Reader recipes: Ali’s go-to quick and easy lunch, 30p.

It’s been a while since I posted a reader recipe, but I got this one in my email inbox recently and just had to blog it. I’ll be making this for my lunch myself this week as I fancy experimenting with the value range soft cheese, and the other ingredients are things I usually have in the house.

Here’s Ali’s quick and easy go-to lunch, which she’s worked out at just over 30p per portion…

“My current go-to lunch is pretty instant but I think for your readers who don’t have time to cook it could be good!

So all the ingredients are from the Sainsbury’s Basics range… Tomato & Onion pasta and sauce (17p) cooked until 2 minutes from done. Add 100g of frozen mixed veg (7.5p – 75p per 1kg) and 20g of soft cheese (6p – 61p per 200g) and finish cooking (microwave or pan).

It’s really tasty and at least you’re getting some veg and calcium in there too! Perfect if you just don’t have the time to prepare something or if you’re injured and can’t chop anything. Oh, and adding a bit more veg and a slice of bread each makes it enough for a lunch for two.”

If you have a great frugal recipe you’d like to share, email it to – thanks!


  1. I often add mushrooms and a small tin of tuna to those pasta packs along with the veg. I get two lunches out of it, easily.

  2. I had an experiment with value cheese a while back too! Found some lovely things to do with it and it has become one of my favourite ingredients, along with chorizo stick thingies (which are actually salami I now know, but I can’t get out of the habit of calling them chorizo)
    There is a post exploring some ideas here
    Several other posts using it too. As a flavour (ha ha) of some of the things, creamy apple for breakfast 17p, stuffed pancakes 21p, sandwich with olives 30p, mackeral pate, ‘Boursin’ sandwich 18p and tomato pasta 25p
    am now waiting impatiently to see what you come up with 🙂

    • Like the idea of the stock cube. Would it be too much do you think to use the stock cube in the soft cheese and not the water?

  3. Nice idea! I’ve been dabbling with mixing up various quick meals from cheapo packets lately. Certainly saves time if you’re in a bit of a dash but also want something to taste freshish!

  4. That’d be a good blog post Jack, “Five ways with…” whatever it is, like the tomato pasta mentioned above.
    My current favourite thing is this stuff:
    It’s actually vegan (at least so I *think* before the vegan police truncheon me) it’s surprisingly savoury and you can add anything you like to the mixture, I add mixed herbs and pepper, or tomato puree and chilli powder, or grated apple and wholegrain mustard. You can turn it into sausages for sausage and mash, or make into patties for a fry up or in burger buns, or even turn into meatballs to go with pasta! I add less water (8floz) though or it’s too wet!

  5. The link took me to Asda’s vegetarian sausage mix. I think Tesco do a similar one, not their own brand though
    Looks to be an interesting product

  6. Hmm, “Basics Pasta & Sauce” doesn’t sound too appealing, not that I can be too snobbish as I occasionally resort to the Basics Instant Noodles (chicken flavour – suitable for vegetarians!?). (On a related note, Sainsbury’s basics pasta sauce (8p for a jar) is really, really disgusting…)

    But anyway, I find that basics soft cheese is pretty much indistinguishable from, say, Philadelphia or whatever, at a quarter the price. Certainly works fine for cheesecake.

  7. One of my favourite quick meals involves a pack of mushrooms, stock cube and value cheese as a pasta sauce.

    Fry chopped mushrooms with a little garlic till browned, stir in some veg stock and simmer for a few mins leaving some liquid in the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cream cheese, generally about half a pack for a pack of mushrooms.

    Simmering the mushrroms for a few mins leaves a really intense flavour in the stock which combines really well with the cheese.

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