Slummy Mummy Recipe: Pasta, Peas-N-Cheese, 22p


“Hey Sprout, do you want tomato and cheese with your pasta, or peas and cheese?”
“Yes, but do you want tomatoes, or peas?”
“Peas and cheese?”

That’s how that conversation went with SB today, having spent all day painting and cleaning and coming home to a rather limited cupboard (and equally limited levels of energy to drag myself in the kitchen to cook – yes, I have off days too…) I decided to fall back on pasta, a piece of cheese in the top of the fridge, and gave him the option of accessorising it with either half a can of chopped tomatoes, or half a can of mushy peas. This resulted, and I watched astounded as he devoured the lot, mentally adding it to my ‘quick lazy dinners’ list…

Ingredients (Serves 4):

300g pasta, 23p (39p for 500g, Sainsburys Basics)
300g mushy peas, 19p (19p, Sainsburys Basics)
Cheese (I used a Sainsburys Basics mozzarella ball at 44p for 125g, I’d have preferred hard cheese but didn’t have it in!)

Optional – 1 vegetable or chicken stock cube, 2p (20p for 10, Sainsburys Basics)
Optional – Handful of mint – from the herb garden.

First, bring a saucepan of water to the boil, adding the stock cube to the water. Add the pasta and reduce the heat to simmer for around 10 minutes.

When the pasta is soft, drain most of the liquid into a mug, bowl, jug, other pan – whatever you have to hand. If this is difficult, use a large spoon to spoon as much as possible from the pan to a mug, jug, etc. You’ll need this in a minute.

Tip the pasta back into the saucepan, and pour the can of mushy peas on top. Add grated cheese and a little stock to loosen the liquid slightly to form the sauce. Bring back onto a low heat to heat the peas through and melt the cheese. Add more stock if required – I like my sauce thick and textured, but you can make it as sloppy as you like.

Serve with chopped mint, if using, or extra cheese. Eat in a bowl, with the kids, and marvel at how surprisingly
delicious it is. I despise mushy peas – but I was licking the spoon on this one. Definitely one for the ‘lazy’ folder. Well, one can’t soak chickpeas seven days a week…

Jack Monroe. Follow me on Twitter @MxJackMonroe. Find me on Facebook at

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  1. Letting your child customise their pasta is the way forward – most kids love pasta. I’m not surprised you’ve ditched the chickpeas tonight. Quite honestly I can’t be bovvered to light my scented candle either.

    • i didnt eat pasta til i was about 23! it was a texture thing – not sure how i got through Uni without eating pasta!

  2. Might have to try this one Jack. I don’t usually use mushy peas either, but got 3 tins in my recent foray into Approved Foods. I thought I’d try them as they were cheap. A large tin for 33p. Yours were how much? Oh. Bugger

  3. Reminds me of that ‘Fast Show’ sketch:

    ‘You like cheese? You like peas? You’ll love these – new cheesey peas!’ … and, er, pasta!

    That’s a fantastic photo of SB with spoon at the ready.

    And not a chickpea in site. What will Left Futures think?!

    Being a Northern lad and a mushy pea connoisseur, I just have to try this recipe.

  4. Gonna try this!

    I make a fake guacomole with cheap (the cheaper the better) mushy peas, garlic, cumin, chilli p, and moyo or yog – its lush!


  5. We too have a small boy who we adore, but who I could ship off to somewhere else at mealtimes… We might give this one a whirl, seeing as he won’t get within spitting distance of a petit pois… 🙂

  6. Oh my, yes!
    Pasta and peas was a standard at our house in the 50’s and 60’s. We don’t have mushy peas here, but the recipe basics was the same…Pasta shapes or broken spaghetti, can of peas somewhat mashed with a fork, stock cube [ sometimes just a half of one] and a pasta water “sauce”
    If we were really flush there was a bit of olive oil and some grated cheese, otherwise just a bit of margarine or some saved bacon fat that our neighbor used to give my mother in exchange for doing mending. It was always a treat and very filling.
    Sometimes in place of peas there was a bit of canned spinach or lima beans [ the limas were not a big favorite with me, but still got eaten quickly]

  7. I’m always on the lookout for easy things to make that children will eat! I shall be trying this one on mine.

  8. tinned mushy peas contain BLUE food colouring…why not try regular peas, mashed up? Def would not feed them to a child. Being poor, or being on the breadline does not mean you have to compromise with regards to giving yourself and your child good healthy options. Also, why keep harping on about Sainsburys? I use to work for them and believe me, they are the PITS with regards to the way they treat their staff!!!

