Sausage and Lentil Soup

Sausages never fail do they?

I don’t know if its the same in your family – although I’m guessing it is – but whenever we have sausages for supper there’s very little problem getting everyone to clean their plates!

But serve up cold sausages the next day and they’ll sit, unloved, ignored and passed over by all.

So there was nothing to be done but come up with a recipe to release all the deliciousness hiding inside those cold leftover bangers. I hope you’ll agree that this Sausage and Lentil Soup does just that. It’s possibly more Stew than Soup (sewp?) – hearty comfort food at its best.

Says it all…

And – it comes in at about 54p a portion

Sausage and Lentil Soup

(Serves 4)
Cost: £2.13

You will need:

  • Leftover sausages – as many as you have, but probably around 4 is a good number (~66p), more than that and you should either make more soup or think about one of the recipes linked to at the bottom of the page
  • 2 onions, diced (12p)
  • 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs (~5p)
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced (35p)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (37p)
  • about 400 mls stock (I use vegetable) (3p)
  • 1 tin green lentils (55p)


  1. Fry the onions in a little oil over a moderate heat, until they are softened and translucent
  2. Add the diced carrots and fry for another 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally
  3. Add the mixed herbs, chopped tomatoes and stock, and simmer for about 10 mins until the carrots are just tender
  4. Add the sliced sausages and simmer for another 5 minutes before adding the drained lentils. Warm through and serve with warm fresh bread

Alternatively – for a more substantial meal, add slightly less stock and serve heaped over baked potatoes.

Other Ideas:

Sausage Casserole

Easy Sausage Pie

Leftover Sausage Bake

12 Recipe Ideas for Leftover Sausages

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Chicken Passanda

from Good Housekeeping

A very tasty creamy, mildly spicy curry slightly adapted from a recipe from Good Housekeeping

Money saving tip: Use chicken thighs rather than breast.

Approximate cost: £2.62 for 2 (£1.31 each)
(Prices are current from Sainsburys web-site with some guestimates for storecupboard goods)

You need:

(Serves 2)

  • ½ tablesp oil (~5p)
  • 1 onion, sliced (8p)
  • 3 cardamom pods (~5p)
  • 1 clove garlic (3p)
  • ½ teasp ground cinnamon (~5p)
  • ½ teasp mild chilli powder (~5p)
  • ¼ teasp ground turmeric (~5p)
  • 1 teasp coriander seeds (~10p)
  • Chicken thighs, skinned and chopped into bite-size pieces – approx 2 thighs per person (£1.70 – but cheaper if buy in larger quantities or frozen)
  • 1 tablesp tomato puree (10p)
  • 250g natural yoghurt (30p)
  • 100g long-grain rice (6.5p)

To cook:

  1. chickenpassandaPeel and slice onion. Heat oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the onion until it becomes soft and translucent (about 5 – 10 mins). Then add the chicken pieces and continue cooking, stirring occasionally.

  2. mini-chopperMeanwhile, crush the cardamom pods with the back of a spoon and empty out the seeds into a mini-chopper or pestle-and-mortar. Add the garlic and the next 4 spices and combine, crushing the coriander seeds as small as possible.

  3. Put the rice on to cook.

  4. When the chicken pieces are cooked all the way through (no pink meat visible if you cut one of the larger pieces in half), add the spice mixture and tomato puree. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes stirring to combine evenly.

  5. Turn off the heat. Add the yoghurt and stir to combine. Serve immediately. If you’re feeling posh sprinkle over some flaked almonds and chopped fresh coriander. Enjoy!
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Macaroni Cheese

Learning to cook can be hard!

Especially if its every evening AND made more difficult by not wanting to spend much money.

So over the next few weeks I’m hoping to post a number of easy, cheap and relatively quick recipes that might be suitable for student cooking.

I’ve assumed not a great knowledge of cooking so please forgive me if they’re too simple!


First up is Sam’s Stern recipe for macaroni cheese from his book ‘Get Cooking’. I’ve tweaked the quantities so this should feed one hungry student.


  • 85g pasta (macaroni)
  • 20g butter
  • 20g plain flour
  • 200 mls milk
  • 85g grated cheddar cheese + extra
  • ¼ teaspoon English mustard
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice (not essential)

Money saving tips:
Use mature cheddar rather than mild – more flavour for less.
Always weigh the pasta before cooking to make sure you don’t cook too much.

To cook:

  • Heat oven to 200°C

  • Pasta
    1. Fill large pan with water.
    2. Add salt (about ½ teasp) and put on to boil.
    3. Weigh 85g pasta.
    4. When water is boiling, add pasta to pan and turn down heat slightly.
    5. Cook following packet instructions.

