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Healthy, tasty & easy recipes on a budget

Ahoy there busy mums! You don't need bags of time, experience & money to make great meals. Check out my easy-to-follow tasty and easy budget recipes. When you feel the pinch look out for 'Credit Munch' recipes. Delicious, nutritious and easy budget recipes below £1.25 per serving!



Aubergine No Pasta Lasagne

This aubergine no-pasta lasagne is perfect for gluten or wheat free diets - or for people who just avoid carbs like the plague, which is most people I know these days. It's really easy to make - just a simple ragu meat sauce (I used turkey thigh mince but any mince would work) layered with griddled aubergines and a cheats cheese sauce - using cottage cheese which takes a minute to make! Enjoy with crusty bread, without the guilt, or salad for the carb dodgers.

Aubergines are one of those vegetables I always wonder what to do with, but they are perfect in this recipe. They are really easy to cut into thin slices and take no time at all to griddle quickly. If you don't have a griddle pan just use a hot frying pan.

If you have never made a quick cheese sauce using cottage cheese you will be amazed at how quick, easy and tasty it is. It really works a treat, and so much less effort than a full on bechamel sauce during the week. Swap the meat ragu for a beany version for a veggie dish.

Aubergine No Pasta Lasagne: Serves 4:

Time:  25 mins prep + 20 mins cooking
Cost:  £1.25 per serving
Calories:  439 per serving

For the pasta free lasagne:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 500g turkey thigh mince
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 150g mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce (to taste)
  • Ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 medium aubergines, cut into 1-2mm thick slices

For the cheats cheese sauce:

  • 300g tub cottage cheese
  • 75g mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp milk
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and carrot until soft.
  2. Add the turkey mince and stir fry until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the garlic, mushrooms and Italian seasoning. Cook until the mushrooms are soft.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, stock, soy sauce and black pepper to taste.
  5. Stir well, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the liquid had reduced.
  6. Meanwhile, heat up a griddle pan and brush it with the remaining 1 tbsp oil.
  7. Griddle the aubergine slices for 30-60 seconds on each side in batches. Put to one side.
  8. In a bowl, blend the cottage cheese, cheddar and milk until smooth to make the cheese sauce.
  9. To assemble the lasagne: use an ovenproof dish roughly 26 x 20 cm in size. Spoon in a third of the turkey mince and spread evenly over the bottom of the dish. Arrange a third of the aubergine slices on top of the mince, slightly overlapping. Dot half the cheese sauce evenly over the aubergine slices. 
  10. Repeat another layer of mince, aubergine and cheese using the same quantities. Top the second cheese layer with the remaining mince and finish the lasagne with the final layer of aubergine slices.
  11. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C / 160 fan / gas mark 4 for 20 minutes until bubbling around the edges and piping hot. 

Chicken & Chorizo Gratin (with Schwartz Flavour Shots)

I rarely use pre-made spice mixes, but I like these flavour shots from Schwartz. They are a blend of spices infused in oil, so very convenient. I've used the Spanish Smoked Paprika Chicken twice now, and each time the food has been really delicious. 

This chicken and chorizo gratin recipe is easy and delicious. It's packed with veg so it only needs some crusty bread on the side. A fresh crispy green salad in the warmer months is a great accompaniment. In winter this would be great with some mashed potato.

This is a recipe I tweaked from Schwartz. I try to cut out saturated fat whenever I can so I just reduced the chorizo, left the cheese out of the breadcrumb and cheese topping and increased the veg. 

Chicken & Chorizo Gratin: Serves 4:

Time:  10 minutes prep 35 mins cooking
Cost:  £1.64 per serving (flavour shot RRP £1.40)
Calories:  304 per serving

For the gratin:

  • 1 Schwartz Flavour Shots Spanish Smoked Paprika Chicken
  • 50g sliced chorizo cut into match sticks
  • 400g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 2 courgettes, halved and sliced
  • 2 peppers (preferably red and yellow) diced
  • 50g dry breadcrumbs


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200˚C, 400˚F, Gas Mark 6.
  2. Spoon the Flavour Shot, chorizo and chicken into a pan, cook on a medium heat for 7-8 minutes, until browned.
  3. Transfer to an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon (so the oil stays in the pan) and set aside. Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes, until softened. 
  4. Add the tomato purée and cook for 1 minute. Stir in courgette, pepper, chopped tomatoes and water. Bring to the boil, transfer to the ovenproof dish with the chicken and stir.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and bubbling. This is really delicious just served with crusty bread. As it contains so much veg it doesn't really need anything else, but you could serve with a green salad if you like.

This post is in association with Schwartz 


Fun Food Plates for Kids

When I started to wean Joshua, almost 6 years ago now, I said that I would never fuss or arrange his food for him. To be fair, I never needed to. He wolfed down whatever was served and still does. He loved his food from the first bite and he still does. Then, I had Daniel.