    • They’re at the bottom of my street, whereas all other supermarkets are a bus ride away. Mrs Jack lives nearest to Waitrose, and a Tesco Local. Sometimes a friend takes me to Aldi. I haven’t been inside an Asda for years and my nearest Morrisons is miles away – so its just where I happen to shop at the moment. Most supermarkets have similar ranges at similar prices. I stopped pricing stuff on my blog for a while and was deluged with complaints from readers, so I started pricing again, but I price where I shop as that’s what it’s cost me to make…

      • I used to work for Sainsbury’s too and it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had (and I’ve had 20, at last count). I’m not meaning to discount your experience, Cathy, but it wasn’t my experience. No supermarket is perfect – on a budget, you have to do what you can.

      • I’d really like to try morrisons but hadleigh is the nearest big one and thats just silly. and the one is eastwood which is nearer to my work the aisles are so narrow, i feel underpressure when standing in the aisle deliberating!

        waitrose is my nearest supermarket – so if its something basic like milk or bog roll or butter if im baking or whatever, the cost of firing up my car & the petrol to drive to asda cancels out the extra cost of going to waitrose. plus, i do enjoy a 10min walk with the ipod on.

    • I think I must’ve missed the parts of the blog where Jack keeps “harping on about” Sainsburys.
      Oh wait…no.

    • I love this recipe and I love mushy peas too, so does my daughter, I also hate the fact it’s hard to buy them without blue colouring. But isn’t always scanning labels for ingredients a bit of a (middle class) luxury if you’re really managing on a tough budget? We’ve been ‘managing’ on a greatly reduced income due to recent serious illness, and I’ve still been able to include the odd luxury food fad, whilst being conscious of how ridiculous our dietary ‘requirements’ can be and how lucky we are not to be pushed to the financial limit as Jack has been. And sometimes it’s nice to be easy on yourself and open a tin of mushy peas..

      • It’s very easy to make your own mushy peas using dried split peas, green or yellow. Just soak them overnight then boil them until they look like mushy peas! They are amazing with a tiny bit of butter. IN NZ they are $2 for 500g (about one pound). That makes enough mushy peas for 3 to 4 meals. In NZ we don’t have the range of cheap, low quality processed foods that are in the UK, so we have to improvise 🙂

    • Gosh ! Well I fed my son home grown , all organic all homemade food and he still got cancer. Given the sheer chemicals poured into him to save his life then I think a bit of blue food colouring is the least of his worries. Oh and food poverty is where you HAVE to feed your kids stuff you can afford whether you like the ingredients or not

  9. The thing about mushy peas is – some are awful, some are lovely, it depends on which brand you buy. Try them all until you find one you like – simples 🙂 I’m with Mark, I’m a northerner too. Perhaps it’s a north/south thing? My daughter’s in-laws live in Essex and can’t see the point of mushy peas. I feel the same way about their delicacy – jellied eels 🙁

    • i HATE peas. hate hate hate them. i used to be a very fussy eater when i was a kid, but i now eat most veg – i’m now ‘allowed’ my pea embargo seeing as i eat other things. always disappointing if you go out for a meal and the ‘selection of veg’ includes peas. MINGING

      • I have made pea and ham soup from cheap mushy peas, worked great! This is what I did because it’s what I had in! And fed 4 with left overs for a freezer meal.
        2x 400g cheap mushy peas
        2x carrots chopped in to cubes
        1 onion
        2x potatoes skin on chopped in to cubes
        1 gamon steak(I prefer smoked for extra flavour)
        1 stock cube (ham stock cube if you have it or veg works fine)

        In a pan bring your a litre of water to a boil mix in the stock cube and add in the potatoes, carrots and onion.

