Quinoa is such a versatile grain. It’s gluten free. It’s high protein. It’s easy to cook. It comes in several different colours. It can be dressed up and dressed down. And. So. Much. More.

Today, for the budget bites series, we will explore the many different ways quinoa can be incorporated into a meal. I have previously written a ‘Food of the Week’ post on quinoa which you can link to here.

Quinoa can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can even be added to smoothies or made into a snack. The most cost effective way to purchase it is in bulk and be sure to choose locally Australian grown products.

Quinoa itself has a plain, sort of nutty flavour. It takes less than 15-20 minutes to cook and is super easy. Always be sure to rinse your quinoa first as the grains natural coating, aka ‘saponin’ has a tendency to make the cooked version taste buttery or soapy.

I personally love to cook up a big batch to have in the fridge for the working week. It makes for a quick addition to salads, soups etc and makes an ordinary meal a nutrient dense one in a matter of seconds!

Some fast facts:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa makes about 3 cups cooked quinoa.
  • Quinoa cooked like rice at a 1:2 ratio. So 1 cup dry quinoa would need approx. 2 cups liquid.
  • Try substituting quinoa cooked in water for quinoa cooked in stock of your choice. Add garlic, herbs and spices to taste.

The basic recipe. 

Rinse 1 cup quinoa and combine with 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Once cooked, rest for a few minutes and then use a fork to fluff it up.

This serves 4 people.

Quinoa porridge.

Bring 2 cups of milk of choice to a gentle boil. Add 1 cup of rinsed quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until 3/4 of the milk has been absorbed (approx. 15 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and add toppings of choice. I love banana and cinnamon. Other variations include berries; nuts/seeds; savoury pumpkin, nutmeg and sultanas; grated apple, macadamias and cinnamon; rhubarb; stewed fruit; yoghurt.

Savoury quinoa muffins.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Combine 1.5 cups of your choice of diced vegetables with 1 cup cooked quinoa, 4 eggs, 1/4 cup shredded cheese or fetta, herbs and spices of choice and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to oiled muffin tins and bake until cooked (25-30 minutes). While I’ll admit, I haven’t made this, I would use 1/2 cup chopped cherry tomatoes, with 1/2 cup shredded zucchini and carrot, 1/2 cup chopped kale or spinach and a diced red capsicum with thyme and basil.

Veggie Breakfast Bowl.

Add your leftover veggies from the night before to a bowl. Think broccoli, sautéed greens, roasted pumpkin or sweet potato, mushrooms, avocado, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa and top with an egg or two. Yum!

Quinoa tabouli.

I love tabouli. Swapping traditional bulgur wheat for quinoa makes it a gluten free as well as higher in protein. Combine 3-4 diced tomatoes, 1.5 cups cooled quinoa, a handful of chopped mint, a handful of chopped parsley, diced onion (I like spring onion in this), 2 grated carrots and 1/2 grated zucchini and a generous drizzle of olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

Fried ‘rice’ ‘quinoa’.

A simple way to ‘healthify’ this traditional recipe is to swap the normal white rice for the same amount of cooked quinoa.

Quinoa and veggie soup.

If you’re making a veggie soup add in some rinsed raw quinoa towards to the end to make it a more nutrient dense meal. You may need to add a bit more fluid to your soup as your quinoa cooks and absorbs water.

Balance bowl.

On similar lines to the breakfast bowl above. I love using quinoa as a base to many balance bowls. I always ensure at least 1 cup of greens. I also love diced tomato, capsicum, olives and avocado and a sprinkling of goats fetta. I then add some nuts/seeds, toasted chickpeas or some fish/chicken. Sometimes a tahini drizzle, if Im feeling extra enthusiastic…otherwise its a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice.

Previous recipes of mine include this Herby and Nutty Quinoa Salad as well as this Mango Salsa, which while it doesn’t have quinoa here, I often add some cooked quinoa and spinach to make it more of salad.


For other Budget Bites editions, see the links below – all kid friendly and budget friendly:

Ways with Mince

Ways with Eggs

Ways with Lentils