Food Column

Budget-Friendly Meals Made Easy

We’re in Tinubu’s economy; things are tough, food servings are expensive now. Getting that cafeteria food suddenly looks like an ‘opp‘ to your bank account. Today, I shall be teaching/showing you how to make one of the most common budget-friendly meals known to the average Nigerian student– Jollof Spaghetti (I know you thought it was beans). Now, public disclaimer before we start. I’m not a chef, I have no Michelin stars to my name. But this is a relatively easy meal to prepare, so we should be good.


Wherever you are–UCH or UI, the ingredients of this meal should be pretty easy to come across, assuming you don’t have them already

  • Ground pepper, commonly known as Ata-gígùn in local markets. A small packet is 50 naira, you might need two. Depending on how much you like pepper
  • Onions, If you have. This is optional, depending on whether you like the flavour or not. It costs about 100 naira.
  • Tomato paste: any brand you can find should be fine.
  • Vegetable oil: a little sachet costs about 170 naira.
  • Salt
  • Seasoning powder/ cubes
  • Curry and Thyme
  • Spaghetti, of course. A packet costs 800 naira.
  • Egg, for protein. It should cost about 100 naira.

Prep work

I like to prepare everything before the cooking starts. So, using a bowl, mix the tomato puree and ground pepper, adding some water to the mixture. Add enough water to give it a reasonably thick consistency; be careful not to add too much water, and the mixture becomes watery.

Afterwards, cut up your onions whichever way you know how and set them aside ( you’re not a chef, none of that fancy stuff). And, you’re done with prep work.


Now, to cook the food. Different people have their methods, but for this lesson, the first step shall be to parboil the spaghetti. To parboil the spaghetti, pour water into a sufficiently sized pot and set the pot on fire (duh). Next, add salt to the water and leave it to boil. Add the spaghetti to the salted boiling water. Please do not break the spaghetti when adding it to the pot. Throw the spaghetti in like that, you’ll be fine. If you did it right, it should look like this.

Credit: Shutterstock

After adding the spaghetti, add the egg to the pot as well. Cook the spaghetti in salted water till it is soft or, as they say, “Al-Dente.”

    When the spaghetti is ready, drain the excess water out and keep the spaghetti in a bowl to be used later. Remove the egg, and place it in a separate bowl of water. Place the pot back on fire, and add your vegetable oil and chopped onions. Reduce the heat of the heat source to allow the onions to caramelize without burning. You’ll know the onion is ready when it changes to a light brown colour.  Add the tomato puree mixture, followed by salt, seasoning, curry, and thyme. (Add all of these to taste: depending on your preferences.)

Add about a cup of water to the sauce mixture and cover the pot. The current goal is to wait until the sauce is “Sizzling”.  Make sure to taste it to make sure the seasoning is sufficient. When the sauce is ready, reduce the heat, add the spaghetti, and stir till it’s well combined. Cover the pot and leave the spaghetti to cook for a few minutes. Ensure the heat is still low so you don’t burn your food.

If you’re one of “them” and you would prefer to cook your spaghetti with sausages, you should add it in the beginning when caramelizing your onions to cook them before making your sauce. At the end, your food should look like this:

Source: Pinterest

And even if it doesn’t, it’s the effort that counts, and at least you have food to eat now. You can serve the dish with plantain, turkey, chicken, or egg. Happy eating!

Moboluwarin Ogunleye

4 thoughts on “Budget-Friendly Meals Made Easy”

  1. I thought we are eating a sapa meal. Why do I see turkey in the options????? A beautiful read! Thank you.

  2. I promise I didn’t type that many questions marks. I sent an emoticon and it translated into question marks. Thank you.

  3. I didn’t use that many questions marks either. I didn’t use any even. Would’ve facepalmed but it’d just give more question marks.

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