The other day I was speaking to some friends who recently graduated about the eating habits of uni students. They had all heard stories about people who lived off of instant noodles for the majority of their student life, and a couple of them even admitted to following a similar diet. When I asked why, they told me it was due to a combination of things but the main reasons were a tight budget and lack of confidence in the kitchen.
I thought about this for a while, and I decided to set myself my first Yum On A Budget challenge! I gave myself a budget of £5 and off I went to my nearest Aldi to find fresh ingredients to make the cheapest and easiest meal I know of, Spaghetti Bolognese!
Makes 2-4 meals
500g minced beef
2 medium carrots
2 sticks of celery
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tin of plum tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 beef stock cube
2 tsp dried basil (or dried mixed herbs)
The above ingredients cost £5.02
(The only additional ingredients used were:
olive oil, salt, pepper and a sprig of Rosemary from my garden.)
Peel and finely dice the carrots, onion and garlic. Chop the celery.
Place a large stainless steel pan on a medium heat and add a few tablespoons of olive oil to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery and cook until softened (around 5-6 minutes) making sure you stir regularly with a wooden spoon to avoid burning.
Crumble your beef mince into the pan and continue to stir until all of the mince has browned. Then, using your pan lid, drain away most of the fat (the yellow liquid) from the pan into a bowl. Depending on the mince you used there may be a little or a lot.
Turn the heat down to its lowest setting and add your tin of plum tomatoes, tomato puree and dried basil into the pan. Crumble in the stock cube, and add 200ml of water along with a good twist of black pepper. Stir well, place the lid onto the pan and allow to bubble away for anywhere between 30-45 mins (depending on how much time you have). Make sure you return to your pan to check it isn’t burning and stir it every 10 minutes.
After 20 minutes of cooking: If your sauce is runnier than you’d like, add another tablespoon of tomato puree. If it’s too thick, or starts to stick to the pan, add 100ml of water.
I wish I had a tip to share for measuring out the correct amount of pasta but I have to confess that I always guess, and I almost always make too much! The only guidance I can give is that I used half of the packet in the picture of my ingredients.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and add your pasta. Cook as per the instructions on the back of the pack, drain and serve topped with the lovely Bolognese you just made!
I also like to add red wine and grated parmesan to my dish, but unfortunately this would have taken me way over my £5 budget!
I hope you enjoyed this recipe. I’d love to see your pictures if you decide to use this it, you can tag me in them on twitter or on Instagram @_YumLily using the hashtags #YumLily or #YumOnABudget !