        Chop the gamon steak in to little bits (i line mine in cm sized pieces) and add to the stock.

        Simmer for 15 min

        Then add in the tinned mushy peas and some black pepper, simmer for another 10 mins adding extra water if too thick.

        And Walla tasty pea and ham soup! With no over night soaking!

        Smoked bacon ( 4 washers if middle bacon) can be used instead of Gamon steak.

  10. Cheesy peasy pasta?! Sounds weird but in a very intriguing way! 🙂 I have two small people and not a lot of money, and they both love pasta, cheese and peas so this combination could be a winner, and I’ll have to try it!

  11. Love small boy recipes . I usually have to cook everything separately and serve it plain in small piles so he eats some vegetables. If its all together he just refuses to eat it and will go hungry even though he is starving. Will try giving him the option tonight of picking a topping and maybe it might be eaten. Any small boy eating tips are welcome.

  12. You could if you wanted use Lockwoods mushy peas as an alternative, they are a little more expensive at around 30p for 300g but don’t contain any colourings they can be bought at tesco or iceland. You could also buy a tin of marrowfat peas that are free from artificial colours (Waitrose essentials 35p 300g tin) or even still go wild and use normal peas (though not quite as good IMHO, cooked then blended in a processor with a bit of cream and butter)……. Disclaimer : These are purely suggestions and I cannot vouch for the nutritional benefits of the above or treatment of employees at any of the aforementioned supermarkets that I visit. They are chosen for the purely selfish reason of travel cost and inconvience going elsewhere, readers discretion please be advised! ;- )

  13. Yeah and it’s all opinion isint what is better tinned etc and small boy is happy so …. You can eat this or that and live to 50 or 80 I don’t believe what ya eat makes Any difference been there done that its all a matter of preference everyone is different

  14. if you whizz up a tin of mushy peas and a tin of baked beans with a hand blender, it makes a brilliant base for a thick and filling curry sauce. Fry off onion & garlic and whatever veg/protein/pulses you have, add curry powder and the pureed pea/bean concoction and simmer until veg/meat is cooked. The sauce goes really thick, so you have to keep on adding water and making sure the sauce doesn’t catch on the base of the pan. It’s a trick I learnt from going to Slimming World, but always make curry this way now and it gets the thumbs up from the whole family (even now that they know how it’s made!).

    • This sounds awful – beans and peas mushed up together, but if you say it works I’ll give it a try. That’s tomorrow’s meal sorted as I already have half a tin of beans and some left over meat in the fridge.

      • I agree with you that it sounds like the work of the devil but it works! When you think about it, they’re just mashed up pulses and we wouldn’t think twice about using red lentils to thicken a curry. The tom sauce from the beans gives a tomato sweetness, but not so obvious that you’d know it came from a tin of beans.

  15. For those concerned about food colourings and the (to quote another comment) “middle class luxury” of reading labels; for those who have one near enough ASDA is the place to go, as none of their own brand products (including the cheapo ‘smart price’ line) have any artificial colourings or flavourings in them.

  16. Nothing wrong with pasta and peas. One of the dishes my Mom, who comes from southern Italy, makes, is pasta and green peas, using tinned or frozen green peas. I think she fries a little bit of onion first, and then adds the peas to that. My Mom combines pasta with just about anything, including chickpeas or white cannellini beans or kidney beans.


  17. One of my favourite lazy “no food in the house, can’t be bothered to shop” comfort meals is rice with cheese and peas. Normal frozen peas and grated cheddar. Hm, haven’t had that for ages actually.

  18. Showed my small boy your small boys dinner and told him it was pasta with peas and cheese and would he like it. Boiled pasta add frozen peas and tinned sweet corn and grated cheese. 1 and 1/2 bowls later very happy mummy. Small boy was translated into big boy pasta and looks as if its a new menu item. Thanks for idea.