  • Cheese Sauce
    1. MeasuringWeigh out:

      – 85 g grated (mature) cheddar
      – 20 g butter
      – 20 g plain flour
      – 200 mls milk (~½ pint)

    2. You also need:

      – ¼ tsp english mustard
      – ½ tbsp lemon juice

    3. Melt butter in saucepan over a _medium_ heat.

    4. White-sauceAdd flour & stir for 2 minutes.
    5. Take pan off heat.

    6. Add milk slowly: start with a tablespoonful at a time, stirring well into the butter mixture till it is a smooth consistency before adding more milk.
    7. White-sauce-prep

    8. Put pan back on heat. Stir continually till it heats and thickens.

    9. When it comes to the boil, simmer for 1-2 minutes.

    10. OR: to make in the microwave:
      Melt butter in a microwaveable bowl.
      Stir in the flour.
      Add the milk whisking all the time till its all incorporated – if it gets a bit lumpy try heating in the microwave for 20 – 30 secs and then stir again.
      Heat for 2 minutes then whisk.
      Heat for another minute and then whisk.
      Repeat until the sauce has thickened – then continue as below.

    11. Add cheese, mustard and lemon juice. Stir until all melted.

    12. Take off heat. Taste and add pepper and salt as you like (= 2 grinds black pepper, we didn’t add any salt).

    13. Macaroni-cheese-prepPut pasta and cheese sauce into an oven proof dish and stir until all the pasta is covered with sauce.

    14. * Add extras (cooked beforehand), eg:
      – ham and mushrooms?
      – broccoli and chicken?

    15. Macaroni-cheese-prep2Grate some extra cheese on top.

    16. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and golden on top. If you don’t have an oven, you can put under a hot grill for a few minutes instead.

    17. Macaroni Cheese with Red pepper and sweetcorn


You could also try:

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Chicken in Ginger and LIme

**updated 18th Feb 2017 to a much simpler version**

This recipe was inspired by one my husband saw on day-time TV years ago when recovering from a back injury. It’s been a long-term favourite in our house. it doesn’t take too long to prepare, everyone likes it (in my house) and it has a lovely surprising flavour. Fresh lime juice cuts through salty soy sauce to complement the meltingly tender chicken perfectly.

If you have any leftovers they taste great in stirfry with spring onions and oyster sauce – so I’ll often cook extra to make sure there’s enough left over for the next day.

You can also freeze portions of marinade (just make sure it does actually freeze – the salt content of soy sauce is so high that some people say that it doesn’t freeze in their freezers). I tend not to freeze the chicken in the marinade as if you leave it in the freezer for more than a week or two the flavour becomes too strong.

Chicken in Ginger and Lime

(Serves 4)
(About 5 mins preparation time – then about 35 mins cooking in the oven while you put your feet up)

You will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 3 tablesp of light soy sauce
  • 1 teasp chopped garlic
  • 1 inch chopped ginger
  • Enough egg noodles for 4


  1. Put the lime juice, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a bowl and mix.
  2. (To cut down on preparation time I use chopped frozen garlic and ginger which you can buy from some supermarkets.)

  3. Place chicken pieces in the marinade, turning to make sure each is covered. Place some clingfilm over the bowl and leave for as long as you can (either 10 minutes if you’re eating them tonight or put in fridge to cook the following evening if you can).
  4. Heat the oven to 190.C. Place chicken breasts in a roasting dish, cover with tinfoil and bake in oven for about 35 mins until the chicken is cooked through (the juices run clear if you stick a fork in them).
  5. A few mins before the chicken is ready, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions.
  6. Slice the chicken pieces into strips and serve with the noodles and sauce poured over. You can make extra gravy if you like – I confess I usually take the easy route and use chicken gravy granules made with boiling water and the pan juices.



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Once a Week Cooking – Five suppers for £30

It’s week 3 of our Once a Week Cooking regime and most of the meals are stashed away in the freezer waiting to be eaten – which is great – particularly as it’s going to be rather a busy week.

Last week was the second week of cooking double to stock the freezer. This time the chopping / peeling / cooking took about 2 hrs 20 mins – not bad, I thought. Much more manageable than a whole day.

This week we’re having five meals for just under £30 (Sainsburys prices via

Posted in Weekly Menu Plan | 3 Comments

Cook Once – Eat Twice! Lamb Meatballs with Feta – Two ways

Don’t you just love those recipes that you can serve up in a number of different ways – cook double one night and serve it up looking like a whole new meal the next day (it saves all those groans of ‘Oh no – not this again!!’ – which they seem to say even if they greeted it with whoops of joy the first time!).

