I’ve been meaning to write about my ‘mushroom mince’ for months now – I use it instead of soya mince or Quorn as a cheaper alternative that isn’t full of unpronounceable ingredients or a gazillion processes. It’s simple, quick, and actually tastes like food, and can be dried out and stored in a jar for months, or frozen to use as required.

Basically, finely slice your mushrooms, then chop them up like billy-o until they’re finely diced. They’ll shrink a bit in the pan as they lose moisture anyway. Then either use them straight away, or freeze, or spread thinly on a baking tray (or any tray) on a layer of kitchen paper and leave to dry for a day or two somewhere safe and not moist (not the bathroom, for example).

Now for the fun part – a bolognese packed full of veg, costing pennies, suitable for your vegan friends but convincing enough for the carnivores – enjoy! This is my new favourite winter comforting bowl-food.

Serves 2 adults and 2 children at 38p each – or 3 adults, or 2 seriously hungry adults who don’t want to move for the rest of the evening. All prices based on my most recent Sainsburys shop, Basics range where available, most supermarkets have similar products at similar prices.

(This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links and make a purchase.)

200-250g spaghetti or pasta, depending on above scenario, from 14p (500g/35p)

1 large onion, 10p (1.5kg/90p)

4 fat cloves of garlic, 8p (2 bulbs/35p)

2 tbsp sunflower oil (or other), 3p (3l/£3)

a pinch of salt, <1p (750g/25p)

a good grind of pepper, <1p

4 tbsp tomato puree or a can of chopped tomatoes, 35p

250g mushrooms, 61p (400g/97p)

1 tbsp bottled lemon juice, 3p (50p/250ml)

100g frozen spinach (or fresh), 13p (2x1kg/£2.50)

1 tsp basic mixed dried herbs, 2p (14g/40p)

First bring a pan of water to the boil.

While it’s warming through, peel and slice your onion and garlic, and mince your mushrooms. Toss into a pan with the oil, salt and pepper and turn the heat up high for a minute or two, taking care not to burn anything by stirring well to disturb it. Turn the heat down to low-medium, depending what hob ring you have it on.

Toss the pasta into the hopefully-now-boiling water and reduce to a simmer for 8 minutes, or until cooked.

Turn your attention back to the other pan. Add all remaining ingredients and stir well. Bring back to a high heat, add half a small cup of water to loosen the tomato puree, stir well to combine and reduce the heat back down, stirring occasionally.

When the pasta is cooked, your bolognese should look – well, like a bolognese.

Taste it – and season as required. It may need a dash more lemon juice or a smudge of vinegar, and any vinegar will do, even the malty stuff, or a pinch of salt, or a smattering more herbs – it’s up to you. And enjoy! If you aren’t a vegan, top with cheese as you normally would, if you are, then you probably know of good vegan cheese alternatives already (I don’t, so could you recommend me some in the comments?)


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