Feeding Daniel remains one of my greatest daily challenges. He was a nightmare to wean and he is still an incredibly fussy eater at the age of 4. Rightly or wrongly I jump thorough hoops to tempt him to eat, fussing with arranging his food constantly.

Any parent of a fussy eater will tell you, it is a massive worry and stress having a child that just won't eat. You wonder how they survive! The 'rule book' goes out of the window. I've chilled out a lot over the years, I do what works, I take one day at a time and I try to keep things fun.

My kids love it when I arrange their food in fun shapes on their plate. With Daniel I have taken it one step further - I am the voice of the food on his plate (which cries when he eats it because it's dark and scary in his mouth - but that's another story). He eats and I get a huge sense of peace & achievement. Everyone is a winner.

I was delighted to read this quote from Dr Frankie Phillips who is the Nutrition Advisor to Organix, “...parents can encourage a positive attitude to food by making mealtimes fun for their child and allowing them to play with and experiment with their food.”

I found it a great comfort and encouragement that an expert says that playing with food and fun mealtimes are positive experiences for kids. Maybe being the voice of Daniels food isn't so silly after all? Maybe being wrapped round Daniels little finger is actually a good thing? 

I am really inspired by these cute little fun food plates from Organix. They all use different colours, textures and flavours of food and they look really inviting and tasty. I've shared all the recipes below if you want to know how they are made - they are so easy and really healthy too.

Kids love getting involved making up plates like this as much as they love eating them. For fussy eaters it's a control thing. I find that Daniel will always eat better if he has helped make his own dinner - especially if he (thinks that he) has chosen some of the ingredients.



For lots more advice on finger foods and recipes please visit and sign up to download your free copy of the Organix Little Book of Weaning at which is packed with lots of great advice and inspiration for weaning little ones.

This is a sponsored post. All words and opinions are my own.


Homemade Houmous Recipe without Tahini

I'm still not sure how to spell houmous. My computer auto corrects it to humous, in the shops it's called houmous and some of my friends call it hummus. One thing I do know about houmous (I'll settle for that) is that we eat it lots. When I was a kid, it was saved for dinner parties along with a Walls Viennetta - which are way smaller now then they were in the 80's by the way.

Because we eat so much houmous, I have started making my own. It very easy, works out at less than half the price and has less salt and additives than shop bought. I've jumped on the bandwagon of using  peanut butter as a substitute to tahini and it works pretty well. Dunk in veggies, spread it on sarnies or even use it in a pasta dish. It's low fat, high in protein and high in fibre. Hooray.

Houmous without Tahini: Makes 12:

  • Time:  5 minutes 
  • Cost:  41p per batch
  • Calories:  27 per tablespoon

Ingredients for the houmous:

  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 250g chickpeas)
  • Juice of half a lemon (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 a clove of garlic, crushed (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (as a substitute for tahini)
  • Pinch of cumin & smoked paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • Splash of water (optional)


  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth. You may have to keep stopping it and scraping the sides at first, but keep going until the consistency is even. If it's too stiff, add a little splash of water to loosen it.
  2. Have a taste and adjust seasoning as required. You may need some more salt or lemon juice. Blitz again and taste again until you're happy. Keeps in the fridge, covered, for up to 5 days.

Crêpes - French Style Pancakes

I have a very sweet friend who is French and very chic. She's always in heels and her kids are beautifully dressed in Vertbaudet. She's also an excellent cook and was shocked to discover that Betty Crocker was actually a brand of box cake and not a famous chef.

I invited her to my house for pancakes recently, but she ended up giving me a crêpe masterclass. Yep, crêpes - proper French style pancakes! They are completely amazing but very easy to make. We have made them every Saturday since in place of our 'one cup' recipe.

I have adapted her recipe oh so slightly, using vanilla extract & caster sugar instead of vanilla sugar, just because it's more to hand. The batter can also be made the night before. The recipe is too good not to share, so here it is - easy crêpes, or French style pancakes. Beautifully thin, vanillary and wonderful.

Crêpes - French Style Pancakes: Makes 25:

Time:  10 minutes prep plus cooking time
Cost:  5p per crêpe (based on 25 crêpes per batch)
Calories:  84 per crêpe (one crêpe only based on 25)

For the crêpes:

  • 300g plain flour, sieved
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 750ml semi-skimmed milk
  • Sunflower oil for frying
To serve (ideas):
  • Sugar & lemon 
  • Sugar & cinnamon
  • Nutella
  • Greek yoghurt & berries

To make the batter for crêpes:

  1. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl until well blended. 
  2. Make a well in the middle of the flour and crack the four eggs into the centre (or do this in another bowl first if you are worried about getting shell in there). 
  3. Add the oil, vanilla and around a third of the milk to the eggs. Whisk the eggs in the centre of the bowl incorporating a little of the flour at a time as you do until you have a thick batter. 
  4. Continue to mix the batter and add the milk gradually until you have a batter which is the consistency of single cream. You can add a little more flour or milk if you need to. Don't worry if there's a few lumps. Don't go crazy trying to whisk them out or your crêpes will be tough.
  5. The mixture can be kept in the fridge over night until you need it.