This is one of those. Rich lamb meatballs with feta, which you can cook with a variety of veg ending up with the juices from the meat, herbs and veg all mixing together in glorious deliciousness – like this:


OR – cook and serve up with a delicious rich tomato sauce with pasta and dollops of grated cheese melting slowly on top – as here:


I’m not sure which one I prefer.

If you want to try them both, start with the Roast Meatballs as this begins with uncooked meatballs. Whilst you’re roasting, you can cook the other half of the meatballs in a separate dish at the same time. These can be frozen for another time, to reheat in a tomato sauce – which you can either make on the night, or if you have some portions of tomato sauce in the freezer, you can have an almost instant – homecooked – supper (as long as you don’t forget to get them out to defrost!).

And they are not expensive.

Using prices from Sainsburys via mysupermarket yesterday they worked out as:

  • Lamb meatballs with feta in tomato sauce, pasta and grated cheese – costs £5.91 for 4.
  • Roast lamb meatballs with feta and roast veg – costs £5.25 for 4.

Lamb Meatballs with Feta

(makes enough for 8)


  • 1 kg lamb mince
  • 1 medium onion – chopped finely
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (according to taste), chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 120g breadcrumbs
  • 100g feta, crumbled


  1. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix – you might find it easier to do it by hand.
  2. When thoroughly mixed together, form into about 32 meatballs – each one has about a tablespoon of meat mixture.
  3. Decide which recipe you want to go with. If you’re making Roast Meatballs with Feta and Roast Vegetables then start with uncooked meatballs. If you want Meatballs with Feta in Tomato Sauce you’ll need to cook them first.
  4. Lay on an oiled tray and cook at 190°C for about 20 minutes until cooked through and browning a little on top.
  5. To freeze – either cooked or uncooked (if the meat wasn’t frozen before), lay in one layer and wrap tightly in meal sized portions.


Roast meatballs with Feta and Roast Vegetables

(Serves 4)

You will need:

  • approx. 16 meatballs made from 500g lamb mince
  • 1 pack mixed peppers
  • 1 red onion
  • a little oil
  • some sliced black olives
  • extra feta (optional)


  1. Chop the onion into reasonably thin wedges. Wash, de-seed and coarsely chop the peppers. Put in a roasting dish with a little oil. Mix gently.
  2. Lay the meatballs on top.
  3. Bake at 190°C for about 20-25 minutes until the meatballs are cooked and veg are tender. If the meatballs brown before the onions are cooked to your liking, then cover with tinfoil for the last few minutes of cooking.
  4. Scatter with the olives, and serve – with extra feta if you wish.

And for the other half of the meatballs…

Lamb meatballs with Feta in Tomato sauce

(Serves 4)

You will need:

  • Approx. 16 meatballs made from 500g lamb mince – cooked. (If frozen, defrost completely before cooking)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 150 mls lamb stock
  • oil
  • pasta for four
  • grated cheese


  1. Chop the onion and fry in a little oil until softened.
  2. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and half the lamb stock.
  3. Stir over the heat for a few minutes and bring to the boil. Turn down heat to simmer and add the meatballs. Simmer for ~10 minutes, stirring gently from time to time, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is thickened. Add more lamb stock if you need to.
  4. Serve with pasta and grated cheese.
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Once a Week (Budget) Cooking: and a £26 menu plan

If you’ve been here before you will know that I am a fan of Once a Month Cooking – at least for 29 days of the month. All those lovely stress free suppers are just brilliant!

My problem is Cooking Day. As I get nearer to the time that I have to fill the freezer, I can feel my enthusiasm waning and my meal planning feet beginning to drag…

And, of course, there is the problem of actually finding all that time to put aside to cook, which can be quite difficult.

But as I was trying to get myself to commit to another WHOLE day to fill the freezer for October, I realised – why do I need to cook everything at once? After all, not even my family of hungry gannets can eat 30 meals in one week!

So – I give you…

Once a Week Cooking

It’s simple really – here’s how it goes:

  • Plan two weeks meals and then repeat
  • Week 1: At the beginning of the first week prepare double quantities of all the meals you will need for that week only. Freeze those that you’re not going to use immediately
  • Week 2: At the start of week 2 do the same for that weeks meals
  • Week 3: check your freezer and heave a sigh of relief that you have all the meals for the week
  • Week 4: repeat actions for week 3!

