Feed a Family of 4 for less than £9/week: Lunchtime

I’ve tried to account for a variety of lunch situations – from filling protein-packed soups for homes or offices with microwaves, to portable mini pizzas for kids lunch boxes (my son’s school had a mini fit the first time I sent him in with a pizza so a I put two together and told him if anyone asks it’s a sandwich, I haven’t had any hassle since!), and pastas that can be eaten cold in lunchboxes or warmed through. Everyone’s lunch circumstances are different, so pick what works for you. And if you’ve never had leftover mushroom risotto baked onto a pizza, you’re missing out.

Mini Pizzas: top with spinach, cheese, bacon, anything you have kicking about from your shopping list. I make a batch of these, cut them out around an upside down mug, and they’re a perfect lunchbox size.

250g self raising flour

2 tbsp UHT milk powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp sunflower oil

200ml water

a dash of lemon juice

4 tbsp tomato puree

4 tbsp water

1 tbsp oil

A pinch of mixed dried herbs

Measure the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the bicarbonate of soda and powdered milk. Make a well in the centre and add the oil, water and lemon juice, and mix well. The lemon juice and milk powder may seem an odd choice, but this is pizza base made with ‘soda bread theory’ – and it works. Flour your work surface and tip the dough onto it, lightly knead it for a moment and shape it into a round. Unlike ordinary pizza dough, there is no rising time, and the trick to handling soda dough is to scarcely handle it at all. Roll it to desired thickness – bearing in mind it will rise in the oven! Cut with cookie cutters, a mug, or if you’re feeling lazy, sling it all on a floured baking sheet and cut into squares with a sharp knife, jostling them a bit so they don’t stick together in the oven.

Mix the tomato puree and water in a bowl with the oil and herbs and smear onto each pizza base. Top with your desired topping, add grated cheese, and voila. Can be frozen raw with the sauce on, uncovered, on a baking tray, then when frozen pop them into a freezer bag and use at your leisure as a vehicle for leftovers.

250g penne pasta

2 fat cloves of garlic

1 onion

2 tbsp sunflower oil

150g frozen peas

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, add the pasta, and cook according to packet instructions (usually around 8-10 minutes). Meanwhile, make the sauce. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat the oil in a pan, add them to it, and cook for a few minutes. Add the peas and cook until tender but still a good vivid green – for extra goodness you can add some frozen spinach too – there’s no hiding that it’s going to be green anyway so you might as well make the most of it! Remove a third of the mixture and set it to one side. Tip the rest into a blender with a few tablespoons of cooking water from the pasta, grate in some cheese and blend. The sauce should be smooth(ish) but not too runny. (If it is too runny, don’t fear. Take a saucepan, add a tablespoon of oil and one of flour and combine over a low heat. Add a splosh of the liquid, stir well to thin, and repeat a few times to make a sauce. Gradually add the rest of the liquid to it, stirring, to make your sauce.) Drain the pasta and toss with the hot pea sauce and reserved peas and onions. Garnish with more cheese, and serve.


250g penne pasta

1 onion

a pinch of chilli flakes

1 tbsp oil

2 tbsp bottled lemon juice (plus more to taste, if liked)

200ml natural yoghurt

75g jar of fish paste

frozen spinach for extra goodness, seeing it’s there – I eat a lot of this!

Bring a medium pan of water to the boil, and add the pasta. Reduce to a simmer and cook according to packet instructions, usually 8-10mins. Peel and finely slice the onion. Pop into a pan with the frozen spinach, oil, lemon juice and chilli flakes, and cook over a medium heat to soften the onion and defrost the spinach. When the pasta is cooked, remove from the heat and drain. Remove the onions from the heat and stir in the fish paste and yoghurt – don’t add them to the pan on the heat or the yoghurt may split, still edible but doesn’t look very nice at all! Stir well, the pasta should warm it through but if you like your food piping hot, put back on a low heat for a moment and stir briskly to prevent it from splitting. Serve with extra lemon juice and a pinch of salt for the grown ups.

MUSHROOM RISOTTO SOUP – Made from leftover mushroom risotto (recipe here……). Add stock to thin it, pulse half in the blender, combine with the other half, warm through and enjoy it.


Chocolate and chilli bean soup:

400g kidney beans

1 onion

2 carrots

a pinch of chilli flakes

½ tsp cumin

1 tbsp sunflower oil

300ml strong black tea – a replacement for red wine in the original recipe, it’s a tannin thing

1 stock cube dissolved in 300ml water

400g chopped tomatoes

20g dark chocolate, or to taste

natural yoghurt to serve

Peel and slice the onion and wash and dice the carrot, then put them all into a saucepan along with the chilli and cumin. Add the oil and cook over a low heat until the onions and garlic soften.

Wash and chop the carrot, and add to the saucepan. Pour the tea and tomatoes in, and stir through. Crumble in the stock cube, then add the dark chocolate and 400ml boiling water. Drain the beans and tip into the pan. Stir and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrot is tender.

If you like, pulse the soup in a blender until smooth. Serve hot, garnished with a dollop of natural yoghurt.
Carrot, cumin and kidney bean soup:

1 onion

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tsp ground cumin

3 carrots

1 stock cube dissolved in 400ml water

400g tin of kidney beans

Peel and chop the onion, and wash and chop the carrots, and pop them into a saucepan on a medium heat with the oil and cumin. Cook for a few minutes until the onion starts to soften – this takes the ‘raw edge’ off. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Drain and thoroughly rinse the kidney beans under cold running water, tip into the pan and heat through. Tip everything into the blender with 2 tbsp yoghurt, and pulse until smooth.
Tomato and bean soup:

1 onion

2 fat cloves of garlic

2 carrots

500ml stock

1 tin of baked beans

A pinch of mixed dried herbs

400g chopped tomatoes

Peel and chop the onion and garlic and slice the carrot. Pop them all into a saucepan and cover with the stock. Add the tinned beans – rinsed of the salty sugary tomato sauce or not rinsed, it’s down to you – and add them with the herbs and tomatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrots are soft. Tip the lot into a blender and pulse until smooth. Enjoy!

For the rest of the recipes for the week, and the shopping list, click the links below!

You can follow me on Twitter @DrJackMonroe and on Instagram @MxJackMonroe
Jack Monroe. November 2015.


Categories: Blog, NEWS, Recipes & Food


  1. Hiya, for the mini pizzas, is that bicarb or baking powder, you have one in the ingredients and the other in the insturctions, maybe it doesn’t matter? I tried half of each cos I had both and it worked fine, although I had to add loads extra flour as the dough was really wet and I had to guess oven temp and times as I couldn’t see them.

    Thanks for the great recipes, trying mushroom mince next….

    • I made these last week and had the same problem – the recipe says baking powder and the instructions call for bicarb? And the dough is unmanageably sticky – I ended up adding at least 50g of flour in the end.

      I am going to try them again this week with the following changes: 1) use baking soda 2) add 50g of flour from the start 3) add a tsp of sugar to the tomato sauce.

  2. I’m just tucking into the salmon pasta! I’m puzzled how it could taste soooo goood. I mean not good for 50p just bloody good even if it cost me a tenner. Thanks Jack, found a new staple x

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