popcorn love heart


Money’s tight
You’re feeling a little vitamin deficient
You haven’t got much time
What do you eat?

Making meals at home is way cheaper than eating out, and if you cook in large batches you can have leftovers for days. But what to cook?

Let’s have a look at a few star ingredients and a recipe or two for good measure.


Popcorn is a solid favourite. If you don’t drown your popcorn in butter and salt, it’s low in calories and has some nutritional value – fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

A bag of popping corn can be picked up for only a couple of bucks. Plus popping popcorn on the stove is actually kind of fun. All you need is corn kernels and a medium-large nonstick saucepan with a lid.


  1. Heat the saucepan up on medium to high heat (tip: it will be hot enough when a few drops of water sizzles in the saucepan).
  2. Take a few tablespoons of popcorn kernels and put the lid on.
  3. Shake the pot every few seconds to keep those kernels moving.
  4. The kernels should start to pop after a minute or two on the heat. Hold the lid on and keep shaking the pot!
  5. Once there are more than 3 seconds between each kernel popping, you’re done! Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl and season as you please (ideally low on salt and butter if you’re looking to be healthy).
  6. SNACK!

If you aren’t keen on the stovetop, look for a ‘lite’ bag of microwave popcorn at the shop. OR if you have a sweet tooth why not check out this caramel popcorn recipe!


Eggs are packed full of nutrients and pack a protein punch. They’ll keep you feeling full and are super versatile.

If you’re always running out of time to make breakfast, consider pre-preparing some baked egg muffins.


  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Mix up some eggs, chopped veggies, bacon, herbs, cheese (basically, whatever your heart desires).
  3. Grease a muffin tray, pour the mixture in and bake the mixture until cooked through. Between 15-20 minutes should be enough.
  4. Refrigerate them and reheat in the microwave. Egg muffin cups will keep in the fridge for about 4-5 days in an airtight container.
  5. YUM!

A few other egg dishes you might like are easy egg and bacon loaf, baked eggs, or scrambled egg and chive wrap.

Chicken breast

Chicken breast is usually one of the cheaper meats at the supermarket. It’s lean and protein-packed.

Recipe Ideas:

  • Quick curry? Fry cubed chicken breast with curry paste and coconut cream, whack in some frozen vegies and let it heat through. Boil your rice. Easy!
  • Stirfry? Chop it up, fry it, saute your vegies and add a stirfry sauce you can also add boiled rice or noodles to make a bigger meal of it!
  • Baked? Bake a chicken breast with a few lemon slices, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with vegies of your choice.
  • Popcorn chicken? Chop up your chicken breast into bite-sized pieces, spray each piece with spray-oil and crumb them in a spicy breadcrumb mix (just mix some breadcrumbs with Cajun seasoning or the like). Bake for around 20 minutes and you’ve got healthy popcorn chicken!

    The possibilities are endless.

The humble sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are usually pretty cheap per kilo and they pack a nutritional punch. They are a source of vitamins and minerals, including an impressive amount of Vitamin B-6 and beta-carotenes, which convert to Vitamin A in your body. They’ve also got a little bit of iron, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin C and potassium.

You can boil, steam or mash sweet potato. But if you’ve got a little more time, roasting whole sweet potato is the way to go. When the sweet potato is cooked in its skin, the sugars caramelise and you basically have the most delicious vegetable ever. =)

Recipe Idea:Loaded Mexican sweet potato (1 serve)


  • 1 small-medium sweet potato (depending on your appetite)
  • 1 tin black beans – use about ¼ of the tin
  • 1 sachet of taco seasoning (or whatever seasonings take your fancy) – you’ll only need a tiny bit of this
  • Lime juice
  • Coriander, chopped finely (omit if you hate it)
  • Grated cheese
  • A dollop of sour cream (or non-dairy alternative)


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Pierce the sweet potato a few times with a fork. Bake in the oven for approx. 30-40 mins or until the sweet potato is soft when a fork is inserted. The sweet potato may begin caramelising (this is good!). Put the sweet potato aside for now.
  3. Heat up your black beans in the microwave. The amount of time will depend on the wattage of your microwave and how much black bean mix you want to make. If you’re unsure, microwave them in short 20-30 second bursts until warm enough.
  4. Add some lime juice and coriander, taco seasoning or other seasonings. Make it taste however you like!
  5. Cut a long-ways slit down the center of the sweet potato. Spoon those beans in. Sprinkle with cheese. Place back in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius or under the grill until the cheese is melted.
  6. Dollop some sour cream on top!
  7. ENJOY!

Getting together with some friends can be a super cost-effective (and fun) way to eat cheap and get a good variety of meals together. Think of a few meals to make and split the grocery bill. Bring some containers, cook up a storm and divide up the meals.

If you’re really struggling with money and food our team are here to help, we have the Advocacy Food Pantry that is designed to help UNE students that are struggling. We’re also available for appointments to talk you through a few ways to save money and can offer support in seeking employment.

Drop by our office and speak with us today!