Just to make things more interesting we’re back to budgeting. Summer has been lovely with holidays and lots of people staying, but not a lot of sticking-to-budget. Hopefully now we can get back on track.

Menu plan Week 2 – 5 meals for £26

So here is the menu plan for this month – last week was Week 1 and cost £27 for the five weekday meals (feeding 4 hungry people).

This week is the second week and costs just under £26 for the five meals.

(And please remember – I’m not a nutritionist and make absolutely no claims as to the nutritional content of these menus – it’s just what we eat!)

First Two Weeks

Monday Chicken in Ginger and Lime* (Cook extra for stirfry) Homemade Lemon and Parsley Fishfingers* with Potato wedges*
Tuesday Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Tart Sausages with pasta and roast tomato and mascarpone sauce*
Wednesday Chicken Stir-fry (using extra chicken cooked on Monday) Smoked Mackerel with Orange and Ginger Stirfry veg
Thursday Meatballs in tomato sauce* Lemony Roast Chicken* (Make sure you have some leftovers for tomorrow)
Friday Tuna, tomato and mascarpone pasta bake* Frittata and salad
  1. Make double quantities of Roast Tomato and Red Pepper Sauce. Freeze in 4 portions (~600ml each)
  2. Meatballs – make double quantities and cook. Freeze each meal separately, well-wrapped in layers
  3. Make 2 portions marinade for chicken – one for monday, other to be frozen (without the chicken).
  1. Prepare and cook two lots of homemade fishfingers. Wrap and freeze both.
  2. Cook double portions of homemade potato wedges. Freeze on a tray and tip into a freezer bag when frozen.
  3. Make 2 portions marinade for chicken. Freeze both (without chicken).
OTHER THINGS that can be done ahead at some stage (depending on when you’re eating them)

  1. Chop veg for stir-fry (x1). Wrap and keep in fridge
  2. Wash and slice tomatoes for Tomato and Mozarella Tart
  1. Chop veg for stir-fry (x1). Wrap and put in fridge.
Time Taken Probably about 2 ½ hours – a lot was done whilst in the kitchen cooking other things or was fitted in when I had half an hour or so to spare I’ll let you know!
Total Cost for the 5 suppers £27 £26

Of course, the meal plan doesn’t have to be exactly the same for the next fortnight.

The freezer meals obviously stay the same, but there will be some quick meals planned to cook on the night that can be changed.
And where the menu plans to cook enough to have leftovers, what you do with them can be changed round. For example, leftover chicken in ginger and lime is great in stir frys or in Thai green chicken curry.

Second Two Weeks

Monday Meatballs in tomato sauce* Lemony Roast Chicken* (Make sure you have some leftovers for tomorrow)
Tuesday Chicken in Ginger and Lime* (Cook extra for Thai Chicken) Leftover chicken pasties
Wednesday Macaroni cheese with extra veg and salad Smoked Mackerel with Orange and Ginger Stirfry veg
Thursday Thai green chicken curry Sausages with pasta and roast tomato and mascarpone sauce*
Friday Baked eggs with spinach, roast tomato and mascarpone Homemade Lemon and Parsley Fishfingers* with Potato wedges*

  1. Check meals are in freezer
  2. Make and freeze cheese sauce for mac cheese (of course, I could make double?…)

  1. Check freezer
OTHER THINGS that can be done ahead at some stage (depending on when you’re eating them)
  1. Chop veg for stir-fry (x1)
  2. Make pastry for pasties

So far, so good. The cooking certainly feels easier and less of a marathon as I can fit it in around the other things we’re cooking. It’s also good to have a list of other things that can be prepped ahead of time – having them written down, means that if I have a few minutes to spare I know exactly what needs to be done.

What are you cooking this week?

And what’s your favourite way of getting ahead??

As usual I’m linking up to Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday where you can find lots of other meal planners!

Have a good week!

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£27 Make Ahead Menu Plan

The dust-sheets are gone and it’s time to fill the freezer again.

But this month I’m finding it difficult to find the time (and – ok I admit! – the inclination) to spend a whole day cooking, so I’m going for Once a Week Cooking. I’ll tell you more tomorrow.

And to make things more interesting, we’re back to budgeting. Things were somewhat chaotic in the summer with lots of people visiting and me working more hours, but now it’s time to get back to routine.

So this week’s menu costs £27 for five make ahead meals for four.
(Sainsburys prices taken from

Posted in Budget Meals, Weekly Menu Plan | Tagged , | 4 Comments

No-cook Tomato and Feta Sauce

What can you cook for supper when your kitchen is covered in dust-sheets and there is sawdust everywhere?

