 2021.