  19. Don’t like mushy peas? *recoils in shock*

    Admittedly I love them, but think everyone should know that a tin of MP plus any tiny scraps of leftover bacon, plus any random bits of ham or sausage floating about makes amazing pea and ham soup. Just dilute to taste with water or stock. A recipe for those ‘I really can’t bear the thought of cooking’ days.

  20. This is just like my student daughter’s staple dish except that she has it with baked beans instead of peas – probably better on the protein, but less on the vitamins?

    Just a thought, when Jamie O does this “cheaper” food, would it be breaking any rules if you happened to do your version of each of his receipes as the series progresses…………………. if he’s got anything about him he’d be ok – there are different levels of poverty after all!

  21. What a lovely son.I too Jack am a single mum and I brought her up totally alone and now is a delightful 27 year old. I love the comedy clip.I am so cross about Jamie Oliver`s remarks too but there is this them and us mentality but I read all the comments on your blog after the subject was commented on your blog and I am still angry!

  22. Made this for my family this evening, it went down a storm! Many thanks for some great recipes Jack xx. I hope you will give everyone a helping hand with some ideas for Christmas recipesPLEASE

  23. More peas:

    (might be popular with SB …)

    Tonno ai piselli (spaghetti with tuna, peas and tomato sauce)

    Serves 2 ½

    ½ onion, chopped finely
    Small can of tuna (in total 100g (in Switzerland)), save the oil!
    ½ carton chopped tomatoes
    Kiddie fistful of frozen peas /1/2 tin of tinned peas
    Lots and lots and lots of flat-leaf parsley (from the garden, chopped)
    Salt, pepper, chilli (if you must and no child is eating with you), bay leaf (optional), ½ tsp of anchovy paste (optional)

    Spaghetti for 2 ½ eaters

    Sweat onion in the tuna oil, flake tuna and add, add tomatoes, season w/ salt and pepper plus desired options, add peas, cook on medium/low heat for as long as it takes to cook spaghetti (the longer the better).

    Chop parsley and add to sauce. Season and serve over spaghetti. NO CHEESE!

    Leftover sauce can go into a pita bread (add some raw onion rings, some lemon or freshly grated lemon peel and more parsley) for lunch or into a rolled-up pancake for supper. Or you could eat them over rice/couscous/quinoa … or try heating it up in a frying pan, adding some HOT pepper, making an well in the center for frying an egg in and eating with as much bread as you can afford.
    Or using the whole thing as a filling for brick à l’oeuf if you’ve got a midle-eastern shop near you, that is.

  24. This reminds me of when I was a teenager and I was addicted to marrowfat peas slathered in melted cheese. I’ll definitely be trying this recipe for a bit of nostalgia.

    I just want to pass on a different (and I think easier) way of cooking pasta. This is the link to the explanatory video:

    I’ve been using this method ever since I heard about it. Not only does it save water and electricity, there’s no carrying and draining of huge, heavy pans of boiling water. It’s equivalent to the absorption method for cooking rice. Nigella Lawson even advocated something similar in her last series.

    • I always cook pasta by putting in or covering with cold water from the start, cooks much quicker and tastes just the same.

      • You can also cook the pasta in milk and add cheese at the very end (when there should be a little thickened milk left) to make a dead easy and tasty macaroni cheese.

        Just about covering the pasta with liquid, then adding a little more if necessary, is usually about the right amount of liquid to cook pasta in.

  25. Having been out all day and not having planned any dinner, I’ve just made this and wow!! I wolfed it down with gusto. Boiling the pasta whilst grabbing a shower dinner ready in minutes. And I thought all I had tonight was cereal. This is now my “go to” supper. Jack, you’re a star thank you x

  26. I’m blown away by how much cheaper food is in Britain. Much of what I see on this blog is 3 or 4 times more expensive here in Canada. We get ripped off!