[Finally – having left it FAR too long – we have sanded down our lovely wooden kitchen worktops to re-oil them. So normal kitchen activity has been suspended for a while.]

Well – the answer must be no-cook meals!

This is a really easy and quick no-cook pasta sauce – although when I say ‘no-cook’ you will, of course, need to roll back the dust-sheets to cook the pasta.


No-cook Tomato and Feta Sauce

(Serves 4)


  • 8 really ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 100g feta, crumbled
  • 400g pasta such as fusilli


  1. About 30 minutes before you wish to eat, put the first 6 ingredients into a bowl. Mix together, and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Then cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until ready to eat.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water. When ready, drain.
  3. Pop the pasta back into the pan, mix in the tomato mixture and feta.
  4. Serve with a green salad.

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Baking for the Freezer

I’ve been singing the praises of Once a Month cooking for a while now, but if I’m honest a whole day of cooking can get pretty tedious.

This time it took 7 hours – and I ended up spreading it over 2 days – but I ended up with:

  • 19 meals
  • 1 raisin loaf
  • 12 banana muffins
  • 2 lots of lemon shortbread

The meals cost £118 which is ~ £6.50 per meal (for four adults).

I also discovered again an important fact which I forgot to share with you last time. Like the Ancient mariner surrounded by all that water (and nor a drop to drink!) – you can spend hours peeling, chopping, grating and mixing, surrounded by all sorts of different foods – and still end up hungry and wondering what to eat during the day! So don’t forget to include something for lunch in your planning.

And, of course, a little snackerel to be going on with if your energy needs boosting at any stage!

Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes

Which leads me to baking. This time I did add some baking for the freezer, having left it out entirely last time. I don’t do as much baking as I would like as I’m not one of those people who can eat cake and stay the same size – but the rest of the family can, so in the summer holidays, with two Bottomless Pits at home, baking is high on the agenda.

So we’ve been doing some ‘research’ at home into what cakes and biscuits can be frozen easily. And, of course, how best to defrost them so it’s not obvious they’ve just come out of the freezer.

Here are some ideas:

Banana muffins

This recipe
makes 12 muffins.
Cook at 180°C for about 30 minutes until golden brown on top.
When cool, arrange them in one layer on a freezable tray and put in the freezer. When frozen (after about a couple of hours) transfer to a freezer bag.
To defrost, put on a microwaveable plate in the microwave and heat for 30 sec bursts.
Ours is a 900w microwave and one muffin needed 1 min at full power to turn out deliciously warm, as if they’d just come out of the oven (gorgeous split in half spread with melting butter).

Chocolate brownie cupcakes

Choc_Chip_CupcakeThese also freeze well. Let them cool completely. Then pack in layers separated by baking parchment or foil in a freezer container.
Defrost at room temperature and enjoy either as they are, or heat for a few minutes in the oven if you want lovely warm fudge brownies with your ice=cream.

No bake oat and seed bars

Make these as usual and put in the fridge to chill.
When set, cut into bars, wrap each individually in foil and put in a freezer bag.
You can just grab one for breakfast, lunch or snack time. They don’t need very long to defrost (about an hour depending on how thick you make them).

Lemon Shortbread

Lemon Shortbread
The best time to freeze these deliciously crumbly shortbreads is before cooking.
Make up the mixture and roll into a sausage. Wrap and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Then slice into rounds about ½ cm thick.
Lay these on a layer of baking parchment on a (freezable) baking tray and place in the freezer. When frozen tip into a freezer bag.
Cook straight from frozen, just add another 5 minutes or so to the cooking time.

Easy Cheese and Chilli Crackers

Or if your taste runs to more savoury tastes try this recipe for easy Cheese crackers – wafer-thin, buttery, deliciously cheese-y bites that you can have from the freezer in less than 12 minutes!
Freeze them uncooked as the lemon shortbread. Ad another 5 minutes to the cooking time

And an apology…

Having done this I realize that there are several of the cake recipes on this site that I haven’t tried freezing (in this house, cakes rarely live long enough to get to the freezer). But don’t worry – the family has volunteered to test them out over the next few weeks and I’ll add to this list as we do!

What snacks or treats do you like having in the freezer??

– do let me know in the comments below if you have any freezer-friendly cookie or cake recipes!

As baking is an essential part of any menu and there is enough here to last even my family for a week, I’m linking up to Mrs M’s meal planning monday – a great source of inspiration for your evening meal!

Posted in Baking, Freezing | 2 Comments