Pay day, the one day of the month that everyone looks forward to, where pounds swarm into our bank accounts relieving our balances of their dessert like states.
There’s no better feeling than when you grab banking app to find that pay day fairy has injected happiness into your bank account. But before you know it, that decrepit old troll (using a spending spree as cunning disguise) has snaked in, robbing you of your riches leaving you waiting for the pay day fairy to return.
The days after pay day are like a minefield of bear traps and hidden nets as we tread carefully to savour the money we have left to last the rest of the month until pay day appears again.
Clambering for ingredients in my cupboards to see what supplies I could stretch out to cover a week of meals would be a regular occurrence for me – but somehow crackers with tinned tuna and a garnish of dried basil for dinner soon passes its novelty.
After years of trial and error, I’ve nailed a pre-pay day recipe that creates two dinners and a lunch for one – taking form in a simple butternut squash pasta bake. Originally taking form as a butternut squash macaroni recipe, I have altered this bake over the years into a cracking budget bake that works a treat for me.
What you need:
- 200ml chicken (or vegetable) stock
- 200g penne or wide tubed pasta
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 butternut squash (cubed)
- 1 onion (diced)
- 1 tbsp. dried basil (or a handful of fresh if you’re posh)
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- A splash of sunflower oil
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
How to make:
- Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the pasta and leave to cook
- While your pasta is cooking, add the oil to a large soup pan over a medium heat and add the onion to gently cook
- Peel the butternut squash, cut in half to de-seed and further cube
- Once the onion has browned, add the butternut squash along with the garlic and mix well. Let the flavours combine for 5 minutes or so with gradual stirring (you might need to add a tiny bit more oil if you find the ingredients are sticking)
- Add the stock, mix and leave to simmer for 15 minutes with the pan lid on
- After 15 minutes, the butternut squash should be soft and of a darker orange colour than before it was added to the heat.
- The pasta should now be cooked, drain and set aside
- Get a hand-held blender and blitz the contents of the soup pan until smooth. If you don’t have a hand-held blender, the butternut squash should be soft enough to mash – it might take a while but think of it as arm day at the gym!
- Now you have your sauce. Before you add in the pasta, take two ladles worth of the sauce and place in a container (this will be your lunch for the following day)
- Add your pasta to the sauce, mix and empty into an oven proof dish
- I love a pasta bake, largely because of the layer of crispy cheese that coats the top – if you don’t have cheese, get a handful of crushed Cornflakes or Special K (budget alternative of course) and sprinkle over the top of your bake. It’s got nothing on cheese but adds that bit of crunch and satisfies the taste buds
- . Place in the oven at 220°c / 200°c fan / gas mark 7 for 15 minutes and serve with peas and broccoli
An additional extra:
- What do all pasta dishes need? Garlic Bread.
Don’t rush out to buy, just add a tablespoon of butter and 1 clove of garlic (minced) to a microwavable bowl and cook for around 10 seconds until the butter is melted. Add a half tsp of dried basil and drizzle over a wrap and place in the oven for 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven, quarter up and you’ll have a golden, garlicky guest accompany your bake. Save a quarter of the wrap and enjoy with your soup for the following days lunch.
- Try mixing in some roughly chopped fresh mozzarella into you your bake and scatter some on top to make your bake even better.
So, there’s your recipe to keep you fed on the before pay day – portion up well and serve with a good amount of vegetables to make it last for a few days of the week.
When you’re saving money, you need to be creative. Turn classic recipes on their head, mix up your ingredients and think outside the box to keep your meals interesting (and make them last).
Avoid struggling through the week on crackers – the week will only going to go slower and at the end of the day you’re just going to run yourself down. Magic up this recipe to give you a meal to look forward to, the nutrients you need to keep you chugging on and before you know it that pay day fairy will back.