To make the crêpes:

  1. I use a 24cm non-stick frying pan and I get at least 25 crêpes out of the mixture. Lightly grease the surface oil and wipe away any excess with kitchen paper. Have two little bowls set up next to the pan - one for oil and one to put the greasy kitchen paper in between pancakes.
  2. Place the pan on the hob and get it nice and hot. You want it to be hot enough to cook the batter almost immediately on contact, but not too hot that you can't spread the batter by tilting or make 'tears' instead of a nice round shape. Be prepared to lose the first one or two pancakes.
  3. Take the pan from the heat and ladle in enough batter to make a thin round pancake without any extra batter pooling on top of the pancake. You will get to know how much batter you need as you go along, don't worry if you make them too thick or too small to start with.
  4. Cook the crêpes for around 30 - 60 seconds. You will know when it's ready to turn because the whole thing will easily lift off the pan as you slide the spatula underneath it. It will be golden brown underneath. Flip it over and cook on the top side for around 30 seconds
  5. Slide the crêpe onto a dinner plate. Add a little more oil to the pan and use the kitchen paper to wipe away any excess oil before making the next crêpe.
  6. As you make your crêpes you can stack them right on top of each other on a dinner plate until you are ready to serve them. If you need to, you can reheat them in the microwave, covered with pierced clingfilm for 30 - 60 seconds.

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Mini Hamburger Pancakes

Saturday morning pancakes is a sacred family tradition in the Kay house. Mr Kay is chief flipper and I'm in charge of nutella spreading. We're stuffed after two - three max - but the boys vacuum them up. Joshua will easily eat six. "That's because I'm six mummy" he says. He's sensible like that.

Here's something different for pancake day - but still involving nutella - mini hamburger pancakes. I love food masquerading as other food, it makes me feel a bit Heston esque. Unlike a Heston recipe, mini hamburger pancakes are super quick and easy to make - one tiny nutella pancake sandwiched between two vanilla ones. If you want to be really authentic, thinly sliced strawberries and mint leaves make excellent faux tomatoes and lettuce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for a realistic burger bun.

I was so proud of myself when I first made these, like really proud. I showed everyone I met a photo on my phone for the next two days. The boys didn't share my excitement for them. They opened them up, ate the 'burger' and dumped the 'bun.' I was astonished. Perhaps it's just their idea of a carb-free diet? Surely they are the coolest things ever? "No thank you mummy, I just want pancakes with chocolate spread" said Joshua. Keeps me humble I guess. 

Mini Hamburger Pancakes: Makes 12:

Time:  15 minutes (plus time to assemble)
Cost:  54p per batch of 12 (without decorations)
Calories:  44 per hamburger (based on 3 mini pancakes)

For the pancakes:

  • 1 medium egg
  • 115ml milk
  • 135g self-raising flour
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp nutella (plus extra for sticking)
  • Sunflower oil or butter for frying
To decorate (optional):
  • Mint leaves
  • Strawberries
  • Honey or maple syrup
  • Sesame seeds
  1. The first step is to make your pancake batter. This is dead easy. Whisk the egg, flour, milk, sugar and vanilla together in a mixing bowl until smooth.
  2. Get a frying pan ready to fry the pancakes. Lightly grease the surface with butter or oil and wipe away any excess with kitchen paper. Place pan over a medium heat.
  3. Now it's time to make the 'burger bun' pancakes. One teaspoon of mixture will make one pancake. Gently drop 4-5 teaspoons of the pancake mixture onto the frying pan leaving a good space between each. They should spread by themselves into little pancakes around 4-5cm in diameter. Fry for roughly 60 seconds on one side until golden before flipping. Fry on the other side for no more than 30 seconds. These tiny pancakes cook at lightning speed so watch they don't burn. Transfer to a plate. Repeat until you have 24 mini vanilla pancakes.
  4. Add the nutella to the remaining pancake batter and stir until well combined. Use the nutellary batter to make the 'burger' pancakes in exactly the same way as you made the 'burger bun' pancakes. You will need 12 'burger' pancakes, but if you find you have extra batter left over just make more 'burgers' incase you want to make the mini pancake equivalent of a double cheeseburger!
  5. Now to assemble your mini pancake hamburgers. Sandwich 1 (or 2) burger pancakes between 2 burger bun pancakes. You can use a small amount of nutella between each pancake to help them stick together if you need to. If you want them to look really authentic, place mint leaves and thinly sliced strawberries (slice them horizontally at the widest party) on the 'burger' to look like lettuce and tomato. When you are ready to serve, drizzle each burger with a small amount of syrup and sprinkle over some sesame seeds for even greater authenticity if you like. 

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