  27. I just made this for dinner this evening and seeing as I’m single with no kids, boxed up the leftovers for my lunch and dinner tomorrow. It is absolutely delicious. Keep up the good work hun 🙂

  28. Made this with some leftover Edam and threw in some fried cooking bacon. It was delicious! So delicious in fact that my rather picky boyfriend has requested it again this week. I’ve now tried several of your recipes and they’ve all worked really well and tasted great!

  29. I made this tonight and added a garlic clove. I too can’t abide mushy peas normally but this is the mutt’s nuts!! Nom!!

  30. Hi Jack, and everyone :)! I made this for last night and have the rest for lunch today. Adored it, what a brilliant recipe – but then I was fuolly expecting it to be so as we have really enjoyed all of your recipes and have made a fair few.
    I added a chopped cooked onion and a wee bit of garlic, and I made it nice and cheesy, it was cheesier than a really cheesy thing!! I am such a cheese addict. Yum, and knowing I had a big plateful of cheesy pasta peasto (lol) to come home to I jumped around even more crazy than usual in body attack.
    this is going to be a regular, no doubt about it !
    thanks jack, all your efforts and posts and just everything is truly appreciated. I love your website xx

  31. No sorry this has been the win that didn’t wow the crowds… I was inspired by the ‘I don’t like mushy peas but like this’ to me it was still mushy peas and therefore not enjoyed 🙁

  32. If you like mushy peas try dividing a tin of them into a silicone muffin tray and freezing them before dusting each lump of frozen mushy peas with flour, coating with batter and deep frying. Makes amazing Pea Fritters – a signature dish of Olley’s Fish and Chips, best (and priciest) chippy in London.

  33. I do a pea pesto which is not dissimilar to this. Frozen peas, hard cheese (cheddar with maybe a bit of Parmesan if poss), garlic, sunflower seeds, squeeze of lemon , pinch of salt and pepper, bit of water to thin, bit of oil (pref olive but sunflower/rape will do or a mix.) Just blend it all together. A rather “posher” version but still pretty cheap. Also a really beautiful bright green colour.

  34. My toddlers favourite is courgette and pea pasta:
    Grated courgette into a frying pan with a bit of oil, add in some frozen peas until cooked, take off the heat and mix in some cream cheese and basil or pesto if there’s some around then mix into the cooked pasta. Then I let her sprinkle some extra grated cheese on top so that she’s ‘helped’ me do the cooking.

    Just found this blog and very excited to start making some of the recipes, well done Jack.

  35. Being a Slummy Mummy, I was bound to cook this sooner or later! I cooked this earlier on this evening, and it went down a storm! I have a Tall Boy (13 yrs), and a Small Boy (3 yrs), and they both loved it, especially my Tall Boy who said it was “Amazing”! Praise indeed, especially as he’s often more fussy than my Small Boy! I decided to mash up the mushy peas a bit to make the sauce smoother, and I let my Small Boy help, which obviously made him feel grown up and more inclined to clear his plate! 🙂

  36. I have just cooked this for eldest daughter (12) son (5) and myself, to be honest didnt look great in the pan, but wow! Every scrap was eaten! What a quick, easy, gorgeous tasting meal, really filling too, well done jack, i love your recipes and cant wait for book to come out. xx

  37. My 13 year old loves pasta, loves mushy peas, loves cheese…she’s going to be in 7th heaven when I stick a bowl of this under her nose!! 😉

  38. A lifelong favourite in my family is Pasta and Peas soup, basically boiled pasta and peas in water with added stock powder (or cube) and topped with grated cheese. The posher version also contains fried onions.

    My son is nearly 26 and still considers this his top comfort food, he recently was in jury service and having yo deal with a very upsetting case and this recipe featured very heavily on the menu.

  39. Can I ask why the basic ingredients you use are Sainsbury’s? I dislike Sainsbury’s basic food and find Tesco, Aldi and Lidl cheap food to be nicer.

  40. The thing about poverty is that Tories purposely make life as difficult as possible for anybody not wanting to be a slave for the few at the top. They don’t want people finding ways to live happily on a budget, or then they might have time to think about how the few at top who they work for live in unimaginable luxury off the hard work of those they try to keep down.

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